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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Nature & Landscapes Talk
Thread started 24 Mar 2017 (Friday) 00:00
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Suggestions for Needles District in Canyonlands

 
vasher
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Post has been edited 7 months ago by vasher.
Mar 24, 2017 00:00 |  #1

We're planning on spending a couple days in the Needles District, but have read that most of the scenic views are accessible only by off-roading with 4WD--is this true? I'm only going to have a rental car that probably won't appreciate rocky adventures. Are there views accessible through moderate (up to 8 mile) hikes? Or not terrible gravel roads? I'd really like to be hiking among those spires rather than far off on some overlook. Thanks!


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monty28428
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Mar 24, 2017 02:33 |  #2

Okay - well first off I haven't been since the 70's/80's and was in my trusty 69 Bronco :-)

That said there were some paved roads that I remember that got you close enough to several features and hiking trails... Not much help I know but 4WD is not needed but I think you would do better with one (lots of trails to explore!!).




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Eastcoast
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Post has been last edited 7 months ago by Eastcoast. 2 edits done in total.
Mar 24, 2017 06:02 |  #3

Oh my... I was in the area a number of years ago, did not go to the needles district, but. Most rental contracts are written that you are not authorized to take the vehicle "off road" meaning anything that is not paved! Obviously most people, including myself, have driven on gravel roads with the rentals but beware of that clause! Any damage (tire cuts/paint chips etc.) would then be directly charged to you and not any insurance you might have purchased. That being said I'll have to look through some of the information that I had from Moab to see what the descriptions were of how to access various locations. You might want to get a copy of Laurent Martres's book "Photographing the Southwest". It has some very excellent suggestions of where, when and how to access most of the areas that are in the Needles area, along with most of the other locations in southern Utah. Highly recommended.

If you want to access remote areas via vehicle perhaps you could rent an offroad vehicle in Moab? They have locations that rent vehicles specifically for this purpose (modified Jeeps etc.)


John
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Narwhal
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Mar 24, 2017 07:25 |  #4

You can rent off-road vehicles in Moab.


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vasher
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Mar 24, 2017 09:54 |  #5

Ah, thank you! We might end up renting a second off-road vehicle for a day if needed and parking the little rental somewhere safe. Otherwise, making our way on foot and hoping for the best. I purchased Martres' book yesterday, gorgeous photos and very helpful! Though, that is the book that stated the best views in that area were only accessible by off-roading or hiking out. That page was accompanied by a photo of a jeep squeezing its way up a rocky canyon only a few inches wider than the vehicle. :eek:


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ejenner
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Post has been edited 7 months ago by ejenner.
Mar 24, 2017 23:34 |  #6

Narwhal wrote in post #18309452 (external link)
You can rent off-road vehicles in Moab.

Yea, go do Elephant hill in a rental. I dare you. (well, not 'you', you could be an offroad expert for all I know)

Seriously though, many of the 4wd trails around there are pretty serious. You can day hike to some great spots if you are fit, but a back country night out would be best.

There may be some 'off road' trails that are suitable for folks with limited experience and the right vehicle, but I would ask and be sure to tell them your experience.

It's like saying there are great mountain bike trails to someone from Houston.


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patrick ­ j
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Mar 25, 2017 10:30 |  #7

vasher wrote in post #18309286 (external link)
We're planning on spending a couple days in the Needles District, but have read that most of the scenic views are accessible only by off-roading with 4WD--is this true? I'm only going to have a rental car that probably won't appreciate rocky adventures. Are there views accessible through moderate (up to 8 mile) hikes? Or not terrible gravel roads? I'd really like to be hiking among those spires rather than far off on some overlook. Thanks!

I was there a few years ago, don't recall a lot of 4 wheel drive roads, of course they limit that sort of thing within national parks. I think 8 miles gets you in there somewhere, I did something around the Elephant Hill/Chesler Park and I think I did it in 4 to 5 hours, nice place. You do have to get in there a little bit, not so easily accessible as the north side of the park. Take water, I remember being thirsty.

Interesting fact, maybe - from the Islands in the Sky area, you are about 15 miles from the Needles area as the crow flies, but the drive down there is about 115 miles.

For some reason I took a picture of a sign. Appears as though I took it in Chesler Park, anyway, you can see that the distances to various spots aren't that great. Since I did my hike in just about half a day, I couldn't have been all that far from the parking lot when I took this. (I'll also add I got zilch in terms of interesting photos - mid-day light and clear skies and so on)


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ejenner
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Mar 25, 2017 18:09 |  #8

As a aside, for those with a high clearance 4WD, but not a lot of off-roading experience, you might consider the Maze district. If it is not wet, there are a number of not too technical roads that will get you into the maze a ways. If it is wet, however, watch out. It is out of the way and generally less busy although a bit of a longer drive from the east.


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vasher
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May 23, 2017 10:23 |  #9

Back! We ended up heading to Island in the Sky before Needles, so didn't have as much hiking time as expected, but it was still very nice. Got most of the way towards Chesler Park (I think, we got turned around a bit, and the signs were not super well marked; many of the trails shared the same paths) and did another short hike at sunset. Coming from Seattle, this is an oppressively hot, dry place, and once you get on top of the mushroom spire things, you get sandblasted off! At night, the wind picks up impressively. My campfire marshmallows was well seasoned with dirt. :cry:

Reserved site just outside the Needles (like a few hundred feet from entrance) at a private campground called Needles Outpost, which was very good since all the walk-up reservations in the park proper apparently fill up by 8am every morning from late spring onwards. Yeesh! But, as far as National Parks in the area go, this was practically deserted on trails (our stop after this was the Grand Canyon South Rim, good god). Some campsites were out in the open, others had more cover backed against a cliff and trees. Whenever we next go back to the Southwest, I'm going to look into taking an off-road tour or 'drop-off, camp, pick us up' sort of thing to get to the more remote areas and even the Maze section, which looks like it would be amazing. It was a bit too far out of our way this time, especially in the slightly worrying Sentra we ended up renting.

Stopped at Island in the Sky for That One Arch (saw a bunch of cows along the way, and one dead cow hit by a car :-():

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4167/33886496844_a4b47d04e3_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/TCr9​VA] (external link)SW Trip-2585 (external link) by vashnic (external link), on Flickr

On the road to the Needles, there were pull-outs and trails to petroglyphs in varying states of preservation:

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4185/33886486614_72f392aea6_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/TCr6​Td] (external link)SW Trip-2639 (external link) by vashnic (external link), on Flickr

Then in the Needles:

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4180/33919408863_b6fdcaf303_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/TFkQ​wc] (external link)SW Trip-2674 (external link) by vashnic (external link), on Flickr

Pretty sure the mesas in the far back are Island in the Sky...(?)

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4246/33990708064_d58a9f8410_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/TMDg​hL] (external link)SW Trip-2709 (external link) by vashnic (external link), on Flickr

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Eastcoast
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May 23, 2017 12:39 |  #10

vasher wrote in post #18361121 (external link)
Back! We ended up heading to Island in the Sky before Needles, so didn't have as much hiking time as expected, but it was still very nice. Got most of the way towards Chesler Park (I think, we got turned around a bit, and the signs were not super well marked; many of the trails shared the same paths) and did another short hike at sunset. Coming from Seattle, this is an oppressively hot, dry place, and once you get on top of the mushroom spire things, you get sandblasted off! At night, the wind picks up impressively. My campfire marshmallows was well seasoned with dirt. :cry:

Reserved site just outside the Needles (like a few hundred feet from entrance) at a private campground called Needles Outpost, which was very good since all the walk-up reservations in the park proper apparently fill up by 8am every morning from late spring onwards. Yeesh! But, as far as National Parks in the area go, this was practically deserted on trails (our stop after this was the Grand Canyon South Rim, good god). Some campsites were out in the open, others had more cover backed against a cliff and trees. Whenever we next go back to the Southwest, I'm going to look into taking an off-road tour or 'drop-off, camp, pick us up' sort of thing to get to the more remote areas and even the Maze section, which looks like it would be amazing. It was a bit too far out of our way this time, especially in the slightly worrying Sentra we ended up renting.

Stopped at Island in the Sky for That One Arch (saw a bunch of cows along the way, and one dead cow hit by a car :-():

QUOTED IMAGE
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/TCr9​VA] (external link)SW Trip-2585 (external link) by vashnic (external link), on Flickr

Great capture of Mesa Arch! Were there many other people there at that time? When I was there, there were upwards of 30 people grouped around the arch waiting for sunrise.

On the road to the Needles, there were pull-outs and trails to petroglyphs in varying states of preservation:

QUOTED IMAGE
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/TCr6​Td] (external link)SW Trip-2639 (external link) by vashnic (external link), on Flickr

Yea! Newspaper rock. Sad to see that they have to rail it off because of the vandalism.

Then in the Needles:
QUOTED IMAGE
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/TFkQ​wc] (external link)SW Trip-2674 (external link) by vashnic (external link), on Flickr

Pretty sure the mesas in the far back are Island in the Sky...(?)
QUOTED IMAGE
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/TMDg​hL] (external link)SW Trip-2709 (external link) by vashnic (external link), on Flickr

Super captures!

I never made it to needles. Would you rent again or take a paid tour the next time you go there??


John
Be careful out there!

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vasher
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May 23, 2017 14:10 as a reply to Eastcoast's post |  #11

I'm still unconvinced of our off-roading ability (as in, neither of us has done it and I have visions of driving off boulders and falling down cliffs), plus factoring in the need to spend extra to rent an off-road vehicle anyways, I'm leaning towards finding someone to drive us out to a distant area, leave us to our back country camping/hiking/etc. for a few days, then picking us up. Especially for somewhere like the Maze or Grand Staircase Escalante area that can (apparently?) only be accessed like this. I don't know if that is actually a thing, though. We saw lots of pink jeeps taking people all around the Moab area, so that seems to be quite popular tour-wise. I just really don't like getting locked into a set tour with a bunch of other people, though. :rolleyes:

Alternatively, dust off our mountain bikes. We rented some cruiser bikes at the Grand Canyon and had a pretty wonderful time, and it seems that this could be a happy medium to traverse sandstone rocks/roads with some speed. The ground seemed quite grippy!

But! This will not be for awhile, I think. Next plans are probably Glacier NP and Banff or Iceland. :-)


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