Cave Spring is a short hiking trail in the Needles District in Canyonlands National Park. Though short, it packs a punch, offering quite a bit of variety in one trail.
- Length: 0.6-mile loop trail
- Elevation gain: 67 ft (20 m)
- Difficulty: Easy, but must navigate ladders
- Accessibility: Trail might be accessible to the Cowboy Camp
Cave Spring trail is located in the Needles District of Canyonlands. The Needles District is located about 1.5 hours south of Moab, Utah, and about 2 hours south of the more popular Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands.
Getting there from the visitor center requires driving a short distance on a dirt road. This road is graded for cars, but roads like this can be rough after winter or bad weather.
- Learn all you need to know before visiting Canyonlands National Park.
- Check out Is the Needles District in Canyonlands Worth Visiting? for more information and things to do in the Needles.
The parking lot is plenty large, especially considering the Needles district receives few visitors.
Canyonlands has nice trailhead markers with hiking maps. Note that this hike is a loop, so the path instructs you to do the loop clockwise.
- Discover more great hikes in The Needles: Pothole Point and Slickrock Trail.
- Find out all our tips about hiking in the desert.
Quickly you’ll run into this historic cowboy camp underneath the rock overhang, with a fence and barbed wire hanging off it.
This was once an actual cowboy camp. Believe it or not, this desolate country was an open cattle range. Cowboys set up their camp here because it provided shelter and it had a nearby spring, after which this trail is named.
When Canyonlands became a national park in the 1970s, they kicked out the cows and cowboys but preserved the camp they left behind as historical.
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There is a storage compartment around the corner.
It was fun walking under the overhang!
Continuing around the wall, you’ll find the spring. It’s not much of a spring, but in this extremely desolate area, it’s practically a gushing well.
Rainwater seeps through the sandstone above and exits out in this little alcove.
After the spring you’ll find rock art from prehistoric times. It’s pretty cool thinking about how this remote spot was home to American Indians thousands of years ago as well as cowboys over a hundred years ago.
Strangely, I forgot to take a picture of the rock art, but the nice thing is I’m not ruining the surprise for you!
- See more rock art nearby at Newspaper Rock: Amazing Rock Art Panel in Utah.
- Mesa Arch: The Most Famous Feature in Canyonlands is another great spot to visit.
After the rock art, you’ll need to scale two ladders. These aren’t very tall, and they are easy and fun.
Scaling the ladders will put you up on top of the cave, where you’ll be walking on slick rock the rest of the way.
From here you’ll have panoramic vistas in all directions. To the west, you’ll see the Needles formations in the distance.
The loop trail wraps around on a gradual descent back to the trailhead.
Is Cave Spring Trail worth it?
Yes! Though the trail is short, it provides history, rock art, scrambling, and beautiful scenery. It was a delightful surprise on my visit to the Needles.
- Check out more great things to do near Canyonlands.
Need a game plan so you don’t miss out on the best things to do in Canyonlands and Moab? Check out our itinerary.
- Our Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands Itinerary
- Our Canyonlands Trip Planner Page
- Our Moab Trip Planner Page
- An Easy Guide to Visiting Canyonlands National Park
- Is the Needles District in Canyonlands Worth Visiting?
- Pothole Point: An Easy Trail in Canyonlands
- Newspaper Rock: Amazing Rock Art Panel in Utah
- Slickrock Trail in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park
- Can’t get a reservation for Arches? Here are 9 things to do nearby
- Mesa Arch: The Most Famous Feature in Canyonlands
- Hiking in the Desert: 11 things to know before you go
- Canyonlands National Park Website