Canyonlands - Needles 2 Night Backpacking (April 29-May1)


Apr 11, 2021

We had just the best trip to Canyonlands! Like really great trip. Sure there were biting gnats, blisters, and bruised feet, but overall it was just totally awesome.

We stayed 1 night at DP1 and 1 night at EC3 in the Needles section of Canyonlands. It was me and 6 boys.

We started hiking from Elephant Hill Trailhead just after 2:00. We wound through and very much around the needles for 6 miles to our campsite at Devils Pocket. It was cool to see the needles from a different perspective.

(Great times with the nephews.)

DP1 was a sweet campsite. It was nestled between some rock walls with an amazing view of some spires! We had some dinner and I was glad I packed in a subway sandwich from Moab as I was hungry and didn’t need to cook anything.

There was also a rock at the head of the site which some boys climbed on top of and I went up a bit. We chatted and listened to our echos and watched as the sun went down. Sigh. Other boys found a scorpion.

Friday morning I woke up in time to watch the sun light up the spires. There’s only so many sun rises spent in Canyonlands and I didn’t want to stay in the tent and miss this one.

(The moon was way bright this trip.)

We had some breakfast and cleaned up camp to head out.

Our destination for the day was campsite EC3. As we climbed a hill just outside of camp, we stopped at the top and were in awe at the views on both sides. Such a cool spot.

We hit the jeep road which was hot and boring, but it didn’t last too long. Then it was on to the amazing Joint Trail. The teenagers were leading the way and as they came up over some steps and then could see the cavern, they said, “Sick!” Good to know nature can still impress 15 year olds. It was an awesome spot that we had to ourselves. The boys climbed around and up to look down on us through the small gap in the top. We ate lunch here and it ranks pretty high on top lunch spots. While there we only saw two other people just passing through.

(Clayton with his two oldest grandsons.)

We continued through the Joint and Mason stemmed up pretty high on the walls. Taylor joined in the fun a bit. Our packs got a bit beat up through this skinny section.

We hiked on through the far side of Chesler Park where we met a couple that were Gonzaga fans and were a bit lost. They were far from Druid as they had taken a wrong turn.

As we were discussing our water situation and whether we even had enough water cached from yesterday, we happened upon a small pool of water. What a wonderful site. Thanks to an amazing MSR water filter, we spent 90 minutes filtering a sand pool of water into clear delicious water in our water bottles. Amazing how that works.

We found our campsite, set up tents, and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon sitting around and being off our feet. We chatted away and met a man named Daniel that wandered into our camp for a rest.

We kept going back and forth on whether to visit Druid Arch that evening or in the morning. Most of the group didn’t want to put in any more miles. D and I knew Taylor wanted to see it so we decided that if we left then (5:30), we would have time to see it and get back before dark. That would leave us only having the hike out tomorrow on tired feet.

2 miles later and we were at the massive and impressive Druid Arch. The evening light was incredible. We hiked up a bit on the side to get a higher view and it was breath taking. Druid plus the needles surrounding it plus seeing winding elephant canyon was one of the best views I have ever seen. Words can’t describe it. And we had the arch to ourselves for a fabulous experience. So glad we did this!

We made it back to camp with enough light to cook a quick lasagna mountain house. I don’t know how they do it, but mountain house makes the most delicious dehydrated lasagna. So yummy.

I was happy I threw a deck of cards in my pack as when we got back from the hike, the four at camp were having a fabulous time laughing and playing Hearts. We also played a round of Hearts in DP1.

The stars were impressive for our last night.

Saturday morning we packed up and headed out. We were on the trail by 9:00 and back to the trailhead 3 miles later for some bathrooms. :)

The weather this trip was amazing. While it was pretty warm during the day, the evenings, mornings, and nights were wonderful. Not cold at all and so enjoyable.
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