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Canyondlands-Needles District
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Trishness
The Snake Charmer




Joined: 21 Sep 2003
Posts: 2530
Location: Apache Jct, AZ

PostPosted: 9/30/2008, 6:00 pm    Post subject: Canyondlands-Needles District Reply to topic Reply with quote

Canyonlands- Needles District

Notes from our journals

September 20, 2008

We hightailed it from Arches to Canyonlands passing through Moab and Monticello south on Utah 191. Canyonlands has three districts, Island in the Sky, Needles and a far detached district called Horseshoe Canyon which we were planning to visit but we really didn’t want to drive an additional 200 miles to get to. The Needles District is 30 miles from the turnoff from 191 and we didn’t want to stop anywhere on the way in because the only campground in the district is Squaw Flat Campground and it is on a first come, first served basis. Being a Saturday I was hoping for the best although we did scope out some options on the way in case there were no sites available. We pulled into the ranger check in around 10 AM and heard that there were 11 out of 16 sites available!!! WOO HOO!
Checked out Campground A first and said NAH let’s check out Campground B. We found a perfect campspot in a little cul-de-sac far away from the RV’s and large groups. Upon arriving we met our camping neighbor Joe from Salt Lake City who was a very nice older gentleman car camping alone and after assuring him we were seeking quiet and solitude we set up camp. Joe spends lots of time in Canyonlands so he had lots of great advice for a good hike to do since we really only had tomorrow to do a hike. By the time we set up camp it was noon and was really too late to do any of the hikes we had looked at so we set off for a drive through the scenic route for the afternoon. We drove to Big Spring Canyon Overlook where the confluence overlook trail is and then drove back to the Needles Outpost where we refilled with yet more ice, firewood for us and Joe and some cold beer. The trails in this district in Canyonlands are usually quite long and are usually 10+ miles so you can do the entire trail or just an out and back as far as you want to go. We decided to kick back and relax today and will hike Chesler Park via Elephant Canyon tomorrow which Joe told us brings us into the heart of the Needles for a distance of 6-7 miles round trip or a 12 mile loop if we choose. I bought a detailed map of the Needles district at the visitor center and we felt that Chesler Park would be a good hike for the morning.

I LOVE this park. It is quiet with no busloads of people as we encountered at Arches. The campground is ultra quiet and we had a nice fire followed by “find that constellation” which was difficult with a night sky FILLED with stars. I was in my tent and watched the falling stars until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and slept the sleep of the just…..the just plain contented.

Michelle:
Made our way out of Arches and into Canyonlands. Interestingly 30 mi drive in through BLM land before getting to the park. Beautiful rocks, colors and trees along this drive. Passed a small lake right next to a large Rock formation. Where did that come from? Must be a spring somewhere feeding it. Our campground was Great!! Large Rocks on the East to shade us from the morning sun and a Rock Boulder to the West to provide shade in the afternoon. As Trish said, nestled in a secluded cul de sac. Peace and quiet tonite for sure with our feet kicked back and a Cold Beer. This was definitely a change from the last camp. Wonderful star filled sky to sit under to gaze. I even saw a couple of constellations…not many but a few. I was always looking too high in the sky, no wonder I could never find them. Slept soundly to complete silence. How wonderful !!!,


September 21, 2008

WOW, I slept great last night, a deep and peaceful sleep and awoke this morning to NO slamming car doors or people yelling across campsites. Since I was up way before Michelle was, I made coffee and shared a cup with our neighbor Joe. We had packed our day packs the night before so we set off for our day hike through Chesler Park. The brochure they hand out at the ranger station states that Elephant Hill Road is a “rough” road and we were laughing because it is better than most roads in the Superstitions although after the TH it becomes a technical 4WD road. We tooled along at about 25-30 MPH until we got to some of the blind curves but it really was a piece of cake. Got to the TH by 9:15 and set off for our hike. This hike did NOT disappoint…….it was spectacular and brought us to the heart of the Needles up hills, across slickrock into Elephant Canyon and up the other side of the canyon. It was a moderate hike with some tricky and steep descents into the canyon. We went through some cool passageways that were between the rocks where they actually made STAIRS! One descent of about 600 feet to the canyon and then an ascent of 800 feet up the other side all across slick rock ledges. The needles were spectacular in the morning sun and showed their true colors of rose, white and yellow. One more, big climb and we were at the summit of Chesler Park where a wonderful breeze took the heat off us. We did continue a short way past here thinking we would do the loop but we passed a hiker coming back who said it was all sand (and I really dislike hiking in sand) so we opted to just hike back out. The trails are all very well marked. We did about 7 miles round trip on this trail and it was shaded in the canyon but totally exposed on the way out as we were trekking across slickrock.

We got back to camp in time to say goodbye to Joe since he was heading back to SLC and then decided to celebrate my birthday a month early so we each washed our hair (that felt GREAT), had a wonderful campfire and several martinis with the vodka that Michelle had graciously brought with her.

Looking back, I wish I would have allotted three days in Canyonlands instead of just the two~~~~Next year I will return here and spend at least 3-4 days. It is just spectacular.

I went to bed at 11:30 and slept the sleep of the just……the just plain drunk on martinis.

Michelle:
I awoke to fresh brewed coffee. How nice is that? Thanks so much Trish. Got up and together to get as early a start as we could. Yes the rough road was really not that rough. The road to Peralta or Revis seemed rougher than this. However once you did reach the trailhead there definitely was a 4WD road to turn off to continue further. It was much much rougher. The hike was a beauty! So many different rock formations and colors. Some grey, some white and others Red. Funny that there can be such a diverse change of colors and textures in these formations in a short area. The Needles seemed so far away but in reality it felt like we got there quicker than I thought we would. The last climb to the summit was pretty vertical, but once you were up you could see the Needles so clearly and they were right there in front of you. How pretty! Only saw a few people on their way out from a backpack as we hiked in and an older couple on our way back. A semi-empty trail Wink Several other trails I would have liked to do, but not much time (only the 1 day). Oh darn! I can always go back and plan to. Our camp neighbor Joe was just finishing packing to leave when we returned. Got a chance to say goodbye and thank him for his suggestions and insights to other trails for another time. Had another wonderful fire and a bit of celebratory drinks in Honor of Trish’s birthday (just a bit early). 2 guys rolled into Joe’s campspot for the nite. They were fairly quiet so we tried to be also (not sure we were as quiet as we wanted, being that we were celebrating, but we weren’t real loud, just a bit silly). I fell asleep to the sound of crickets. A wonderful day for sure.

Next Stop: Cedar Mesa and the Grand Gulch
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~~~Trish~~~

"Eastward the dawn rose, ridge behind ridge into the morning, and vanished out of eyesight into guess; it was no more than a glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of the memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains." — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings.
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wanderingsoul





Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 2285
Location: Gilbert AZ

PostPosted: 10/6/2008, 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Finally got a few of my pics posted...sorry for the delay.
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Trishness
The Snake Charmer




Joined: 21 Sep 2003
Posts: 2530
Location: Apache Jct, AZ

PostPosted: 10/7/2008, 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Out of all the places we visited while on our two week tour I loved this place so much, I decided to return to hike as many trails as I can in a 5 day period in the spring (probably in May). I will also get to Horseshoe Canyon this time around.

So the trip for 2009 is in the works.....I see Druid Arch Trail, Joint Trail and Devil's Kitchen coming up Very Happy I LOVE UTAH.

Mr. Green
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~~~Trish~~~

"Eastward the dawn rose, ridge behind ridge into the morning, and vanished out of eyesight into guess; it was no more than a glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of the memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains." — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings.
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desert spirit





Joined: 12 Nov 2008
Posts: 8
Location: Tucson, AZ

PostPosted: 11/12/2008, 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

To me, Canyonlands is one of those places where you just know it's the center of the universe. The Needles is wonderful, but if you really want some wild country, take the extra time to go into the Maze. You'll need a sturdy 4WD to get to the Maze Overlook, or you can hike the 15 miles in from the ranger station. From there, you can explore the Maze canyons. Or you can 4WD to the Dollhouse section, which is spectacular, but make sure you have camping permits.

If you like rock art, you musn't miss Horseshoe Canyon. It's the best single rock art panel anywhere, and it's a comfy six-mile roundtrip through a nice canyon. I've been there half-a-dozen times, and only seen people there once. And you don't normally need 4WD to get to the trailhead.
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Trishness
The Snake Charmer




Joined: 21 Sep 2003
Posts: 2530
Location: Apache Jct, AZ

PostPosted: 11/12/2008, 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Spirit,

Our plan was to go to Horseshoe Canyon but I was just tired of driving so we are going next trip. Maybe this old hag will get there next year!

I'd love to go to the Maze but knew that my 2WD SUV wouldn't get me there.

Canyonlands was just freakin' awesome. I'm going back next year


Mr. Green
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~~~Trish~~~

"Eastward the dawn rose, ridge behind ridge into the morning, and vanished out of eyesight into guess; it was no more than a glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of the memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains." — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings.
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desert spirit





Joined: 12 Nov 2008
Posts: 8
Location: Tucson, AZ

PostPosted: 11/13/2008, 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Trish ... hope to see you there sometime Wink
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spethmd





Joined: 16 Feb 2009
Posts: 33
Location: Wenonah, New Jersey, 08090

PostPosted: 2/21/2009, 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Speaking of Needles --- I love the Peekaboo trail for a leisurely day hike from the campground. It has such spectacular views and rock formations. It's also great for a family with kids.
You walk down the dirt road to get there, where it begins up a ladder. At the end it is a pleasant hike back to the campground.
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Trishness
The Snake Charmer




Joined: 21 Sep 2003
Posts: 2530
Location: Apache Jct, AZ

PostPosted: 2/21/2009, 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Spethmd,

I read about this trail last year when I was doing research......doesn't this go through the Lost Canyon area? That might be worth checking out.

Our plans for UTAH 2009 are all set and we'll get to spend 4 days in Canyonlands Needles. We also have a day trip planned for Horseshoe Canyon District and hiking to the Great Gallery. I'm having visions of Druid Arch and Devil's Kitchen. Now that you mention it....maybe Peekaboo is another hike to be seriously considered.

What exit off the Jersey turnpike is Wenonah?
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~~~Trish~~~

"Eastward the dawn rose, ridge behind ridge into the morning, and vanished out of eyesight into guess; it was no more than a glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of the memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains." — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings.
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spethmd





Joined: 16 Feb 2009
Posts: 33
Location: Wenonah, New Jersey, 08090

PostPosted: 2/21/2009, 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Hi,
The trail is about 10 miles long. It does join the Lost Canyon trail. What is special about this trail are the series of high, lengthy stlickrock benches which are like the sides of bowls, You go through windows to get from one bench to the next. You have spectacular 360 degree views. The trail begins at Squaw Flat and ends at Peekaboo camp which is a riparian area.
Wenonah does not have a turnpike exit, even though the turnpike passes Wenonah just a mile away. Wenonah is known as an arbor community with its original growth trees and the beautiful Stewart Tract, with its meandering streams, moss-covered hilllocks and the very tall oaks and tulip poplars. It is also known for its vulture festival which will be held again on March 7 when all the vultures will have returned.
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paintninaz





Joined: 06 Jan 2003
Posts: 3515

PostPosted: 2/22/2009, 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Trishness wrote:
Our plans for UTAH 2009 are all set and we'll get to spend 4 days in Canyonlands Needles. We also have a day trip planned for Horseshoe Canyon District and hiking to the Great Gallery. I'm having visions of Druid Arch and Devil's Kitchen. Now that you mention it....maybe Peekaboo is another hike to be seriously considered.


When do we leave? Mr. Green Wink
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Trishness
The Snake Charmer




Joined: 21 Sep 2003
Posts: 2530
Location: Apache Jct, AZ

PostPosted: 2/23/2009, 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

paintninaz wrote:
When do we leave? Mr. Green Wink


WE leave in early May for 10 days~~~are you going to join us? Wink
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~~~Trish~~~

"Eastward the dawn rose, ridge behind ridge into the morning, and vanished out of eyesight into guess; it was no more than a glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of the memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains." — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings.
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RedRoxx44
Queen of the Walkabout




Joined: 15 Jan 2004
Posts: 1167

PostPosted: 2/23/2009, 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

I too am planning on Utah in May. Looks like the Swell area, maybe Kaparowits Plateau. Gonna try to con--uh try, to get Mike Kelsey to allow me to tag along on something. Guess I better go to the gym twice a day for the next few months. Not really, but he is a great resource if I have questions on some of his hikes.

If the snow melt cooperates I might do a top to bottom trek of Dark Canyon. Any takers on a shuttle----might be a problem hitching on this one. Wink
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Trishness
The Snake Charmer




Joined: 21 Sep 2003
Posts: 2530
Location: Apache Jct, AZ

PostPosted: 2/25/2009, 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Letty,

I know where you will be in Canyon Rims Rec area near Cataract Canyon. That's clear on the other side of the LaSals from UT191!!! Wow, I'll be in the area but don't think I can get my 2 WD vehicle anywhere near there to be of help in the shuttle department. If you are trekking with Mike Kelsey you know that's all good. Very Happy

PM me for the specific dates I'll be in Canyonlands and going through that area. My entourage and I might be able to meet up with you in Monticello, Bluff or Blanding if you are in the area at the same time. Be safe and bring back those gorgeous pictures we all love.


Mr. Green
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~~~Trish~~~

"Eastward the dawn rose, ridge behind ridge into the morning, and vanished out of eyesight into guess; it was no more than a glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of the memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains." — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings.
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PageRob





Joined: 03 Mar 2005
Posts: 859
Location: Page, Az.

PostPosted: 2/25/2009, 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

May not make it to Canyonlands until fall, but I'll be in Bluff May29th-early 30th. Got our San Juan permits the other day! Hooray!
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Trishness
The Snake Charmer




Joined: 21 Sep 2003
Posts: 2530
Location: Apache Jct, AZ

PostPosted: 2/26/2009, 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Canyonlands May 11th-14th....Horseshoe Canyon on May 10th to view the great gallery.

We are hiking to Druid Arch, to Devils Kitchen and through Chesler Park. Maybe Peekaboo as spethmd suggested too.

AZgypsy (Michelle) and I spent two days in Needles last years and I vowed to return to see more of this gorgeous area.

Not quite 2 months to go for UTAH 2009 to kick off.

Mr. Green
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~~~Trish~~~

"Eastward the dawn rose, ridge behind ridge into the morning, and vanished out of eyesight into guess; it was no more than a glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of the memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains." — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings.
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