While perhaps not as well known as Zion or Arches National Parks, Canyonlands National Park in Southeast Utah is a spectacular place for hiking and backpacking. Canyonlands features stunning views, otherworldly rock formations, arches, and narrow twisting slot canyons. There are also a wide variety of hikes from short walks to backpacking trails. Besides hiking, there are great opportunities in Canyonlands for off-roading, biking, and camping. Hiking trails are the most common, and are the easiest way to get to know Canyonlands in a personal way.
One of the great hikes in Canyonlands is the Chesler Park Loop / Joint Trail hike. The entire trail is 11 miles long, and can be done in one day, but if you prefer to break it up and do a little exploring, there are backpacking sites along the trail. You will need to pack in all the water you will need because there is no water along the trail. Canyonlands is a desert, and keeping hydrated is important. This trail starts at the Elephant Hill trailhead. After three miles you will come to a great viewpoint of Chesler Park. The loop around Chesler Park is called the Joint Trail, and while fairly level, it winds through narrow fractures in the rock. This is a great place to take some time and explore. Squeeze down the narrow canyons and enjoy finding your way through the mazelike contortions and corridors in the rock. This part of the trail is particularly fun for young hikers. If you have a 4wd vehicle you can actually drive to Chesler Park and then it is only a very short hike into this part of the Joint Trail. Before heading out on this hike, drop by the visitor’s center and ask about the water levels. Sometimes the narrow crevasses in Chesler Park will fill up with water during certain times of the year. Decide if that is something you will want to deal with.