register help

Druid Arch, UT

no permit
1 new
108 9 1
Guide 9 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List UT > Southeast
4.8 of 5 by 8
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.35 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,194 feet
Elevation Gain 673 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,059 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 10.65
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
9  2018-04-20 chumley
49  2018-04-19
Canyonlands Needles Backpack
9  2016-11-11 afrankie
10  2014-05-01 rvcarter
40  2013-10-16 CannondaleKid
40  2013-03-30
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Mar
Sun  6:03am - 6:24pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby

Author Full Detail Guide

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Druid Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    With a short day backpacking between camps, we opted for this 4+ mile day hike to the highly impressive Druid Arch. The trail continues up Elephant Canyon, past a perennial spring and a few pools before climbing up a steep scree slope to the base of the arch. Just before the scree slope there's a short ladder, though it looked to me like it could have been done with a class 4 move instead. Nonetheless, we didn't mind the NPS assist.

    It began to snow quite furiously while we were at the arch, and really added to the experience of being here. The ground was soaked with melting snow and began to cast the colors of sandstone in a different light.

    On the way back down, we encountered a group of hikers at the ladder. Apparently others don't find this obstacle quite as easy as we did, though we patiently waited about 5 minutes for the group to make it up, before heading back down, and back to the spring where we topped off on water before heading back to our packs and continuing on our next camp in Squaw Creek.
    Druid Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Canyonlands Needles Backpack
    I spent some time in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands back in early 2016 and wanted to return to check out the Needles District. I scored permits in early 2017 and the months blurred by. Chumley was able to join me for this trip and we left after work on Wednesday afternoon. We car camped by Mexican Hat and completed the drive into Canyonlands and started hiking after a quick stop at the Visitor Center. Our plan is three days backpacking followed by car camping and day hikes and then returning to Phoenix the following Monday afternoon.

    Thursday - April 19, 2018
    We parked at the Squaw Flat Campground and started our hike to Chesler Park. The first mile is over a traditional trail and then you climb up onto slickrock and follow cairns. This will be the story of our hiking over the next three days. Following cairns is critical to not getting lost. Fortunately there are a lot of them and we also had Route Scout loaded with our GPS Route. This kept us on track. We continued hiking and were blown away by the views! Pictures don’t do this park justice! The hiking is also rugged with lots of easy to moderate obstacles to negotiate. The heavy overnight pack made things more difficult and my knees took a pounding!

    After a few hours we arrived to Chesler Park and headed over to our campsite in CP2. It’s a nice site situated between several large boulders. It was a very windy day and this boulders helped as a wind break. After camp was set up, we put on day packs and headed for the Joint Trail. We made quick time and had a quick look from above before heading in. The Joint Trail is world class! The walls are roughly two feet apart and there are several side cuts that run for hundreds of yards. Several of these require you to turn your body sideways and shimmy through. I’m not the claustrophobic type but I felt it in here. We spent some time exploring and eventually exited on the far side where we connected onto a dirt road which we followed north for a bit before joining a single track that led back to Chesler Park and our camp. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing around camp and eating dinner. It was very windy which was annoying but manageable.

    Friday - April 20, 2018
    We woke on day two and checked the skies for precipitation. There appeared to be rain clouds to the north. We packed up camp and started our hike for Squaw Canyon. Along the way we’ll make the side detour to Druid Arch.

    The first mile was relatively easy going and we dropped our packs at the junction with Druid Arch. From there it was two miles north to the Arch. Along the way we stopped by the spring which had lots of water. I filtered a quick liter and we continued on. There is good trail for most of this hike with a few obstacles mixed in. There is also an NPS ladder as you near the Arch. It aids the climb out of the canyon. Once we reached the arch we took our time and took a variety of pics. During this time the clouds moved in and some light snow flurries started to fall. Surprisingly the temps were pleasant and we enjoyed the snow! After we had our fill we started our return. The wet rock made things interesting but was not an issue. After some time we arrived at the spring and filtered more water and took another break. From there we returned to the junction and put on our overnight packs. By this time the snow/rain had stopped and the sun came out. The area dried up quickly!

    Once we had our overnight packs on, we continued hiking towards Squaw Canyon. The trails conditions were similar to the day before where we follow cairns as we climb into and out of canyons. We also encountered two more ladders which were a lot of fun. With some effort we arrived at Squaw Canyon 2. All campsites are specific in this part of the park. We set up camp and Chumley headed north to get some beer from the car. I chilled out at camp for a bit before doing my own short hike up Squaw Canyon as well. We met back at camp around 6pm and settled in for the evening. This time with beer! Thanks Chumley!

    Saturday - April 21, 2019
    After a light rain fell the night before, we packed up and started our exit. We opted for a longer hike through Lost Canyon and this was a great option! Lost Canyon was a lot of fun and featured several fun obstacles and had plenty of water after the rain the night before. Before long we dropped down and connected onto our exit trail that would take us back to the car. The last few miles blurred by and we were back to the car around early afternoon. The first part of our backpack was complete. We would car camp in Indian Creek and then day hike to the Confluence the next day.

    Final Thoughts
    Water can be an issue. We got lucky. Our first night in Chesler Park was dry. We then had plenty of water north of Druid Arch and more water near our second nights camp in Squaw Canyon. Lost Canyon also had some pools.

    We got lucky with the weather. We started our hike with cool temps with overcast and lots of wind. The wind held up all evening and was annoying but manageable. We had rain & snow flurries on our second day but it was actually enjoyable and never got super cold. We had sunshine on our final day.

    Campsites are designated sites. I scored these permits back in early January. There is a website that shows real time availability. Securing the permit was quite easy.

    I'm guestimating my AEG. There were a lot of short ups & downs. We didn't have any major climbs. I think the biggest one was 400ft.

    I really loved the Needles District! I would even say it instantly became one of my favorite National Parks! The terrain is rugged and challenging while the views are jaw dropping. There are lots of hiking options especially if you start looking at off trail options. I will be back! And thanks Chumley for driving!
    Druid Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    We began from the Squaw Flat trailhead instead of the Elephant Hill TH as we were driving an RV and couldn't make it to the official trailhead. NOTE: If your vehicle is over 20, you can't make it to the Elephant Hill TH and must start from here - it adds a few extra miles so plan accordingly. Unfortunately we could have used those extra minutes:/

    Beginning at Elephant Hill TH the trail takes quick descent into the Big Spring area. The trailmaps only label the trails alphanumerically, but trailmarkers at trail confluences direct you towards your destination. As long as you know where you're going rather than the trail you're on you'll get there:)

    After the second trail confluence, this hike starts to go for a ride. You'll traverse slick rock mounds and walk some considerable distance atop eroded limestone features. The trail is marked by cairns about every .1 mile in some places so it's easy to stay on track here. It's a marked change from the shrubby trailhead area, and with elevation views of the needles start to come into view.

    After a bit of very martian like limestone hiking, you get over the first ridge and are rewarded with views into Elephant Canyon, which you'll soon descent into. The rock on this side is much redder and is reminiscent of a scramble down the side of Sedona slickrock at Cathedral Rock. This will take you partly down to the wash, but not all the way, as a little further along there are some rocks that must be passed.

    Of course in typical epic west trail fashion, between two huge rock features is about a 2' walkway extending ~25 yards that must be crossed before the next section of trail. The surprises on this trail of different hiking styles just kept coming. At this point (maybe 3 miles in) we finally saw the first other hikers of the day. On a beautiful fall weekday I was wondering where all the drivers of those other RVs hiked off to.

    It was around this point that we noticed the sun already starting to drift, and after a quick snack we tried to pick up the pace as much as we could. Our trailhead added about 3 miles to the trip, and we ran out of time. We hiked to the split of the joint trail and the Elephant Canyon section leading to Druid Arch, and reluctantly resigned ourselves to getting almost there. The last .75+ was all in a wash, and the final 2 were also going to be. We didn't have the time or maybe the energy also for another 5 miles in the wash. Fortunately, this was our last stop on our Big 5 trip - having just been in Arches that morning - and we'd gotten our fix of natural arches, so on we went back.

    While it's an out and back, we couldn't take our eyes off the view coming home. Looking north from the trail are the escarpments that we'd been traversing; the rim of the Island in The Sky in the background; and finally the La Sals in the distance - still sans snow.

    This remains a great hike mostly due to the different trail surfaces throughout but the views and terrain are national park worthy. And this is without even getting to the Arch:)
    Druid Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Very cold and windy with some snow on the ground from the previous two days. Enjoyable hike nonetheless. We camped in the Squaw Flat Loop A (Lupe) campground for 2 nights and were the only ones there. Maybe because it got down to 8 degrees at night? Canyonlands is a very interesting park. Really looking forward to more visits here in the future.
    Druid Arch
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The gps track I just posted under Druid Arch West is the one way trip to Druid Arch in Canyonlands Nat Park Needles Dist from Elephant Hill trailhead. Great hike to premier destination, a unique double arch. Some scrambling needed at the end to get the best views of the arch. I'm also posting the entire track separately (also under Druid Arch West) to show our detour into Cheslar Park on the way back. Makes for a great day with overload on photo ops.

    One tip is to watch for water as you near the spring and be sure to stay left to avoid having to wade the big pool. We ran into one person as we went up who turned around rather than swim across, but our group found the way around.

    Road out to Elephant Hill is sedan ready.
    Druid Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This was day 3 of our Utah trip. On our second day in Utah we mountain-biked outside Moab and did the touristy walks in Arches NP so for our third day we were ready for a longer hike again and Druid Arch certainly fit the bill.

    We began with a welcome surprise when we found the 3-mile gravel road to the Elephant Canyon trail head was in perfect condition for a low clearance car like the Fit so that meant less time on foot. With a start like that we knew it would be a great day of hiking. :y:

    After our Confluence hike two days ago we were more than well-prepared for the first 3/4's of the trip out to Druid Arch because frankly, it was easier with less changes in elevation, at least until that point.

    Just before 2 miles out we came to the first descent but again it wasn't a big deal. On the way down we looked across Elephant Canyon and saw a couple packing up after an overnight at EC1, Elephant Canyon campsite #1. We thought we'd go right by them but at the bottom of the canyon we had to turn the other direction to continue on to Druid.

    Not long after that we were passed by a couple, and in similar form to our Confluence experience, the woman was definitely the one in charge, with the man following dutifully the requisite 3-5 steps behind. She seemed to be on a mission as they were cruising at a pretty good clip. We will see them later... after we beat them to the arch. More about that later.

    The middle half of the hike was a matter of following the bottom of Elephant Canyon. About 5 miles out we begin our first climb up the east wall of the canyon. It's a pretty short climb but a few spots required a long stretch, long legs (which neither of us possessed), a helpful boost or a hand to pull one or the other of us up.

    Once up on the ledge we followed it for maybe half a mile when we heard voices down below us. We thought it was the couple who passed us earlier but it was another couple. The man yelled up to us and said You're the lucky ones who didn't miss the turn. Apparently he thought luck rather than skill and observation was required. But no matter, we told him about how far back they needed to go before climbing up and set off for the last segment of the hike.

    On the canyon floor approach only the north 'side' of the arch is visible so you need to look closely to realize it is, in fact, right there above you. Except for the steep couple hundred foot boulder-hopping climb over and between large boulders.

    Then all of a sudden, almost like Flatiron, we are up at the level part and it's a flat walk across to the viewpoint. At this point Tracey had enough climbing but I wanted to climb a few hundred feet higher for some better photos. Of course it's always easier to climb slick rock than descend so I got myself up farther than I felt comfortable coming down, but then it had to be done and so it was.

    While I was up the canyon wall, the couple who passed us earlier showed up. It turns out they continued straight on right past the well-cairned turn. She was pretty much yapping non-stop when they passed in earlier so maybe she was so wrapped up in her conversation she missed the turn? And even if he knew, as the meek one he probably wasn't about to speak up. Oh well, by that time a number of others had turned up and there was enough conversation they figured out where they had to get to. After Tracey saw their misguided attempts at a photo of themselves with Druid Arch (they were FACING it so obviously it wouldn't be in the photo) she walked up and offered to take their photo. They willingly accepted.

    After our quick PB&J lunch we were about to start back when the unlucky couple showed up. Check out #36 in the photoset and you will see where they went wrong. After a short chat, although I didn't ask, I believe he was German. He claimed to be very experienced but the woman with him was pretty new to hiking and was quite intimidated by some of the climbs/descents they had been doing. Being that experienced I was a bit surprised by his missing the blatant line of rocks across the path. On our return trip we looked close and theirs were the only footprints so they weren't led there by others misfortune.

    So much for all the drama of others, the return trip would have been totally uneventful if it weren't for a raven we encountered.

    Initially is was up in a tree cawing loudly, then as were passing by maybe a hundred feet away, it dropped down to the ground well ahead of us then began bounding toward us. Once I realized it was going to keep coming I switched to video and let it roll as the raven kept bounding closer and closer. As big as it was I had no intention of letting it get too close before getting ready to smack it with a hiking pole... oh wait... with all the smooth rock climbing poles just got in my way so I didn't have them. Oh well, if needed I have my K-Bar clipped to my pack. Thankfully it either realized we had no food or maybe it noticed my ready to fight look and took off.

    We/I added a few side-trips so we ended up with a few more miles than expected, but it was an easy enough trail it wasn't an issue. Again I didn't want to bore with too many photos so I posted a mere 1/3 of them here on HAZ.

    Full set of 120 hike photos:
    Elephant Canyon Trail video:
    Slot canyon video:
    Druid Arch video:
    Raven video:
    Druid Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    7 Days in the Needles District of Canyonlands. Attractions included Druid Arch, Chesler Park, Angel Arch, awesome slickrock and ancient art and dwellings.

    Water was scarse at the beginning, but Salt Creek was flowing for the majority of our itinerary, for which we were grateful to not have to carry multiple gallons of water.

    For once, found someone else crazy enough to spend a week away from modern conveniences.

    Spectacularly complex geology in an isolated area. Glad to have visited it once.

    Very isolated, this area appears to have received very little moisture this winter.

    Permit $$
    no fees or permits reported

    if incorrect tell us about it

    Map Drive

    To hike
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Mar 09 2010 11:48 pm
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
    help comment issue

    end of page marker