In this article, I’ll cover what you need to know if you’re visiting Upheaval Dome.
Upheaval Dome: Utah’s Belly Button
Upheaval Dome is a strange and massive formation in Canyonlands National Park.
While most of the park is layered sandstone carved by rivers into canyons, Upheaval Dome stands out as different.
This rounded canyon has rock formations in the middle that jut into the sky. Were this a normal canyon formed by a river, the rocks would have been washed away.
Geologists are split on whether this was a giant salt bubble that collapsed, or whether a meteor crashed here. Currently, the meteorite theory has a slight advantage.
- Check out another enjoyable hike in Canyonlands: Aztec Butte: Great Little Hike in Canyonlands.
In either case, there was definitely an upheaval here!
It’s really a strange sight to look upon that has been called “Utah’s Belly Button.”
- Discover my favorite viewpoint in Canyonlands the White Rim Overlook Trail.
The trailhead to Upheaval Dome is located at the very end of the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands. To get there, turn off Island in the Sky Road onto Upheaval Dome Road and drive to the end.
The parking lot is small, but that usually isn’t a problem since Canyonlands isn’t that crowded. You can also find a picnic area in the parking lot.
- Don’t forget about other parts of Canyonlands! Learn all about the Needles District.
The Upheaval Dome Hike
The basic hike to get to Upheaval Dome is only 0.6 miles, but it is a little steep, gaining 115 feet in elevation.
Upon arrival, you’ll peer down into Upheaval Dome.
With more energy, you can walk a mile around the rim to a second viewpoint. This provides another angle to view the dome.
- Discover all you need to know about visiting Canyonlands.
- Visit all the amazing viewpoints in Canyonlands!
Hardcore hikers might consider the 8.1-mile trail called the Syncline Loop. This strenuous trail is a full loop around the Dome.
This has over 1,500 feet of elevation gain and requires scrambling. Don’t take this hike lightly. The park says that most park rescues happen along this trail. Learn everything you need to know about hiking in the desert before you head out.
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Backcountry Camping in the Dome
The last time I was there, I met a hardcore backcountry hiker who was preparing to do the Syncline Loop.
He told me he would be sleeping at the bottom of Upheaval Dome that night. I had no idea that was a possibility.
Hardcore hikers can check out the requirements on the Canyonlands Permits website.
Is it Worth it to Visit Upheaval Dome?
Yes! While I find some of the other hikes in Canyonlands more enjoyable, none offers the uniqueness of the very strange Upheaval Dome.
Things to do Nearby
Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid crowds. We have a detailed itinerary for Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times.
- Our Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands Itinerary
- Our Canyonlands Trip Planner Page
- Our Moab Trip Planner Page
- An Easy Guide to Visiting Canyonlands National Park
- White Rim Overlook Trail: The Best Viewpoint in Canyonlands
- Aztec Butte: Great Little Hike in Canyonlands
- The Best Viewpoints In Canyonlands National Park
- Is the Needles District in Canyonlands Worth Visiting?
- Cave Spring – A Fun, Short Trail in Canyonlands
- Mesa Arch: The Most Famous Feature in Canyonlands
- How to Visit Gemini Bridges in Moab, Utah (the easy way or the fun way)
- Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab: Is It Worth It?
- Hiking in the Desert: 11 things to know before you go
- Canyonlands National Park Website