Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 2017: Southeastern Utah--Canyonlands and Arches National Parks--Part 5

The Needles Overlook at dusk

Day #4:  The Needles Overlook

Our motel was in Monticello (pronounced Mon-ti-sell-o, not Mon-ti-chell-o), about fifty miles south of Moab.  Monticello was convenient to The Needles District in Canyonlands National Park but an hour any way you slice it from the other stuff.  We didn't mind.  It did mean that we drove back and forth between Moab and Monticello each day we were there.  Every time we made that trip, we saw a sign about halfway between the two towns that said, "Needles Overlook."  We were intrigued and had looked at it on a map.  It appeared to be about a 22 mile drive.

Since the National Park Service kicked us out of Arches by 7 PM, we didn't want to go straight to the motel, and we had spent some time at the other petroglyphs and there was still sunlight, so the Hot Chick suggested we try to see the Needles Overlook at the end of day three.  We drove out and by the end we were chasing daylight.  We made it to the overlook with enough light to know we had to see it in the daylight but not enough to get really good photos.  We decided to go back to the overlook on the drive home.  We were glad we did.  The views were pretty incredible.

The Needles Overlook is situated on an edge of the Colorado Plateau.  It is on BLM land, but it overlooks the Needles District in Canyonlands National Park.  From the edge of the plateau to the Colorado River valley below is a 1600 foot dropoff, much of it sheer.  It's pretty incredible.  It is well worth the 22 mile drive to get there.

The overlook boasts several picnic benches, all fairly isolated from one another, a vault toilet, and several viewing benches along the edge of the plateau.  There are a few firepits as well.  It is well kept and groomed.  We were there by ourselves for almost an hour.  As we left, around eleven AM, we saw a few cars of picnickers approaching.  There is a campground about halfway between the main highway and the overlook.

The real cool part about this area, though is the view.  It is pretty incredible.  Rather than telling about it, I think I'll just show it now.  Less talk, more rock.  Literally.

A few miles before the overlook

Still on the road to the overlook

This is one of the "Six Shooters."  There are two of them, so named by the cowboys that frequented this area a hundred years ago.

This is on the canyon floor, 1600 feet below

This is what the Colorado River did

I have no way to measure, but someone online said you can see 120 miles here

This tree is probably a thousand years old

Pesky Colorado River!

The views were breathtaking

And then there were rock layers

Love the aerial perspective in this shot

And the colors

Gives you an idea

The Hot Chick with a 1600 foot dropoff in front of her

Absolutely stunning

Another hearty cedar or juniper, probably a thousand years old

I couldn't get enough of the view

Looking down at the erosion patterns.  These cliffs look small, but I'll bet they are really a hundred or so feet high


The colors

The valley floor

The views were magnificent

Then there was this thing

And other rock layers

Buttes, mesas, plateaus, they were all here

As you can see

The stuff was everywhere

On the other side of me is 1600 feet straight down


Strange pattern in the rock

This is not a place to let your little kids run free

Brier patch

Remember this is the desert

On the way out we saw buildings put in the caves of this rock

The Needles Overlook was an incredible place.  We will go back whenever we go to this part of Utah.  We spent at least an hour, just walking around and looking at the beautiful scenery.  The only reason we left as soon as we did was because we knew we had a nine hour drive ahead of us to get home.  It was worth it.  We want to come back to this part of Utah again (and again {and again [and again]}).

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