Backpacking in the Needles – Canyonlands NP

Day 1

Our backpacks are packed and ready to go, we leave at 8:30am to drive over 80 miles to The Needles District of Canyonlands NP to begin our hike for two days. We had to carry-in over 15 lbs of water because there is no water available in this area of the Park. We started at the Elephant Hill Trailhead to hike just over 3 miles to our campsite (CP1) in Chesler Park. The signature features in The Needles are the colorful sandstone spires hundreds of them poking up from the desert floor, and as we hiked along the trail these rock pinnacles heavily banded in red, white, orange and pink dominated the views in all directions. We were happy to reach the grassy meadows of Chesler Park and our campsite, CP1, after scrambling over rocks and through steep, narrow cracks between massive sandstone slabs. Continue reading

Dead Horse Point SP and Canyonlands NP

We left Durango yesterday in the rain and arrived at the KOA in Moab where we will be staying for a week. Today we are going to explore Canyonlands National Park and on the way we stopped to see Dead Horse Point State Park, situated on a high plateau at an elevation of about 6,000 feet. According to one legend, the point was once used as a corral for wild mustangs. Cowboys herded them across the narrow neck of land, only 30 yards wide, and onto the point. They were fenced off with branches and brush creating a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs dropping into the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and left the others to die. Thus, the name of the park! However, Dead Horse State Park provides a breathtaking panorama of Canyonlands’ sculptured pinnacles and buttes of Island in the Sky District, walking along the East Rim and West Rim Trails. This is perhaps Utah’s most spectacular State Park, well worth a visit. Continue reading