Round Trip Distance: 6 miles
Elevation: 4679 - 5466 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Usage: Hiking -No Dogs
Time: 4 hrs.
Facilities: none (toilets and gift shop at Visitor Center)
Trailhead: Neck Spring
Fee: $5 individual - $10 vehicle - $25 annual pass
Attractions: Great scenery, geology, wildflowers
View Canyonlands Neck Spring in a larger map
The Neck Spring trail is located in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park northwest of Moab, Utah. Canyonlands National Park is about 120 miles from Grand Junction, Colorado and 32 miles from Moab, Utah. The Neck is a natural land bridge that connects the Island in the Sky with the rest of the world. The Neck Spring trail navigates along the canyon rim that lies on the west side of the narrow neck of land.
The Neck Spring trailhead is located at the Shafer Canyon Viewpoint. The viewpoint is located right before crossing the Neck and is the first stopping point along the road after leaving the Visitor Center.
The Neck Spring trail is a loop hike so it can be hiked in either direction. The sign at the trailhead sends hikers off in the counter clockwise direction and doesn't really give any clues about going the opposite way. After descending the trail a short distance from the trailhead it crosses the road that leads on into the park.
The trail is very well marked with plenty of cairns so a map or GPS isn't really needed. Maps are always a good idea anyway and they can be purchased at the Visitor Center. Also, it's hard to beat a GPS for keeping track of how far you have gone and judging how much you have left.
After crossing the roadway the trail travels along the rim a short distance till it finds an easy place to drop down to the bench area above the deeper canyons. The trail cuts back and follows the bench into and out of each little upper canyon area. The alcove at the head of the first canyon is the location of Neck Spring.
The trail has a lot of ups and downs as it travels around each hillside.
There are the remains of old watering troughs that were once used to capture water from the seeps at each alcove for the watering of livestock.
The trail eventually comes close enough to the canyon that you can walk over on the slick rock to get a good view of it.
Across the canyon is the opening of a natural arch that isn't named on any maps that I have seen. It doesn't appear to have been created by the flow of water, to me anyway, or otherwise, I suppose, it would be a natural bridge.
The cabin at Cabin Spring has been reduced to just a few logs but it is nice to know that when you see these that you have arrived at that point of the hike.
The crux of the Neck Spring trail just after Cabin Spring where the trail climbs steeply from the bench to regain the heights of the upper rim. The route up the cliffs is well cairned and I suppose the best part of it is that the 200 foot gain in elevation is accomplished in a little less than a quarter mile.
The remnants of an old lifting crane still stand on the cliff above Cabin Spring. There are grooves worn into the sandstone from the cables that were used to raise and lower the loads.
Even after climbing up to the rim and heading back there is still more elevation to be gained as the trail climbs over a few rolling hills. The trail crosses the road again just under a mile up the road from the trailhead. The trail from here is easy to manage and much prettier and safer than trying to walk down the narrow edge of the roadway.
There are several good rest point that provide spectacular views of the canyons.
The peaks of the La Sal mountains, which tower above 12,000 feet in the background, are often capped with snow from late October into June.
Another view of Shafer Canyon.
The trail gets a little skimpy at the narrowest point of the Neck but it is still plenty far from the rim to be completely safe as long as you are on the outside of the guard rail and not on the road.
It can be a little entertaining to watch vehicles traveling up and down the road in the canyon.
There isn't any water, gasoline or much of anything else available at the Island in the Sky so you need to be sure and bring everything you might need with you before you leave town. There is a nice gift shop at the Visitor Center which is well worth the time. All of the toilets are of the vault type but we have always found them to be especially clean. On a hot summer day this hikes will require a good bit of water to keep you hydrated. We went through about 80 ounces each although we did see others carrying a lot less. For those visiting Canyonlands who have the time and the energy the Neck Spring trail is well worth it. Of course, like any trail, you don't have to hike the whole thing. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.