The hike for the Joint Trail and Chesler Park View Point are in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. This was on my Canyonlands list from the get go. I just wasn’t sure how we were going to get there. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to access the trail.
The area of the hike itself is in the heart of the Needles District and requires a long hike or an experienced 4×4 Driver. The Elephant Hill Road that will take you there is treacherous to say the least, although it is the shortest way to get there. Even though we have a Jeep, we looked at photos of the rough trail when planning our trip. We decided it was not something we would or should drive. I did some research and found a Jeep Tour, with an experienced driver, through the area and to the trail that I wanted to hike. We signed up and oh what a trip!!
We went on the Jeep Tour and hike with Navtec Tours out of Moab, Utah. I can’t say enough good things about this group from the moment we booked till we were dropped back off at our hotel. We felt safe, informed and all in all in good hands. This post is about the hike and my next post will be about the Jeep Ride Adventure. You can find out more about this Expedition by clicking on the Navtec Tours website.
Canyonlands National Park is in Utah and divided into four distinct districts. They are, Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and The Rivers. There is no easy or short way to get from one district to the other regardless of how close they are as a bird flys. Each area is unique and showcases different recreational activities and geological formations. For more information click on this Canyonlands National Park link.
The Needles District in Canyonlands is located in the Southeast corner of the park. It is noted for its sandstone spires. I felt like I was almost on another planet. There are more hiking trails in this area and it is much more remote than Island of the Sky. This area also has more difficult 4×4 roads that you need a permit for. There is also camping here which again, a permit is needed.
The Needles District is not quite an hour and a half from Moab. Take US 191 South for 40 miles. Turn left on UT 211 W for 34 miles to reach the Needles District at Canyonlands. The drive there is scenic with rock formations.
To reach the Joint Trail you will need an experienced 4×4 driver with high clearance. Take the Elephant Hill Road and then turn on to the Devil’s Kitchen, this is a one way loop. You will turn left at the Devil’s Kitchen camp and follow the road 3.5 miles, turn left once more and then you will reach the Joint Trailhead.
The Joint Trail
The Joint Trail is a 4 mile out and back trail. We added about another half mile by hiking up the rocks to view Chesler Park. This is a moderate trail with a bit of scrambling. We followed our guide and there was also another couple with us. I really enjoyed hearing the guide’s knowledge of the area and learned some geology along the way.
The first part of the trail you will ascend through various spires and mushroom rocks that look amazing. We were told that in Canyonlands the cylinder type rocks with a cap are called Mushrooms and at Bryce Canyon the same type of rock is called a Hoodoo. They are amazing whatever they are called.
Next you will ascend some stairs and then walk through a tunnel type area to an open space. Kind of like a cave. From there we turned left and walked through the narrow joint, similar to a slot canyon. A joint, geologically speaking, is a fracture through the rocks. It is basically a crack which forms a gap in which two parts of the rock moved away from each other but are somewhat parallel to each other. Kind of like a fault. The path was sandy through the joint so easy to walk.
Once we came out of the narrow joint, we followed our guide up slick rock trail to sit and view Chesler Park. Very beautiful. You can definitely tell by the rocks you view how the Needles District received its name.
We loved the Joint Trail and Chesler Park View. It was definitely our kind of trail. We also loved our Jeep Tour and I will be writing about that in my next post. I highly recommend Navtec Tours and would use them again.
We again used a Falcon Guide book for this trip. You can click this link if interested in the book, Hiking Canyonlands and Arches National Park. This book was good for us as it gave information not just on hiking but on 4 wheel drive roads in the area as well. We did some 4 wheel driving on this trip so it was good information. I will write about that in next Thursday’s post!
We also found a map to be valuable on this trip, although we didn’t necessarily need it for hiking it was good to have. As usual, we like the National Geographic Maps and you can find that at the following link. Canyonlands National Parks Trails Illustrated Map. Maps are also available for each district in Canyonlands, although we found for what we were doing this map was perfect.