Utah: Canyonlands National Park – Neck Springs Trail 9km

Good Mrs and I did our one and only hike in Canyonlands National Park today. The Neck Spring Trail has lots of old cowboy history, beautiful scenery and is a true hiking trail. It is not a long walk at 9km. There were longer hiking trails in Canyonlands but Neck Spring Trail seemed attractive.

It was perfect hiking weather for change. Some sun breaking through with temperatures of 5 degrees (when we started) to 10 degrees (when we finished).

This is how the day panned out:

On our way to Canyonlands… Highway 191 somewhere close to the entrance to Arches National Park.

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As the road towards Canyonlands ascended, the temperature dropped. No surprises there… Wide open spaces high up do that.

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Nobody could claim that there was no warning about the potential for cattle grazing on or near the road. There were plenty of signs, cattle grids on a regular basis and then we saw the herd. Cows and calves on both sides of the road including some on it. Cute they are, really cute. Yes, we had to stop and check them out.

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We arrived at the trailhead for the Neck Spring Trail where a lovely board gave us some information about what was doing.

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And this is how it looked from Neck Spring trailhead. The road inside Canyonlands National Park are on a mesa with surrounding canyons and this was the direction where we were going.

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The pamphlet from Canyonlands National Park’s Visitors Centre described the Neck Spring Trail as “a walk back in time, this loop trail passes by historic ranching features, as well as two springs where cowboys watered the cattle. With minor elevation changes, this trail is a great way to see some varied plant life“. A good summary.

Soon we stumbled onto this, later repeated several times. Although not quite sure, we think that these structures once contained feed for the horses and possibly other cattle.

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The view from down in the canyon. We started our hike from above there.

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Plants, yes. We have no idea what these bright red plants were but we found them every so often along the trail. Attractive and gave the monotonous landscape a break in colour.

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The view from first of the two springs not named Neck Springs according to the map. No name was provided, not even by the Park Ranger that we stumbled upon and talked to.

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I did ask the Park Ranger about this hole too. What kind of animal would live there? She didn’t know that either. Hmm…

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Big Tit Mountain. If that is not the name of this hill, it sure should be.

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And for the first time in the U.S. this time, we had to cross water on a hike. A pitiful amount of water, but water nevertheless. Dry and arid conditions in these parts of the American continent.

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The views along Neck Spring Trail were very photogenic and we took plenty of photos along the way. Of course, given the 2 dimensional context of a photograph, it can never look as good as the 3 dimensional reality.

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Neck Spring Trail was supposed to complete the loop with a 100 meter or so ascent back to the mesa before following a road back to the trailhead. It probably did although it didn’t feel that way. The 100 meters or so seemed divided into quite a long distance and it was not a hard ascent. Here I am back on the mesa.

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The return to the trailhead on the mesa was on a combination of sand and rocks like the below. Big flattish rock formation. Easy hiking compared to the canyon.

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Of course, up there on the mesa, the views overlooking the canyons of Canyonlands were magnificent.

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We were down there a little earlier…

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You see this from a lookout close to the trailhead for the Neck Spring Trail. The track is called Shafer Trail and is for mountain bikes. Disappearing into the distance close to Dead Horse Point State Park which you see on the horizon. All I can say here is, what a view!!!

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After completing our loop hike, we drove a bit further into Canyonlands National Park to find a place for our picnic lunch. We found picnic tables and benches, but it was all a bit too cold and alpine and we were soon on our way home.

A final photo of the snowclad La Sal Mountains in the distance. Apparently, there are bears and elks and other big animals living there, but we didn’t get a chance to explore those mountains.

Time was running out and tomorrow we will be on the road again…

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