Elephant Hill Trail

Canyonlands National Park - Needles District, Utah

Elevation Gain1,274ft
Trailhead Elevation5,119ft
Elevation Min/Max5029/5311ft
Elevation Start/End5119/5119ft

Elephant Hill Trail

Elephant Hill Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in San Juan County, Utah. It is within Canyonlands National Park - Needles District. It is 3.2 miles long and begins at 5,119 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 6.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,274 feet. The Soda Spring and the Elephant Hill Trailhead parking are near the trailhead. There are also restrooms.

Elephant Hill Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"This hike captures what many regard as the best of the Needle district’s varied landscape. The formations you’ll see make up only the outer edge of many more needle-like pinnacles and parallel canyons that extend to the Colorado River.

Canyonlands’ Needles were formed by a series of stress fractures in the rock surface caused by movement along a deep underlying layer of salt. Erosion by rainwater and snow along the fracture lines resulted in these rows of columnar rocks."

"This route, the most challenging one in this book, follows the one-way Elephant Hill Loop Road, dozed by ranchers in prepark days and now one of Utah’s most famous 4WD roads.

From the rockwalled troughs called grabens to the Cedar Mesa sandstone spires of the Needles and the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers, the sights you will encounter are unsurpassed in beauty and scale. If you’re observant, you might even spot prehistoric rock art. This route can be used to access BLM-managed Beef Basin."

"A shuttle hike through some of the best scenery in the Needles
District. If your party has two vehicles, or you’re staying at the Squaw Flat Campground and one member of your party volunteers to drop you off at Elephant Hill Trailhead, this
is a great day hike.

Although the Needles District has a great variety of quality hiking opportunities, there aren’t many hikes in the moderate, 5-mile range, so if that distance suits you, this trail is an excellent choice. You can do the shuttle in reverse, but this description starts at Elephant Hill Trailhead."

"This extremely challenging and difficult trail is nevertheless passable for an experienced driver in a high-clearance stock SUV with good tires. The trail is short, but it will still take the best part of a day to drive, especially if you take the side trail to the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers.

Elephant Hill is one trail on which you want to have a camera or better still a video—most people will be amazed at what their vehicle can do! Special Attractions: Extremely challenging and technical trail; Canyonlands National Park; Spectacular red rock scenery along Devil’s Lane. Skilled, experienced four-wheel drivers only. This trail includes very challenging sections with extremely steep grades, loose surfaces, large rocks, deep ruts, and/or tight clearances. Mud or sand may necessitate winching."

"Beautiful scenery combined with just the right amount of challenge. This one-way loop is one of the most enjoyable trails I’ve ever driven. Take the spur to the Confluence Overlook to see the point where the Colorado and Green Rivers converge. No permit is required to drive the trail although one is required to camp overnight. No pets or firearms. Pack out all trash. Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day. Steep, narrow, rocky ascents and descents. The switchbacks on Elephant Hill require backing.

Although Canyonlands National Park tries to maintain the trail for stock vehicles, constant deterioration makes this difficult. If you drive a stock vehicle, ask at the visitor center for latest conditions. This is not a trail for beginners; experience is necessary. High ground clearance, skid plates, and rocker panel protection are recommended to avoid body damage. The trail is well marked and easy to follow."

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Trail Information

Canyonlands National Park - Needles District
Nearby City
Canyonlands National Park - Needles District
Skill Level
Canyonlands National Park
Local Contacts

Activity Feed

Oct 2018