How To Hike to Druid Arch in Canyonlands National Park

Hiking to Druid Arch in Canyonlands National Park

If hiking to this iconic arch in Utah is on your adventure list, you’re in the right place. After college, I had the opportunity to work for the National Park Service in Moab. This is one of my favorite hikes in Canyonlands, and I’m sharing all the details, along with backcountry safety tips to consider.

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 takes explorers through sandstone, slick rock, sandy wash bottoms, and canyon country. Prior to reaching the 150-foot sandstone arch, there is some rock scrambling and a small ladder climb. The hike is an incredible backcountry adventure located 2 ½ hours southeast of Moab.

Hiking to Druid Arch in Canyonlands From Chesler Park

View of the Druid Arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah
View of the Druid Arch

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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 entrance of Canyonlands National Park.

  • 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.

Newspaper rock in Utah
Newspaper Rock

Planning tip: The iconic 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 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
  • Distance: roughly 11 miles round trip (out and back)
  • Time: 5-7 hours
  • Parking: Parking is by the Elephant Hill off-road trail

The trail is touted as one of the best areas to see the Needles rock formations in the park. The hike can be done as a day hike or a backpacking adventure. All overnight trips require a permit.

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

Needles formations along Druid Arch hike in Canyonlands National Park

At the beginning of the hike, the trail 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.

In the last ¼-mile, there is rock scrambling and a ladder to reach the arch. Once you get to the arch, enjoy it. It is awesome to see.

Hiking Safety

Chesler Park in Utah
View of Chesler Park and the Needles

Download or buy a map: Cell phone reception is hit-and-miss in this area. It is worth having a 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 very 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 about 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 you go missing, Search and Rescue will know where to start (just in case).

Water break in a sandstone nook

Be flash flood-aware: 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. 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

I recommend starting as early as possible. This hike is roughly 11 miles round trip (out and back) and will take 5-7 hours to complete.

Best Time of Year to Hike

You can hike here 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 early or late summer: To beat the heat, you’ll want to begin hiking as early as possible. I don’t recommend doing this hike in the middle of the summer.

Be aware of gnats. They can be in full force in Utah from late spring through the summer.

The fall: This is a great time to visit. We hiked to Druid Arch in September, and it was absolutely perfect.

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 exploring 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.

Druid Arch

Checklist Before Hiking in the Utah Backcountry

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

Hiking Checklist:

  • Lots of water – You should bring at least a gallon per person per day in the desert.
  • Day pack
  • Food
  • Headlamp – Just in case, we always pack for long hikes.
  • Clothing layers – Protect your skin from the desert sun.
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking poles – I prefer them for long hikes, and they provide extra stability.
  • First aid kit
  • Good hiking shoes that won’t cause blistersOboz is what I’m wearing these days.
  • Cushioned hiking socks.
  • Needles District Map

Backcountry Hiking Information

Lizard catching sun on a trail rock cairn

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

Final Thoughts

Chesler Park sunset

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

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

Please 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.”

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

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Druid Arch Hike Pinterest Pin

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer sharing the best-kept secrets that aren’t in your typical guidebook. Her goal is to inspire people to travel with a sense of adventure by sharing hidden gems across the U.S. and beyond. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo. They camp in their Aliner often and love wandering the world. Follow their latest adventures on Instagram @thehappinessfxn.


  1. 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! 🙂

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  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. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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.