Druid Arch Hike in Canyonlands A Hidden Gem

The Druid Arch hike in Canyonlands is a hidden gem and incredible high desert adventure off the beaten path. Located in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, the trail to Druid Arch will take you through sandstone, slick rock, sandy wash bottoms, and canyon country with some rock scrambling and a small ladder climb towards the end. Being 2 ½ hours south southeast of Moab off the typical beaten path makes the trek to Druid Arch a hidden gem of Canyonlands National Park. Continue reading for all the details on the Druid Arch hike through Canyonlands Needles country.


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Druid Arch Hike in Canyonlands

How to Get to the Druid Arch Trailhead

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

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 + distance day hike
  • Distance: roughly 11 miles round trip
  • 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.

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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 famed arch.

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Hiking through sandy bottoms and washes

The Route and 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 to the area. We really love the National Geographic Maps. The Needles District National Geographic Map is excellent to have.

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Water break in a sandstone nook

Be sure to keep an eye on the weather. You will be hiking in washes. Southeast Utah is prone to flash floods. Always have an out for higher ground. Be aware and mindful as you trek along and through beautiful sandy washes.

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; 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…

Best Time of Year to Hike to Druid Arch

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You can hike to Druid Arch year-round. In the spring, you’ll want to watch out for muddy conditions after snowmelt and rainstorms.

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

The fall is a great time to hike. We hiked 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.

The ladder at the end is so fun!

Small ladder to climb to get to Druid Arch

Checklist Before You Go Hiking

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We made it – epic view of Druid Arch

Backcountry Hiking Information

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Lizard sunning on a trail rock cairn

Check out our page with more information and resources on practicing environmental stewardship in the backcountry.

Planning a Trip to the Moab Area?

Check out these insanely fun outdoor things to do during your trip to Moab or this 3-day adventure guide for exploring in Moab.

Happy Hiking!

Hiking in the southeast Utah desert is truly magical. We hope you have a wonderful time.

We hope this article inspires you to find a new adventure outdoors!

Ashlee & Pablo

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Chesler Park desert sunset

“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

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Are you planning to hike to Druid Arch?

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

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About The Author

Ashlee Fechino

Travel & Outdoor Recreation Writer | Passionate about the Environment | Blogger Inspiring Happiness | Adventure Seeker | Chihuahua Mom | Holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability

22 COMMENTS

  1. c | 16th Jan 21

    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 | 16th Jan 21

      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 | 16th Jan 21

    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 | 16th Jan 21

      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 | 16th Jan 21

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

    • Ashlee Fechino | 16th Jan 21

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

  4. Karen | 16th Jan 21

    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 | 17th Jan 21

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

  5. Catherine | 16th Jan 21

    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 | 17th Jan 21

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

  6. Hannah | 17th Jan 21

    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 | 17th Jan 21

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

  7. Krista | 17th Jan 21

    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 | 17th Jan 21

      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 | 17th Jan 21

    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 | 17th Jan 21

      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 | 17th Jan 21

    That is a really striking formation.

  10. Josy A | 17th Jan 21

    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 | 18th Jan 21

      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) | 25th Jan 21

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

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