Needles District, Canyonlands National Park
Cowboy camp, pictographs, red rock scenery
0.75 mile loop
$25 park entrance fee
Pack your own
Spring, Summer, Fall
No shade so come prepared
Well traveled path marked with cairns and one ladder
At trail head
Shoes with good grip there is a little bit of "climbing"
Yes as long as they are old enough to climb a short, sturdy ladder. The rest is very easy.
Cave Spring is a short and fun little trail located in the Needles District of Canyonlands. This trail is suitable for just about anyone who can climb a ladder and use a little basic common sense around short ledges. Kids will love this one since they get to climb on rocks. (as a kid I looked forward to nothing more than climbing on rocks) The trail makes a loop that is three quarters of mile with only 100 feet of elevation change. The trail is best done in a clockwise direction. The parking area is very well signed. From the parking area you will hike a very short ways through the brush before coming to an old cowboy camp that dates back to the cattle days of the park over 100 years ago. This is the exact camp and equipment and there is even still feed in one of the boxes. There is a fence here so don’t go into the camp and enjoy from a distance. Notice the black scarring on the rocks above the camp. This is soot from years of campfires.
Continue a short way down the trail to see the “Cave Spring.” It isn’t actually a cave but a large overhang with a spring inside.
Look closely in the cave and you can see signs of visitors long before any cowboys. There are pictographs here from at least two different natives. The Fremont Indians left the bright red and more faded marks. These are very old. The others are of Pueblo descent. Some of these are over 1000 years old. It should go without saying but do NOT touch the rock art. It is against the law and you will be prosecuted if caught. I have no idea what the hand prints actually are but they seemed like a family portrait of those who once lived here. There are other examples even larger of these hand print displays in other areas of the needles. I documented some in my Elephant Hill Trek.
After the cave you will come to the first and larger of two ladders. These are very sturdy and get you on top of the rock formations.
Once on top follow the stacked rock cairns for the remainder of the trail and have fun playing on the slick rock. There are great desert views all around you and the La Sal Mountains far in the distance.
This is a great trail that can be done by basically anyone in less than an hour. It is packed with history and pretty views and is well worth the walk for anyone visiting the Needles District.