Wandering Lizard

An online magazine with information related to attractions, lodging, dining,
and travel resources in selected areas of the Western United States

A Hike from Elephant Rock to the Needles
in Canyonlands National Park

Elephant Rock to the Needles

I had never been in the southern section of Canyonlands National Park and had devoted the day to a quick survey. I did not have much time, but wanted to get in at least one hike before I headed north to Moab for pizza, a shower, and some sleep in a bed. This part of the park is called The Needles so I chose a trail that headed out from Elephant Rock and wound its way to the namesake ridge of fantastic spires a few miles to the south. It was summer and the late afternoon weather was unsettled. Jagged lightening strikes danced in the distance, thunder rumbled over the rocks, and a few brief but intense showers punctuated the brilliant sunshine and cooled the trail. A curious lizard greeted me at the trailhead and ran a few yards up the trail ahead of me. I felt right at home.

Elephant Rock to the Needles

Overall, the trail does not change much in altitude, but there are the usual ups and downs as you wind your way over and along the rock terraces. The Park Service has improved the trail through what would otherwise be difficult passages and as a result it is an easy hike through spectacular country - even before you get to the Needles. That day the weather made the scenery even more dramatic.

Elephant Rock to the Needles

The basic structure of the land is the result of water and wind erosion on endless layers of red sandstone crowned with buff colored caps. Canyons and spires dominate this portion of the park and the trail winds through an ever changing fantasy of form, color and texture. Because of the showers the pot holes were small ponds and some of the grasses were in bloom. Every once in a while a cottontail would bounce across my path but otherwise I had the world all to myself.

Elephant Rock to the Needles

"Don't Bust the Crust!"

Lapel Button Distributed at the Park


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