Canyonlands National Park: The Needles

May 30, 2016/Jonathan Rundle/0 Comments

A few days after visiting Island in the Sky, and with Motos in Moab ending, we embark on the second part of our epic Utah trip which will eventually end at Bonneville Salt Flats. Heading south, we made our way to Canyonland National Park: The Needles section.

This time Whitney and I brought along our crew of miscreants—Aaron on his V-Strom, Kevin on his Bonneville, and Michael on his Bonnie Scrambler.


The park road past the visitor center is only 6.5 miles long, but Route 221 leading into it is 40 miles long. Without any other vehicles in sight for miles at a time, we twisted our wrists and gave 221 a good shakedown.

The crew at canyonlands

While the districts share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offer different opportunities for exploration and adventure. The Needles got it’s name from the colorful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the area.

This section of the park is only 15 miles from the Island in the Sky section; that is, as the condor flies. In road-going miles, the entrances are over 107 miles away from each other. There are no roads in the park that directly link the districts. No worries, though, we’re here to chew miles and see some rocks.

Being Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day, most people had already hopped in their RV’s and were back at work this morning. Which means we got the park all to ourselves—even at mid-day. That allowed us to goof off and get some photos of each other through the turns.

The Needles’ sites are best seen on foot, so I hear. There are many hiking trails that lead out into the canyons and I assume you could get lost for days back there. We stuck to the tarmac ’cause we got more riding to do after this. We’ve got to get all the way around to Natural Bridges National Monument and ultimately to Lake Powell at Hite for camp. Lots to see and do today!


Riding through canyonlandsRiding through canyonlands

Riding through Canyonlands

Photo by Michael O’Neill (IG: @stolenmatches)

Riding through Canyonlands

Photo by Michael O’Neill (IG: @stolenmatches)

Sun’s out, guns out.

While we didn’t do any hiking, we did make it to the sites along the road and eventually to the very end—Big Spring Canyon Overlook.

Big Spring Canyon OverlookBig Spring Canyon OverlookBig Spring Canyon OverlookBig Spring CanyonRiding through canyonlands

Leaving Canyonlands National Park: The Needles

Leaving again on Route 221, the section nearest the park is open range, so you will most likely encounter some cattle traffic blocking the road as we did. Sadly, none of us had our cameras at the ready.

We also passed a very nice county sheriff who decided to not flip around to pull us all over as we all should have earned costly performance awards.

Up next

Onward to Natural Bridges National Monument!

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