Canyonlands National Park, Part 2 – Needles

Our friend Kat, who works for the National Park Service, told us that she believes Squaw Flats Campground in the Needles District of Canyonlands NP is the most beautiful campground. Apparently, others think so too – it’s typically booked solid 6 months in advance. As non-planners, advance reservations don’t work too well for us, but we’re becoming skilled at snagging cancellations. We scored big! While waiting for our site to open up we got to explore an unplanned, interesting loop back from Capitol Reef – I called it the ‘space between‘ – then we were able to spend a weekend at Squaw Flats. And we agree with Kat – best campground views yet!

Then there was the hiking… We opted for the Elephant Canyon/Big Spring Canyon Loop with an out-and-back spur to the Chesler Park viewpoint. Our prior hikes were down to the canyon floor or up to the summit. Instead, this hike was in, around, over, between and through 3 canyons. There were fun scrambles over slickrock with incredible views, long walks along sandy canyon bottoms among the cottonwoods and waist-high grasses, and a few sideways, put-your-pack-over-your-head- so-you-can-fit slot canyons with surprises awaiting at the ends, along with (drain) shoots and ladders. Imagine a day of wandering through a mash up of some alien planet and a Dr. Seuss book.

The Needles from Elephant Canyon

Each of the Utah National Parks is unique. Canyons and rocks are not just canyons and rocks. New shapes for us at Needles include the long, tall, thin ‘needles,’ mushrooms, pinball bumpers, hamburger buns, and space ships. And red rocks come in a variety of hues ranging from an orange-ish terra cotta to purply fuschia. Did we mention we’re loving Southern Utah?

For anyone who’s interested, more Needles pix.

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