4WD Roads in the Needles
Over 50 miles of challenging backcountry roads lead to campsites, trailheads and many natural and cultural features. All of these roads require high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles. Inexperienced drivers are discouraged from attempting these roads as the risk of vehicle damage is great and towing expenses typically exceed $1,000.
All vehicles and bikes must remain on designated roads. Motorbikes and vehicles must be street-legal and operated by a licensed driver. ATVs, UTVs, OHVs and non-street-legal dirt bikes are not permitted. Roads may close intermittently due to poor driving conditions or weather.
Permits are required for all overnight trips in the backcountry. During the spring and fall, demand for permits frequently exceeds the number available. If you plan to visit Canyonlands during peak season, it is recommended that you make reservations well in advance.
One of the most technical four-wheel-drive roads in Utah, Elephant Hill presents drivers and mountain bikers with steep grades, loose rock, stair-step drops, tight turns and tricky backing. Once over the hill, equally challenging roads lead to various features as well as BLM lands south of the park. No water is available at the campsites, but vault toilets are provided at all camping areas except New Bates Wilson. Groups camping at New Bates Wilson must bring their own toilet.
Moderate road, good for mountain bikes. Visitors can avoid the large rocks and stair-step drops in the last 1.5 miles by parking on the road and walking to the overlook. (Be sure to leave room for other vehicles to pass.) Outstanding views of the Colorado River canyon. Unprotected overlook; use caution. No vehicle camping.
SALT CREEK & HORSE CANYON
Permit required for day and overnight use. Roads travel along canyon bottoms where deep sand, deep water and quicksand are common. Too sandy for mountain bikes. At Peekaboo, vehicle campsites are available and prehistoric rock art may be seen. Vehicles are no longer permitted to drive upstream of Peekaboo in Salt Creek Canyon. Horse Canyon road leads to several arches and Tower Ruin.
Permit required for day use. Road follows a canyon bottom where deep sand, deep water and quicksand are common. Too sandy for mountain bikes. There are two major creek crossings with steep banks. Many arches and archeological sites may be viewed from the road. No vehicle camping inside the park.
Backcountry Vehicle Campsites
Did You Know?
One animal uniquely adapted to life in the desert is the kangaroo rat. This rat lives its entire life consuming nothing but plant matter. Its body produces water by metabolizing the food it eats. More...