Confluence Overlook Trail is located in the northern parts of the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. This trail takes you to a spot on the edge of a canyon where you can look down 1100 vertical feet to see the union of the Colorado and Green Rivers. Along the way, the trail takes you across a number of desert plains and small slick rock canyons that are adorned with strange looking Mushrooms, Spires and Needles. Juniper trees and other desert vegetation enhance the beauty of the area. The spectacular La Sal Mountains provide a perfect background in the northeastern horizon.
The trail is well signed at important crossroads. Over the slick rock areas, you must pay close attention to the cairns that identify the trail.
Getting ThereFrom the entrance station, drive 6.6 miles to the end of the road. From the road, you will see a sign for the nearby Slick Rock Loop Trail. The sign for the Confluence Overlook Trail is not seen from the road. You will have to walk a few steps beyond the end of the road to see the sign.
Route DescriptionRoundtrip Hiking Distance: 10.4 miles
Elevation at Trailhead: 4960 ft
Highest Elevation on the Trail: 5100 ft (Near the Red Butte)
Lowest Elevation on the Trail: 4820 ft (in Big Spring Canyon)
Elevation at the End of the Trail: 4940 ft
The trail starts at the end of the road and heads west. It immediately goes 150 vertical feet down the slick rock slopes of the Big Spring Canyon to reach the bottom of the canyon.
It then crosses the canyon and goes up the slick rock slopes on the west side.
The trail soon reaches an opening between two small cliffs. The opening is known as The Keyhole. You will have to walk through the small opening. After the opening, you will encounter a small steel ladder bolted into the rock that you will have to climb.
You will then go down a little to hike west over a small sandy plain. At the west end of the plain, you will reach slick rock again.
You will go up the slick rock and after a short distance will reach a place where Elephant Canyon will appear below you to the west.
The trail will take you down into one of the eastern branches of Elephant Canyon. You will follow the branch west, cross the main part of the Elephant Canyon and go into one of its western branches.
At the end of the western branch, you will go up another slick rock slope.
You will then hike over slick rock areas where you will have views of the La Sal Mountains to the northeast and “The Needles” to the southwest.
As you continue west, a nameless big red butte comes to view. This butte is actually visible from much farther away.
The trail takes you near the red butte on the south side of it.
As you continue west beyond the red butte, the trail takes you over very interesting slick rock areas where you will have to go down slick slopes to the bottom of small canyons/crevasses.
You will then find yourself in a small slick rock canyon.
The slick rock soon goes away and you will be back on a sandy plain. The Needles will be in good view.
After 3.35 miles, the trail reaches a Jeep Road and crosses to the west side of it. The trail then heads northwest on a desert plain.
4.1 miles after trailhead, the trail reaches Cyclone Canyon. A two track/trail runs north-south along the length of Cyclone Canyon. The Confluence Overlook Trail joins the Cyclone Canyon Trail and heads north.
Very shortly after that, the trail reaches the Jeep Road again. For the next 0.75 miles, the trail follows the surface of the road. Do not continue north. Turn west and follow the road to the very end of it. A pit toilet and picnic tables will be found at the end of the road.
You will see a sign for the Confluence Overlook Trail. Go up a short distance and follow the trail. You will see the walls of the canyon of the Colorado River before you reach the overlook.
At 5.2 miles, you will reach the end of the trail. The very impressive and almost scary looking canyon of the Colorado River can be seen 1100 vertical feet below you. Where the Green River joins the Colorado is in full view.