Anthony's Wild West 2007 travel blog

The drive to the Needles

Rough last stage of trailhead road

Elephant Hill trailhead, The Needles

Early on the trail - crowded hoodoos

Across Chesler Park

In Chesler Park

Along the Jeep Trail section - Canyonlands is major off-road country

Return to Chesler Park

Later in the Trail

Impenetrable maze

As my time is running out I am having to accept I won't be able to see everything I want to. Because of this I was a bit ambivalent about whether I wanted to spend the whole day hiking in the Needles, another section of Canyonlands. This is some of the area that I had been looking down on from Island in the Sky. I had been told it would take that long to be able to get from the trailhead to the Needles themselves, or specifically an area called Chesler Park with the best views. Paul's enthusiasm for the hike was probably the thing that swayed me, and I am so glad it did, as this was the most enjoyable hike I have done yet, absolutely gorgeous scenery every step of the 11 miles. As what is probably my last major hike in alien landscape it was a perfect way to finish.

It was a very nice scenic drive there, some of which I had done before on my way up to the Rockies 2 weeks ago, which feels like another lifetime! Once I got into the Canyonlands National Park again, the gorgeous and dramatic red rock cliffs, mesas, buttes and pillars all continued, but with a lovely contrast from the bright yellow Fall leaves of the trees that grow along the vallies in that area. There are deer too, and it is generally a bit greener.

The walk was 11 miles and was great scenery straight from the off, as it wound its way up down, around, and around again the impenetrable maze of canyons, cliffs and hoodoos. It was a good work out, but there were enough level bits to be able to admire the views too, though I lost the trail at least 20 times through being enchanted with the view when I should have been looking out for the cairns. For a good several hundred meters the trail went through this narrow and very high slot canyon, where at points I was having to turn sideways. There were tunnels, and easy climbing, and all in all it was adventurous as well as visually fantastic. I can't recommend it enough, and along with the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and the Devil's Garden Trail in the Arches, I think this Chesler Park/Joint Trail in The Canyonlands Needles is a definite must do (for those who like hiking anyway) in this Grand Circle area.

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