Needles Overlook is a spectacular vantage point over Canyonlands National Park, though it is not within the park itself. This area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is accessed via US-191, further north than the entrance to Canyonlands. It overlooks the Needles District of the national park, but the two are separate destinations.
If you are traveling in the Moab area, Needles Overlook is well worth a stop. The road to get there is an obvious and unassuming turn off of US-191. The drive along this road alone is worth the side trip, and it offers views of the distant Abajo Mountains and La Sal peaks as you wind across an open plateau dotted with sandstone domes.
The real treat, of course, awaits you at this road's end, where the plateau rim drops suddenly away into canyon country far below. An entire world of cliffs and chasms stretches out before you, though from this lofted perspective it could all pass for one painstakingly elaborate diorama. This view is as panoramic as it gets, stretching to the curved horizon in all directions in a way no camera can truly capture.
To the south and southeast is the mouth of Indian Creek Canyon, including the charismatic Six-Shooter spires with the Abajo Mountains as a backdrop. To the west, though buried beneath the labyrinth of canyons, lies the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers, a spot famous for river runners and precious to native cultures. The 11,000-foot peaks of the Henry Mountains are visible more than 60 miles away. Panning to the north, you overlook the Colorado River Gorge and buttes that form the distant bounds of Canyonlands. Look closely for the shimmer of water where the river can be glimpsed at the bottom. The toothy profile of Hatch Point lights up at sunset and makes for spectacular photography. From this elevated viewpoint, you can even see eastward to the towering La Sal Mountains, which are snowcapped for much of the year.
It is easy and safe to walk around here. There are a few well-constructed loop trails, some of which are wheelchair accessible, and several benches are perfect spots to sit and enjoy the scenery. Signs explain landmarks and the history of the region. A sturdy rail runs the perimeter of the overlook area, guarding an otherwise perilous rim 1,600 feet above the valley floor. A small shelter stands in one spot, but shade is otherwise scarce. Come prepared for intense sun and strong winds on this exposed high point. There is a pit toilet at the parking area, but no water is available and camping is not allowed. Enjoy part of an afternoon or watch a sunset here as a spectacular addition to your adventures around Moab.