The trail requires substantial highway - about 75 miles each way. Vehicles should be capable of maintaining 55 MPH highway speed. It is best to plan for enough fuel to complete 175 miles of travel, although gasoline is available at the Needles Outpost. The Park Service will require that a normal entrance fee be paid and that all National Park regulations be followed (the trail is within the park's new "backcountry plan," and pets are not allowed even if they are inside vehicles). Annual permits, Golden Eagle Passports, or Golden Age Passports may be used.
4 (old 3.5)
The tall cliffs lining the rivers are similar to those seen near Moab. Most of the surface rock formations, however, are of the Cedar Mesa Sandstone, which produces the spectacular colors of the canyons, spires, and balanced rocks that give the Needles area its name.
The ridge crossings are mainly rock ledges while the roads in the bottom of the grabens are mostly fine powder laced with a few rocks.
Elephant Hill itself has difficult climbs in both directions - even after cement was added to some ledges to obviate the need for chinking them with loose rocks. There are other ledges between grabens, and a little slickrock at the Silver Stairs.