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A Wet and Cool Weekend in The Needles

Saturday & Sunday, October 4-5, 2008

Before heading to NAXJA’s 25th Anniversary event in Moab, I headed to Canyonlands Needles District where I met up with Jared, Alex, Maria and Adam for a weekend of exploring the area. After leaving the house at 5am and taking the back way through Gateway, I managed to make it to the ranger station shortly after 9am. Alex had reserved a Peekaboo campsite in Salt Creek Canyon earlier this year, however it was only good for three vehicles and we now had four. Luckily for us, the other site was not reserved, so we grabbed that one as well. While we were getting our camping permits and finding out that Horse Canyon was closed due to a large washout, we ended up getting day permits for Lavender canyon.

All morning on my way to Canyonlands, the weather was cool and the skies were cloudy. It would remain that way much of the weekend. While we were on our way to Lavender Canyon it start to rain off and on throughout the day. Lucky for us, it never rained very hard, so flash flooding was not a concern. The light rain also helped keep the dust down all weekend 🙂

After travelling through part of Davis Canyon we finally made it to the entrance of Lavender Canyon where we had to use the padlock code we got with our day permit from the ranger station in order to enter.


Much of the trail follows the wash bottom, and did not look very well travelled. The NPS only allows 10 vehicles on this trail a day.


Once we got near the end of Lavender Canyon, we stopped to check out Cleft Arch


After reaching the end of the trail, we hiked a bit further and found another arch that I have not been able to find a name for. Of course, during this hike it started raining pretty good.


After our short hike and some lunch, we turned around and went searching for some more arches that we missed on the way in.

Alex passing by Cleft Arch on the way back


On our way down the West Fork of the canyon, somehow my roof rack managed to get caught on a dead tree branch and was ripped off my Jeep.


It actually happened so fast, I didn’t have any time to stop and backup. The rack never even hit my Jeep on the way down. It seems like it got stuck on the branch and then fell after the rest of my Jeep passed under it. Thanks to Adam and Alex’s help, we were able to get it mounted back on my Jeep again pretty quickly so that we could continue. Shortly after that incident, we ran out of trail in the West Fork at this ledge with the big hole next to it.


On our way back out, we did manage to find the arches we missed on the way in, including Caterpillar Arch


Our group posed in the wide wash


After leaving the gate at the Canyonlands boundary, we found some Anasazi ruins high up in an alcove



After making our way back to the highway, we headed up Salt Creek Canyon to reach our campsite for the night.

The two tracks in the sand were so deep that there was no need to hold on to the steering wheel 😉


Then we reached a deeper section of Salt Creek


We setup camp at Peekaboo and went to bed early.


Sunday morning we got an early start and headed for Elephant Hill.

Adam and Alex making their way up the switchbacks at the start


Jared taking the optional climb at the top


My Jeep and Jared above on the switchbacks on the way down the other side


Lots of great scenery along this trail….even with the dark cloudy skies


Alex in the Devil’s Pocket


While heading down the Devils Lane, just after S.O.B. Hill I encountered my second damage for the weekend. One of my rear axle shock mounts ripped off of the axle…


After pulling the shock off, we made our way over to the Joint Trail and hiked to Chesler Park.


Cairn Cave



Alex below


Chesler Park


A little photography in Chesler Park


A little more hiking


Maria squeezing through a side canyon


After making it back to our Jeeps, we had some lunch and then started making our way over to The Confluence

Jared heading up S.O.B. Hill


On our way we stopped to check out some pictographs



As we got closer to The Confluence, the skies finally started to clear and the sun actually came out for the first time.


View of The Confluence


Checking out the great views


A few pictures from our way back to Elephant Hill.



After making our way back over Elephant Hill, I split from the rest of the group and made my way back to Moab where I had hotel reservations for that night and the rest of the week.

Aside from the weather, I had an excellent weekend exploring the Needles District. Stay tuned for trip reports from the rest of the week 😉

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