One of the best trails in Canyonlands National Park is the Chesler Park Loop Trail. This stunning 11-mile long loop features, colorful spires, mushroom-like formations, caves, and boulders. The hike is one of a kind that will keep you mesmerized throughout the trail. Even though the trail is located in The Needles District, which isn’t as popular as the Island in the Sky District, it shouldn’t deter you from enjoying this hike. Not only is the trail captivating, the lack of visitors is the cherry on top. Keep on reading on for an in-depth guide to Chesler Park Loop Trail located in Canyonlands National Park.
About Canyonlands National Park
For millions of years, the Rockies and the Appalachian Mountains helped create Canyonlands National Park. The two mountains ranges were broken down over the years and carried in small pieces over by wind and water creating layers of rock called sedimentary rock. Eventually, rivers helped carve out the national park we all know today.
In the 1950’s Bates Wilson advocated for Canyonlands to become a national park. He showcased the park by leading government officials on jeep tours. After some years of advocating, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the documents, establishing Canyonlands National Park in 1964. In 1971, the national park grew in size by adding The Maze, The Land of Standing Rocks, Davis and Lavender canyons. As of right now, the park is about 527 square miles and has the highest point at Cathedral Rock in The Needles District (7,120 ft).
Canyonlands National Park consist of four districts which are separated by the Colorado River and the Green River. The four districts are as follows: Island In The Sky, The Needles, The Maze and The Rivers. The most accessible areas of the park are The Island In The Sky and The Needles districts. Chesler Loop trail is located in The Needles District.
Getting to The Needles District in Canyonlands
The closest airport to The Needles District is Canyonlands Field which is about 21 minutes away from Moab. Flying into Moab is likely too expensive regardless of time and season. Another option is to fly into Salt Lake City International Airport. The drive to Moab from Salt Lake is about 3 hours and 45 minutes. Grand Junction Regional Airport located in Colorado, is another great option and it is only an hour and 45 minute drive to Moab.
Drive From Moab
The Needles is about an hour and a half away from Moab. You have to drive south on highway 191 for 40 miles. Then get on highway 211 (take a right) for about 37 miles. Follow the signs to Squaw Flat campground and Elephant Hill.
Where to Stay
The Needles Camping
The Needles District has 27 individual sites and 3 group sites. Some sites can be reserved in the Spring and Fall. The campsites come with a fire pit, toilets, and picnic tables.
There are no hotels within the park so your best bet is to stay in Moab if camping isn’t your cup of tea. The city of Moab has plenty of hotels to stay in, all of which are relatively close to the national park. Here are some great suggestions.
- Red Cliffs Lodge has the best sunset views of the Colorado River, especially with your own private patio. Free wifi, a refrigerator, living area, microwave, and dining table are included. The area includes a winery, a western film museum, a horse corral, and an outdoor pool and gym.
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott Moab has more of a modern feel and offers a hot tub, free wifi, a fitness center, mountain views, outdoor pool, and is at a top rated location.
- Expedition Lodge is a budget-friendly hotel with free wifi, a swimming pool with a waterslide, and a hot tub. There is also an option for private rooms for up to 6 people.
When To Go
The best time to visit Canyonlands is in the Fall (mid-September through October) and the Spring (April and May) when the temperatures are not so extreme. The temperature during these times are between 60°F(16°C) and 80°F(27°C) but the temperature can drop to 30°F(27°C) at night. So bring a jacket. The summer highs can be around 100°F(38°C).
Map of the Trail
Below is a highlighted version of Chesler Park loop but for an official park map of The Needles click here.