Canyonlands Needles Backpacking Suggestions

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JBPHXAZ

Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2018
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7
Hello. I am trying to plan a 3 day backpacking trip in the Needles for early Nov. I will have a newbie backpacker with me and am looking for help on suggestions for routes. I have been to the Needles once day hiking, but did not backpack. Any help on suggested routes with low to medium miles and just general advice for Needles in Nov is appreciated.
Thanks,
John
 

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RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
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I recommend hiking the 3-4 miles in to one of the campsites in elephant canyon (EC) or chesler park (CP), setting up base camp there, and day-hiking to druid Arch (absolute must-see IMO) and the joint trail. The little joint trail loop is nice. Then, if you have the will/stamina, you can return via big spring canyon. Two caveats:. 1. You need a permit, and those may be unavailable at this point. You'll want to get those ASAP. 2. There may not be good water there in late Fall, so you'll likely need to carry in all your water, which is very heavy. This makes it a suboptimal choice for a beginner (although it is otherwise a fantastic beginner location). Lost canyon has better water, but I'm not sure about it in November. You can call the rangers there to get water info. If packing in the water is too much, you can look into escalante instead. The needles is one of my favorites hiking destinations though!
 

JBPHXAZ

Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2018
Messages
7
I recommend hiking the 3-4 miles in to one of the campsites in elephant canyon (EC) or chesler park (CP), setting up base camp there, and day-hiking to druid Arch (absolute must-see IMO) and the joint trail. The little joint trail loop is nice. Then, if you have the will/stamina, you can return via big spring canyon. Two caveats:. 1. You need a permit, and those may be unavailable at this point. You'll want to get those ASAP. 2. There may not be good water there in late Fall, so you'll likely need to carry in all your water, which is very heavy. This makes it a suboptimal choice for a beginner (although it is otherwise a fantastic beginner location). Lost canyon has better water, but I'm not sure about it in November. You can call the rangers there to get water info. If packing in the water is too much, you can look into escalante instead. The needles is one of my favorites hiking destinations though!
Great Info. I appreciate the response.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
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92
No problem! If you can manage a fourth day, and if you can get the permit for it, Salt Creek would also be a great choice. Should have plenty of water, and there are tons of ancient ruins, and very few people. Also an easy going trail there. You could do an in and out from cathedral Butte or a one way traverse, which would be better but would require a shuttle.
 

Titans

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Great suggestions by @RyanP .
We have done a fair amount of long day hikes (no backpacking) in the Needles in November/December. The weather might vary greatly, I attached the Needles forecast for the week of Nov 10, 2018, last fall. Notice several nights where it dropped into 20-25F. In early Nov 2017 we experienced almost 75-80F during day time. There was a crazy amount of water last fall 2018 close to Druid Arch, but in 2017 we met experienced backpackers at the beginning of the Joint Trail and they had to pack ALL WATER in, they looked exhausted early morning and they said they were very cold at night.

Another challenge - Ravens! Expect them to steal your food, unless you are very careful. Supposedly they can zip open backpacks and tents. @Jackson can confirm how they took off with food in the Needles (I have been very thankful for his warnings in one TR).

There is a lot of up and down in the Needles, we underestimated the hiking in there the first time. Have fun!


80169
 

JBPHXAZ

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Apr 2, 2018
Messages
7
No problem! If you can manage a fourth day, and if you can get the permit for it, Salt Creek would also be a great choice. Should have plenty of water, and there are tons of ancient ruins, and very few people. Also an easy going trail there. You could do an in and out from cathedral Butte or a one way traverse, which would be better but would require a shuttle.
Ryan, thanks for the follow up. I think I will look in to Escalante a bit. I am from Phoenix and have driven through/past it alot, but have never done any hiking or camping in the wilderness itself. Good info! Thanks, John
 

JBPHXAZ

Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2018
Messages
7
Great suggestions by @RyanP .
We have done a fair amount of long day hikes (no backpacking) in the Needles in November/December. The weather might vary greatly, I attached the Needles forecast for the week of Nov 10, 2018, last fall. Notice several nights where it dropped into 20-25F. In early Nov 2017 we experienced almost 75-80F during day time. There was a crazy amount of water last fall 2018 close to Druid Arch, but in 2017 we met experienced backpackers at the beginning of the Joint Trail and they had to pack ALL WATER in, they looked exhausted early morning and they said they were very cold at night.

Another challenge - Ravens! Expect them to steal your food, unless you are very careful. Supposedly they can zip open backpacks and tents. @Jackson can confirm how they took off with food in the Needles (I have been very thankful for his warnings in one TR).

There is a lot of up and down in the Needles, we underestimated the hiking in there the first time. Have fun!


View attachment 80169
Titans, thanks to you as well. Very much appreciated. Those temps could be a bit much for my friend (maybe me too...ha!). And, not super excited about having to pack in a bunch of water. Backpacking might not be in the cards. I could see us just car camping and day hiking, which might be just as good, as my friend does not have much experience camping either. Thanks for taking the time to post this info.
John
 

LarryBoy

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I have not had issues getting a walk-in permit in November previously FWIW. Course those times were a couple years ago. So were I you, I'd call and ask about the Druid Arch spring status maybe a week ahead of time and make your decision then. I bet quite a bit that theres water, as it's very rarely dry. Esp with last winter being so wet. No idea what the monsoon has been like this summer so that does make a difference.

You really can't go wrong with any of the trails in the Needles. Except Cyclone Cyn, which isn't that great. Joint tr is in fact phenomenal, as is the side trip to druid arch itself.
 

JBPHXAZ

Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2018
Messages
7
I have not had issues getting a walk-in permit in November previously FWIW. Course those times were a couple years ago. So were I you, I'd call and ask about the Druid Arch spring status maybe a week ahead of time and make your decision then. I bet quite a bit that theres water, as it's very rarely dry. Esp with last winter being so wet. No idea what the monsoon has been like this summer so that does make a difference.

You really can't go wrong with any of the trails in the Needles. Except Cyclone Cyn, which isn't that great. Joint tr is in fact phenomenal, as is the side trip to druid arch itself.
LarryBoy, thanks for the info. I think that is the way I am leaning. Planning on backpacking, but leaving options open once we get there based on info from the rangers. And I guess how "adventurous" my friend is feeling. Thanks, John
 

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