If you hear someone speak about Canyonlands National Park, odds are they are talking about the district known as Island in the Sky. Canyonlands is split up into three districts, with Island in the Sky being the closest to a town (Moab), and sporting incredibly expansive views. Don’t be fooled, though; the Needles District of Canyonlands is a hidden gem, featuring an extensive hiking network, amazing geology, and relatively few people. The hiking network in the Needles features criss-crossing trails that take you to each corner of the park. This hike, which is designed for the adventurous or all day hikers, features a link up of almost every trail in the park, for a total of roughly 20 miles. While this hike can be done in multiple directions, the obvious trailhead is Squaw Flat Campground, which is the only developed campground in the district.
First, head toward Lost Canyon, which is a 2.6-mile hike on the perimeter of the park. While the scenery in this section is not the best, the lack of crowds makes up for that. Continue up Lost Canyon, eventually linking up with the Squaw Canyon Trail. Follow Squaw about 3 miles until you reach the beautiful Chesler Park. This will most likely be the highlight of the hike. Chesler Park is a large, grassy meadow surrounded by towering "needle" rock structures. Oh, and you get a perfect view of the remote Maze District in the distance. From this point, you have the option to hike north toward Elephant Hill and start looping back to Squaw Flat. If you still have something in your legs, continue on to the Joint Trail and slowly loop your way back. Don’t worry, the trails are cairned and signed.