Tom’s Experience hiking the Devils Kitchen Loop:
This trail is a decent trail to hike if you are in the needles district near Elephant Hill. We did the loop in a clockwise rotation, parking the car at the Elephant Hill trailhead. There are many signs along the trail marking the way to go so be sure to check them out to make sure you are heading the right way. There are numerous turnoffs from the trail but at each major fork there is a sign. Cairns will mark the path if the trail is on rock, so keep an eye out for those.
At the start of the trail there are some neat man-made stairs that go in between two rocks. The first 1.5 miles is pretty nice; the trail goes through a slot canyon or two and there are lots of fun rock formations that can be seen along the way.
The next 1.4 miles has a few steep up and down sections but it isn’t too bad. At the end of this section (2.9 miles from the trail-head) is where the traditional Chesler Park Joint Trail loop trail starts if you plan on doing Chesler Park in a clockwise loop. We continued on another 1.2 miles which is also the last 1.2 miles of the Chesler Park loop. This section was pretty fun as well, hiking on rocks and near awesome rock formations.
If people are hiking the Chesler Park loop in a counter-clockwise direction this is where the trail would separate at 4.1 miles from the trail head. The next 1.4 miles has a steep up and then back down section before entering into the valley known as Devils Kitchen. Other than this steep section, the rest of the loop is pretty flat until you meet back up with the trail toward the trail-head.
The canyon here is similar to Chesler Park with steep red stone cliffs and the valley is mainly sagebrush with a few trees here and there.
At 5.5 miles from the trail head there are a few campsites made mainly for the 4×4 vehicles but we checked out a couple of the campsites and they looked like a lot of fun. There were tables at the ones we looked at. They were also near a few caves, slot canyons and rocks that would be fun for kids to explore and play on. There is also an outhouse right off of the trail next to the campsites.
From here, it is another 2.3 miles until you meet back up with the main trail. The scenery stays pretty constant with the steep red cliffs; with the trail either on rock formations or cutting through sagebrush.
After 7.8 miles from the trail head you will connect back up with the trail that brought you into Devils Kitchen and it is 2.7 miles back to the trail head. The total hike is about 10.5 miles round trip.
The scenery is really nice on this trail, but because of the distance I would recommend doing the Chesler Park Joint Trail Loop instead; the Joint Trail is just so much fun, and the scenery is pretty similar. If you are looking for a fun place to camp however, I think the Devils Kitchen campsites looked like a lot more fun compared to the campsites we saw at in Chesler Park. There are many routes to choose from when in the Needles district and most destinations can be combined into one very long day hike. Dogs are not allowed in Canyonlands National Park on any back country trails.
Trail Info: Enter Canyonlands National Park through the Needles District entrance. The Elephant Hill trail-head is about 6 miles into the park with the last 2.7 miles being on a gravel/dirt road. The road wasn’t too bad and I think almost any vehicle could make it as long as the ground is dry and the driver is careful. The entrance to the Needles District is about 40 miles south of Moab Utah. It costs $15.00 to enter the park. The campsites within the park are very limited and they are first come first serve. However, there are many campsites that are free just outside of the park as well as a public campsite just before the park entrance that is just slightly more expensive than camping inside the park but I think that campsite fills up quickly as well but they do allow you to make reservations. No permit is required to hike into the Devils Kitchen but permits are required if you plan on spending the night in the Devils Kitchen campsites. Total mileage of the hike is 10.5 miles.
Devils Kitchen Trailhead = 38.141809, -109.827227
Please comment on you favorite parts of Devils Kitchen. If there are other great Needles District Hikes, please comment on those as well because my wife and I would love to make it back down here again. Also don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to get updates about new adventures by entering your e-mail at the top of the page.