The Complete Guide to Hiking Chesler Park in The Needles District

Avid hikers will love soaking in the views and taking in the sites along the Chesler Park Loop Trail in Canyonlands National Park. This gem is located in the heart of The Needles district and brings you sweeping views of the towering red rock monoliths that give this area its name. Here’s how to make the most of your Chesler Park hike.

How Do You Get to Chesler Park in Canyonlands?

Make your way an hour and a half south of Moab to reach The Needles District. Simply take US-191 south and turn right at the SR-211 junction. Wind your way through the beautiful Indian Creek Canyon and follow signs to The Needles district of Canyonlands National Park.

You’ll access Chesler Park from the Elephant Hill Trailhead, located in the heart of The Needles district. Pass by The Needles Visitor Center and drive down Elephant Hill Road. The road itself is dirt, but it’s well-maintained and easy to access no matter what you’re driving.

Once you reach the trailhead, you’ll want to start your hike along Elephant Hill Trail. Hiking Chelser Park is a lollipop loop. Eventually, you’ll reach a junction for Big Springs Canyon and Chesler Park. Follow signs for Chesler Park.

Practical Hiking Information

Overall, there are several different options for the Chesler Park Trail. All routes are clearly marked, and you’re required to stay on the trail in order to preserve the natural landscape. Although the hiking itself is moderate, Chesler Park is a half to full-day commitment depending on your route.

Bring sturdy shoes and a blister kit. Most of the hiking is over deep sand or slick rock. Most of the trail is free of shade unless you’re walking close to the huge sandstone hoodoos. Pack plenty of water, some salty snacks, and sun protection.

Pro Tip: This trail is sandy! Take a few breaks to empty your shoes of sand to avoid pesky blisters while hiking.

Here’s some practical trail information to help plan your trip to the Chesler Park Loop:

Distance: 10.4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,820 feet
Difficulty: moderate
Estimated Time: 5 to 6 hours
Permits?: None required for day use, overnight backpacking permits required
Dog-friendly? No

Pro Tip: there are numerous trail options in the Chesler Park area. You can lengthen or shorten your hike depending on which route you take. Pick up a National Geographic USGS Topo Map to make the most out of your Needles hiking adventure.

Backpacking in Chesler Park

Spend the night amongst the towering red rock needles by staying at one of three backcountry campsites in the Chesler Park area. Each of these campsites requires an advanced permit (you can reserve online up to 4 months in advance).

There is no water and no toilets at these campsites. You are expected to carry out all of your human waste in specially designed bags. Also, you’ll have to hoof in your own water, so come prepared.

The extra effort is worth it to watch the shadows of the setting sun dance along the pinnacles of rock. This also leaves you options for more hiking or breaking up the long mileage into a couple of days.

Nearby Attractions

You can spend several days hiking and exploring The Needles. There are a few nearby attractions well worth a visit after your Chesler Park hike. A few worth mentioning include:

  • Rock climbing in Indian Creek
  • Hiking and backpacking in Big Spring Canyon
  • Hiking to Druid Arch
  • Overlanding to Devil’s Kitchen
  • Hiking Elephant Canyon
  • Visiting the Newspaper Rock petroglyph panel

The Needles district offers up a wealth of activities and hiking Chesler Park is at the top of the list. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to wind your way through the maze of rock formations at The Needles district with this iconic hike.