This presentation (v.2) is all about the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Whereas the Island in the Sky is frequented mostly by sightseers, the Needles District is definitely the domain of hikers and backpackers. Needles District has a multitude of hikes ranging from short and easy to long and difficult. The sandstone formations along any of the trails are some of the most spectacular in the park.
Needles District is accessed via Utah 211 off of US Hwy 191. The intersection of Utah 211 and US 191 is about 40 miles south of Moab and about 14 miles north of Monticello. The park entrance is abouth 35 miles from the intersection. Needles Outpost is a private campground and camp store located just outside the park boundry. It's very handy if you arrive too late to get a campsite in Squaw Flat campground. The Needles District Visitor Center is the first stop in the park.
Pothole Point and Roadside Ruin
Pothole Point (0.6 mile) and Roadside Ruin (0.25 mile)) are both very easy frontcountry loop trails located just off the park road. Pothole Point trail crosses slickrock containing numerous depressions called "potholes". These depressions fill with water during spring and late summer rains, and are homes to Fairy and Tadpole shrimp and spade-foot toads. The Roadside Ruin trail acquaints the visitor with the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) who inhabited Canyonlands a thousand years ago. There are various identified native plants and a puebloan granary along this trail.
Slickrock Foot Trail
Slickrock Foot Trail is an easy 2.4 mile roundtrip trail that provides some orientation for first time visitors to the Needles District. This is an interpretive trail with stops along the way that explain the geology of the area.
Cave Spring Trail
Cave Spring is a 0.6 mile daycountry loop trail that traverses level sandy ground and slickrock. A late 1800's cowboy line camp and Anasazi pictographs are located along this trail.
Elephant Hill Trailhead-Druid Arch
This 10.5 mile round-trip hike begins at the Elephant Hill Trailhead. It follows the Chesler Park trail to a junction at 1.5 miles. Take the right fork and continue on into Elephant Canyon to another junction with Druid the Arch trail. Turn left and continue on the the arch.
Angel Arch and Horse Canyon
Starting from Squaw Flat Campground, Angel Arch is 12.7 miles via Peekaboo and Salt Creek trails. I took a jeep to Angel Arch in 1992, but the jeep road has since been closed. Horse Canyon is a tributary of Salt Creek Canyon, but unlike Salt Creek Canyon which has water all year long, Horse Canyon is bone dry. The two canyons contain the highest concentration of ancestral puebloan sites in the park.
Confluence Overlook Trail
This is a moderate 11 mile out and back trail. It starts at the Big Spring Trailhead, crosses Big Spring Canyon, then traverses mostly flat open desert to the confluence.
Lost Canyon-Squaw Canyon Loop trail
This trail is an 8.7 mile loop that takes you through two different canyons. Lost Canyon has lots of water and lush vegetation, and Squaw Canyon is dry with sand and slickrock. The trail starts at the Squaw Flat trailhead, traverses desert terrain of Squaw Flat, turns onto Peekaboo trail, then onto Lost Canyon trail through Lost Canyon, then over into and through Squaw Canyon back to the trailhead. I've hike this trail 3 or 4 times.
Big Spring Canyon-Squaw Canyon Loop Trail
The Big Spring-Squaw Canyon Loop is 7 miles. It begins and ends at the Squaw Flat trailhead and can be hiked in either direction. This loop has some of the better "needles" formations.The photos below were taken on a hike into Big Spring Canyon as far as Big Spring campsite #2 and then back to the trailhead.
Peekaboo Trail is 10 miles out and back. It starts at the Squaw Flat Trailhead and ends at Peekaboo Camp and Salt Creek. The trail crosses open desert, canyons, and slickrock benches. It also includes a couple of ladders.
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