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Needles District

The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park offers visitors a more remote, backcoutry experience, requiring some hiking or four-wheel driving to see the area's attractions.
The district’s extensive backcountry trail system provides many opportunities for biking, long day-hikes, and overnight trips. Foot trails and four-wheel-drive roads lead to such features as Tower Ruin, Confluence Overlook, Elephant Hill, Joint Trail, and Chesler Park.

Plan Your Visit

Maps and Directions

The Needles District is located in the southeast corner of Canyonlands National Park. To get there, drive 40 miles (60 km) south of Moab, Utah on UT 191 or 14 miles (22 km) north of Monticello, then take UT 211 roughly 35 miles (56 km) west. UT 211 ends in the Needles, and is the only paved road leading in and out of the district. Driving time from Moab to the Needles takes approximately 1.5 hours.

Park hours: The Needles District is open 24 hours a day, year-round. Note: the entrance road can sometimes close in winter for short periods after winter storms.

Visitor Center: The visitor center is open daily from early March through late November.
Hours vary by season.

Entrance fees:  You can pay at the park entrance station or online at pay.gov. Admission to Canyonlands National Park is good for seven days.
Private Vehicle Fee - $30.00
Motorcycle Fee - $25.00
Per Person (bicyclists, hikers, and pedestrians) - $15.00
Youth 15 and under are admitted free. For more information on fees and passes, visit the Canyonlands National Park fee web page.

Things to Know

Can I ride my ATV/UTV in Canyonlands? ATVs, UTVs and OHVs are not permitted in the park. Motorbikes must be highway-legal.

Can I take my pet? Activities with pets are very limited in the Needles. Pets are not allowed on hiking trails or on four-wheel-drive roads, even in a vehicle.  Pets are allowed in the Squaw Flat Campground but must be leashed.

Can I get gas in the park?  There is no food, gas, lodging or other services in the park. The Needles Outpost just outside the entrance to the park offers gasoline and a small store. The nearest full-service communities are Moab, 75 miles (120 km) away and Monticello, 49 miles.

Will my cell phone work in Needles? Cell phone coverage is poor to nonexistent throughout Canyonlands.

Safety: Hydration is essential in the desert, even in winter. Take and drink lots of water as you explore the park.Protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen, wearing a hat and light-colored clothing. Wear sturdy shoes. Water is available year-round at the visitor center and at the Squaw Flat Campground. There is no water available elsewhere in the park; bring all that you will need.

What’s the weather like? High desert temperature can fluctuate sometimes over 40 degrees in a single day. Spring and fall daytime highs average 60 – 80° F (16 – 26°C) and lows average 30 – 50°F (-1 to -10°C). Summer temperatures often exceed 100°F (38°C), making strenuous exercise difficult. Winters are cold, with highs averaging 30 – 50°F (-1 to -10°C), and lows averaging 0 – 20° F (-17 to -7°C).  Large snowfalls are uncommon (except in nearby mountains), but the Needles area does get enough snow or ice to make local trails and roads impassable. Local weather conditions and forecasts are available from the National Weather Service.

Help protect the park: Every Step Counts! Help us protect the dark lumpy biological soil crusts during your visit. Please walk only on trails, rock or in sandy washes (where water flows when it rains), and keep all vehicles and bikes on designated roads

Things to Do

Visitor Center: The Needles visitor center is open daily from early March through November. Hours of the Needles Visitor Center change seasonally. Stop in to browse the exhibits, get information, and shop the bookstore. The visitor center closes during the winter, but water and restrooms there are available year-round.

Interpretive Programs: Ranger programs are offered from March through October with evening programs presented most nights in the Squaw Flat Campground. Check at the visitor center or online at the Canyonlands calendar for events.

Canyonlands National Park Squaw Flat CampgroundCamping:  The Needles Campground has 26 sites plus 3 group sites. It offers flush toilets, fire grates, picnic tables, tent pads and water. Some of the individual campsites and group sites can be reserved up to six months in advance for dates within the peak season (March 15 - October 15). The rest if the sites are first come, first served. All sites are first come, first served during the non-peak season.. The campground typically fills every day from late March through June and again from early September to mid-October. Make reservations online at Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

 

 

 

Hiking in Canyonlands National Park Needles DistrictHiking: The Needles District offers more than 60 miles of interconnecting trails as challenging as they are rewarding. Families will love the four short, self-guided trails along the paved scenic drive that highlight different aspects of the park's natural and cultural history. Needles also has longer, more strenuous trails with a backcountry experience with challenges along the way, such as steep passes with drop-offs, narrow spots, or ladders. TIP: Trails have little shade, so during warm weather, avoid hiking during the hottest hours of the day (10 A.M. – 6 P.M.). Always carry and drink plenty of water.

Backpacking: The Needles is the most popular backpacking destination in the park. You’ll need an overnight backcountry permit for overnight stays at Needles.We recommend that you reserve your permit online in advance of your trip. Permits are also issued at the Needles visitor center, up to one hour before closing.

4-Wheel Driving in the Needles District if CanyonlandsFour-wheel-drive-roads: More than 50 miles of challenging backcountry roads access campsites, trailheads and park attractions. All of these roads require high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles. All vehicles must remain on designated roads. Drive carefully: the risk of vehicle damage is great and towing expenses typically exceed $1,000. Click to learn more about vehicle damage risks.

Biking: There are no single-track trails in the Needles District. Many of the 4WD roads in the Needles travel up wash bottoms and are unsuitable for bikes due to deep sand and water. There are more opportunities to enjoy biking in the Island in the Sky and Maze districts of the park.

Sample Itineraries:

If you have 1 hour: Hike any one of the short interpretive trails and drive to Big Spring Canyon Overlook to enjoy the view.
In two hours: Drive the three-mile unpaved Elephant Hill access road for a distant view of The Needles. Hike one or two of the short interpretive trails.
Half a day: In addition to enjoying the scenic drive, hikers can explore the Slickrock Trail or walk to the edge of Chesler Park for a closer look at The Needles. Visitors with four-wheel-drive vehicles might consider driving to the Colorado River Overlook. Spend some time at the visitor center learning about the area.
Full day: Hike one of the longer backcountry trails, or spend time exploring the four-wheel-drive roads, traveling up Horse Canyon to see the arches, or over Elephant Hill to the Confluence Overlook. (Permits required.)
Many days: Use the campground as a base camp and explore some of the hiking trails. Backpackers could spend a night in Chesler Park or Lost Canyon. Visitors with four-wheel-drive could move their base camp into the backcountry, stay at Devils Kitchen or Peekaboo, and explore the area around those locations. (Permits are required for many backcountry visits.)

For more information about the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, visit the park website.

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