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Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: The Gore Range
Canyonlands NP, Needles District, Salt Creek on 04/15/2014 16:44:45 MDT Print View

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Four years prior to this trip I had finished the 1000 foot (or so) ascent up to Cathedral Butte trailhead after finishing a four-day backpacking trip in Salt Creek. I knew I'd be back to the area in which I was completely floored - as a spectacular desert oasis. In 2010, I spent four days inside the drainage stretching between Cathedral Butte and Angel Arch. Despite that I had seen much, I left with a hunger for more. Full of water, numerous sandstone arches, hoodoos, ancient Puebloan ruins and pictographs, wildlife and those classic Needles District views, Salt Creek is a desert backpacking must.


Fortunately or unfortunately, much has been documented about this area. I may have not been interested in the place had I not seen the trip described in a guide-book four years ago. Prior to my trip this year I googled Salt Creek. I came across a blog which lended a map with pinpoints where archeological artifacts could be found. That was prior to the NPS finding it. There are stories that the Park Service has threatened fines for those who post photos and/or coordinates of some of the more delicate (and little known) archeological sites in Salt Creek. I found it disappointing that the area had been so exposed. The park ranger at the station confirmed my suspicion that this place is becoming more and more popular.


I of course say this all tongue in cheek; I'm about to post a trip report about this fragile area after all. I will just aim to report on the same content which are all already well documented and open to the public. This also means that I'll be leaving out a lot of sites we got to see.


Back in the 1980's you could drive a Jeep nearly the entire way to Angel Arch from Peekaboo trailhead. I can only imagine the type of artifacts that disappeared from that area back then. Back in 2010 I  met a team of archeologists that were studying the Salt Creek canyons. I knew from then on that there is much more to see beyond the trail. Part of my mission for my second trip was to explore the small folds of the canyon and pick up on the things that I had missed, this time with three sets of eyes as opposed to just one.


Our first day hiking plans vanished by that of a completely blown out tire on our drive to the trailhead on the lengthy Beef Basin road. We drove a long drive back to Moab on a donut to buy a new set of four. No need to go into anymore detail on that downer. We began hiking around 5:00 pm later that night. A short hike to our campsite, but a way too early end on our first day of exploring canyon pockets.


The Canyonlands Park Service only allows for four primitive campsites which sit along an eight mile stretch between the Park boundary and the turn-off for Angel Arch to the north. We had reserved SC-2 and SC-4 for two separate nights.


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Edited by timdcy on 04/17/2014 14:04:32 MDT.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Canyonlands NP, Needles District, Salt Creek on 04/17/2014 08:33:31 MDT Print View

Hi Tim,

I enjoyed reading your report and the pictures you've posted, at least what I could see of them. I'm not sure what's going on with the settings and I suspect the issue is probably on my end but after several attempts and waiting several minutes each time, I can't get all of your pictures to load.

Edit to add: Seems I had better luck with your blog.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 04/17/2014 08:44:05 MDT.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Canyonlands NP, Needles District, Salt Creek on 04/17/2014 09:04:11 MDT Print View

Good trip. My last times out there were in early and late Fall 2006, so nice to some flowing water out there.

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: The Gore Range
Re: Re: Canyonlands NP, Needles District, Salt Creek on 04/17/2014 13:57:49 MDT Print View

Hey Ian,

Thanks for the comments. Perhaps I should just leave the whole trip report on the blog rather than copying the entire wordpress code to BPL. I seem to be having the same issue as you now.

Mark Mendell
(mmendell) - M

Locale: Midwest
"Canyonlands NP, Needles District, Salt Creek" on 04/17/2014 15:42:50 MDT Print View

Nice pics. I've taken my girls backpacking all over Colorado and Wyoming, and our Salt Creek trip is still their favorite.