Cave Spring | Canyonlands National Park

Cave Spring is our boys favorite hike in the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park. This is because the hike is short, easy, shady, and features two ladders, which they love.

There is a small parking lot for this trail, and it usually isn’t very busy. The trail crosses though a tuft of sagebrush and then splits, with the loop leading to the left. You are supposed to walk this trail clockwise, and that is important, because climbing up ladders is considerably easier than climbing down ladders. The entire trail is 0.6 miles around the loop.

The trail begins in a little sandy wash.
There are a few signs along the way about the plants.

Cowboy Camp

As you reach the base of the cliff just a few meters up the trail, you come across an old cowboy camp. It is nice and shady under the overhang, and it’s easy to imagine a few early settlers wanting to find some respite from the sun. There is a low fence, which keeps you from entering the camp, so please respect this exhibit.

This is the old cowboy camp.
We love that the overhangs are extra shady.
It’s really fun to walk in next to the rocks.

Cave Spring

The trail continues along the cliffside, sometimes staying under the deep overhang, and sometimes straying back into the sagebrush. The entire loop is only a little over half a mile, so you arrive at Cave Spring rather quickly. This is the place where water seeps out of the back of the “cave,” which is really more of a rocky alcove. Lush, green plants grow out of this area, which make it unique.

The cave spring is green and the temperature is very cool.
The trail continues under the rock overhang.


Just after the spring, you come to the two ladders. They aren’t really that tall or impressive, but they are unique, and that makes them fun for our boys. They scrambled right up, giggling as they went.

The first ladder is a little taller.
The second ladder is shorter. Dad has hiked up these ladders with a baby on his back .
This part of the trail is really fun.

After the ladders, the trail crosses the slick rock back to the parking lot. This section of the trail is still pretty, but it is out in the open. It’s pretty short, and it is just a return to the car.

The rest of the trail is over the slick rock.
There are great views of the Needles district.
Soon you’ll return to the rock overhangs and back to the parking area.

Cave Spring is a must do trail when visiting the Needles side of Canyonlands National Park. Here are some other posts that will help you when visiting this side of the park:

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