Backpack Salt Creek



33 miles

Elevation Gain

1000 ft

Route Type


Added by Cal Perfall

Incredible scenery, solitude, and world-renowned Native American art and artifacts await the adventurous hikers who hike through Salt Creek Canyon of the Needles District of Canyonlands.

The Needles District of Canyonlands receives 6 times as many backpackers as its more popular neighbor across the Colorado River, Island in the Sky. The Needles has an excellent trail network that is incredibly diverse, featuring amazing rock features as well as grassy meadows and savannahs.  While Salt Creek Canyon is not as extreme and stunning as the trails that go through the heart of the district, the canyon makes up for it by having a wealth of Native American ruins, as well as the most solitude of any of the trails in the district. 

To hike Salt Creek in its entirety takes at a minimum three days, and for most would probably take 4. The Trailhead is up high near Cathedral Butte at 7,000 feet, which is 3,000 feet higher than the ending trailhead, Squaw Flat. The 33 miles of hiking this canyon feature superb pictographs, such as 'All American Man' and 'The Four Faces'. Granaries can be seen for those who keep an eye out, and there are more arches in this canyon than can be listed, the best being Angel Arch. 

It is worth noting that there are only 4 campsites in Salt Creek Canyon, and they must be reserved online. It is important to plan this trip well in advance, and ideally give yourself enough time (4-5 days) to take in all the scenery and artifacts. 

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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