Getting to the start of hiking Canyonlands is a trip itself. You think you are there when you enter the road to Canyonlands, but don't be so sure as there still is some distance to travel by car to arrive at your starting place for your hike. Plan way in advance for your hike depending on the time of the year you are hiking in Canyonlands because it can get really hot... and it was very hot, even though we weren't in the real hot months. By the time we were finished, we had soaked bandanas wrapped around our necks for the heat.
Canyonlands has 3 entirely different areas: The Needles, The Maze and The Island in the Sky. Each of the sections are entirely different. We did not go into the Maze area as we didn't have a 4 wheel drive and we didn't have enough time. The Maze is for serious hikers and adventurers. The road into the Needles is long (about 45 minutes) so allow extra time.
The Needles is definitely a great place for camping and hiking. The camping sites are on a first come, first serve basis. Some of the sites have running water, raised camping areas, places to shower, sinks to wash your utensils/cooking gear, bathrooms, etc.
The trail we hiked on was the Old Squaw Trail. During the whole 6 hour hike through the canyons we did not see a single person. The temperature was quite hot (about 100 degrees), but it did not really feel hot at all. The start of the hike is quite steep. You have to pull yourself up the red rock with a chain bolted Old Squaw Trail into the rocks. Once you get past that point, you have to go across high rock ledges that have a steep drop off. If you get past the first 15-20 minutes, you will be on your way.
We heard coyotes when we started our hike and the whole hike was awesome. We hiked on the desert floor with canyons all around us.
At the halfway point, there was a huge canyon wall to climb up with only your boots to hold you up there. One slip and you would fall down the face of the rocks. We were able to get to about 30 feet from the top and the rest was just too scary. We didn't know what was on the other side and we knew if we got on top, we wouldn't be able to come back the same way we just went up. So we turned around, went down and had lunch. We returned the same way we started and it was still a great hike. Sometimes when you go in a different direction, the hike looks entirely different.
There are some easier, shorter hikes and you can select any type of hike to fit your needs. Be sure to bring enough water (we brought 100 ounces of water each) and be sure to bring something that you can wet and put over your head underneath your cap to protect yourself from the sun. Wear plenty of suntan lotion as you will need it.
Hope you have a great time hiking Canyonlands National Park in the needles section.