Tuesday, September 17 – We headed South this morning to hike the Needles, Chesler Park Trail. The day started a little rough. First of all, the drive from Moab was much longer than Paul had imagined.....should of filled the fuel tank before leaving. We should have enough to get safely home. Next, he forgot his wallet and thus his America the Beautiful pass. Cost us $10 to enter....DANG!
After the 40 mile drive South on route 191 and a 35 mile drive into the park, we reached a 3-mile dirt road with tight switchbacks and barely enough room for two vehicles to pass safely. Luckily, there are pull-outs and everyone seems to drive slow and carefully.
We found a parking space, loaded up our backpacks and headed down the trail. This hike takes you into an environment from another planet – a concentration of fantastic red rock formations of pinnacles, fins, domes, hamburger buns, mushrooms, and flying saucers.
The trail is rated moderate in our book but strenuous in the handout given at the park entrance. It's a pretty brutal climb, and we were very tired by the end of the day. To reach the top you traverse slickrock, squeeze through slot canyons, crawl over boulders, and stretch from one rock to the next. It took about two hours to hike the 3-mile trail (one way) to the top of the canyon and look down on Chesler Park. Here you can continue on for an additional 5-mile hike.
It's a very beautiful hike, and the scenery is unbelievable.
By the time we reached the top of the canyon and Chesler Park we decided we had enough. Time to head the two hours back down the canyon.
Forgot to mention....it rained nearly the entire hike. Yes, we did check the website which read 0-10% and even stopped at the Visitor's Center. The board read 0-10%. It started raining when we were about a half mile up a very strenuous leg from the trailhead and continued off on on (mostly on) most of the hike. We even met a Ranger along the way who couldn't understand what was going on.
Just as we reached the top of the canyon we were greeted with bolts of lightning, thunder and heavier rain. Goodness!
It was interesting to see water in places where there wasn't any on the way up the trail. We were even greeted by a new waterfall. We were worried about the rock getting slick but didn't have any slipping problems.
The sun finally broke out on the return hike when we were about one mile from the parking lot. We were pretty soaked, tired, muddy, and ready to call it a day!
We retraced our drive back out toward highway 191 with our eye on the gas gauge. We did make a very interesting stop along the way at Newspaper Rock. A rock listed in the National Registry of Historical Places that is covered with some very vivid petroglyphs. If you make the journey to the Needles, this is worth the stop.
Just as we reached Moab (had enough gas) we were hit by another thunderstorm including some hail. Jeesh......what a day!
Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y'all back real soon. Have a great day!