Chesler Park Trail, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

No Straight Lines: Backpacking and Hiking in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   10 Comments

By Michael Lanza

We follow a zigzagging line of stone cairns over waves of slickrock in the backcountry of the Needles District of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Cliffs and 300-foot-tall sandstone candlesticks tower around us, in more shades of red than Crayola has yet replicated, glowing in the warm afternoon sunshine of late March. Five adults and four kids from three families, we traverse slabs, scramble in single file up the smooth, dry bottom of a narrow water runnel, and pump out calf muscles walking straight up steep ramps. In the desert Southwest, trails haven’t learned the axiom of Euclidian geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

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10 Responses to No Straight Lines: Backpacking and Hiking in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

  1. Joe J   |  June 3, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    what do you think about back country camping in Arches in June? We will use the car during the day to move around the park but was thinking about doing the 1 mile hike from the road and camping in the part overnight.

    • MichaelALanza   |  June 3, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      Hi Joe, there’s very little legal backcountry camping in Arches. I’d expect it to be hot in June, and I would think about hiking a short distance in the evening to camp, rather than hiking during the heat of the day; but with good weather in the right spot, a night out could be really nice. See this page for more info: https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/backpacking.htm

  2. Molly   |  May 23, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    which backgrountry campsite did you do – Squaw Canyon 1 or 2?

    • MichaelALanza   |  May 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      I believe it was no. 1, but it was definitely the campsite next to the Lost Canyon Trail junction.

  3. Juliana Telleria   |  May 15, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Thank for this article! Me and my fiance just got back from Zion and have been wanting to go to Arches and Canyonlands really helpful info!

  4. arizonahikersguide   |  April 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you for the itinerary! I have been trying to plan a trip up there for ages. I will use your tips and suggestions in the post, thanks again!

    • michaellanza   |  April 12, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      Glad to hear this was helpful to you. Have fun.

  5. Kris Whithead   |  April 6, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I’m taking almost this exact same trip with my 8 and 11 year-old kids. Chesler Park for two nights, a yurt at Dead Horse Point for two nights and a night in Moab. So excited. Much of this was thanks to research done on your site, Michael. Thank you!

    • michaellanza   |  April 6, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      That’s great, Kris. Thanks for the nice words. Have a fun time, as I’m sure you will.

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