We first learned of the Chesler Park Loop from our hiking buddies John and Pam who hiked it this past spring and it immediately went on my "must hike" list. More recently several other blogger buddies have hiked it on a very warm day so our goal was to hit it under ideal conditions. By extending our stay in Moab by a few days we got through the heat and then the rain and ended up with a perfect day for our hike.
Chesler Park Loop is an 11 mile romp through all manner of fantastic rock formations interspersed with short strolls through grasslands with views around every corner to make you swoon! This was one of those days when the grins were nonstop as we scrambled over and through all sorts of fun obstacles and were wowed with amazing near and far views!
|View overlooking the trailhead at 9am on a Saturday.|
By the time we finished hiking about 3pm the extensive parking area was full,
despite the long drive out to the Needles District.
|There are lots of spaceship shaped rocks!|
|The trail winds through big patches of rocks then opens into large grasslands many times throughout the lollipop loop for a nice mix of scrambling and views.|
|There's lots of slots!|
|There's lots of stairs!|
|There's lots of slickrock scrambling!|
|Though it was 45 degrees when we started we warmed up fast with all the scrambling!|
|The La Sal mountains, with a new layer of snow, are in the distance.|
|We've come to Chesler Park, a grassy expanse surrounded by sandstone formations that we will be walking through soon.|
Here we go right to travel the loop counterclockwise;
this way we do a more strenuous portion of the loop early in the hike.
|Potholes in the slickrock are still full from the rain two days before.|
|Here's a closer look at the center of the above photo.|
A 4x4 road that we will walk on for about half a mile passes through this fantastic valley.
|More rock scrambling!|
|Some of the needles of Needles District.|
|Do I spy an eagle?|
|Looks like the eagle has landed!|
|One of the neatest things about this trail is a section named "The Joint".|
|There's a wonderful overlook of the Needles right after you leave The Joint.|
|The final stretch through Chesler Park is easy on the legs and a feast for the eyes!|
|This view has it all!|
One of the things we appreciated about this hike is that even though it was long at 11 miles, the variety of ups and downs throughout the trail left us feeling more invigorated than worn out by the time we were done. And, the incredible variety of scenery cannot be beat!
Next time we are in the area we will look more closely at dry camping options closer to Canyonlands. The drive in from Monticello (where we stayed) was quite long and precluded us from wanting to go back another day to experience more of this gorgeous National Park.
On the drive back to Monticello we noticed lots of cars parked along the highway on this beautiful Saturday. At first we thought people were hiking the offshoot canyons looking for ancient ruins and rock art...it turns out this is a popular place for rock climbing!
|Many people were climbing these sheer walls!|
They first had to hike up the loose base layer with all their gear...
|...then scale the desert varnished walls!|
There were at least 100 people attempting this along a couple of miles of highway!
One more thing...the day before we hiked Chesler Park we checked out the Shay Canyon petroglyphs. There are a number of easily accessible panels just off the highway on the way to Canyonlands.
|One small portion of the Shay Canyon petroglyphs.|
If you love hiking in unique landscapes, put the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park on your list!