Utah, Chesler Park Trail

State: Utah
Location: Canyonlands National Park
Length, One-Way: 5.9 miles
Trail Type: Out and Back
Minimum Elevation: 5150 feet
Elevation Change: 680 feet
Best Season: Spring, Fall
Difficulty: Moderate
Usage: Moderate

Trail Information

Deep inside the rugged needles country lies an unexpected refuge of gentle grassland. This is Chesler Park a flat, circular-shaped meadow about a mile in diameter, almost completely surrounded by the sandstone needles. There are designated camping areas along the perimeter of the meadow. There are also several other interesting things to see within an easy walk of Chesler Park, including an impressive natural arch and a small Anasazi Indian ruin.

The trail to Chesler Park is the most heavily used in the Needles district. The trail heads southwest from Elephant Hill Trailhead. It joins several trails along it route including Elephant Canyon/Druid Arch Trail and the Joint Trail. There are six backcountry camping sites along this route. A permit from the visitor center is necessary to stay overnight in the Canyonlands backcountry.

Begin hiking from the Elephant Hill Trailhead. The trail heads south from the trailhead over slickrock and past some interesting formations as it ascends slightly from Soda Spring. After hiking for 1.5 miles, you’ll reach a trail junction. The route joining Chesler Park Trail from the east heads 2.3 miles to Big Spring Canyon Trail. Bear right at this junction and begin hiking west.

The trail heads west for 0.6 miles over slickrock and descends into Elephant Canyon. Once on the floor of this drainage the trail forks, the left fork heads south through Elephant Canyon three and a half miles to Druid Arch. Backcountry campsite EC1 lies just north of this junction.

To continue to Chesler Park, cross Elephant Canyon and continue hiking west. The trail ascends slightly then levels and, almost three miles from the trailhead, passes a trail heading north to Devils Kitchen Camp. Follow the trail to the left to enter Chesler Park.

Walking south you’ll see the northern side of the ring of spires that surrounds Chesler Park. The trail crosses the rock formations, providing a good overlook of the park. A 0.2 milespast the last trail junction Chesler Park Trail forks again. Both sides of this fork are the Chesler Park Trail. Bear left and hike 1.3 miles to the Joint Trail and campsites CP2,3, 4 and 5. Campsite CP1 is just after the trail junction.

The right side of this fork heads west along the northern boundary of the Chesler Park. 1.2 miles from the park loop junction the western side of Chesler Park Trail reaches a junction. The Devils Pocket Trail joins Chesler Park Trail from the north at this junction. Turn left to continue around the western side of Chesler Park. The route heads about 0.4 miles south from this junction to reach the northern terminus of a four-wheel drive road. To complete the loop around Chesler Park follow this four-wheel drive road south to a junction and follow the four-wheel drive road left. Continue walking along this roadway for 0.5 miles to reach the western end of the Joint Trail. It is 1.5 miles back to the southeastern end of Chesler Park Trail.


From Needles Visitor Center:
Follow the main park road to Squaw Flat Campground. Bear right onto Elephant Hill access road and follow about 3 miles to the trailhead.

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