Canyonlands National Park Travel Answers

change location
goodfish's Profile Photo

Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

by goodfish Online Now Jul 6, 2011 at 6:52 PM

Wondering if anyone has hiked this in the past year or two? I'm reading that it's fairly well maintained and marked - possibly more well marked than in the past. If anyone has, would love some insights into spots to be especially aware of, if any. We would, of course, hit up the rangers for info when we get there but any firsthand advice (other than taking water/food/maps/etc.) would be appreciated. Thanks!

Quote & Answer
47 Answers
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 7, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    Hi Kate,
    I did part of this hike as far back as 2003. I did the hike up to Druids Arch which for the first few kms uses the same trail from the parking lot at the bottom of Elephant Hill. This whole trail was very well marked with posts at each and every possible change of direction. If I remember rightly it is when the trail gets into a major wash that the trail for Chesler Park carries on across the wash and was marked. For the Arch the trail followed the wash up. For this part of the trail, a little climbing at first and then across a plateau was easy (I started at 8h30 (before it got too hot), a bit more difficult climbing down into the wash. That's as far as I can take you, sorry but enjoy your hike.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 7, 2011 at 7:01 AM

    Hey, thanks for that. I wasn't going to include the Druid Arch spur as I figure the 11 mile loop is enough in the heat (2nd week Sept) but good to know that pieces of the trail you saw are pretty well marked. Will be staying Moab so it'll be a little bit of a drive down there - the loop and maybe a few short trails off the main road are probably all we can fit in anyway. Yup, we'll start early in the morning!

    I saw someone saying they got screwed around leaving the Joint somewhere but only that one account.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 7, 2011 at 7:12 AM

    That day Kate, I was out of the motel in Moab, at 6, tucked into a good b/fast just after and then drove down past Newspaper Rock and had to wait for the Visitors Centre to open (I'm not sure if it was 8 or 8.30 though).I did the whole round trip in about 8 hours (including a rest at the Arch for an hour. Along the wash it was pretty hard, a lot of sand and some enormous boulders and it climbs steadily ever upward. The real hard part was the last bit with a struggle on my own over a big rock slab and then climbing the trail up the dirt and shale to the plateau at eye level with the arch.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 7, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    Yeah, I read that the last piece of Druid's Arch is a scramble! Adding that spur would be another 4 miles RT so guess we'd have to see what we felt like when reaching that trailhead.

    Hmmm - hadn't read that the wash was that sandy - good to know (thanks!) as that will cut down our time. Est. for the loop is 5-6 hours. Was more concerned about sand out in The Maze - saw multiple mentions about slogs through sand there. I hate sand....

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 7, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Hi again Kate,

    There is sand in the wash but not so you're slogging through it as on a dry sandy beach. BTW, if you're looking at the nps.gov site and map, where you see the little black dots are exactly where the trail markers are, so you can exactly where I left the CP part anf followed up the canyon to the Arch.

    I didn't try the Maze as I only had a 2WD car but managed to get to Horseshoe Canyon O.K. The hardest part of that is the actually getting to the trailhead

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 7, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    LOL, I had the park map right in front of me when your note came up - printed it out yesterday. :)

    We're only going into the Maze far enough to hike the Gallery (I probably should have Horseshoe) - no 4-wheel drive rental, unfortunately. I understand the drive in won't be fun but doable with a standard car.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 7, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    Yes you can do it in a 2WD,providing it hasn't rained, but don't go in at the entrance to the Maze. For Horseshoe and the gallery the entrance is almost opposite the turn off for Goblin Valley . Coming from Green River it is easier to see the sign than coming from Hanksville. The Great Gallery is one of the most impressive memories I have, simply breathtaking!!!! We had the good fortune to find 2 girl rangers at the Gallery to explain all.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 7, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Right - we're staying in Hanksville, just south of Goblin, for that piece of the trip so as to be close to the turnoff.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • RoscoeGregg's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by RoscoeGregg Online Now Jul 10, 2011 at 7:20 AM

    Yea Baby!! `One of the great day hikes in the U.S.!! It is dead easy to find and route finding is no problem. It is my impression that you spend a fair amount of time outside so this will be a lark.

    If you find this a nice hike you may want to consider a hike to Picaboo Springs from Squaw Flats. Some nice rock art is to be found there on the far side of the window above the campsite at Picaboo Springs located high on the wall across the wash.

    Take your Camera,

    Randy

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • RoscoeGregg's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by RoscoeGregg Online Now Jul 10, 2011 at 7:38 AM

    You are wise to treat druid arch as a separate day hike. When I was in Mountaineering School we did both in a day but in those day our arms were heavy and our bellies were tight. If you wish to relax they are best done on separate days.

    As to the roads. I have never had a four wheel drive car and have visited all but the Maze district in my own car. Just take your time and putter along you will be fine.

    Horseshoe Canyon is as stated just fantastic.

    Do not overlook the San Raphel Swell you are going to be right there it has many very nice canyon hikes and some excellent Barrier Canyon Style rock art. The ones at Buckhorn Wash are amazing and are right on the road.

    Happy Trails,

    Randy

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 10, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    Excellent - good to know that I've chosen a great hike. I kept reading that Chesler/Joint was a 5-star...

    LOL, we're going into the trailhead for the Gallery at Horseshoe with a regular car: pray for us. :)

    Randy, I was reading about those AMAZING pictographs at Buckhorn Wash and had already looked them up when you suggested it. The location seems to be a pretty good distance from Hanksville or Torrey - our closest locations on this trip. Not sure we can fit it in but would try if possible. Any idea on time/distance there off the top of your head? I can, of course figure the miles myself but if you already know....

    Those pictos with the wings are super rare - have never seen anything like that before. Wow.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 10, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    That is one of my big regrets Kate, not having planned for Buckhorn Wash.... But, you'll see, Horseshoe Canyon will knock you over.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • RoscoeGregg's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by RoscoeGregg Online Now Jul 10, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Kate,

    I cannot say they are better than Horseshoe canyon and the hike is beautiful to Horseshoe.

    It is a big place and you cannot see it all in one trip. You have a great trip planned.

    Better to enjoy a little and return than to rush it too much.

    Randy

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 10, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Paul and Randy, my sincere thanks for helping me here. It's often always easier when you actually GET to a place and see the lay of the land but when you're planning, well, it's so comforting to talk to some seasoned veterans.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 11, 2011 at 1:13 AM

    Thank you Kate, when are you planning to go ?

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 11, 2011 at 4:24 AM

    Sept 10th - 24th. I week Moab, 3 nights Hanksville, 3 nights Torrey, fly home from Grand Junction.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 11, 2011 at 4:33 AM

    That's exactly the period I was there in 2003 and again in 2009, although I had a week more. Didn't see a drop of rain the whole time, just a couple of days of high wind. We didn't even stay 2 hours in Goblin because of the dust swirling about. The only pics I took were through a plastic freezer bag.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 11, 2011 at 4:53 AM

    LOL!! I hope the Wind Spirits are friendly while we're there!

    We were in Moab in 2004 at the end of August/beginning of Sept. at the end of a loop starting in Black Canyon to Mesa Verde, to Canyon de Chelly, to Monument Valley and up to Moab. Arches was not a stellar experience - it was 100 degrees and the place was positively jammed with bus tour folks in all sorts of less-than-adequate attire. I boggles my mind how ladies think they can manage a sand trail or slickrock in flimsy little stiletto sandals? Parking was a complete zoo. Anyway, we did Delicate, a few of the shorter trails, threw in the towel and fled to Island in the Sky - 10 degrees cooler and blessedly nearly deserted. Anyway, it's time to take another stab at that one. :)

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 11, 2011 at 5:21 AM

    Certainly gets hot walking up that slickrock to Delicate Arch, but it certainly was worth out when you walk out onto the bowl.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 11, 2011 at 6:06 AM

    You bet! I think we'll try and join the masses for sunset up there this time. I'm also going to book a ranger's hike of Fiery Furnace; another one we didn't get done last time. You know, I figured they'd do the first of the two daily, 3-hour tours early in the morning because of the heat but they don't start until 10:00. Funny, that.

    I know we've gotten chatty on the travel forum here but since it's just you, me and Randy...

    We did Delicate in the late morning and, yes, it was brutal by the time we got up there. We were coming down an hour or so later with some other middle-aged hikers and all feeling just a little smug that we got 'er done? Well, we round one of the first corners on the upper trail and coming towards us was an older gentleman carrying a HUGE camera and tripod over one shoulder and an equally huge camera bag over the other. He was wearing a black wool SUIT, white dress shirt and a TIE, and had smooth-bottomed leather dress shoes on his feet - I kid you not.

    HOW he got up that slickrock and WHY he wasn't dead of heatstroke, I will never know.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • RoscoeGregg's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by RoscoeGregg Online Now Jul 12, 2011 at 6:47 AM

    Kate,

    The Firey Furnace is a great place to use a Ranger tour. The route finding is problematic even with GPS. With a Ranger you will be able to just relax and enjoy the spectacular rock and wildlife. I would recommend that you visit the Visitors Center when you arrive as the number of people that are allowed on the tour is limited. As I remember there is only one a day. I would love to hear the Canyon Wren today.

    I am not sure what the moon phase is in when you are there. If it i3/4 full or better I would recommend waiting till most every one in the “Kodak Symphony” has headed out to the car. We just relax and enjoy the sunset and solitude, then hike out in the moon light. You will then have the arch almost to yourself in some really fantastic light. Hiking on slickrock with a bright moon in the cool of the evening has to be done to be believed. Even my fraidy cat sister enjoyed it. Just a thought.

    Randy

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 12, 2011 at 7:04 AM

    You guys are just the best...

    Guess what ? I checked a few weeks ago and the moon is full on Sept 12th - our third day there. Doing Delicate again in moonlight sounds like the ticket - no crowds and no heat! I have a brand new camera that I'm trying like the very devil to figure out (I need our VT Grumpy along to give me pointers!!!) so hope to have half a clue by the time we get there on how to get great night shots.

    Hmm - so I mentioned Delicate for the night hike. Do you have a better idea?

    They give two tours a day for the furnace: one at 10:00 and one at 2:00. I figure the 10:00 time will be the little less heat-killing of the two and will probably pre-reserve our spots. Yup, I do hear it's another lousy place to lose a cow so I'll let the more experienced get me through that maze. HA!

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 12, 2011 at 7:30 AM

    You're taking a cow with you ????

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 12, 2011 at 7:31 AM

    But of course. Don't you??? :)

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 12, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    No,no, I drink water on the trails, not milk.....

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • RoscoeGregg's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by RoscoeGregg Online Now Jul 12, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    I would put Lower Calf Creek Falls on your list. It is on the road between Boulder and Escalante. It is one of the top easy hikes in America.

    Randy

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 12, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    (adding Calf Creek to list)

    LOL! The cow jogged your memory, didn't it!!!????
    My list is getting long. YAY.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by pfsmalo Online Now Jul 12, 2011 at 8:03 AM

    Yes, I did that one as well. Some parts were hard going as the brush had grown over the trail here and there. Look out for the Anasazi granary up on your right going to the falls, not easy to spot at all. There is a small fee to pay here as the parking is on private campground land, gave the feller a1. Not far from the campground is the easy dusty road down to Devils Garden that is quite similar to Goblin Valley. Further on there are trails to several slot canyons, I did the Zebra slot, but they all take time......

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Jul 12, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    Great - will make the notes and see what kind of time we have. Thanks!

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Needles

    by goodfish Online Now Nov 26, 2011 at 4:24 AM

    Paul and Randy: Took me awhile to find this thread again and follow up with my thanks for your excellent advice so please forgive my bad manners!!

    Chesler/Joint: OMG. Amazing 5+ star hike!! We had a little issue with a downpour while in the Joint and ended up doing 1/2 trek hike soaked to the skin (but alive and well) but I'd go back to Needles just to do that one again.

    Calf Creek: did that one and Strike Valley Overlook during a "Loop the Fold" drive. Both hikes and that drive are stellar: coming over the top of the ridge with Grand Staircase/Escalante all spread out below is just breathtaking.

    Horseshoe Canyon: Fabulous. We had a sunny day for that one (lots of rain on this trip) and the road had just been opened again after being flooded out. Beautiful canyon and the pictographs even better than I'd expected. Wow.

    Little Wildhorse and Bell Canyons: another 5+ star hike and except for a couple who never made it beyond the 2nd obstacle, we saw no one else for the entire 8 miles. Had to do some wading and I had some tough spots with a high pourover or two but those slots are just killer.

    Goblin: the Wind Spirits were kind (HA!) but should have gone at a different time of the day as the light wasn't where I wished it had been.

    Delicate Arch: yup, we did the hike down all alone in the dark under a full moon. I will remember THAT forever.

    Arches was a far better experience this time as it wasn't as beastly hot and we got in Devil's Garden primitive loop this time so lost almost all the humans for awhile; another terrific hike. Fiery Furnace was fun and another perspective on an interesting park.

    Did some nice hikes in the Moab area too: Fisher Towers is fantastic. Heavy rain scratched some others we wish we could have done so back to Moab we must go!!! No problem there: I LOVE Moab.

    Anyway, too many to mention here, and too many others we ran out of time for, but your advice was spot on and very much appreciated - thanks a million!!

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
Your Answer
Advanced Editor View Guidelines