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Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park: Elephant Hill to Squaw Flat Camp

Miles from anywhere, this 5.3-mile dayhike slides over sandstone mounds, into a shallow canyon, and under orange spires in the Needles District.

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Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.5



Location: 38.14188, -109.827499

Head S from the Elephant Hill trailhead on dirt path. *Tip*: Pack at least 3 liters of water


Location: 38.1367, -109.828697

Pass a shallow canyon punctuated with red and tan sandstone formations; snowcapped La Sal Mtns. line NE horizon


Location: 38.12524, -109.832497

Turn L @ T; head NE on slickrock pitted with natural potholes; colorful spires ahead


Location: 38.12809, -109.8246

Trail swings right and drops gently into wash.


Location: 38.125629, -109.825401

Head SE on dirt and slickrock path. *Leave No Trace tip*: Step around black mounds of cryptobiotic soil


Location: 38.1222, -109.820396

Trail curves NE


Location: 38.133129, -109.813904

Follow switchback for descent into a wash with shady junipers


Location: 38.135929, -109.810997

Continue straight; trail leading to Big Spring Canyon enters on R


Location: 38.144371, -109.806801

Turn R @ Y


Location: 38.145069, -109.8041

Bear L and head N. More campsites: Turn R and head S for sites in Campground A


Location: 38.148651, -109.800797

Camp under trees in Squaw Flat Campground (26 sites; first-come basis). Hike or shuttle 3 mi. back to trailhead on dirt road

Red rock and hoodoo canyon

Location: 38.136677, -109.828659

Joe Monaco in front of a Big Spring Canyon feeder. © Steffan Fay.

Cryptobiotic soil

Location: 38.12571, -109.825264

Avoid stepping on cryptobiotic soil (consists of soil cyanobacteria, lichens and mosses). Doing so can damage this delicate and important ecological feature of the arid Southwest. © Steffan Fay.


Location: 38.125198, -109.832222

Jacquelyn Fay ponders the erosive forces that left these striated, multi-hued hoodoos in the Needles District of Canyonlands. © Steffan Fay.

Lone juniper

Location: 38.144482, -109.80632

Steffan Fay poses next to a lone juniper. © Steffan Fay.

Needles District and the La Sals

Location: 38.125141, -109.832222

Jacquelyn Fay and Joe Monaco in the Needles District of Canyonlands. Pinyon pine and Utah juniper in the middle-ground, and the ubiquitous La Sals on the horizon. © 2005 Steffan Fay.

Rock formation and soil

Location: 38.122089, -109.820457

Joe Monaco and Jacquelyn Fay (in backpack) pose in front of interesting rock formation and cryptobiotic soil. © Steffan Fay.