8 Things to Do at The Needles Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park consists of four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze and the Colorado and Green rivers.

Needles Canyonlands is just 15 miles south of the Island in the Sky, but 137 miles to drive there. It is about 40 miles south of Moab and 15 miles north of Monticello in the state of Utah in the USA. It was named for the colorful spires of sandstone that dominate the area.

This remote part of the park features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Visitors can walk short trails to granaries, hike around and through the needles rock formations and drive along four-wheel-drive roads that overlook the Colorado River.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - The Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Walk short trails to granaries, hike around and through the needles rock formations and drive along four-wheel-drive roads that overlook the Colorado River. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands National Park, The Needles District. We even share some tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our Canyonlands Needles guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

8 THINGS TO DO AT NEEDLES CANYONLANDS

Newspaper Rock

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Newspaper Rock isn’t part of Canyonlands. It is a Utah State Historic Monument you pass as you drive the road toward the entrance of Needles. You must stop here to see the rock panel carved with one of the largest known collections of petroglyphs dating back 2,000 years!

Roadside Ruin

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

The easy loop trail to the Roadside Ruin is only .25 miles long. There are numbered markers along the trail that identify the plants you’ll see in the park.

At the end of the trail you will see a small granary tucked under a rock overhang. The granary is estimated to be around 800 years old. It is important to only take photos and not touch the fragile ruins in the park.

PHOTO TIP: Include the surrounding landscape features by this granary so it shows scale.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

PHOTO TIP: The trailhead is a good location to photograph six shooter peak.

Cowboy Camp

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Drive along a dirt road to access the Cave Spring Trail. The Cowboy Camp is the first thing you will see on this short Trail. The camp is still set up with a simple stove, wooden tables, storage chests and assorted kitchen tools and frying pans. It’s fun to see what a cowboy’s life was like in the early 1900’s.

Cave Spring Trail

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Continue along the trail just a short distance past the cowboy camp. You will pass several alcoves were the cowboys slept. The last alcove is where you will find the Cave Spring.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Look for the hand prints and simple pictographs toward the back of the alcove. They were placed there by Indians long before the arrival of the cowboys.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Beyond the cave spring the trail continues under a large rock overhang.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

The rest of the trail loop includes two wooden ladders where the trail climbs onto a slickrock plateau above the alcoves. Small children and anyone with a fear of heights may not want to continue along the trail. You can return at this point back to the parking lot.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Enjoy the breathtaking scenery atop the sandstone plateau until the trail drops down and rejoins the original trail near the trailhead.

PHOTO TIP: This trail provides many opportunities to show scale. Photograph people in the alcoves and under the rock outcrop to show how large these features are.

View of the Needles

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

PHOTO TIP: To get a good view of the needles formations, drive along Elephant Hill road. At the top of a hill you will see a spectacular view of the needles.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Stop and enjoy the 360 degree view and read the sign that describes how the needles were formed.

Pothole Point Trail

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Pothole Point trail is a short loop of .6 miles along slickrock. To be honest, this trail was a bit disappointing compared to the rest of the park. The sign indicates you could see pothole puddles teeming with life. It had been raining, and there were puddles, but we saw nothing alive in the pools.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

The best part of this trail were the interesting rock formations in one area. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend at this park, this is definitely one trail you can skip.

Elephant Hill 4×4 Trail

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Many consider Elephant Hill one of the most technical four-wheel-drive roads in Utah. Drivers are challenged with steep grades, loose rock, stair-step drops, tight turns and tricky backing.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

It’s worth tackling all those obstacles in order to see some of the most amazing scenery and solitude in the area accessible by four-wheel drive. You must plan ahead if you want to drive this trail because only twenty-four day use permits are allowed per day for Elephant Hill.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

It was raining when we visited which made the technical trail too dangerous to drive. Instead we walked to the top of Elephant Hill to enjoy the views.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

PHOTO TIP: Get low to enhance an interesting foreground that leads the eye to the subject of the photo.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

If you don’t have a vehicle that can navigate this trail, it’s worth the hike up to some amazing views!

Colorado River Overlook 4×4 Trail

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

The road to the Colorado River Overlook is a difficult four-wheel drive road. It begins at the end of the visitor center parking lot. It starts as an easy sandy road and continues that way to about 2 miles before the overlook.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

After that the road has ledges that require high clearance. If the road becomes too challenging for your vehicle, simply park and hike the rest of the way.

PLAN A TRIP TO NEEDLES CANYONLANDS

The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park is a remote area with few services.

There is no food, lodging, or gas available in this park.

Pack everything you’ll need during your time in the park. Water is available at the visitor center year-round. Electric outlets are not available.

Plan ahead and be aware that some areas and activities require a day-use or overnight permit.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - The Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Walk short trails to granaries, hike around and through the needles rock formations and drive along four-wheel-drive roads that overlook the Colorado River. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands National Park, The Needles District. We even share some tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our Canyonlands Needles guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

TRAVEL TIPS:

Needles Canyonlands Hiking Trails

Needles Canyonlands Map

Needles Canyonlands Four-Wheel-Drive Roads

Remember to purchase the US National Park Pass – it’s a good deal!

We use Airbnb (here’s a $40 coupon) or Hotels.com to rent accommodations that have a kitchen. Cooking our meals saves us quite a bit of money compared to eating out, and it’s much healthier! If we can’t find somewhere to stay with a kitchen, we find places that have a microwave and fridge at the minimum. You would be surprised the meals you can prepare in a microwave.

Camera Gear

We rely on our Camera Gear Checklist to make sure we pack the necessary, and possibly needed, equipment in our camera bag. We recommend the following items for Canyonlands National Park photography:

  • Camera
  • Lens for landscape
  • Tripod
  • Camera Backpack
  • Circular Polarizer and Neutral Density Filter
  • Cleaning Kit
  • Remote Shutter Release
  • Memory Cards and Batteries

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

We utilize Pinterest to organize the information when researching travel locations. Photo Jeepers has a Canyonlands board and US National Parks board where we only pin things we have read and find worthwhile. Use our board to help you plan a trip to Canyonlands or any other US National Park. Save this to your travel and photography boards and share with your friends!

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.  Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Needles District - is a beautiful national park in the U.S. Canyonlands Needles is a remote part of the park that features extensive hiking trails, amazing geology, and relatively few people. Check out our favorite 8 things to see at Canyonlands Needles. We also share tips on how to take the best pictures in Canyonlands Needles! You’ll definitely want to read our guide and save it to your travel board before you plan your trip to Canyonlands National Park.

Resources for outdoor adventure we recommend and use:

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19 comments

The formations here at canyonlands are incredibly cool. This is definitely a place to visit and take good photography like yourself. Awesome post!

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We love Canyonlands – Island in the Sky & Needles. This park provides wonderful opportunities for photography for sure!

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This looks like a great place to explore and brilliant tips. Will surely check it out when I’m in the region!

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I didnt even know the needles canyon had so much to offer! The Newspaper Rock is a gem for history lovers, must have been such an interesting experience for you when you first saw it, right?!

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The rock is HUGE so yes, it was very interesting to see it in person.

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Nice photography tips with stunning pictures of Needle Rock. Though reaching Colorado River Overlook is difficulty but after reaching there it is worth driving on rough paths. Newspaper Rock depicting ancient life is interesting to learn about ancient history.

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Yes, the park if full of ancient Anasazi history – I enjoy learning about the cultures and people of the places I visit.

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Looks like a great place to explore on foot. I’m still giggling at Newspaper Rock. That’s definetly a great name and would make me want to stop and take a look!

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There are wonderful trails in Needles to explore – all difficulty levels so something for everyone. Yes, Newspaper Rock is aptly named for sure!

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This is such an amazing place. First time I am even hearing about it, but Newspaper Rock looks amazing and just the topography is so dramatic an a dream for any photographer. Nature is truly full of wonderful things and Neddles is definitely one of those places.

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Yes, it’s a wonderful location for photography. It truly is amazing the beautiful scenes nature provides for us all!

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Wow this seems like quite the visit. I really like that it’s a bit educational with Cowboy Camp so you can see what it was like. But then you also get those amazing views of nature. Beautiful!

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The park has many educational sites with the granaries, petroglyphs and the cowboy camp. It’s a unique national park!

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What an interesting part of the country. Your photo tips are really useful. View of the needles looks like my fav spot but was hard to choose!

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Thank you Fiona. There is SO much more of the park to explore and showcase. It’s a unique landscape!

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These are excellent photography tips! I went there many years ago, but wish I had you post to advise me. Newspaper rock and the view of the Needles look unreal, I think I need to re-visit 🙂

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We share our photo tips so others can take full advantage of capturing the beauty of the park. And yes, you do need to re-visit!

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Newspaper Rock must be such a special place to visit, thinking of how old they are and how much history lies behind them. it must be really impressive. I would love to see the 360 view of the needles and photograph it. I love hiking when there are nice views around and the trails around the national park definitely have some beautiful stops along the way.

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Newspaper Rock is amazing to see. The Southern Utah area is full of history with the petroglyphs and ruins you can see when exploring the area. The 360 views from various places in the entire park are the best!

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