Needles Loop/Druid Arch, Moab Area

chandlerwest

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
501
When @Scott Chandler moved to Moab in the spring of 2017 I felt it was going to be a great opportunity to spend some time in the area. Then the reality that it is an over 700 miles round trip set in. I finally decided it was time. I looked into what there was that I could do in the Needles District of Canyonlands. On paper it looked within my skill set to do a 15 mile loop. I asked Scott if I might be biting off more than I can chew. After all it is the topography of The Needles and it was bound to be hot because I didn't want to wait until the fall because it would be easier for me to back out if I put it off. I interpreted his lack of critical response as....he wanted to really do this route also. So off I went on a 4 night 3 day visit.

I had time to use before Scott got home from work so I drove into Arches National Park. There was a little hike that I never took the time to explore. So I can cross that off my list.

Broken Arch
IMG_0729.jpg


View to the northeast
IMG_0740.jpg


Tapestry Arch
IMG_0741.jpg


Sand Dune Arch
IMG_0746.jpg


The next morning we arose at 5:00AM so that we could hit the trail at first light. Our trip would first take us to Druid Arch, then up the slope and over the hill (what a simplification) to Chesler Park, through The Joint, and back up to Chesler Park, then back to the car.

We hit the trail at 7:00AM. Wonderful morning light and temperatures.
IMG_0749.jpg


The La Sal Mountains looking crisp on the horizon
IMG_0752.jpg


One of the Six Shooters tucked in the elbow of the rocks.
IMG_0761.jpg
IMG_0769.jpg


Looking over towards the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands.
IMG_0774.jpg
IMG_0785.jpg


We came across a moist sandy area and saw movement. At first we thought they were simply big flies but closer examination saw "they're toads!!!!!" Little tiny Red Spotted Toads. At most they were 3/4 of an inch long. When we moved they would scurry back under the ledge but shortly come hopping back out. Eating the tinier knat-like bugs.
Can you see the toad in this shot? A little right of center.
IMG_0787.jpg
IMG_0792.jpg


We make our way up Elephant Canyon toward Druid Arch.
IMG_0800.jpg
IMG_0804.jpg


I just thought this would be a simple backlit leaf picture but I got home and went....."there's a fly on the back"
IMG_0813.jpg


Even the autumn grasses were putting on a nice show
IMG_0814.jpg


In January 2016 this was an icy slope that caused Scott to get creative to get around. He showed me how he went. All I could think was it must have looked more open with a layer of snow on it. I had one of those retroactive holy shit moments for his plight.
IMG_0819.jpg


When you approach Druid Arch you only get this nose shot. Then it disappears. Then you have to grind up this boulder slope to actually see it. I told Scott that I did a good job of not realizing that this was how it was to get to Druid.
IMG_0822.jpg


Druid Arch
IMG_0827.jpg


I had seen the shot back down Elephant Canyon in other trip reports. To be honest I was more excited about getting to the arch just for this shot! I find it other worldly. That our route in is essentially underground in this picture.
IMG_0829.jpg
IMG_0837.jpg


Then I turn to the right and I see this stair step wall/shelf.....wonder. I would love to see how water flows over all this in a hard rain.
IMG_0838.jpg


To me this destination had three awe inspiring, magical views. Definitely near the very top in lifetime destinations. I was beside myself with awe!!!
This is a view up the boulder slope we had to go up to get to this wonderful location.
IMG_0845.jpg


We then explored a short way around the other side of Druid Arch. It was a fight trying to get a shot because of the sun and surrounding rocks but we got a view.
IMG_0852.jpg


Making our way down Elephant Canyon
IMG_0855.jpg


I was pleased with this "find". I was looking at the dark circle then I saw the light at the top of it. "That's an arch!"
IMG_0856.jpg


Something I thought was peculiar were seemingly ordinary plants that seemed to be much taller than usual. I said a few times "that plant is owning that cubic yard of area space." This is a single violet plant/bush/flower
IMG_0861.jpg


Then we made our way up and over the hill to Chesler Park. How it hung to the edge of the cliffs. Traversed narrow, to non-existent ledges. Weaving in and out. A Very creative trail!!!
IMG_0872.jpg
IMG_0875.jpg
IMG_0877.jpg


Scott's posture says it all. "What the heck?" We explored up the right nostril
IMG_0879.jpg
IMG_0883.jpg


Making it up to the shelf we began wondering how we get through this wall.
IMG_0889.jpg
IMG_0891.jpg
IMG_0893.jpg


Chesler Park - We headed across the park toward "The Joint". The park is a great expanse of land surrounded by towering "Needles". It appears to have a weak spot off to the west but don't you believe it. That barrier is simply below sight level. By this time I was starting to feel the day weighing on me. Acutely aware that I had one liter less water than I wanted. Legs feeling like they weighed a hundred pounds. I asked myself "why am I better prepared then those poor souls who die coming out of the Wave every year." The only thing I could think of was "90's are better than over 100 degrees and.....I have Scott." At one point I asked him how much water he had hoping that he had more than I knew he had.
IMG_0895.jpg
IMG_0901.jpg
IMG_0902.jpg
IMG_0904.jpg
IMG_0907.jpg


We sat down at this viewpoint for lunch and this guy flew in, like I am sure he has done hundreds of times in the past. It was quite patient and polite waiting for a handout. Eventually he flew off disappointed.
IMG_0913.jpg


Off to "The Joint". The crack you see isn't the Joint but it is a similar structure. A crack in the earth that leaves Chesler Park.
IMG_0914.jpg
IMG_0923.jpg
IMG_0926.jpg
IMG_0927.jpg
IMG_0928.jpg


Both of us were amazed at how well the crypto soil was doing below The Joint. Seemed like acres!
IMG_0935.jpg


This is one of those "you had to have been there" stories" but I am going to tell it anyway. I was beat....sun beating down.....could not be farther from the car....blah blah blah. Scott was beginning to think that my glorious trip was imploding. We sat in the shade, in a creek full of sand. Scott gets out his map and reassures me that "yeah it will be tough getting back up to Chesler Park but after that it should be okay." I didn't TRY to say it like I did but it conveyed my emotions accurately. "I'll just be fine.... once we get back up to the MAGgical MAJesty of CHESler Park." Sardonic to the hilt. Scott came up with the word besmirching. He busted out laughing and I worked up a smirk. We started up the trail with me stopping a lot. To show how "off" I was I didn't even get a photo of a spot that is seared in my brain and has become a vital part of my tale. I came around a corner and saw Scott switchbacking up the tall slope/cliff. I plopped down on a rock and dropped my head. I somehow got up it only to come across this shot. Look at where the cairns go. Damn!
IMG_0944.jpg


We approach this fortress of a wall and I mumble to myself. "There better be a door in that wall!"
IMG_0946.jpg


THE DOOR into Chesler Park. I perked right up!
IMG_0947.jpg


We sat on this spot for surely an hour. Enjoying the shade and bit of breeze. Happily I would have napped. My goal was to get through an entire Clif Bar. I didn't realize a person could eat so slow but I nibbled it all gone!!!!! What a view, which I saw mostly sideways as I relaxed.
IMG_0948.jpg


I was seeing the desert in a much brighter light when are restarted. Get it? Brighter light? Backlit tiny plant?
IMG_0950.jpg

IMG_0955.jpg


The incredible view to the north from the exit of Chesler Park. I reassured Scott that this is near the top of adventures that I have had.
IMG_0957.jpg


We got back to the car a bit after 8:00PM. What a day!
IMG_0964.jpg


The next day we drove up into the La Sal Mountains to get away from the heat and hopefully see some fall foliage. We went to Warner Lake and hiked a short circle trail through the ever changing aspen.
IMG_0966.jpg
IMG_0968.jpg
IMG_0973.jpg
IMG_0979.jpg
IMG_0988.jpg
IMG_0991.jpg
IMG_0996.jpg


If Scott hadn't left me.....he would have had to drag me away from this mature stand of aspen. I just stood in awe.
IMG_1003.jpg
IMG_1004.jpg
IMG_1006.jpg
IMG_1018.jpg
IMG_1020.jpg
IMG_1025.jpg


Later that night we drove up to Dead Horse Point State Park for the sunset. While there Scott presented me with a private Night Sky Program. He drug out his telescope and gave me a tour of the sky. Seeing Saturn.......oh my! He showed me a binary star where one was blue and the other white. I told him "that is a show stopper!" He is a pro at this because I believe I saw what he wanted to show me. Which is difficult at times because he is pointed out variations of black.
IMG_1028.jpg
IMG_1035.jpg
IMG_1039.jpg


Our final day we hiked up Grandstaff Canyon to Morning Glory Bridge. This was a special trip because there was running water....in the desert.
IMG_1047.jpg


Poison Ivy got in on the fall foliage
IMG_1058.jpg


I included this next shot because when @Jeffrey Chandler saw it he exclaimed how it was the Chesler Park walls in a cactus.
IMG_1066.jpg
IMG_1067.jpg
IMG_1074.jpg
IMG_1076.jpg


First view of Morning Glory Bridge
IMG_1084.jpg
IMG_1093.jpg
IMG_1101.jpg


Making our way out
IMG_1107.jpg
IMG_1110.jpg
IMG_1125.jpg


The last morning it was time for Scott to head back to work and for me to head home and pick up Jeff at school. I took in sunrise at The Windows in Arches National Park. I have see this spot in calendars and on poster but had never made my way up to it. I got away from the mass of people and scrambled up to the shelf where you can see Turret Arch through the North Window.
IMG_1152.jpg
IMG_1154.jpg


Then I drove over to something else I don't think I have ever taken the time to do. Hike the short trail to the Upper Viewpoint of Delicate Arch. At trails end I kept going across the slick rock to closer and grander perspectives of the environment where Delicate Arch sits. This location is definitely the place to see Delicate Arch early in the morning. On the main trail the arch is back lit or the sun is in your eyes.
IMG_1164.jpg
IMG_1165.jpg
IMG_1166.jpg


It was wonderful sharing a few days and these experiences with my son. I hope you enjoyed my take on areas that are well travelled in BCP, yet deserving of another interpretation.
 
Last edited:

Titans

Member
.
Joined
Aug 18, 2018
Messages
1,130
I have been looking forward to this report since I saw the picture of you and @Scott Chandler at Druid Arch .... and you just made my day, I love it.:dance:
Awesome pictures and the last slick rock slope at Druid Arch now gets some scale with Scott on it. Great shot!
And I know what you mean.... in awe!!!! Such a special and serene place. I have also been in awe with the Needles since the very first time we were there. It's such a joy to see all your wonderful photos and it sounds like you had a great time together. Great fall photos from La Sal Mountains too.
It's truly (!) exceptional, that you did the whole 15 mile loop incl Druid Arch in the heat, wow.... It is so much (!) Up & Down hiking just to get back and forth to the Joint trail and that was OUR FAVORITE HIKE on our 8,000 mile road trip out West! We split the loop up and we will first be able to make it out to Druid Arch this November or December, hopefully. Thanks for sharing, Well done!
 

b.stark

Forever Wandering
.
Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
780
Next time in the area, I need to make it to Chesler Park. Seems to be a great spot. Druid Arch is really a great hike too, and a great arch (and setting).

I've tried a lot to describe what the area is like to family, friends, and coworkers (the Colorado Plateau desert areas). The best I've ever been able to do is that it's a lot like the scenery in the Wile E. Coyote cartoons--seemingly totally surreal and fanciful--but it's actually real, and the real landscape is often so much more surreal than the cartoons.
 

KJR

Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Messages
41
Fabulous Report. Having done those hikes I totally understand the awe you experienced on the Druid Arch / Chesler Park loop. Will be back down in a week, may have to do it again.

Thanks for sharing!
 

chandlerwest

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
501
Next time in the area, I need to make it to Chesler Park. Seems to be a great spot. Druid Arch is really a great hike too, and a great arch (and setting).

I've tried a lot to describe what the area is like to family, friends, and coworkers (the Colorado Plateau desert areas). The best I've ever been able to do is that it's a lot like the scenery in the Wile E. Coyote cartoons--seemingly totally surreal and fanciful--but it's actually real, and the real landscape is often so much more surreal than the cartoons.[/QUOTe

Wile E. Coyote is GREAT. Spot on description!
 
Last edited:

Titans

Member
.
Joined
Aug 18, 2018
Messages
1,130
When @Scott Chandler moved to Moab in the spring of 2017 I felt it was going to be a great opportunity to spend some time in the area. Then the reality that it is an over 700 miles round trip set in. I finally decided it was time. I looked into what there was that I could do in the Needles District of Canyonlands. On paper it looked within my skill set to do a 15 mile loop. I asked Scott if I might be biting off more than I can chew. After all it is the topography of The Needles and it was bound to be hot because I didn't want to wait until the fall because it would be easier for me to back out if I put it off. I interpreted his lack of critical response as....he wanted to really do this route also. So off I went on a 4 night 3 day visit.

I had time to use before Scott got home from work so I drove into Arches National Park. There was a little hike that I never took the time to explore. So I can cross that off my list.

Broken Arch
View attachment 69595

View to the northeast
View attachment 69596

Tapestry Arch
View attachment 69597

Sand Dune Arch
View attachment 69598

The next morning we arose at 5:00AM so that we could hit the trail at first light. Our trip would first take us to Druid Arch, then up the slope and over the hill (what a simplification) to Chesler Park, through The Joint, and back up to Chesler Park, then back to the car.

We hit the trail at 7:00AM. Wonderful morning light and temperatures.
View attachment 69599

The La Sal Mountains looking crisp on the horizon
View attachment 69600

One of the Six Shooters tucked in the elbow of the rocks.
View attachment 69601View attachment 69602

Looking over towards the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands.View attachment 69603View attachment 69604

We came across a moist sandy area and saw movement. At first we thought they were simply big flies but closer examination saw "they're toads!!!!!" Little tiny Red Spotted Toads. At most they were 3/4 of an inch long. When we moved they would scurry back under the ledge but shortly come hopping back out. Eating the tinier knat-like bugs.
Can you see the toad in this shot? A little right of center.
View attachment 69605View attachment 69606

We make our way up Elephant Canyon toward Druid Arch.
View attachment 69607View attachment 69608

I just thought this would be a simple backlit leaf picture but I got home and went....."there's a fly on the back"
View attachment 69611

Even the autumn grasses were putting on a nice show
View attachment 69616

In January 2016 this was an icy slope that caused Scott to get creative to get around. He showed me how he went. All I could think was it must have looked more open with a layer of snow on it. I had one of those retroactive holy shit moments for his plight.
View attachment 69617

When you approach Druid Arch you only get this nose shot. Then it disappears. Then you have to grind up this boulder slope to actually see it. I told Scott that I did a good job of not realizing that this was how it was to get to Druid.
View attachment 69618

Druid Arch
View attachment 69619

I had seen the shot back down Elephant Canyon in other trip reports. To be honest I was more excited about getting to the arch just for this shot! I find it other worldly. That our route in is essentially underground in this picture.
View attachment 69620View attachment 69621

Then I turn to the right and I see this stair step wall/shelf.....wonder. I would love to see how water flows over all this in a hard rain.
View attachment 69622

To me this destination had three awe inspiring, magical views. Definitely near the very top in lifetime destinations. I was beside myself with awe!!!
This is a view up the boulder slope we had to go up to get to this wonderful location.
View attachment 69623

We then explored a short way around the other side of Druid Arch. It was a fight trying to get a shot because of the sun and surrounding rocks but we got a view.
View attachment 69624

Making our way down Elephant Canyon
View attachment 69625

I was pleased with this "find". I was looking at the dark circle then I saw the light at the top of it. "That's an arch!"
View attachment 69626

Something I thought was peculiar were seemingly ordinary plants that seemed to be much taller than usual. I said a few times "that plant is owning that cubic yard of area space." This is a single violet plant/bush/flower
View attachment 69627

Then we made our way up and over the hill to Chesler Park. How it hung to the edge of the cliffs. Traversed narrow, to non-existent ledges. Weaving in and out. A Very creative trail!!!
View attachment 69628View attachment 69629View attachment 69630

Scott's posture says it all. "What the heck?" We explored up the right nostril
View attachment 69631View attachment 69632

Making it up to the shelf we began wondering how we get through this wall.
View attachment 69633View attachment 69634View attachment 69635

Chesler Park - We headed across the park toward "The Joint". The park is a great expanse of land surrounded by towering "Needles". It appears to have a weak spot off to the west but don't you believe it. That barrier is simply below sight level. By this time I was starting to feel the day weighing on me. Acutely aware that I had one liter less water than I wanted. Legs feeling like they weighed a hundred pounds. I asked myself "why am I better prepared then those poor souls who die coming out of the Wave every year." The only thing I could think of was "90's are better than over 100 degrees and.....I have Scott." At one point I asked him how much water he had hoping that he had more than I knew he had.
View attachment 69637View attachment 69638View attachment 69639View attachment 69640View attachment 69641

We sat down at this viewpoint for lunch and this guy flew in, like I am sure he has done hundreds of times in the past. It was quite patient and polite waiting for a handout. Eventually he flew off disappointed.
View attachment 69642

Off to "The Joint". The crack you see isn't the Joint but it is a similar structure. A crack in the earth that leaves Chesler Park.
View attachment 69643View attachment 69644View attachment 69645View attachment 69646View attachment 69647

Both of us were amazed at how well the crypto soil was doing below The Joint. Seemed like acres!
View attachment 69648

This is one of those "you had to have been there" stories" but I am going to tell it anyway. I was beat....sun beating down.....could not be farther from the car....blah blah blah. Scott was beginning to think that my glorious trip was imploding. We sat in the shade, in a creek full of sand. Scott gets out his map and reassures me that "yeah it will be tough getting back up to Chesler Park but after that it should be okay." I didn't TRY to say it like I did but it conveyed my emotions accurately. "I'll just be fine.... once we get back up to the MAGgical MAJesty of CHESler Park." Sardonic to the hilt. Scott came up with the word besmirching. He busted out laughing and I worked up a smirk. We started up the trail with me stopping a lot. To show how "off" I was I didn't even get a photo of a spot that is seared in my brain and has become a vital part of my tale. I came around a corner and saw Scott switchbacking up the tall slope/cliff. I plopped down on a rock and dropped my head. I somehow got up it only to come across this shot. Look at where the cairns go. Damn!
View attachment 69650

We approach this fortress of a wall and I mumble to myself. "There better be a door in that wall!"
View attachment 69651

THE DOOR into Chesler Park. I perked right up!
View attachment 69652

We sat on this spot for surely an hour. Enjoying the shade and bit of breeze. Happily I would have napped. My goal was to get through an entire Clif Bar. I didn't realize a person could eat so slow but I nibbled it all gone!!!!! What a view, which I saw mostly sideways as I relaxed.
View attachment 69653

I was seeing the desert in a much brighter light when are restarted. Get it? Brighter light? Backlit tiny plant?
View attachment 69654
View attachment 69655

The incredible view to the north from the exit of Chesler Park. I reassured Scott that this is near the top of adventures that I have had.
View attachment 69656

We got back to the car a bit after 8:00PM. What a day!
View attachment 69657

The next day we drove up into the La Sal Mountains to get away from the heat and hopefully see some fall foliage. We went to Warner Lake and hiked a short circle trail through the ever changing aspen.
View attachment 69658View attachment 69659View attachment 69660View attachment 69661View attachment 69662View attachment 69663View attachment 69664

If Scott hadn't left me.....he would have had to drag me away from this mature stand of aspen. I just stood in awe.
View attachment 69665View attachment 69666View attachment 69667View attachment 69668View attachment 69669View attachment 69670

Later that night we drove up to Dead Horse Point State Park for the sunset. While there Scott presented me with a private Night Sky Program. He drug out his telescope and gave me a tour of the sky. Seeing Saturn.......oh my! He showed me a binary star where one was blue and the other white. I told him "that is a show stopper!" He is a pro at this because I believe I saw what he wanted to show me. Which is difficult at times because he is pointed out variations of black.
View attachment 69671View attachment 69672View attachment 69673

Our final day we hiked up Grandstaff Canyon to Morning Glory Bridge. This was a special trip because there was running water....in the desert.
View attachment 69674

Poison Ivy got in on the fall foliage
View attachment 69675

I included this next shot because when @Jeffrey Chandler saw it he exclaimed how it was the Chesler Park walls in a cactus.
View attachment 69676View attachment 69677View attachment 69678View attachment 69679

First view of Morning Glory Bridge
View attachment 69680View attachment 69681View attachment 69682

Making our way out
View attachment 69683View attachment 69684View attachment 69685

The last morning it was time for Scott to head back to work and for me to head home and pick up Jeff at school. I took in sunrise at The Windows in Arches National Park. I have see this spot in calendars and on poster but had never made my way up to it. I got away from the mass of people and scrambled up to the shelf where you can see Turret Arch through the North Window.
View attachment 69686View attachment 69687

Then I drove over to something else I don't think I have ever taken the time to do. Hike the short trail to the Upper Viewpoint of Delicate Arch. At trails end I kept going across the slick rock to closer and grander perspectives of the environment where Delicate Arch sits. This location is definitely the place to see Delicate Arch early in the morning. On the main trail the arch is back lit or the sun is in your eyes.
View attachment 69688View attachment 69689View attachment 69690

It was wonderful sharing a few days and these experiences with my son. I hope you enjoyed my take on areas that are well travelled in BCP, yet deserving of another interpretation.


The red spotted toad you saw @chandlerwest and @Scott Chandler is very cool, it's so tiny and hard to find in the picture....
Today I saw some close up 'red spotted toad' pictures taken by @Dave in one of his reports:
https://backcountrypost.com/threads/la-muerte-el-fuego.5628/
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
606
Of all the places I've hiked in the SW, the time and effort it takes to do stuff in the Needles/Chesler Park area most closely matches what the NPS tells you. Some of the other places, well, it seems they overestimate so they don't have to pull as many unprepared people out.
 

cmgz

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
100
I love the way Druid Arch presents as just another fin and then when you’re hiking up the last part and turn around you see this massive arch. I’ve taken a couple people up there and wait for their reaction like a little kid with a secret.
Thanks for posting!
 

Vegan.Hiker

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,090
Wow, so much great stuff in one report. Love it! I really wish I made it to Dead Horse Point SP when I was out there. Looks amazing.
 
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