Druid Arch, Needles District: Elephant Hill Trailhead, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Druid Arch - 10.8 miles
Needles District: Elephant Hill Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||10.8 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,120' - 5,765'|
|Elevation Change:||+645' net elevation gain (+1,356' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Druid Arch - 10.8 Miles Round-Trip
Druid Arch is located 5.4 miles from the Elephant Hill Trailhead in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. This uniquely shaped arch is named for its resemblance to the large rocks of Stonehenge. A moderate hike leads through high desert grasslands, canyons and maze of needles formations to the arch.
The Chesler Park Trail climbs steeply for several hundred yards before leveling across a high slickrock terrace. It passes through a slot then comes to the first of several well-marked junctions at 1.5 miles; turn right (west) for Druid Arch.
The next .6 miles lead over the small divide between Big Spring Canyon and Elephant Canyon, with good perspective on each.
The trail drops into the sandy wash bottom of Elephant Canyon to a junction for EC1 backcountry campsite and the Druid Arch Trail (2.1 miles). Turn left (south) on the Druid Arch Trail. The Druid Arch Trail remains in Elephant Canyon for the remainder of the hike, with several moderate scrambles to avoid choke points.
Needles and other formations carved from Cedar Mesa Sandstone define these colorful canyon walls. The last half-mile steepens up the east canyon wall to the arch viewing area.
A short latter (prior to seeing the arch) leads to this small perch high along the canyon wall. From here cairn-marked social trails branch to additional viewpoints. Follow cairns to the left for a direct, steep scramble to the base of Druid Arch (5.4 miles : 5,765').
- N38 08.492 W109 49.641 — 0.0 miles: Elephant Hill Trailhead
- N38 08.129 W109 49.768 — 0.5 miles : Cross high flat
- N38 07.790 W109 49.732 — 1.0 miles : Intervals of dirt path and slickrock
- N38 07.512 W109 49.961 — 1.4 miles : Squaw Flat access split
- N38 07.513 W109 50.243 — 1.75 miles : Funnel into slot, then drop into canyon
- N38 07.408 W109 50.406 — 2.1 miles : EC1 backcountry campsite split
- N38 07.122 W109 50.355 — 2.5 miles : Travel moderates in sandy wash bottom
- N38 06.979 W109 50.282 — 2.75 miles : EC2 backcountry campsite split
- N38 06.883 W109 50.152 — 2.9 miles : Squaw Flat - Druid Arch split; keep right
- N38 06.661 W109 50.298 — 3.25 miles : Trail rises above wash to circumvent small dry fall
- N38 06.495 W109 50.307 — 3.48 miles : Enter wash, keep left at Joint Trail - Chesler Park split
- N38 06.333 W109 50.135 — 3.8 miles : Moderate travel in sandy wash
- N38 05.896 W109 49.977 — 4.5 miles : Variously narrow and more rugged travel up wash
- N38 05.683 W109 49.938 — 4.8 miles : Trail rises up steep, narrow ledges over wash
- N38 05.505 W109 49.913 — 5.1 miles : Base of dry fall below Druid Arch
- There are several trail intersections on this route, and a good map will eliminate confusion. Keep track of cairns and always note the last cairn you saw. Cairns may be difficult to see, especially leading in and out of washes.
- The Needles were formed by differential erosion around a resistant red and white sandstone layer called Cedar Mesa Sandstone, which comprises most rock features in the Needles District. This 245 - 286 million year old layer was once a dune field on the eastern edge of a shallow inland sea that extended to California.
- Grasses take root in exposed areas where wind-blown sediments form a soil layer several feet thick.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips in Canyonlands National Park. Permits can be acquired at Visitor Centers the day of or day before your trip. Advance reservations can be made up to 4 months out and are recommended during peak season.
Call the Backcountry Reservation Office for more information: 435.259.4351
- There's a $30 fee per party to backcountry camp in Canyonlands National Park.
- Hikers must camp in designated sites where explicitly stated. You may otherwise choose your own campsite in designated at-large zones.
- At-large sites must be at least 1 mile away from any road and 300' from any archeological site, historical site or water source.
- Mountain Bikers and 4WDs must stay on established roads and camp in designated sites at all times.
- Fires are not permitted at backcountry campsites or within the backcountry in Canyonlands National Park.
- Desert water sources are scarce and fragile. Do not bathe or wash dishes in creeks or pools.
Squaw Flat Campground is an ideal base camp for day hikes to popular destinations like Chesler Park, Druid Arch and the Joint Trail. There are 26 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bathrooms, fire grates, picnic tables, tent pads and water are available year-round. Fee is $15 per night. Squaw Flat typically fills every day from late March through June and again from early September to mid-October.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $25 fee per vehicle to enter Canyonlands National Park (defined as private passenger cars with 15 people or less). Passes are good for 7 consecutive days.
- $15 per motorcycle.
- $10 per person (walk or bike).
- Dogs are not permitted on trails in Canyonlands National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
Druid Arch is accessible from the Elephant Hill Trailhead in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Fllow the signs to Elephant Hill which is located approximately 3 miles from the Squaw Flat campground area.
Canyonlands National Park
2282 SW Resource Blvd
Moab, UT 84532