Canyonlands Needles Hikes: 8 Easy, Moderate and Strenuous Trails

Here’s a list of Canyonlands Needles hikes with all the information you need to know before hit the trail!

Use our list below and our Canyonlands National Park guide to plan your vacation itinerary.

8 canyonlands needles hiking trails

Hiking is one of the best ways to explore this amazing national park. There are Needles Canyonlands hiking trails for all levels: easy, moderate and strenuous.

You’ll want to be sure pack the right clothing and gear so you can enjoy all the outdoor Canyonlands National Park activities any time of year!

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Best Time to Hike at Needles Canyonlands

Hiking is one of the top things to do at Needles Canyonlands. You can enjoy hiking year-round, but there are things to note about each season.

Spring and fall are ideal times for exploring Canyonlands hikes since the weather and temperatures are moderate. In the summer temperatures are typically near 100 degrees Fahrenheit so it’s best to do any hiking in the morning. Winter is a great time to explore the park as long as you’re prepared for cold temperatures and possible snow.

We’ve created this resource that details what it’s like during each season and month of the year at Canyonlands: Best Time to Visit Canyonlands National Park.

canyonlands needles landscape

Canyonlands Needles Hikes

The Needles Canyonlands district makes up the southeast corner of Canyonlands National Park and gets its name from the hundreds of colorful spires that dominate the area.

Canyonlands Needles is home to a multitude of arches, canyons, and cliffs all surrounded by a rough, rugged landscape. Strong hikers can tackle most of the Needles hikes in a day, but combined with others on the loop make for a much longer trip. There are Needles Canyonlands camping options for those who want to stay overnight and spend more time exploring the Needles trails.

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Roadside Ruin, 0.3 miles, Easy

This easy, kid-friendly trail is short with only a few stone steps to navigate. The Roadside Ruin trail is highly trafficked but in good condition. Here you’ll get to see a Puebloan-era storage structure that was once used to store food.

The Roadside Ruin trail guide explains the ruins and points out the native plants you’ll see along the way.

Pothole Point, 0.6 miles, Easy/Moderate

Although short, this trail is uphill and has uneven footing so might be considered moderate for some. Pothole Point is a short loop trail that crosses communities of sandstones with natural depressions called potholes. The potholes have tiny, sensitive ecosystems that come to life as water collects within the pothole. There are days when you might see tadpoles, snails, beetles etc.

To preserve these delicate potholes, it’s important to walk around them and avoid putting anything in them, even when they are dry.  There are no trail guides, but small rock piles (cairns) show the way. Panoramic views from the trail are memorable and this trail offers one of the best viewpoints of the Needles.

Cave Spring, 0.6 miles, Easy/Moderate

A short loop that winds around a white and red sandstone mesa, there’s a lot to see on this trail. Here you’ll pass Cave Spring, prehistoric rock paintings, well-preserved pictographs, and a historic cowboy camp with many original artifacts on display.

You will climb two wooden ladders on the Cave Spring trail, one of which that takes you to a 360-degree panoramic view of the Needles district. This trail is easy for those who have no problem climbing the two ladders and the sandstone rock but might be challenging for children or the elderly. It is recommended that you take the trail clockwise so you’re climbing up instead of down the ladders.

Slickrock Foot Trail, 2.4 miles, Moderate

A moderate trail with most of the hike on the hard slickrock surface that gives the trail its name. This trail offers stunning views of the canyons and the Needles. Grab a Slickrock Trail brochure at the trailhead to help you identify the landmarks along the way.

You’ll appreciate the spurs to the 4 great overlooks with amazing views. This is a good beginner hike with lots of potential for exploring, the strategically placed cairns make it easy to pick the trail back up. I recommend this trail in the morning or evening as you are exposed to the open sun and heat on this trail.

Chesler Park Loop Trail, 10.4 miles, Moderate/Difficult

This moderate trail is fun and popular because of its diversity in the landscape. The Needles Chesler Loop Trail has you climbing up and down over rock formations, through sand and various rock terrain, slit canyons, and grasslands.

This is a beautiful trail with lots to explore and stunning panoramic views of the Needles. Please keep in mind that a four-wheel-drive vehicle is required to get to the trailhead.

Druid Arch, 11 miles, Difficult

A favorite of the Canyonlands Needles hikes, Druid Arch is located about 5 ½ miles from the Elephant Hill Trailhead and offers one of the most spectacular views in the Needles district. The Druid Arch trail will have you scrambling through high desert, canyons, a maze of needles, up a steep ladder and a rock wall to get to the arch. The scrambles keep you on your toes but are fun and well worth it in the end.

The uniquely shaped Druid Arch is named for its resemblance to the large rocks of Stonehenge and is notable for both its height and sharp angular shape. A high bench near the end of Elephant Canyon offers a spectacular view of the arch but don’t forget to stop and take in the beautiful scenery at Elephant Canyon.

Confluence Overlook Trail, 10 miles, Moderate/Difficult

Crossing through Big Spring Canyon, the Confluence Overlook Trail takes you through miles of open desert, areas of slickrock and deep packed sand, and ends at a dramatic cliff overlook with magnificent panoramic views of the Colorado and Green River confluence.

These two rivers define the three districts of Canyonlands National Park. At the overlook you can see the two rivers 1,000 feet below for a grand view. Make sure to check out the colored sandstone spires and a huge red butte along the trail.

Squaw Canyon to Lost Canyon Loop, 8.7 miles, Moderate

The Squaw Canyon / Lost Canyon loop trail is combined for a pleasant hike that’ll take you over sandstone hills and slickrock, through a creek crossing, up a ladder, and through some challenging sections as you navigate between the two canyons.

You’ll see spectacular views and diversity along the trail. Slickrock, grasslands, tree-lined canyons, mesas, buttes, and mountains can all be seen from this scenic trail. Backcountry campsites are available at both Lost Canyon and Squaw Canyon, but a permit is required.

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

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Hiking Resources

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