Canyonlands: Needles District

Canyonlands Needles District

Since we are in Moab for a whole month, we are having to be intentional to make sure we get as many adventures in as we can. It’s easy to think you have tons of time, but it actually goes by pretty quickly!

We especially try to take advantage of the weekends and this one was no exception. The only damper on it was the nasty spill Austin took mountain biking. He ended up going over the handlebars and off a ledge and that left his shoulder and ankle pretty sore. So, we decided to make it more of a driving day. Boy, did we do some driving.

Church Rock Utah
We saw Church Rock on our drive

Monticello, Utah

We headed to Monticello which is about an hour away from us and ate lunch. It was a lot cooler up there because it is 4,000 feet higher. It makes such a difference!! After lunch, we drove through town to check it out. There really isn’t much to it at all. The great thing about Monticello is the location. You are within an hour or two of several super popular spots to visit – including the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands Needles District
The red and white layers were neat to see

We took a different route into the park than the one we came in on which led us through the National Forest. We stopped off at Lloyd Lake to see it before continuing on. We stopped at a few other viewpoints and interesting things along the way. It was a super pretty drive and it was so interesting watching the landscape change. After all of the red rock, we haven’t seen green in a while. It was nice to see!

Lloyd Lake in Monticello
Lloyd Lake in Monticello

Newspaper Rock

The road into the Needles District will take you right by Newspaper Rock. It’s totally worth stopping. It is a large rock wall with a ton of petroglyphs on it. It’s so crazy to think that these pictures have been on this wall for more than 2,000 years. No one is certain what the pictures say, but I sure would like to know!

Newspaper Rock – amazing display of petroglyphs

Our next stop was the visitor center in Canyonlands. We went in and explored the exhibits a bit before getting a map and planning our day. We decided to do a few short hikes, the overlook and the 4 wheel drive road to the Colorado River overlook.

Hiking in Canyonlands Needles District

Our first stop was the Cave Spring Trail. This was a short loop trail that takes you by an old cowboy camp. It was super neat to see how they used the rock formation as shelter and just set up camp. There is a spring here which provided water for the cowboys and their horses making it a prime spot. We continued past the camp and the spring before climbing up two different ladders. Once we got to the top, it felt like a different world. The views were great and we were walking across rocks instead of through shrubbery. We only saw one other family on the whole trail which was nice too.

Cave Spring Cowboy Camp in Needles District of Canyonlans
Cave Spring Cowboy Camp

Our next stop was the scenic overlook at the end of the road. This was nice too, but nothing out of this world. We did talk to another group that had hiked down into the canyon and they said that was super cool. It was extremely hot and with a bum ankle we decided that wasn’t the best use of our time. We enjoyed the view and hiked around on the rocks and then headed back to the Jeep.

Wooden Shoe Arch Needles District
Wooden Shoe Arch in the distance

The next stop was Pothole Point which is another short loop trail. This one takes you over sandstone rocks that have divots in them that fill up with water after it rains. These potholes provide water for animals in the area and there are even some organisms that live in the potholes! Unfortunately, in the July heat there isn’t any water in any of the potholes. It was a pretty hike, but I would probably skip it if there isn’t going to be any water.

Pothole Point Trail in Needles District
Pothole Point Trail

Leigh’s First 4×4 Trail

Our last adventure was the 4×4 road to the Colorado River Overloook. This is a 7 mile dirt/sand/rock road out to the overlook. Remember – Austin’s shoulder is hurt so I am driving. This is my first time driving off road and it was fun! We made it almost to the end of the trail before deciding to park and walk the rest of the way. I am really glad we did because the views of the Colorado River cutting through the canyon were awesome. Actually, the views on the whole drive were great – we could see the Needles off to our left and all kinds of formations all around us. It took us about 2.5 hours from start to finish, but it was totally worth it.

After a full day of sightseeing and checking out a new to both of us National Park we were exhausted!! Another full weekend is in the books!

Needles District Canyonlands
The Needles in the Needles District

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