Chesler Park from Elephant Hill at Needles - Canyonlands NP, UT

Canyonlands is so big, it was difficult choosing a hike to do. It was ridiculously hot outside, so the ranger suggested Chesler Park/Joint Trail for some great views of the Needles, plus it is a short hike minimizing the amount of sun exposure. Warning - this hike is mostly on exposed slick rock the entire time, so be sure to bring lots of water, sunscreen, and definitely a hat!

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Hike Info

Dates: 6/25 - 6/26
Miles: 6 roundtrip
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Trailhead: Google Maps

Trail map from nps.gov
Trail map from nps.gov

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The Hike

We parked at the Elephant Hill parking lot. We saw the 4WD trail, and were boggled by just the first 20 feet of it. It was VERY steep, and the road was just boulders and dirt. My Honda Accord barely made it through Utah, but having a Jeep in Utah would open up so many more trail opportunities! It was blistering hot as we suited up, Clark didn't even wear hiking boots because it was so hot.

The trail was very exposed and hot
The trail was very exposed and hot
The view from the beginning of the trail
The view from the beginning of the trail
We found a random birdhouse hanging from a tree
We found a random birdhouse hanging from a tree

The trail is marked by cairns and easy to follow, and it passed lots of unique rock formations that the Needles district is known for. We passed a ranger hiking out on our way in. The

Clark looking out at the funny looking rocks
Clark looking out at the funny looking rocks
The Needles in the distance
The Needles in the distance

The trail then descended down some steps into a very narrow section.

Clark entering Joint Trail
Clark entering Joint Trail
He got stuck up there for a little
He got stuck up there for a little
Me in the narrow Joint Trail
Me in the narrow Joint Trail
Cooling down in some shade beneath a pile of rocks
Cooling down in some shade beneath a pile of rocks
Approaching the some large Needles
Approaching the some large Needles

We decided to stop in the shade of the Needles to have a snack, and we encountered 2 other hikers also enjoying relief from the sun. Continuing on, the trail began to climb up and up. After some switchbacks, we emerged on top, overlooking Chesler Park. Since this was quite high up and a valley between the Needles, the wind up here was STRONG.

The view looking back from the saddle
The view looking back from the saddle
Inside Chesler Park
Inside Chesler Park

It was beautiful and refreshing up here, and Chesler Park looked intriguing. We decided to venture down into Chesler Park, and after reaching the sign we turned around and hiked back out. Not used to this heat, we just wanted to get back to the car.

On the hike back to the car
On the hike back to the car

If we were to go back to Needles, the Chesler Park/Joint Trail loop looks like a great backpacking route, as long as it wouldn't be too hot, I can't imagine backpacking in this weather. Although it was a short hike, it was great to get a taste of this part of Canyonlands.

Other useful sites:

Summitpost

Utahscanyoncountry

Backcountrypost

American Southwest

LA Traveler