Elephant Hill Trail
Canyonlands National Park-Needles District
 SW of Moab, Utah
(75 miles by paved road)

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*Elephant Hill Trail--National Park Service's description:
One of the most technical four-wheel-drive roads in Utah, Elephant Hill presents drivers with steep grades, loose rock, stair-step drops, tight turns and backing. This is also difficult mountain biking terrain. Over the hill, equally challenging roads lead to various features, as well as to BLM lands south of the park.


*Needles District Map [274k PDF File]
Shows Needles District campsites, roads and trails with brief overview text (black and white).


*Trial description by

"The Elephant Hill Trail is located about 35 miles SSW of Moab, in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. However, it is a good 2 hours drive from Moab. To get to the trailhead from Moab, take US 191 South to SR 211 (about 39 miles). Turn right onto SR 211 and drive the winding road approximately 31 miles to the Park entrance, where you will have to pay a small fee per vehicle to drive into the park. Proceed into the Squaw Flats Camping Area and follow the signs to the Elephant Hill Trail. Ranging in elevation from only 4,900 to 5,300 feet, the trail contains several steep, narrow, rocky assents and descents. Two of the switchbacks are so tight, they require backing. This is a challenging trail with tons of breathtaking scenery. The trailhead is at the Elephant Hill Picnic Area. Within the trail, primitive camping is available at the Devilís Kitchen Camp (at waypoint EH07). There are also dozens of miles of hiking trails throughout Chesler Park which really make for a well-rounded off-road adventure. Of all the trails weíve ridden, this is easily one of our favorites because of all the variety. The trail is a little over 12 miles and takes approximately 3 Ė 4 hours or so to complete, but with the camping and hiking options available, you could spend days on this trail!"



    On Sunday May 27th, we headed down to Canyonlands National Park and the Needles District to run Elephant Hill Trail in the Park.  We wanted to try something new, so we made the 75 mile trip down to the Park and the trailhead.  We left fairly early (7:30am), and after gas in Moab headed down Hwy 191.  We stopped at Newspaper rock, then headed to the Park.  Well, I (Bill) did not know, but apparently there is a rue that states no dogs can ride in a 4x4 on the Elephant Trail.  Wow, I didn't know that--yikes!  Al the way down here and I can't run it!  Well, I tried to negotiate with the ranger, but it was either not run it, or face $5k fine and 6 months in Jail.  Wellllllllll, alright I didn't run it.  We were going to run Lockhart Basin Trail back to Moab, but the Well's book says it takes 9 hours!  Ummmm no, not in mid 90-s heat.  So the rest of the crew went and did the trail, while Molly and I sweated it out in the Park on pavement.  With nothing to really see, we left around 1pm back to Moab.


Here is a little report of how their trip went:


   We all stopped at newspaper rock and checked out the petroglyphs.  Itís cool to see what the Native Americans did so long ago in this beautiful country.  Itís hard to imagine what some of these pictures represent.  We then proceeded into Canyon Lands National Park. 


Click on map of Elephant Hill Trail Map by webejeepin to enlarge...


Heading south on Hwy 191, La Sal Mountains off to the left...


Wilson Arch on Hwy 191 south of Moab...


This rock had just fallen days before onto the parking lot from above...


Petroglyphs of Newspaper Rock...


Heading towards Canyonlands...


In the park, one of the viewpoints...


   The decent into the canyon is pretty steep switchbacks with narrow turns. One of the switchbacks is so tight you canít even do multi-point turns. You drive forward into the corner and then actually back down the trail to the next turn around where you flip around and drive forward again. When returning on the loop you reverse this process and back up the trail. The trail signage for these turns is pretty cool and we all got a kick out of it.


On of the signs at the switchbacks...


Shot at a squeeze in the trail,

 with the needles in the background just before lunch...


Mountain biked the whole trail in the heat!


    There arenít any significant obstacles on the trail, but itís got enough shelves, ledges and very narrow squeezes through the boulders to keep it interesting. This would be a tough trail in a stock vehicle. You can see from one of the squeezes that there isnít room for much more than a jeep. Full sized vehicles would be pretty tight, but the park rangers manage to get ĺ ton Chevy's through. The scenery coupled with the interesting trail is what makes this a must see in Moab country. Next time weíll try to make this trip at sun-rise or late in the day to catch the full colors of the canyon.  Everyone had a great day!


The Needles off in the distance...



"Jeep, Jeep"!!!!!


Bill Hallinan  HoboJeepers




Here are some other Elephant Hill Trip reports:

Elephant Hill Trail by

Elephant Hill Trail by

Elephant Hill Trail--NPS Website:

Elephant Hill Trail by

Elephant Hill Trail by 4x4wire.Com:



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