Island in the Sky is one of four Canyonlands National Park Districts and the easiest one to access from Moab and paved roads. The route to the high mesa is to drive 16 km north of Moab, then 35 km southwest. The road goes through the Park gate then continues on to the edge of the mesa. At the southern end the Grand View Trail starts from the parking area for the viewpoint. It is a 3.2 km out-and-back route right on the rim of the mesa.
Most of the trail is on rock or on sand, weather-beaten sandstone granules underfoot. The trail is at 1910m (6266 feet). The mesa is over 1000 feet above the benchland below and red cliffs drop vertically at our feet.
The benchland below is called the White Rim and a 4×4 road winds its way around Island in the Sky above the Colorado River on the east side and above Green River on the west side. The confluence of the two rivers is 12.5 km south of the Grand View Trail.
The White Rim Trail can be accessed with a 4×4 or can be completed on mountain bike or even on foot, but it is a 160 km (100 mile) route with no water so vehicle support is needed.
On a clear day we can see the vast barren lands of the Orange Cliffs to the west with the Henry Mountains 80km away. On the east side
To the south, lies the Colorado River flowing into the Glen Canyon area. The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.is only 10 km south, but it will take 2.5 hours to get there in a vehicle. The Maze District of Canyonlands is also only about 11 km away, but it would take all day to get there and would require a 4×4. All of this is within view of the Grand View Trail but since we are looking south into the sun, it is easier to better see some of this vista earlier in the morning or late in the day and with the help of binoculars. In mid-day we can see vast areas of ragged, barren terrain for as far as the eye can see.
There are a few wonderful viewpoints on Island in the Sky since there are cliffs on 3 sides of the mesa. The Grand View Point Trail has wide views in 3 directions, but also offers a nice hiking experience along the slickrock.