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Elephant Hill (8/97)

Top of Elephant Hill

The top of the front side

Silver Stairs

Coming down the Silver Stairs

Squeeze Play

Exiting the Squeeze Play

Backside One

Heading down the back side

Backside Two

The bottom of the back side

Elephant Hill in Canyonlands National Park (rated 3.5) was the first real trail I ran after lifting the Hog. Many would argue that with all the concrete, Elephant Hill is not really much of a challenge, but for someone with very little trail experience, it proved to be plenty tough. The part that really got the adrenaline flowing was a hundred-foot long section called "squeeze play." You drive through a crack barely wider than your vehicle, taking a careful line to avoid knocking off side mirrors or worse. The last 30 feet tilts hard to the passenger side--I really was surprised to make it through without a scratch! It would be easier in a CJ or Samurai, but I can't imagine trying it in a full-size Blazer or Bronco. A stock vehicle should be able to negotiate Elephant Hill with careful driving, but vehicles with longer wheelbases may have a little trouble with approach and departure angles in spots. Scrapes and grinds from overhanging bumpers and trailer hitches are evident everywhere. Many of the more difficult sections look a lot worse than they are. One section on the back side requires negotiating a short section of trail in reverse but is no big deal technically.

Over the hill and past the Squeeze Play are some awesome backcountry campsites--some created in the hollows of massive red rock formations. There are brand new "stinkless" toilets, but no water, so campers must pack it in and pack it out when they leave. These campsites provide a good base camp for hiking out to several arches and some great narrows.

Ledges Two

Starting down the back side

Ledges One

Testing my clearance in front


Two views of the back side.
Note the areas filled with concrete.

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