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Auto Touring Moab Utah, UT Hwy 211 Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Updated: May 17

Elephant Canyon Needles District

With so much to see in Moab and the surrounding area, it can be overwhelming trying to decide how best to organize the time you have available on your vacation. Auto Touring Utah Route UT211 is the third in a series of adventures for those new to exploring Moab. I would suggest doing these drives in the suggested order. However, depending on what your particular goals are or the time of year, you may want to mix and match.

Wilson Arch Moab Utah

Located about 70 miles south of your condo is the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. In my opinion, the Needles is by far the most interesting of the three districts of the Park. Don't let the distance of the drive scare you, it is a very scenic drive with the opportunity to split the drive up as you will see in this article. The first stop will be Wilson Arch (mile 20), you can view the arch from the road or make a short hike to the arch. The arch measures 91 by 46 feet. There are a few old photos in town of an airplane flying through the opening.

Newspaper Rock Hwy 211

Turn onto UT 211 and begin the descent into Indian Creek Canyon. At mile 46 stop at Newspaper Rock State Historical Park. The small park features a huge panel of petroglyphs dating from approximately 700 BC to 1300 AD. Art styles feature Basketmaker, Fremont, and Puebloan images. This panel is probably the second-best panel in the Moab that you can drive up to, the other being Sego Canyon.

Cowboyglyph Indian Creek Canyon

If you have time to explore, you could easily spend an entire day in this area searching for more Ancient Indian rock art and history cowboyglyphs, I have! If you would like to explore for additional images I would recommend going in the winter when the leaves are off the trees. Regardless of the time of year, wear long pants and sleeves to avoid scratching yourself on the bushes that typically hide the images along the canyon walls.

Superbowl Campground Utah Needles District

Indian Creek Canyon will eventually start to open up and you will be given a rare opportunity to see a beautiful canyon most visitors to Moab miss. I have spent a lot of time camping in this area, as there is so much to explore here. It doesn't matter if you are camping or on a day trip, be sure to pack a lunch and some snacks, there are no services in this entire area. There are several campgrounds along Hwy 211 should you choose to spend a night out under the stars. The Superbowl Campground is located in the shadows of Six Shooter Peak.

squaw flats campground

You will eventually arrive at the destination of this trip, Needles District Canyonlands National Park. Gone are the canyons and cliffs you have come to expect on your Moab trip, they have been replaced by soaring pinnacles or needles of red and white Cedar Mesa Sandstone. There are many miles of hiking trails to be explored here, I have only touched on a few and they were all spectacular. This butte is in the Squaw Flats Campground.

Cave Spring Cowboy Camp

The best short hike is the Cave Spring Hike. At only .06 miles this hike is a great introduction into what the area has to offer, and is likely the best family hike in all of Moab. The hike will take up and over some interesting rock formations that require you to climb two ladders, don't worry, my daughter did it when she was 10. The trail ends at a well-preserved cowboy, cattle farming was allowed in the park until 1975. For more info on this hike please visit checkout our post here Cave Springs

FYI, you can skip the hike by going left on the trail and go straight to the Cowboy camp, but what fun would that be?

Druid Arch Elephant Hill
Note Hiker for Scale

To get the true jaw-dropping experience out of your day in the Needles, you must drive to Elephant Hill. Note that the last mile or two is gravel but it's well-maintained. Elephant Hill will put you in the heart of the Needles. There are two Elephant Hill trails, one is a difficult Jeep road and the other is a hiking trail. There are many options available for this hike but I would recommend doing the hike as a simple out and back, walking as far as you like. The farther you walk the better the trail will get, it eventually ends at Druid Arch, if this is your goal, you must get a very early start and drive straight to the trailhead. To me, Druid Arch is the best hiking trail in Moab.

Moab Utah Vacation Rentals
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