Short Hikes in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Scenic Hwy 211, & Newspaper Rock - Utah
This is an account of our first visit to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. It was a rather short visit, but it was a beautiful drive, and it set the stage for later excursions in this remote area.
From Arches National Park it was forty-five miles south on U.S. Hwy 191 to Utah 211. Then thirty-five miles west to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.
The drive down Utah 211 is quite scenic in itself, but we were focused on our first visit to "Needles" on the way in. However, we got lots of pictures on the way back that you will see toward the end of this post.
After stopping at the visitors center ...
we went directly to the Squaw Flats campground in search of our buddy, Len. We were going to visit him and check out the campground. We talked for awhile and had lunch before saying our goodbyes.
We departed and went to hike the Pothole Point Trail. That short hike wasn't very intriguing, but we did find these natural sculptures that were pretty cool.
And there were definitely potholes. This was the largest.
Linda proposed the shot above and this next one.
After finishing up at Pothole Point, we headed past Wooden Shoe Arch.
You can barely see the arch in the left center of the above shot. But I like this pic because of the "pronghorn" shadow on the rocks to the right.
We only had time for one more short hike, so we chose the Cave Spring Trail. It had a bit more character as we walked past the remnants of an old cowboy camp ...
to the springs.
There are a couple of pictographs in there.
After the lower part of the trail, which was in the shadows by the time we got to it, we had to climb a couple of ladders up to the rocks above.
The setting sun provided us with some great lighting for photos from there.
This hike even had a couple potholes of its own.
But my favorite part of this hike was walking among the big sagebrush and taking in that unmistakable aroma that surrounded us.
It's so soothing to me ... not that I need much soothing these days.
One last shot from the Cave Spring Trail. These rocks looked wrinkly - sort of like the skin of those Shar Pei dogs.
I just thought it was really cool with the shadows.
We finally left the park and were back on Utah 211. It was a slow process as the lighting on the red rocks was gorgeous.
We stopped to get some shots and there was a guy pulled off the road. He had his tripod out looking at the same view.
"Ever shoot this rock before?" he asks. "No, first time" I replied. I didn't want to let on that I had no idea what I was doing - just set to "automatic", point and shoot.
Farther down the road, we made a few more stops.
I'll just let the photos speak for themselves.
We continued on and saw huge herds of Mule Deer and the largest flock of Wild Turkeys we had ever seen. There must have been 50 turkeys in a field.
As we looked back over our shoulders, the sun had set silhouetting the rock formations behind us.
This one includes a couple of distant mesas.
On our way in to Needles, we had skipped the place called Newspaper Rock, and now it was dark. Still, we got out with our headlamps to take a look at the petroglyphs.
Lots of rock art on one wall.
As we stepped away and got in the Jeep, we looked back and noticed a face in the rocks above the petroglyphs. I don't know if it was just the lighting at that particular time, but it certainly gave us a shiver.
I didn't have my tripod and this was the best I could do.
Is this an ancient spirit overseeing the history of this spot? That gave us an extra sense of spirituality in the air on this night at Newspaper Rock. Wow.
Okay. One final shot. A nice ending to a fun-filled day.
Now, we really enjoyed our evening drive back on Utah 211. But you are taking you life into your own hands if you drive that road in the dark.
You have to be prepared for cows, deer, and turkeys on the road or crossing the road. They are everywhere. We were quite content to be third in a line of slow-moving, cautious vehicles.
The Needles District of Canyonlands is very large, it takes some driving to get there, and the accommodations are sparse. Therefore, it doesn't get visited by as many people, and those that do go, are spread out over a much wider area. So, if you like canyons and scenery and no crowds, consider a trip to Needles. We're looking forward to spending more time there.