Your Guide to Driving the Elephant Hill Trail

Not to be confused with the nearby hiking trail of the same name, Elephant Hill Trail offers a fun-filled 4x4 driving with lots of exciting obstacles. This technical 4WD road dips, drops, and squeezes through the heart of The Needles District in Canyonlands National Park. In this guide you’ll get the info you need for a fantastic desert overlanding adventure.

Where is the Elephant Hill Trail?

You can find the start to the Elephant Hill Trail at the Elephant Hill Trailhead parking lot. Keep in mind, there are actually two Elephant Hill Trails. One is a hiker-only route. This trail brings you to the Chesler Park and Elephant Canyon hiking areas in The Needles District. The other is a continuation of the dirt road that reaches the Trailhead. The road quickly goes from a pleasant, wide stretch of dirt to a strenuous, technical 4WD Road called Elephant Hill Trail.

Reaching the trail is simple. Drive into The Needles District. Be sure to stop by the Visitor’s Center to check in with the backcountry office. You’ll get a quick safety briefing and updates on trail conditions. Then continue down the road until it turns to dirt. Follow the signs to Elephant Hill. The 4x4 trail entrance is at the back of the parking area.

Do I Need High Clearance?

The only vehicles allowed on the Elephant Hill Trail are 4WD, high-clearance vehicles. Plenty of steep rock shelf drops, tight squeezes, and rock gardens make this trail a moderate challenge. You’ll have to get your vehicle checked in at the visitor’s center before heading out, so be sure you have everything you need.

Pro Tip: Come prepared! You are very far from help and a tow truck can cost a lot to remove a stuck vehicle. Be sure to have a tool kit, spare tire, extra water, extra food, a GPS, and all of the off-roading equipment you’ll need.

Elephant Hill Trail Practical Information

The Elephant Hill Trail is relatively well-marked, however, you’ll want a map of the area since many backcountry roads crisscross this area. Keep in mind, some hikers also use this trail as an alternate exit from hiking in The Needles District. Here’s a look at a few trail facts:

Tips for Driving or Hiking the Elephant Hill Trail

Driving the Elephant Hill Trail takes you around the backside of The Needles District. The engaging rock features and changing landscape make this an ideal beginner to moderate overlanding trail.

The Elephant Hill Trail terminates at the Devil’s Kitchen Campground. This excellent backcountry campground is a great place to jump out of the vehicle and take a break. Opt to spend the night and hike into The Needles District, some of the best hiking in Canyonlands. Gaze upon a forest of rock and sweeping desert vistas. This campsite is nestled close in to the rocks and offers shade and toilets.

You can continue onwards down Devil’s Lane to Butler Flat and the Joint Trail Road for even more backcountry driving. Or simply head back the way you came. There are countless options to enjoy some of the best 4WD roads near Moab. This must-see road is an awesome addition to any Moab itinerary.

Pro Tip: The Elephant Hill Trail features a famous squeeze between two rock formations. Wider vehicles may leave some paint on the walls so do your homework before heading out!

Overall the Elephant Hill Trail 4x4 road provides a unique way to access the backside of The Needles District. Make your way across beautiful desert terrain and explore the best scenery of Canyonlands National Park.