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Chesler Park via Elephant Canyon, UT

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Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List UT > Southeast
4.3 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Multi-Loop 3.82 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,453 feet
Elevation Gain 597 feet
Accumulated Gain 985 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.1
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack Yes
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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23  2016-05-28 arizona_water
8  2015-10-24
The Big Needles Loop
40  2013-03-30
15  2009-02-06 Trishness
Author Trishness
author avatar Guides 14
Routes 0
Photos 720
Trips 187 map ( 1,244 miles )
Age 60 Female Gender
Location Apache Junction, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Mar → Early
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:03am - 6:24pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
You don't have to be a Knitter to do these needles
by Trishness

I was told that the Needles District was more scenic than Island in the Sky and less visited due to the fact that you have to drive 25 miles off the main road to get to it. So on my recent vacation in Utah, I just had to see it for myself. It is a long drive off from UTAH 191 but the drive in is terrific and while we wanted to make several stops on the way in, we wanted to get to Squaw Flat Campground ASAP to find a spot since there are no advance reservations. It is strictly FCFS (first come, first served) and upon arriving we found out that there were 11 out of 16 sites open. We got a great campsite..look in campground B, sites #19,20 &r 21 which are set back on a little cul-de-sac... very quiet and removed from all the RV sites. We took #20 and camped next to Joe from SLC. Joe hikes here frequently and told us about this hike which was on my agenda anyway. So it seems I made a good choice based on my research.

This was one awesome hike.

You take Elephant Hill Road, which the NPS rates as a rough but graded road to Elephant Hill Trailhead for a distance of 2 miles. These people have never been on the Tonto National Forest roads since I tooled along at 30 MPH kickin' up a cloud of dust. This road was smooth! You get to Elephant Hill TH and there is plenty of parking at the Trailhead~~~Elephant Hill Road continues on from here but is strictly a 4WD road.

From the well marked TH, you take a series of rock steps up to the mesa... nothing strenuous and then walk across some slick rock along a well cairned "trail". Slickrock trails are always a little tricky but this one is well cairned. It was pretty much up and down for a mile or so across the slickrock until you come to a BIG wash and decisions... Druid Arch? Elephant Canyon? We decided to ford on to Elephant Canyon and not far from the wash we started the descent into Elephant canyon and up the other side. This was SWEET! Once you trek on another 2 miles you come to a trail junction sign for Devil's Kitchen but we continued straight on into Chesler Park. The needles really showed their beauty here and we hiked up to a summit where we had some much needed shade and a terrific breeze. The trail after peaking on saddle was all sand (and I HATE hiking in sand) but we went a little ways up here before we said "FORGET hiking in all this sand", turned around and came back the way we hiked in.

Elephant Canyon is gorgeous. This entire hike was gorgeous. There are too many trail options to be considered in this post for a day hike but we took the trails that were recommended to us by Joe from Salt Lake City, who has been here many times before. THANKS JOE! You rock!! I was immensely impressed with Canyonlands over all the other places I visited this year in Utah. I definitely want to come back to this beautiful area.

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2008-10-26 Trishness
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One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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
Chesler Park via Elephant Canyon
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Tour de Needles
Had a great Memorial Day trip up to the Canyonlands. Melody is relatively new to backpacking (her first backpacking trip was down the Bill Haul trail to Thunder River, the lower river trail, and then back up the Deer Creek trail. Pretty epic first backpacking experience). Our previous trips have been high-mileage and really challenging. So sometimes it's nice to have a relaxed pace trek with lots of time for exploring the surrounding areas. We definitely accomplished that this weekend! Usually, the end of may gets up in the mid-90s. We were lucky to have nice clouds and highs in the mid 70s and lows in the 50s! Perfect weather. And there were multiple water pools from recent rains, which is ideal since the western side of the Needles District does not have perennial water.

Friday: night at Monument Valley.

Saturday: Obligatory stop at Newspaper Rock (Very cool). A couple of friends dropped us off at the trailhead, then they continued up to Arches without us. Apparently arches had a several hour wait time to get into the park. It's just as Ed Abbey predicted!

Melody and I began the backpacking trip at Squaw Flat - :next: Big Spring Canyon - :next: Brief time in Squaw Canyon - :next: Elephant Canyon. Camped at EC3. I love how isolated the designated backpacking sites are! We took our time and explored a lot of the side canyons in the area.

Sunday: First we did the out and back trail to Druid Arch (definitely worth it) and then stopped at the spring in this canyon to filter water. Then we hiked out to Chesler park which was exploding with wildflowers in bloom. Then we continued on to the Joint Trail. We built a cairn in the cairn room (see pics) and then back-tracked to Chesler and on to backcountry campsite CP1. This is a wonderful campsite with extensive views over the Needles District. You can even see the Maze in the distance!

Monday: On the trail by 6:30 and at the Elephant Hill Trailhead before 8. Our friends picked us up here, which was nice that we didn't have to walk 5 miles back on the dirt road to Squaw Flat.
Breakfast burritos in Monticello and then a quick stop at Natural Bridges National Monument (I love Utah). Planned another stop at Coalmine Canyon, because it was still early afternoon, but everyone in the car yelled at me when I brought up the idea :whistle: Guess they were tired or something? :lol:

Yay Utah!
Chesler Park via Elephant Canyon
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Lovely day to wander around the Needles after they had received several days of good rain. From the "A" trailhead at Squaw Flat: out Peekaboo to Lost Canyon then west over to Chesler Park and the amazing Joint Trail, looped around the north side of Chesler and back to the start. Excellent canyon and slickrock hiking with tons of short ups and downs (the AEG is my best guess). This hike is listed in Peter Potterfield's Classic Hikes of the World - I haven't hiked enough of the world to know for sure, but I'd say it's pretty darn classic.
Chesler Park via Elephant Canyon
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.
Chesler Park via Elephant Canyon
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
It was a toasty 96 degrees yesterday so we opted to do an adventure at the Island in the Sky was much more pleasant and in the 80's. My cousin from Pennsylvania was with me on this trip and we set out from Elephant Hill TH around 3 PM and trekked out to Chesler Park and back, finishing around 6 PM. I love this hike.

Permit $$

Canyonlands National Park
Vehicles: $10 (Good for 7 days)

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Moab: Drive south on 191 for many least 50 miles...there is a sign that points west for Canyonlands. Drive West on this road for another 25 miles. Once at the Park entrance, you can stop at the Park Office and get map and info.

From Flagstaff: Drive all night.....take 89 to 160 to 163 and drive through "dodge 'em" cow country until you get to 191. Follow the signs to Canyonlands.
page created by Trishness on Oct 23 2008 10:33 pm
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