Elephant Hill

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4.9/5 (36 reviews)
Monticello, Utah (San Juan County)
Last Updated: 02/08/2024
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Trail Information

Highlights

Desert Category Icon Desert
Iconic Category Icon Iconic
Overland Category Icon Overland
Rock Category Icon Rock
Sand Category Icon Sand
Wash Category Icon Wash

Elephant Hill, a remote Jeep Badge of Honor Trail, takes you deep into the interior of the otherworldly scenery within the Needles District in Canyonlands National Park. Many call it one of Utah's most technical 4WD routes, which may or may not be true depending on your driving skills. Without question, this trail has the most pristine scenery and solitude in the area that a remote four-wheel drive can offer. The route immerses you in thousands of colorful sandstone spires reaching up from the desert floor. Adding to this topographical wonderland, arches, washes, plateaus, and narrow slot canyons are scattered along the ever-changing trail. The park only gives out 24 day-use permits per day for Elephant Hill, so plan ahead.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

The route described in this guide is from the parking lot to Chesler Park and back. Elephant Hill connects to Devil's Lane, which connects to Bobby's Hole and Beef Basin for a multi-day trip. The trail is one-way in the southerly direction between Waypoints 10 through 15.

The road surface is a mix of rock and dirt and includes several very steep grades and tight switchbacks. While the rock has excellent traction, good driving skills and knowing your vehicle's capabilities are required. The most challenging portion of the trail is the very first mile, going up and over the actual Elephant Hill. One of the switchbacks requires driving in reverse for a few vehicle lengths. The narrowest portion of this trail, Devil's Pocket, Waypoint 14, is not suitable for wider vehicles. Longer wheelbase vehicles must take extra care navigating the obstacles at SOB Hill.

Canyonlands National Park lists the following restrictions for Elephant Hill:

  • Vehicles (or a combination of vehicles and trailers) that exceed 21 feet in overall length are prohibited from traveling on Elephant Hill Access Road and the Elephant Hill road system at The Needles.
  • ATVs, UTVs, and OHVs are not permitted. Motorbikes must be equipped and licensed for interstate travel.
  • Group size is limited to 3 vehicles.


The Canyonlands National Park Website lists daily road condition status. The park only gives out 24 day-use permits per day for this trail, so be sure to plan appropriately.

Trail Reviews

4.9/5 (37)
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100
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/25/2024
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Trail is open and dry. Definitely worth the trip. My wife said it was her all time favorite trail. Lots of hiking and exploring opportunities. Definitely recommend hiking “The Joint.”
Trail Review: Elephant Hill - Camden
Trail Review: Elephant Hill - Camden
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Official Crew
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150350
Open
Visited: 02/06/2024

Trail is back open per park rangers, but drivers should anticipate snow and icy conditions after precipitation.
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Official Crew
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63450
Temporary Closure
Visited: 01/14/2024
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Temporarily closed due to snow and ice.
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700
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 10/02/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This trail is beautiful and has very little traffic(due to limited permits per day) to disturb the serene experience. No SxS's are allowed on the trail. Low noise, low dust, and constant obstacles make for an incredible time on the trail. Highly recommend! The difficulty is pretty spot on. JKUR on 35's had no issues.
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100
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/14/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

I had a great time!! Even though it was raining. I feel like the rating is spot-on. Definitely looking forward to doing it again.
Trail Review: Elephant Hill - Tom S

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