Needles District, Canyonlands National Park
Needles, La Sal Mountains
5.75 Mile Loop
$25 Park Entrance Fee
No water source. Bring all you will need
You will be in direct sun the majority of the hike with several shady spots for rest stops
Sandy, or slick rock trail
Devils Kitchen Trail Head:38.13729N, 109.86154W
Elephant Hill Trail Head:38.14178N, 109.82752W
This is one of my all time favorite areas and is quite possibly my all time favorite. This is the best non-technical hiking in any Utah National Park. It is a very unique area and there aren’t really any others like it. It is a very remote and dry area so make sure you have the necessary supplies to safely visit. Spring, and fall are the best times to visit when the daytime temperatures are less extreme meaning you don’t need as much water. There are several loops and options in the Chesler Park area that can be done. I have always found it best to off road to Devils Kitchen and spend at least a couple days hiking the area. If you don’t have off road capable vehicles then you can still explore the area from the Elephant Hill Trail Head where it is long day hikes or backpacking trips. There are several back country sites to choose from. If you have more than one day make sure you also visit the Joint Trail, and Druid Arch. This loop starts at the Devils Kitchen Campsite 4. You can also do the hike from Elephant Hill but that would add about 6 miles to the round trip. I wouldn’t hesitate adding the distance if you get the chance because it is fantastic hiking.
The hike starts out heading southeast from the outhouse. You can also head southwest but I found lighting to be better going clockwise. You will hike around the mushroom formations of Devils Kitchen.
Soon you will see why the area is called the Needles.
The trail is for the most part easy to follow. There are tons of cairns marking the path so make sure you stay attentive in looking for them. All junctions are marked by great signs. Soon you will get fantastic views of the La Sal Mountains.
The trail continues south and around a very large section of Needles. This area is just beautiful in all directions.
Soon the huge section of needles known as Chesler Park comes into view in the distance. This path will explore the northern section of Chesler Park.
There are lots of huge formations just to the north of you that make this stretch awesome!
Be sure to never step on the cryptobiotic soil. There are lots of areas where I thought these soils resembled a satellite map of Canyonlands itself.
Off to the east there are many mushroom formations and more mountain views.
You will soon start heading straight at Chesler Park.
There is one spot where you have to squat through a very low section.
You will soon take a trail to the west that goes straight through a small pass in this formation. This area is called the pinnacle.
There are crude stone steps to help you make the short climb.
Once through the pinnacle there is a signed overlook with really pretty views of the area you just hiked through.
You are now officially in Chesler Park. This area is huge with many needles in all directions and lots of large open meadows.
The trail passes through a thin slot in one area.
Just after the slot is the toughest part of the hike. The cairns can be hard to follow and there is some minor down climbing. I would not recommend this area for small children without lots of supervision. The goal in this area if you get lost is to get to the bottom of the large shelf. Once at the bottom the trail levels out with more great needles to see.
You will then climb one more small pass that is the last of the elevation gain for the loop.
Once at the top you can see the trail wind through meadows in a small canyon. This is called Devils Pocket. This meadow will pop you out right back at Devils Kitchen.
As already stated this is one of if not my all time favorite hikes. This should be on every persons must do list. It offers a break from crowds in a very remote area with scenery that can’t be found in any other place. When added with a trip on the Elephant Hill 4×4 road this is one of the best adventures you can do.