First Time at Needles Overlook

Our first day in Moab, we got up nice and early and decided to take a scenic drive.  The morning started off a little cloudy, so we thought a drive would be a nice way to start, plus would get us acclimated to the area.  Lee was kind enough before we started though to give my camera a nice cleaning.  I know it is a pain for him and try to avoid situations where I need it but the wind and sand had gotten some schnibblies (the technical term) on my sensor.  This requires  me to photoshop those out in almost every picture with sky, and results in a ton more work for me.  He was nice enough to clean it for me and hopefully it will last another year before the next cleaning.  If you are curious, by the way, he is like a surgeon when he does it, and uses canned air, lens paper, Qtips, and cleaning solution.
Once he was done we headed out and back the way we had came in.  Canyonlands is a large National Park, and although we are close to the northern entrance, the southern entrance is over 65 miles away.  Since we were planning on a long driving day, we packed a lunch and headed back down HWY 191 towards a couple of roads that I knew had overlooks on them.
The first road we turned on was Looking Glass Road, which is a rough gravel road that goes to Looking Glass Rock.  The road actually meets up with CR133 eventually, but it was rough enough that we just drove down to see the Looking Glass Rock and then turned around and went back to Highway 191.  We don’t do that sort of thing very often so it gives you an idea how rough the road was. There is a sign at the turnoff and you can’t see it until you turn the corner, but it was definitely worth the stop despite the rough road.

Looking Glass Rock

Once we were back on the highway it was only a few miles more until we hit CR 133.  I highly recommend both this road and the dirt offshoot CR132 for their fantastic views of the Canyonlands Needles.  Both of these roads were such an amazing surprise and exactly why we love the road less taken.  Let me show you rather than tell you, although the pictures don’t come close to capturing how special it was.

Sign at entrance to CR133


The beginning of the road was all grassland with lots of cows and their babies grazing in the fields


We stopped and checked out Wind Whistle Campground along the way which was too small for us but had some amazing campsites for tents and smaller RVs

The road, was pretty, but not spectacular, and then we got to Needles Overlook.  It was an absolutely beautiful overlook spot with very clean and stocked pit toilets and a paved path you could follow or you could walk among the rocks.  It had picnic tables and benches and not another soul was there.  It was absolutely perfect, and the views were spectacular, seriously for me it was the gold standard of what every overlook should be.

I liked that the highest points had a handrail so I felt safe looking down


But I liked this bench the best


I even went and sat on it.  Like I said, the picture doesn’t come close to doing it justice.  I believe my words were “Holy Crap!.”



This sign explained how the Needles were formed 


While I was on the bench he went wandering


And took this great picture.


Then he found this little cave.


There may have been a couple of cave kisses here 🙂


Really cool

Needles Overlook alone was worth the drive, but there was still more to come.  We decided to take the dirt road CR132 to the Anticline Overlook.  On the way we passed Minor Overlook, which we almost skipped because it just looked like a big rock, but that would have been a big mistake as the road goes around the big rock for another amazing view.  First off I have never seen a road go around a rock like this, and Lee took some Go Pro video to show what it was like.

Lee putting the Go Pro on at the  Minor Overlook turnoff.  See how boring the rock looks.


I didn’t even see the road went around until we got closer


The road curved around the rock


And this is what we saw on the other side.  Who knew?  That’s what I love about Utah, you always need to go around the corner, because you never know what you will find.


Just wow 

After the Minor Overlook we made it to the Anticline Overlook, and this view was the best that we have seen.  It is directly across from Dead Horse State Park and the view was totally free.  This path was a bit rougher, but completely worth it, and please whatever you do make sure you walk down to the right and look at the view from there.  It literally took my breath away, and I said wow so many times Lee asked me if I was having a “viewgasm” to which I replied yes I think I am.


The path


The view


I know, right?  All Lee could think though was how he was seeing little tiny jeeps down on the curvy road and he really wanted to drive that road.  Once again our lack of 4X4 was holding us back, but we are definitely coming back and either bringing a jeep or renting one, because that road was begging to be driven.

See the little tiny jeep.


And how long the road is



Plus the road goes on both sides 

Hands down one of the best views we have seen in three years on the road, plus totally free, and completely unexpected.  It was 17 miles each way to drive down to this point from the end of the paved road, but for us was completely worth it.  We had a wonderful morning, but we weren’t done yet, because we still hadn’t entered Canyonlands National Park itself yet.  I will leave you here though, and pick that up in the next post

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12 thoughts on “First Time at Needles Overlook

  1. That is the famous White Rim Road. 115 miles of magnificent mountain biking if you want to try that some day. Not sure how the jeeps go, or if they go all the way around. On the East side you get on the road via the Shafer Trail. I don’t post websites to someone else’s blog, but look up Shafer Canyon Road and you will get a link to the “Most dangerous roads in America” with some really great photos. I did it in my Dakota 4×4, but you are right, wouldn’t even think of trying it without a 4×4. Took us a day to do 23 miles, so mountain biking is better. They have great supported groups that do it. Mark has done it and some of my girlfriends, but I never managed it. Working at the time. Dang, and now I am too wussy. And did I not see Mesa Arch on your list? It is up there right close to where you were driving. A Classic View not to be missed!

  2. More awesome sights. I totally get the “wowgasm”, that canyon, especially the pillar, is incredible. Even with 4×4 and being the adventurist sort I may think I am, I don’t think I’d go there with my 4×4 dually. I always enjoy Lee’s videos.

  3. When we first went to Canyonlands it was the birdseye view of those “tiny little toy Jeeps” that knocked me out.
    The space is just huge in Utah and stunning and beyond words, which is why your photos are so great. Thank you!

  4. Viewgasm or as Ron said Wowgasm, must remember those when we go to Alaska again. Utah is an amazing state, grew up in AZ so we visited UT a lot, but I think it’s time for somemore UT. Becki

  5. WOW what amazing and beautiful photos! Great blog entry. We hope to spend a summer volunteering in southern Utah. We hear there are great off road trails for riding a side by side! Thanks for taking the time to share all of this with us.

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