Backpacking in Moab: Needles District

And the last Moab post, from a trip in May 2011.

Since we loved Moab in 2010 so much, we chose to visit once again for Memorial Day in 2011 (I did a very quick recap of this trip awhile back, but I’m enjoying detailed reviews more now, so here’s a better one).  We planned to go back to Canyonlands National Park, this time to the Needles District, known for its colorful sandstone spires.  2011’s itinerary:

  • Thursday night: Fly into SLC
  • Friday: Drive to Moab, pick up permit at Needles District, hike to campsite (~6 miles)
  • Saturday: Hike back out through Chesler Park area (~6 miles)
  • Sunday: Mountain Bike Brand Trails in AM, Canyoneering Trip in PM
  • Monday: Depart for SLC & fly home

Our route in for the Needles hike is shown below (red is Day 1, green is Day 2).  We planned to see the famous Grabens, camp near the Colorado River, and hike out through Chesler Park.  Needles is relatively flat as far as elevation goes and can get very warm since there isn’t much cover.


The first section of the trail, from Elephant hill, was a road shared with jeeps.  I couldn’t believe the rocks the jeeps were going over and was much happier to be hiking it!  You can see there were some blobby spires already.


After a couple miles of hiking, we opened up into “the Grabens”; the red rock was magnificent against the green grass and blue sky.


More than once I felt really, really small.


We had discussed our route with a ranger that had suggested to take the Lower Red Lake Canyon towards the river.  Camping there is at-large, so we just chose a nice rock.  Check out the luxury diggs for the evening:


We had a little time before sunset to goof around and stretch our tired muscles. 


Day 2 was met with a nice sunrise to light up the Grabens. 


We hiked a different way out, to see Chesler Park, known for its spires.  There were a couple great canyons to crawl through too.


It’s a pretty spectacular area with a lot of trails to choose from.  I don’t remember our exact route, but we had fun exploring.  On the way out we approached some more vast scenes.


The texture of this rock here is kind of crazy, I wonder how it formed?


On day 3 in Moab we tried something new: canyoneering with Desert Adventures, which took us scrambling through and rappelling down slot canyons.  I’m throwing in a few shots of the guided activity below, so you can see what it’s like.  It was definitely fun, but nothing too scary or crazy. 


Ok, that’s all I got on Moab; I hope I’ve convinced you how cool it is!


2 thoughts on “Backpacking in Moab: Needles District

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