About 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 should not attempt these roads. There is a high risk of vehicle damage, and towing costs usually exceed $1,000.
If you plan to explore The Needles' four-wheel-drive roads, remember:
In spring and fall, demand for permits frequently exceeds the number available. If you plan to visit Canyonlands during peak season, we recommend that you make reservations well in advance.
You must have a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle (low range) for all Needles backcountry roads. Towing charges are very expensive. If you are stuck in the backcountry with a disabled vehicle, you should expect towing fees in excess of $1,000.
You must have a permit for all day and overnight use. 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. Maximum vehicle length, including racks and trailers, is 21 feet. There is no water at any of the campsites, but there are primitive toilets at all camping areas except New Bates Wilson. Groups camping at New Bates Wilson must bring their own toilet.
Colorado River Overlook
This moderate road is good for mountain bikes. You 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.) There are outstanding views of the Colorado River canyon. This is an unprotected overlook; use caution. No vehicle camping.
Horse Canyon / Peekaboo
You must have a permit for day and overnight use. This road is often impassible due to deep sand, deep water, and quicksand. The road is too sandy for mountain bikes. There are vehicle campsites at Peekaboo with prehistoric rock art nearby. Vehicles may not drive upstream of Peekaboo in Salt Creek Canyon. Horse Canyon road leads to several arches and Tower Ruin.
You must have a permit for day use. The road follows a canyon bottom where deep sand, deep water, and quicksand are common. The road is too sandy for mountain bikes. There are two major creek crossings with steep banks. You may see many arches and archeological sites from the road. No vehicle camping inside the park.
Backcountry Vehicle Campsites
Last updated: February 20, 2019