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#1 Chesler Park Loop, #3 Angels Landing “The List: 11 Best American Day Hikes”

July 28 2012 - 1:58 pm

This loop in Canyonlands’ Needles District is a full-value 11 miles of desert: You’ll tiptoe past cryptobiotic soil, across slickrock, dip down and into a couple washes, and into Chesler Park, a flat meadow surrounded by “needles,” the red-and-white striped pinnacles up to 100 feet tall. You’ll also get to experience the Joint Trail, a short section that’s just like a slot canyon — sheer vertical walls 20- to 40-feet high, as straight as a hallway, pinching down to less than three feet wide in some spots. You’re not in an actual slot canyon, just the space between giant boulders that somehow lie parallel to each other for about a quarter-mile. And you may have a hard time resisting the urge to chimney your way up between the walls.