Day 4: Canyonlands – Needles
(This is part 4 of a 9 part series. Click here to start at day 1.)
Canyonlands National Park is so vast that it is separated into three distinct areas, The Needles, The Maze & The Island In The Sky. You cannot get from one area to the other by car. The Colorado and Green Rivers cut through Canyonlands NP and separate one area from the other. The entrance to The Needles is 50 miles due west of Monticello on a dead end highway.
When we left Monticello we crossed through the Manti la Sal National Forest around the side of a mountain and picked up Utah Highway 211. This was our first experience with free range cattle grazing. The strategic location of fences and metal road crossings allows cattle to graze anywhere within a plot of land. This includes the road! More than once we had to stop to allow cattle to cross the road for a better chew of grass. Also along this road, before reaching the entrance to the National Park, there is a turn-off to view ancient petroglyphs. These are ancient pictures carved in the rock by the natives who lived in this vast wilderness long before Columbus arrived in the “New World.”
The Needles are a distinctive formation of rock pinnacles. To best view these formations we took the trail from Elephant Canyon to the area called Chesler Park. This trail was 6 miles, up and back, along one of the nicest walking and viewing trails that I can ever recall. We met many nice people on this trail from all over the country. Undoubtedly, we could have spent much more time exploring the different trails in The Needles but we couldn’t afford the time since we were planning to be in Moab by evening.
Our original intent was to try and camp out as much as possible to keep expenses to a minimum. One option that is between the tent and a hotel is a cabin. This option gives you a solid roof overhead with heat, but with shared shower and toilet facilities. And the price is right, a bit more than a campsite, but ½ the price of a standard hotel room. We chose this alternative for our two nights in Moab, the heck with the tent.Continue on to Day 5 here.