Friday – Sunday, October 24-26, 2014
Since Diane and I had a great long weekend in The Maze over Memorial Day weekend I wanted to show her some of my favorite places in The Needles district this weekend so she could experience more of Canyonlands National Park. Plus, I’ve been having a great year in Canyonlands by finally completing the White Rim and backpacking Salt Creek Canyon, so I wanted to keep the momentum going!
I left work early Friday morning and we made our way through Moab and Indian Creek Canyon to The Needles. Of course, we stopped at Newspaper Rock along the way to check out the impressive petroglyph panel. After arriving at the park, we hiked the short Cave Spring trail before driving over Elephant Hill to our campsite for the next two nights in the Devil’s Kitchen. The beginning of the Elephant Hill trail was the easiest I have ever seen it. It appears that the Park Service has removed the large loose boulders that would constantly move and then filled the trail in with sand and dirt.
I’ve stopped at Newspaper Rock numerous times in the past, but it’s always worth another quick visit when I’m driving by.
The cowboy camp at Cave Spring.
A few small pictographs near Cave Spring.
Along the Elephant Hill trail on our way to camp.
When we reached our campsite at the Devil’s Kitchen there was some nice reflected light in the passages and slots behind our camp. I quickly grabbed my camera and tripod to take a few photos since I knew the light wouldn’t last long.
While I was taking photos of the reflected light, Diane was nice enough to get our tent setup all by herself.
The sky was clear when the sun went down, so I really didn’t bother taking any photos at that time. However, I did wait until it was dark enough to take some shots of the Milky Way above.
The Milky Way over Devil’s Pocket from camp.
Diane was inside the tent reading while I took this photo.
On Saturday morning we woke up with the sunrise, but there were no clouds again, so I didn’t take any photos. Instead we had some breakfast and started our drive through Devil’s Lane and over SOB Hill to the Joint Trail. We stopped at a few rock art sites on the way.
A well-known panel of pictographs right next to the road.
Part of a larger Barrier Canyon Style pictograph panel that is very faded and hard to see.
We enjoyed the short morning hike on the Joint Trail to the Chesler Park overlook and rested there in the shade. After a little while we heard and saw a large group of kids hiking through Chesler Park in the distance on their way towards the Joint Trail and we knew that it was time to get moving again. We did not want to get stuck near that group!
Entering the Cave of Cairns. There aren’t as many cairns as there used to be in here. I’ve seen the Park Rangers knocking them over in the past.
Some nice light around the corner.
Trail through the joint.
Our view from the Chesler Park overlook. Maybe one day I’ll finally catch a sunset here, but not today…
Diane heading back to the trailhead.
After our easy morning hike we decided to leave the park and drive up to Ruin Park, Beef Basin and Middle Park to visit a few ruins and search for some new ones. Bobby’s Hole had been washed out earlier this year but had been repaired in the past few months and was in the same condition I have always seen it in.
Leaving the park on the sandy trail.
A new granary I found this trip, with a little help from my friend Jared.
These white pictographs were found next to the granary above. While lines of white dots are commonly found in these parts, the large egg-shaped figure in the middle of the line of dots is something new that I have not seen before.
We stopped to visit Farm House Ruin.
Before returning back to camp, we hiked to the Canyonlands Panel that I managed to find a few years back. This has got to be one of my very favorite petroglyph panels.
One of my favorite signs.
Sandstone spires come into view again as we get closer to our camp.
There were a few small clouds left in the sky this evening that turned magenta after the sun was down.
On Sunday morning we finally had some clouds move into the sky about an hour before sunrise which created some nice color when the sun did come up. It was a very nice sunrise!
The clouds starting to change color.
Sunrise over Devil’s Pocket. The magenta light bouncing off of the clouds and onto the spires was pretty intense.
A closer look at the needles.
Light on the spires when the color in the sky was gone.
After breakfast and packing up camp we continued our drive around the Elephant Hill trail loop so that we could head back home. We did stop to hike to the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers on the way out.
Nice light on the sandstone walls in the Devil’s Lane.
The sandy two-track through the Devil’s Lane.
Another faded Barrier Canyon Style pictograph that we passed by.
A view of the confluence from the overlook. I always enjoy seeing the two separate colors of each river where they meet.
Hiking back to the Jeep from the overlook.
Sandstone formations in Elephant Canyon as we drive back out.
The final climb over Elephant Hill.
The rest of the drive home was pretty uneventful, but we did stop in Moab for a nice lunch at The Blu Pig, one of our favorite restaurants in town 🙂