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The Needles of Canyonlands National Park

Realm of Rock: Elephant Hill to The Grabens

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 ...

Kept in The Loop at The Needles

Friday – Sunday, March 4-6, 2022

I ended up staying home last weekend because a winter storm had moved through the area during the week and dropped plenty of snow and also the temperature, so I was anxious to get back outside this weekend and thought this would be a good time to head back to The Needles once more before things start getting busy there for the spring season. Back in the late summer of 2020 when I floated the Colorado River through Meander Canyon we didn’t quite make it all the way to The Confluence like we had ...

The Land In-Between: Around The Needles

Friday – Monday, January 14-17, 2022

Well here it is, my first Trip Report of 2022! This wasn’t originally supposed to be my first trip of 2022, but we ended up cancelling our plans over New Years Day weekend because of the weather and then I decided to take last weekend off, too. So now it’s time to get back at it again, and what better way to start off the year then by spending a three-day weekend exploring one of my absolute favorite places on the Colorado PlateauThe Needles! As usual, I left after work on Friday afternoon ...

Below Cathedral Butte: Upper Salt Creek Canyon

Wednesday – Sunday, April 21-25, 2021

Last spring I was looking forward to spending a few days hiking into upper Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park with Diane so I could show her around one of my very favorite places on the Colorado Plateau for the first time. I was also hoping to squeeze in some deeper explorations into the area while we were there. Unfortunately, COVID-19 struck and would have other plans for us when Canyonlands cancelled our permit for the last weekend in April. I then managed to quickly snag another permit for later in May, but ...

Drifting Around Indian Creek Country

Friday – Sunday, January 8-10, 2021

After spending the first long weekend of 2021 along Comb Ridge with Diane, I was on my own this weekend since Diane has now started PA school and just had LASIK surgery on Thursday, and needed to rest her eyes for a few days. As many of you are probably aware of by now, the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park is one of my absolute favorite places to explore, so earlier in the week when I was deciding which area to go to on my first camping trip of the year, it was ...

West Side Wandering: Fingers of Salt Creek Canyon

Thursday – Sunday, March 12-15, 2020

This year for our annual early season backpacking trip to The Needles we returned to one of my favorite places on the Colorado Plateau- Salt Creek Canyon. Although I have spent a lot of time in this canyon over the years, Diane had never been here before, so I was looking forward to showing her around on her first visit and searching for new traces of the ancient ones that called this canyon home. Instead of it being just the two of us, this time we also invited our friend Jerry along since I ...

Heart of the Salt Creek Archeological District

Five Years Later | Return to Salt Creek Canyon
Wednesday – Sunday, April 10-14, 2019

After spending the past couple of years searching for rock art and ancient ruins in Grand Gulch during our annual spring backpacking trip together, this year Dave, Jared and I were really looking forward to getting back into upper Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park to see what we had missed on our first visit almost five years ago. I made sure to secure our camping permits earlier this year so we could spend four days exploring the heart of the Salt Creek Archeological ...

Secrets of Canyonlands

Friday – Sunday, March 22-24, 2019

This past week was an unusual one for me since I spent most of it in Rifle, Colorado attending a training class so I could get a Remote Pilot Certification (FAA Small UAS Rule, Part 107) for work. The funny thing is that I have never touched a drone in my life, and as of Friday morning I am now an FAA certified Drone Pilot! After taking the required test at the Grand Junction Airport on Friday morning and then having lunch with Diane afterwards, I drove into Utah through scattered storms to Moab ...

Lost Canyon Loop

Thursday – Sunday, March 14-17, 2019

Last March Diane and I had such a nice time backpacking through Chesler Park and Elephant Canyon in Canyonlands National Park on our first backpacking trip of the season, that we decided to head back to The Needles for another early season backpacking trip this year, too! I think this might become one of our new annual traditions, at least for a couple of years! The Needles is a great place to get back into backpacking mode after taking a few months off, so at the end of last year I reserved a couple ...

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 ...

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 ...

Horsin’ Around: The Return to Horse Canyon

Friday – Sunday, November 16-18, 2018

It’s been over six years since the last time I drove into Horse Canyon which is located in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The road washed out again shortly after that trip and I don’t think it’s been open much, if at all, since then. When I noticed at the end of October that the road was actually open again, I quickly put together a last minute weekend trip with my friends Dave and Jared since I’m not sure how long it will stay open this time! Jared came along on my ...

Gallivanting Through The Grabens

Southern Utah Wanderings | Friday – Saturday, October 5-6, 2018

After spending the previous two nights at the Horsehoof Campsite in Canyonlands National Park it was time for us to move on. When we got our permit for Horsehoof on Wednesday morning we also picked up a backpacking permit for the Red Lake / Grabens At-Large Backpacking Zone for tonight, so we still had one more night left in the Needles District. Aside from driving through Devils Lane a bunch of times and hiking down the Lower Red Lake Canyon Trail earlier this year, I had never really explored this ...

Searching for Starvation Pocket

Southern Utah Wanderings | Thursday, October 4, 2018

After driving into The Needles on Wednesday morning and spending the day exploring the fringes of Canyonlands National Park, it was time for us to spend our first full day hiking into Starvation Pocket. We had originally thought about doing this hike as an overnight backpack, but we were running short on time this trip and already had a different overnight trip planned, so we decided to just do this one as a long day-hike instead. In hindsight it probably would have been better to do this one as an overnighter since ...

The Edge of The Needles

Southern Utah Wanderings | Wednesday, October 3, 2018

All the rain we had received the previous day made me a little bit nervous about trying to drive into Beef Basin, which was our original plan for today. I’ve driven that road in the rain before and it was a slippery mess. I didn’t want to have to do that again! So instead of heading into Beef Basin we decided to see if we could get a last-minute campsite in The Needles and drive over Elephant Hill instead. Since the Visitor’s Center didn’t open until 9:00am we slept in later than ...

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 ...

The Search for The Sky Faces

Friday & Saturday, December 1-2, 2017

A few years back I came across an old photo of some pictographs I was unfamiliar with called the Sky Faces. Since I’ve enjoyed visiting many of the other ‘Faces Motif’ pictographs in the Canyonlands region (Four Faces, Five Faces, Thirteen Faces, etc.), I decided to try and track them down. It took me a few years, but I was finally able to figure out their location earlier this year and wanted to try and get to them before the year was over. Back in October Jared and I tried to hike to them, ...

The Bears Ears

Southern Utah Wanderings | Northern Bears Ears
Friday – Sunday, September 29 – October 1, 2017

This year for my annual weeklong trip into southern Utah during the first week of October I met up with Jared and we spent most of the week exploring, hiking, four-wheeling, camping, backpacking, peak-bagging and photographing within Bears Ears National Monument. The first few days of our trip were spent in the northern part of the Bears Ears between Canyonlands National Park and Lockhart Basin. (We did a little hiking into Canyonlands, too.) We were hoping to visit a few new pictograph panels and ...

Lavender Canyon

Saturday & Sunday, March 12-13, 2016

This weekend Diane and I went on our first camping trip of the year. We decided to head down to Lavender Canyon and camp just outside the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. It has been almost eight years since I last visited Lavender Canyon, and it rained most of the time we were there on that trip, so I was looking forward to revisiting this area.

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Davis Canyon

Saturday & Sunday, March 21-22, 2015

After spending the last two weekends close to home in the Grand Valley it was time to head back over the state line into Utah for an overnight camping trip near the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. We left home bright and early on Saturday morning and drove through Moab and Indian Creek Canyon on our way to Davis Canyon, where we setup camp just outside of the park.

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A Needles Tour

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!

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Salt Creek Canyon

Wednesday – Sunday, April 30 – May 4, 2014

Salt Creek Canyon. This is a place I have wanted to visit for quite a long time. It’s actually one of the main reasons I decided to get started backpacking a few years ago. I was very excited to finally experience this amazing canyon, and it certainly didn’t disappoint! I had taken Wednesday off from work so I could spend some time with Diane before leaving and so that I could double-check to make sure I had everything I needed for the trip packed into my backpack and Jeep. In the ...

The Elusive Horse Canyon

Saturday & Sunday, July 14-15, 2012

I first tried to explore Horse Canyon in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park back in 2008 when I camped at Peekaboo with a few friends. Back then the entrance to the canyon had been washed out pretty good and there was a very deep hole blocking vehicle entry. For the past two years I have been checking the condition of the road so that I could finally get back there to start exploring the area, but both the Salt Creek and Horse Canyon roads have been washed out and closed for that ...

Salt Creek Exploring & The Drive Home

Memorial Weekend in The Needles | Day 3
Memorial Day | Monday, May 28, 2012

After another night of great camping weather we had some breakfast and set out hiking so that we could visit the Flying Carpet Panel. We also explored a few small side canyons before hiking back out to our vehicles near Cave Spring.

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Devil's Kitchen to Peekaboo

Memorial Weekend in The Needles | Day 2
Sunday, May 27, 2012

After a good night of sleep at Devil’s Kitchen we spent the rest of the day making our way over to Peekaboo for the night. Of course, we made some other stops along the way.

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Cyclone Canyon & The Devil's Pocket

Memorial Weekend in The Needles | Day 1
Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bright and early Saturday morning I was up and headed to The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park to meet up with a few friends for the Memorial Day weekend. I made pretty good time and was soon on my way over Elephant Hill and at our campsite in Devil’s Kitchen. It took me just under four hours to reach the campsite from my house in Grand Junction. I quickly setup my tent and we were soon on our way to start hiking and exploring.

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The Needles & Indian Creek

Sunday, May 6, 2012

After a nice night sleeping along Indian Creek, I was awake again the break of dawn and having some breakfast. I packed up camp and then headed back into The Needles for another day of exploring. I was soon driving the rough road over Elephant Hill into the heart of the Needles. I ended up doing a little hiking and searching for some new rock art sites as I explored this beautiful area once again.

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Lost Canyon & Squaw Canyon Loop

Saturday, May 5, 2012

On Saturday morning I set out early to drive down to The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. One of my goals for 2012 was to spend more time hiking and exploring in this amazing area. Unfortunately, because of circumstances earlier this year I was unable to make it down here until now, so I’m getting a later start than I had originally planned. Better late than never, I guess. I’ve still got plenty of time this year to return a few more times!

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Labor Day Weekend in the Needles

Saturday – Monday, September 3-5, 2011

Over the Labor Day weekend I decided to head down to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park to revisit some rock art and to find some new panels. I explored a lot of the park in my Jeep and on foot. I drove over Elephant Hill a few times and I ended up camping just outside of the park in Bobbys Hole. I even found the time to take a quick side trip up into Beef Basin. Here are some of my photos from the weekend…

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Indian Creek Corridor Rock Art

Indian Creek Area Rock Art II
Sunday, May 22, 2011

After leaving Hovenweep National Monument I started heading north on my way home. On the way I took a detour down Utah 211 to try and find some more rock art along the Indian Creek Canyon corridor. I took the highway to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park so that I could hike to a pictograph panel that I had not visited before. This panel contains a number of faded Barrier Canyon Style anthropomorphs and a whole bunch of handprints. Unfortunately, reaching this panel was no fun, since I ...

Needles District & Lockhart Road

Saturday, February 5, 2011

After finishing searching for rock art in Indian Creek Canyon, I continued on down the highway to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Since all of the 4×4 roads in the park were closed I figured that I would complete some of the easier and shorter hikes that I always pass by on my way elsewhere. I started out with the very short hike to the Roadside Ruin.

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Beef Basin Weekend | Sunday

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday morning we were up early, had some breakfast and packed up camp. We would be heading home today, but not the way we came. We would be heading out through Canyonlands National Park’s Needles District.

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Davis Canyon & Dry Fork of Lavender Canyon

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Since our original plan for the weekend was to go rafting near Glenwood Springs on Sunday, I ended up heading to Davis Canyon on Saturday to do some hiking and exploring. Unfortunately, because of the wind, our rafting trip on Sunday never happened…

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Southern Utah Wanderings | Day 7

Friday, October 9, 2009 | Starting Odometer: 144942

This wasn’t intended to be the final day of my trip, but that’s the way it ended. By the end of the day I was tired and wanted to just relax for the final weekend of my vacation. I had entertained the thought of getting a hotel room in Moab and having Amanda join me, but since I was so close to home and didn’t want to spend the money on a hotel room for the weekend, I decided it would be best to just head home for the weekend.

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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 ...