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Desolate Divine: Back To The Needles

Friday – Monday, January 18-21, 2019

I spent a lot of time exploring the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park last year, but I guess I couldn’t stay away very long since I found myself back there again for my first camping trip of 2019 over the long holiday weekend! With the government shutdown I was not quite sure what to expect in The Needles, but since this district of Canyonlands is usually not fully staffed in the winter I was hoping it would be business-as-usual, and it pretty much was. The only difference I could tell between a normal winter weekend and during the government shutdown was that the bathrooms in the Visitor Center were closed and the current weather forecast was not posted on the door.

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End of Trails in The Needles

Big Spring Canyon – Elephant Canyon Loop
Friday – Sunday, November 30 – December 2, 2018

After looking over the official map for the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park earlier this year, I noticed that I had hiked just about every single trail on it, so I figured it would be a good goal to try and finish hiking them all this year. After hiking a few of those remaining trails earlier in the year, I only had a few segments of trails in the Big Spring Canyon area left, so Diane and I headed down to The Needles this weekend so I could finish them up in one big loop on Saturday.

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Lower Red Lake Canyon & The Confluence Overlook

Friday – Sunday, April 13-15, 2018

After hiking down to Spanish Bottom from The Doll House last weekend, I decided it was time to head back to The Needles for the third time this year so I could hike down Lower Red Lake Canyon from Devils Lane to the opposite side of the Colorado River. I had actually planned on doing this hike at the end of February, but a snowstorm the evening before made me change my mind about driving over Elephant Hill by myself in the morning and I switched up my plans at the last minute.

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Chesler Park & Elephant Canyon

Friday – Monday, March 9-12, 2018

Late last year as I was thinking about planning some of my 2018 trips that would require advance permits, I decided it was finally time to backpack into Chesler Park in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. I’ve day-hiked into Chesler Park a number of times over the years from the four-wheel drive trailhead of the Joint Trail, but this time I wanted to backpack in so I could spend more time exploring the area and hopefully photographing this beautiful area at sunrise and sunset. Of course, planning a trip this far out in advance is like playing the lottery with the weather, especially in early to mid March on the Colorado Plateau, so as the dates of the trip approached I kept a close eye on the weather and hoped for good conditions.

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The Needles

Friday – Sunday, February 23-25, 2018

After spending the previous weekend exploring Cedar Mesa, Diane had to travel to San Diego for work this weekend, so I was on my own. I decided to leave work on Friday and spend the weekend in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park even though Diane and I would be headed back there in two weeks for our first backpacking trip of the year. If I had to choose just one favorite district of Canyonlands National Park, I think I would have to go with The Needles. This section of Canyonlands has amazing hiking, challenging Jeep trails, beautiful scenery in every direction and plenty of hidden rock art and ruins. The Needles has it all!

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