How to Do the Druid Arch Hike in Canyonlands National Park

The Druid Arch hike in Canyonlands National Park is a high desert adventure off-the-beaten-path in the Utah backcountry. Located in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, the trail to Druid Arch will take hikers through sandstone, slick rock, sandy wash bottoms, and canyon country with some rock scrambling and a small ladder climb prior to reaching the 150 foot tall sandstone arch. Located 2 ½ hours southeast of Moab, and off the typical beaten path, the trek to Druid Arch is an incredible backcountry adventure.

If hiking to this iconic arch in Utah is on your bucket list, you’re in the right place. We are sharing all the details for you on on how to hike to Druid Arch along with backcountry safety tips to consider.

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Iconic Druid Arch in Canyonlands National Park

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Hiking to Druid Arch in Canyonlands From Chesler Park

Where is Druid Arch Located?

The Druid Arch trail is located in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.

The trailhead is located near Monticello, Utah, in the Chesler Park area.

How to Get to the Druid Arch Trailhead

From Moab, Chesler Park is about 2 ½ hours south southeast to another Canyonlands National Park entrance.

From Moab, head south on US-191 for about 40 miles. Then, turn right onto UT-211 W. There will be a sign for Canyonlands National Park. Follow UT-211 W for about 37 miles. Turn left onto the road with a sign for Squaw Flat Campground. From here, follow the signs to Elephant Hill.

Cell phone reception is limited in this area. Be sure to download navigational maps for offline use before leaving Moab to get to the trailhead and Druid Arch.

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Chesler Park

Planning tip: The famous Newspaper Rock Wall is located off UT-211 W. Be sure to make time to check it out on your way to or from hiking to Druid Arch.

Druid Arch Trail Day Hike Details from Chesler Park

  • Trail Name: Druid Arch Trail from the Elephant Hill Trailhead in Chesler Park
  • Difficulty: Moderate difficulty, some rock scrambling, inclines, small ladder + long distance day hike
  • Distance: roughly 11 miles round trip (out and back)
  • Time: 5-7 hours
  • Parking: Parking is by the Elephant Hill off-road trail

The Druid Arch trail is touted as one of the best areas to see the Needles rock formations.

The hike can be done as a day hike or backpacking adventure.

All overnight trips require a permit.

Spring and fall are popular times to hike and permits can be hard to come by. You’ll definitely want to plan in advance if a backpacking trip is part of the plan to hike here.

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Needles formations along Druid Arch hike in Canyonlands National Park

In the beginning, the trail to Druid Arch follows the Chesler Park trail. Then it branches to follow Elephant Canyon. The trail is well marked with rock cairns.

Keep your eyes peeled to make sure you’re on the right path. You’ll be hiking through sandy bottoms and washes.

The last ¼-mile, there is rock scrambling as well as a ladder to reach the famous arch.

Once you get to the arch, enjoy! It is seriously jaw-dropping.

Druid Arch Map + Hiking Safety

Cell phone reception is hit and miss in this area.

It is definitely worth having a paper map, especially if you are not local or familiar with the area.

We always hike with National Geographic Topo Maps. The Needles District National Geographic Map (link to buy on Amazon) is excellent to have if you’re going to be exploring the area.

This area is pretty rural. Whenever we hike out here, we bring our own everything – food, water, shelter and even extra gasoline for the truck.

We bring extra gas so we can go from one place to another without worrying when we’ll find the next gas station.

Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back (just in case).

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Water break in a sandstone nook

Be flash flood aware!

Keep an eye on the weather. You will be hiking in washes along this trail.

Southeast Utah is prone to flash floods. Always have an out for higher ground. Maintain an out by scanning the surrounding area and noting high water marks along the trail.

Safety tip: Be mindful and aware of your surroundings when hiking through sandy washes in the desert. If you see plant debris piles, those are flash flood water level indicators. You want to be able to be higher than those debris piles in a flash flood emergency.

Best Time of Day to Hike to Druid Arch

We recommend starting as early as possible hiking to Druid Arch.

This hike is roughly 11 miles round trip (out and back); and it will take a good 5-7 hours to trek.

In the summer, the earlier you start, the better to beat the desert heat.

Ahhhh… nothing better than starting an early morning hike in the desert… Can you relate?!

Best Time of Year to Hike to Druid Arch

You can hike to Druid Arch year-round.

In the spring, you’ll want to watch out for muddy conditions after snowmelt and rainstorms. In the late spring, you’ll be treated to the cactus blooms.

During the summer, you’ll want to begin hiking as early as possible to beat the heat.

Also be gnat aware. Gnats can be full force in Utah during the late spring through the summer.

The fall is a great time to hike. We hiked to Druid Arch during September, and it was absolutely lovely.

Our favorite time of year to wander in the desert is in the spring and fall. The mornings are cooler, making for fantastic hiking conditions.

In the winter, you’ll enjoy the hike if there isn’t much snow. If it is wet and icy, you might not be too excited about rock scrambling and the ladder at the end.

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Druid Arch

Checklist Before Hiking in the Utah Backcountry

Hikers should be prepared to enjoy the remote desert wilderness prior to beginning this adventure.

Bring your own everything!

Backcountry Hiking Information

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Lizard catching sun on a trail rock cairn

Check with Canyonlands National Park for trail conditions prior to heading out.

Spending time in the desert is near and dear to us. I used to live and work out in this area and love sharing all of these special places with our readers.

Please check out our page with more information and resources on practicing environmental stewardship in the backcountry and protecting precious biological soil crust.

Planning a Trip to the Moab Area?

Are you exploring the Moab area? You might enjoy our other articles highlighting Moab:

Final Thoughts on Hiking to Druid Arch

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Chesler Park sunset

Hiking in the southeast Utah desert is truly magical and one of our most favorite things to do. The hike to Druid Arch is worth the adventure. Up close, the arch is just so massive.

Whether you’re new to hiking in the desert or a seasoned pro, we hope you have a wonderful time. Please practice care when hiking in the desert backcountry. Take care of your health and be prepared.

Stay on the trail to protect biological soil crust and always Leave No Trace.

Happy Hiking,

Ashlee + Pablo

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.”

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

You might also enjoy…

Check out our other articles on exploring Utah National Parks and the Southwest!

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druid arch view in canyonlands national park utah, lizard on rock cairn, woman hiking druid arch trail, utah slot canyon

We’d love to hear from you!

Are you planning to hike to Druid Arch?

If you already hiked, let us know what you thought!

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation writer and founder of The Happiness Function based in Oklahoma. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home. Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and has a passion for the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking.

22 Comments

  1. c on January 16, 2021 at 9:26 am

    Acabo de leer tu ultima pagina Me. atrapo el paisaje las fotos y todo lo que has expresado CANYONLANDS realmente una joya. Las formaciones rocosas de Needles. Seguramente que se necesita de un mapa para su recorrido. La escalera y la vista ade Druid Arch. Me deja sin palabras



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 16, 2021 at 4:51 pm

      Hola Cristina, gracias por leer nuestro blog. Tienes razón, el paisaje te dejará sin palabras. Te amamos.

      Hi Cristina, thanks for reading our blog. You are right, the scenery will leave you speechless. We love you.



  2. Cristina Sala on January 16, 2021 at 9:34 am

    Canyonlands realmente una joya. Las formaciones rocosas de Needles seguramente que necesitan de un mapa. La escalera y la vista de Druid Arch me dejan sin palabras. Que bien lo expresa Eduard Abbey tambien pienso que el desierto despierta el mundo interior



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 16, 2021 at 4:52 pm

      De hecho, Edward Abbey escribió algunos libros realmente interesantes. Mi favorito era Desert Solitaire, seguro. Gracias por leer. Te amamos 🙂

      Indeed, Edward Abbey wrote some really insightful books. My favorite was Desert Solitaire for sure. Thanks for reading. We love you 🙂



  3. Olivia on January 16, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    This looks like such a fun trip! The landscapes are epic!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 16, 2021 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Olivia! Thank you! Epic is a great word to describe this place 🙂 Thanks for commenting.



  4. Karen on January 16, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    I’ve done a couple of backpacking trips to Chessler Park and hiked to Druid Arch each time. It’s such an awesome hike. Your photos and story let me relive it. Thanks.



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 17, 2021 at 9:17 am

      Hi Karen – I loved reading your comment. So wonderful! Thanks for sharing.



  5. Catherine on January 16, 2021 at 10:58 pm

    This looks like such an incredible Canyonlands hike! Druid Arch is gorgeous, and you give great tips on how to stay safe and find the best views. Thanks for sharing this beautiful trail!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 17, 2021 at 9:17 am

      Hi Catherine – thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, Canyonlands and Druid Arch is a magical place.



  6. Hannah on January 17, 2021 at 2:26 am

    Wow, what a stunning hike! Druid Arch looks like such a beautiful natural feature! The landscape in Canyonlands looks incredible! It’s almost otherworldly! I hope I get a chance to visit one day and try out the hike. Thanks for the great guide!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 17, 2021 at 9:18 am

      Hi Hannah – thank you! Indeed, Canyonlands is incredible. Thanks for reading.



  7. Krista on January 17, 2021 at 3:36 am

    What an incredible area to get to hike around! I haven’t hiked near any natural arches yet but I can’t wait to visit them one day.



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 17, 2021 at 9:18 am

      Hi Krista – there are lots of natural arches in SE Utah. You’ll also have to check out Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.



  8. Daphna on January 17, 2021 at 7:58 am

    I have been loving all your recent posts! This hike looks like so much fun…probably a few more years until we can commit to an 11 mile hike with the kids, but it looks incredible!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 17, 2021 at 9:19 am

      Hi Daphna – thanks so much for reading and commenting. I hope the posts help you and your family with your road trip to the Moab area. You will have a great time.



  9. northierthanthou on January 17, 2021 at 11:19 am

    That is a really striking formation.



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 17, 2021 at 11:41 am

      It really is incredible.



  10. Josy A on January 17, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    The Canyonlands seem like such an amazing area to hike, especially when the trail is so well built with things like those fabulous steps up through the rocks! The druid rock hike looks fantastic, as long as you start early enough not to melt in the heat!

    Great post!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 18, 2021 at 10:35 am

      Thank you Josy. Yes, Canyonlands National Park is full of hidden gems in the backcountry off the beaten path. You would enjoy it!



  11. WB Randall (William) on January 25, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    This is some fantastic information for a good hike through our country !! The desert is fun to do & fun to explore & see. THANKS !!



    • Ashlee Fechino on January 27, 2021 at 10:34 am

      Hi Uncle Burt! Thanks for reading! 🙂