A Last Minute Trip into The Needles | Friday – Sunday, October 14-16, 2022
This weekend Jackson and I had made plans to go camping and hiking together but we were having trouble deciding where to go and running out of time, especially during this busy Fall Break weekend in southern Utah. On a whim Thursday afternoon we looked to see what campsites were still available in Canyonlands National Park and found that the New Bates Wilson site was open, so I booked it and quickly made last minute plans for us to head into The Needles. To get to the New Bates Wilson campsite we would have to drive over Elephant Hill, so this would also be a great opportunity for me to finally get my new Jeep on a real trail.
We left after work on Friday afternoon and headed south through Moab to The Needles and arrived shortly after dark. As expected, the campsites along the Lockhart Basin Road were packed full of people this busy weekend, so I took us out to a backup camping spot located outside of the park that was a bit more secluded. It was a beautiful and peaceful night as we got our tents set up and then went to bed early. The weather all weekend would end up being perfect for camping! On Saturday morning we were up early and on our way over Elephant Hill shortly after sunrise. We then spent the rest of the weekend Jeeping, hiking and camping around The Grabens near our campsite.
Driving through The Squeeze along the Elephant Hill Trail.
Stopped for a photo below the Silver Stairs.
From the New Bates Wilson campsite we went on a loop hike that required us to hike two miles along the sandy two-track back into Devils Lane.
Two-Track Through The Narrows
Descending the trail into Cyclone Canyon.
Looking into the head of the short canyon that cuts through the horst between Cyclone Canyon and Red Lake Canyon.
A high overview of Cyclone Canyon.
Following the trail through Cyclone Canyon.
We stopped to check out this sinkhole in Cyclone Canyon.
We had a pleasant walk through the horsts and grabens, although it did start to get a bit warm in the sun of the afternoon.
After returning to camp and resting in the shade for a while we headed over to The Confluence Overlook to watch the sunset.
An evening at The Confluence Overlook. We just floated through there about a month ago.
Lovely golden light on the cliffs with Junction Butte and the Island in the Sky on the horizon.
Below, we could see the final campsite we stayed at along the Colorado River after floating through Stillwater Canyon last month.
At the Edge of Sunset
Surprisingly, the large sandbar that was located just below The Confluence a month ago was now almost completely gone.
The Confluence at Dusk
When we returned to camp in the dark I decided to try a few night photos.
After a great night in the desert we woke up early on Sunday morning and climbed up onto the rocks above camp to take a few photos at sunrise.
New Bates Wilson Camp
After sunrise we packed up camp we headed back over Elephant Hill and then continued on home since I had a concert to go to in the evening.
Rock Art of The Grabens
While I didn’t find any new rock art sites this weekend, we did pass by a couple that I’ve been to before, so here are a few photos of the rock art we passed along the way.
Nice. Looks like the Jeep did well, and I always love the confluence as the water colors come together! Needles is a pretty cool spot – have you hiked Druid Arch from Joint Trail? Didn’t find that route in a quick search, and I think you’d like that one.
The Jeep did do well. I just need to replace the stock gas tank skid with the one that’s been sitting in my garage for months! Also, this Jeep came with AT tires and I’m not sold on them. I’ve always had MT tires before and might go back when I wear these out…
I’ve been to Druid Arch a couple of times, it’s definitely a great hike! This was my latest visit: https://adventr.co/2018/03/chesler-park-elephant-canyon/
Ahh, I missed that one; only found the hike from the Elephant Hill Trailhead. I suppose we didn’t really know what we were looking for, since we didn’t see any petroglyphs (it was before I really knew to look), but I really enjoyed the scenery from the Joint Trail. It was my first real hike in Utah, I think.
I’ve spent several mornings enjoying the sunrise from the rocks above the New Bates Wilson camp with my dad in the years before he passed away. What a beautiful spot. Thanks for helping me relive the memories.
Sounds like you had some good times there! This was my first time staying at that particular campsite and I enjoyed it.
This is amazing. I need to get back out there soon!