Canyonlands: Hiking the Syncline Loop


We’ve explored quite a bit of the Canyonlands National Park over the past four years but there were still some longer trails to check off our list. Plus we want to get to the Maze District, but that will take another trip with another vehicle and a lot more preparation. Our first hike was the Syncline loop around upheaval dome.


Common wisdom is to hike this trail clockwise. It is about 8-9 miles if you don’t take any side trails, with about 1400 feet of climbing on the back half (whichever direction you go). I can see why they recommend it: our descent down wasn’t terribly difficult, whereas if we had come down the counter-clockwise direction it would have required a lot more butt sliding. Plus, by going clockwise you are in the lee of the canyon wall as you climb back up, providing lots of shade.

We carried all the water we needed, but found plenty of springs and pools on the climb back up. You could put together a good backpacking trip and split the hike in half (there’s a camp at the halfway point) and use it as a jumping off point to head down to the White Rim Road, or up into the upheaval dome crater.


Speaking of upheaval dome, though this hike circles the dome, there are no views of it during the hike. You’ll need to do the out-and-back hike from the top to the viewpoint, or take the spur at the halfway point up into the crater.