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Cave Spring – Canyonlands National Park

Needles District, Canyonlands National Park


Cowboy camp, pictographs, red rock scenery


0.75 mile loop

Elevation Gain/Loss

100 feet

Time Required

20-60 minutes




$25 park entrance fee

Water Info

Pack your own

Best Season

Spring, Summer, Fall

Sun Exposure

No shade so come prepared

Trail Condition

Well traveled path marked with cairns and one ladder


At trail head

Visitor Center







Shoes with good grip there is a little bit of "climbing"

Family Friendly?

Yes as long as they are old enough to climb a short, sturdy ladder. The rest is very easy.

Trail Map

Driving Directions

The Trail:

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.

Personal Thoughts:

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.

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The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek. If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

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About The Author
I love adventure! I live in Cache Valley, Utah. Do you have questions on any of my Treks? Email me @ joshua.oyler@gmail.com

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1 Comment on "Cave Spring – Canyonlands National Park"

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Looks great Josh!