Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Blanding with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
10 days ago

Outstanding trail. One of the best in Canyonlands or Arches. Went counterclockwise on the loop. The sights are amazing and you really do feel like you’re on another planet sometimes. The loop is almost completely exposed, so take the water requirements very seriously. Really took our time to enjoy (7 hours) and started at 6am / dawn. Only ran into one person on the first 10 miles and throughout the entire loop and he was a ranger going out to check on some back country campers. Saw about 10 people in the last mile and a half or so. No real difficult parts, moderate climbing, just long and very hot. There were 4 of us dad, mom and teenage son and daughter. We’re in pretty good shape and went out with 15 liters of water between us and had about 2 liters left at the end.

One of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done. Joints, rock scrambling, views- this hike has it all. It rained late in the afternoon which sent it to a new level of magical, but do bring jackets if it’s monsoon season— be prepared for lightning and flash floods. Water, at least a gallon, is a MUST for in the summer. 5L is better.

What a spectacular trail! My husband and I have been hiking and camping a ton in the last few years, and this is one of our top 3 favorite hikes of all time. We didn't see any hikers until we closed the loop and were back at the viewpoint. If you wanted a taste of this trail but not the full 11 miles, you could just hike to the viewpoint where the trail begins the loop and head back, that'd be about 6 miles I think, and you'd still see some pretty amazing stuff. Google pictures of the 'joint' if you want motivation to do the full loop though :)

It can be brutal in the heat of the day, so PLEASE be smart and bring tons of water and start EARLY. We got to the trail at 6:30, but really 5:30 would have even been better. It was a 100+ degree day and took us about 7 hours. We had a real fast pace the first half, but as the trail had more incline/slickrock areas and the day got warmer, we slowed a bit. We had 3L in water bladders plus about 5 nalgene sized water bottles (include tabs of electrolytes/vitamins to mix in our waters) for the 2 of us, and wish we would have had maybe 1 more litre of water. We saw so many people ill-prepared heading out on the trail late in the day, don't let that be you. Found the trail to be well marked as well.

We began at Owl around 2pm in 95°F weather. We came upon our first ruin, about half a granary, about 100 feet from the top. The second bunch of ruins we almost missed, being hidden behind a "waterfall". We didn't see any after those until we reached the confluence, at which we decided to take a day hike south. We came upon 2 granaries on that hike, one circular and one rectangular structure. There was another granary we found that was falling apart. All of the structures going past the confluence were very hard to spot and very easy to miss with their camouflage construction.The easiest way to spot them is to look for their perfect square openings. We didn't see any structures on our way back up Fish. Although there is a small creek with flowing water right along the trail. I'd do this hike again and make my way farther south to find more structures if I knew there was water to be found south of the confluence.

This is truly a must do trail if you are in the area. We went on 4-4-18 and it was an overcast day, so luckily water wasn't an issue for us. We hiked it in six hours (stopped for lunch and to play on some rocks). We took our boys, 14 and 12, and they had no problem, other than the occasional whining, lol. Easily a day trip from Moab. I had read a review to hike this in a counter clock-wise direction and I'm really glad we did that. The first part seemed mostly downhill (once on the loop) and I couldn't imagine having to do that all up-hill. Plus, it really saves the best for last on the loop. I read an REI blogger compare this hike to "Alice in Wonderland" meets Dr. Seuss. It really does have that whimsical feeling with the rock formations. It's amazing!!!

Hikes just don’t get any better than this! The Needles District completely blew us away! (and we’ve been to Bryce, Zion, Arches and Canyonlands Island in the Sky District). Well worth the additional drive time to get there, and NO CROWDS! Words can’t describe the beauty and diversity of this hike! We took a ranger’s advice and did the loop clockwise, although most reviews recommend counter-clockwise. Wish we had listened to the reviews on this one. My husband struggled going down a ladder in one of the slot canyons (going up would have been easier). I also think the back 1/3 of the loop would have been easier counter—clockwise. We also regretted not bringing more water. Trust me, take what you think you need and double it! Having to ration our supply made the last two hours pretty brutal. It took us 7 hours including about 45 minutes for photo breaks and lunch. We also should have been on the trail by 7 a.m. instead of 9, which had us still hiking with very tired muscles during the hottest time of day (83 degrees),. If you don’t consider yourself to be in above average physical shape, don’t attempt the full loop. Just go to the viewpoint (that still 6 miles and quite a workout). This is also a very technical hike, so be sure you take poles and good hiking boots.

Wow! Easily one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. There was lots of variety on this hike and unbelievable views from many different angles of each canyon. We started at 8:45am in May and completed in 5.5 hours. This hike had it all...nice elevation gain, scrambling, some slot canyons that were only 2ft wide, and wide open flat area inside the needles that felt like another world.

First hike of Canyonlands for this Canadian. I initially thought hey- great loop location so I can check out other trails along the way. But wow did this ever WOW. The views of The Needles are magnanimous. The enormous size of the park is captured into perspective when doing the Chesler Park Loop. It’s amazing, great for all ages and levels of experience. Just prepare to take your time if you go in +25C weather- don’t time budget at risk of heat exhaustion.

This is a great trail and has some amazing views! Getting up to the loop at times seemed more of a difficult trail, but there are places to take a quick rest if need be! The loop was great, marked well with cairns! Completed the trail clock-wise.

We started this trail around noon, which made for a very sunny, hot hike. We stayed on top of re-applying sunscreen, brought plenty of water, and did just fine.

Glad this was one of our lasts hikes though, definitely got some blisters. Completely worth it, but good socks and shoes are a must!!

Also, this would be a good trail to download before completing. Cairns mark the trail well, but having another way to confirm you’re on the trail is helpful at certain points.

Amazing hike. Superb views. The trail is marked really well. The elevation is not a problem either.

This was a great trail to take in all different kinds of scenery! The views from every turn were unreal. This is a great option if you spend just a day in Canyonlands.

hiking
3 months ago

Fun trail with some trail finding to do. Cool ruins and scenery. We did see some bear scat, but nothing to be alarmed about. A little bit tough to get out the Fish Creek side. There was a rope there when we did it and it was helpful. Some fore thought and planning and this can be a great over night hike. My GPS tracks with all side trips was right at 20 miles.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked on March 22, 2018. This hike had a bit of everything! Gulches, a “meadow” (park), rock scrambling, hoo doos, slot canyons, and skies for days. So far, this is my favorite Southwest hike. If you’ve only got one day to spend on Canyonlands, this is a great place to spend it.

backpacking
4 months ago

Stayed at Chester Park 4 and it was an amazing campsite. Perfect views of the sunset. Trees and nice area to set tent under. A private cave behind the camp you can climb up in.

We hiked this trail on 13 February 2018 and loved it. The weather was comfortable and cool. We hiked it counter clockwise and that worked very well for us. We were the only ones on the trail, the entire time. The trail is easy to follow, it is well marked but you do have to pay attention to the markers all the time. It is very strenuous and rugged and involves a lot of scrambling and climbing. Great stunning views the entire time, so this trail never gets boring. A great workout with amazing scenery. Make sure to take plenty of water, no matter what time of year you go. Pick a cooler time to hike, preferably in the off season. Bring a lot of snacks and a sandwich. Pack more than you think because it can take you all day out there. The trail offers back country campsites for those who want to sleep out there and finish the next day.

hiking
5 months ago

Went today and barely any crowds. It's very similar to Devils garden in Arches. Super relaxing hike and definitely a hike to feel complete solitude. Also pretty strenuous. You'll be ready for bed afterwards. Follow markers carefully, had to backtrack a few times due to poor markers. Definitely my new favorite hike in all of Moab.

This is a great hike. Stay at the back country sites and hike about! Many great archeological sites.

This is one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done. We did the loop counter clockwise like recommend but the overall elevation isn’t bad. There were quite a few spots where you had to scrambled up and down rocks and squeeze through tight spaces but this made the trail so fun. 360° views the entire time. There are designated campsites along the way. Highly recommend this hike!

Wow what a hike.The Wild West meets Alice in Wonderland.

hiking
7 months ago

Wonderful! We loved the red rock formations. And the Joint Trail section with its narrow tunnels was so fun. The Park is a true hidden gem: a large green valley in the middle of a desert.
If you want to go counter-clockwise then pay close attention to the map and take the right exit. We missed it and ended up going clockwise. FWIW clockwise was fine too and we had no problems crossing the final rocky part as the overall elevation gain of the trail is quite forgiving.

Beautiful hike on 11/22 - completed in 5hrs. Couldn’t have asked for better weather. Echoing others who’ve recommended taking the loop counter-clockwise, this gets one of the rockier sections out of the way a little earlier in the hike.

Lovely trail - closer to 11 miles than 10 miles.

hiking
8 months ago

We only hiked a little over half of the trail since some members of our party had leg fatigue. What we hiked was spectacular with a rim hike, ladder descent, and varied terrain. I would definitely do this hike again and complete it! Take water and sunscreen.

hiking
8 months ago

What a hike! Continuously amazing views the whole way. Just breathtaking in a couple spots. We did it counterclockwise as recommended by Gabriella's review. Our hike was 12 miles, only 1200 feet elevation gain according to my Gaia maps recording, but we did an optional viewpoint that was a short worthwhile spur and we got off trail for a little bit near the end that may explain the extra distance. Because this is a cairn following hike, paying attention to the cairns is a good idea. :) There are signs along the way so you don't go off onto the Druid Arch trail or toward Elephant Hill CG area. Didn't see too many people, only 12 on the trail and 4 more off in the distance either camping or hiking, so you'll have the place to yourself, or so it will seem. The Joint trail section blew our minds and was so fun. It's a fantastic hike.

8 months ago

Fantastic hike even though we turned around at the view and Chesler Park because of time.

Amazing scenic trail

I did this as an overnight in mid-October. I'll leave a few tips here for anyone considering this trip:

- the loop is longer than 15 miles. My GPS track shows 19 and I have seen others tracking around 21 miles. I don't know where the '15 miles' comes from, and this isn't the only site that claims that.

- this can be extremely difficult hiking. Large sections of the canyons have no real 'trail' to speak of, and where there is (was?) a trail a lot of it can be overgrown or very easy to lose track of. Bring a map and pay attention.

- you can go in via Owl or Fish. Fish requires descending down or climbing up a 15'ish foot crack/dihedral. I went down that way. Understand that if you can not climb it, you are faced with backtracking 19-21 miles to get out via Owl...

- Obviously I then exited via Owl, and be warned the last few miles of the hike are pretty rough including some exposed sections and slab/friction climbing to get up and around obstacles in the creek

- The rangers had received a report of someone seeing bear prints in Fish but they weren't sure if it was accurate. I saw three piles of bear scat within the first couple miles of the descent in to Fish so, again, just something to be aware of.

- There are very few ruins to be seen on the loop itself. Supposedly there are more to be found if you hike down south of the confluence of Fish and Owl creeks. Very high effort, low reward trip if you are looking to see remnants of the ancients...

- Very important: there is no direct phone to reach the Kane Gulch ranger station. The only person you can speak to is the ranger who sets up your permits ($8 per person per trip) which you then have to pick up in person at the ranger station itself (during high season anyway). The permit guy has no knowledge of conditions or water availability which means that you will have no knowledge of conditions or water availability until you are standing in the ranger station 5 miles from the trailhead. Plan accordingly, bring enough water to cover your trip, and hope you won't end up having to haul it in.

hiking
10 months ago

Really beautiful. We were all novice hikers in pretty good shape. We did the 11 miles, and this was a good challenge that didn't leave us feeling totally dead afterwards. Tired but not dead. I highly recommend this trail.

Amazing scenery and very quiet and isolated! You get a good variety of type of trail (slick rock, dirt, even jeep trail) and variety of scenery. Best part by far is the Joint section of the trail. DO TRAIL COUNTER CLOCKWISE. (When you get to the Chelser park sign take a right)

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