The Joint and Chesler Park in Canyonlands National Park

The Joint trail in Needles district of Canyonlands National Park is really a destination, a long crack between rock masses. It can be reached by a mix of trail loops ranging from ten to 15 miles. Any combination of these loops offers up a panoply of rock sculptures standing sentry over sage, juniper, pine meadows, perhaps even rock art if you go off trail (carefully!) a bit.

We chose to ride our mountain bikes keep the loop distance to a manageable ten miles. Even though the Joint is on the edge of Chesler Park, Joint loop shared only a couple of miles with our previous hike-a-bike through Devil’s Kitchen.


The part of Chesler Park we traversed was filled with sagebrush, glowing in the noonday sun, setting off the red/biege rocks surrounding the meadow. Off in the distance, across the Colorado River, was The Maze district of Canyonlands, looking just like its name suggests, and rolling off to a west view of probably seventy miles. The Maze requires high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles and an experienced driver. Someday.


The Joint was not the center of attraction for me. We’ve been in many slot canyons more interesting and challenging. This one is amazingly evenly shoulder width with a flat sand floor with the exception of a very few short drop-offs.


I couldn’t get enough of the panoramic combination of sage meadow and spires, sunshine and blue sky. Ten miles is nothing for Claire, but it’s been years since I hiked that far. I was amazed how good my feet felt. I appear to be finally recovering from an injury at least a decade ago. I’ve been hiking on a bad knee also; you can’t be in Needles and not hike! The knee has been a slight issue for a couple of years and made very painful recently by some too steep road bike climbs in Colorado. Wrapping, ibuprofen and icing keeps the pain at bay; I hope to get something done for it when we return to Tucson.


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