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The Needles

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands + Abajo Mountains, Utah

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The Needles

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  • Free camping at the Super Bowl Campground, just 15 minutes from the entrance to the Needles District. Indian Creek is arguably just as beautiful as the national park it leads to.- The Needles
  • Looking out over The Needles, with the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands in the distance. - The Needles
  • The Joint Trail looks like a slot canyon, but it is actually a narrow path between two enormous boulders. This section provides some amazing and different scenery from the rest of the hike. - The Needles
  • Hiking through Chesler Park. Chester Park is the crown jewel of the Needles District, with sweeping views of the remote Maze district as well as grassy meadows and towering views of the Needles.- The Needles
  • A cairn in the middle of the Needles. Every trail is cairned in this section. of the park, so keep an eye out for these structures. - The Needles
  • Looking over Indian Creek at the entrance to the Needles District. - The Needles
  • Druid Arch, one of the most impressive arches in Utah. Remote, massive, and beefy; just a few words that describe this amazing rock feature.- The Needles
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Expansive views. Interesting geology. Variable lengths.
Cons: 
No water. Backpacking availability can be limited.
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Region:
Canyonlands + Abajo Mountains, UT
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
4,000.00 ft (1,219.20 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking
Total Distance: 
20.00 mi (32.19 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,200.00 ft (1,584.96 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

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.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(4 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(19 within a 30 mile radius)

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