4WD Roads in the Needles
Over 50 miles of challenging backcountry roads access 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 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 with steep grades, loose rock, stair-step drops, tight turns and backing. This is also difficult mountain biking terrain. Over the hill, equally challenging roads lead to various features, as well as to 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. There are large rocks and stair-step drops in the last 1.5 miles which visitors may avoid by parking on the road (leave room for others!) and walking to the overlook. 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?
Much of canyon country's annual precipitation falls during summer monsoons. These dramatic storms often last less than twenty minutes but can cause powerful flash floods despite their brevity.