The Needles district offers many options scenically, but is not good for bikes or short-term visitors. This is hiking or serious 4WD territory and those with the time and right kit will discover a land of pinnacles, spires and grand arches bereft of tour buses, RVs and travelling sissies. The sissies can, however, sneak in the back way on the paltry 8 miles of hardtop and have a look at one of the best examples of petroglyphs in the area, Newspaper Rock.
Newspaper Rock, The Needles, near Canyonlands in Arizona, shows 2, 000 years of doodles. Free-to-view.
This rock was etched with drawings by prehistoric people such as the Fremont and Pueblo cultures, as well as more recent Navajo and even paleface Anglos.
There is no way to precisely date rock art, nor are experts sure of the purpose of the drawings. They could be doodles, stories, hunting magic, or just The Needles Times, latest edition.
Newspaper Rock is located on Hwy 211, 25 miles before the entrance to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. It is 28 miles northwest of Monticello and 53 miles south of Moab.
Just across the highway from the petroglyphs is a pleasant picnic area and campground among cottonwoods along the Indian Creek, though rather close to the highway. There are 8 sites with vault toilets that are open year round on a first-come, first-served basis.
Canyonlands is open 24 hours a day all year round; the three visitor centres (Island in the Sky; Maze; Needles) mostly open mid-February through early December from 9 a. m. to 4 p. m.