The Cherokee Conquered Canyonlands National Park
Deep within the "Needles District" of Canyonlands National Park are several 4x4 trails. The Elephant Hill trail is one of the most challenging. Many off-road trail guides written about the area rate this particular trail as the most difficult. I recently found out why.
Having just returned from taking the Cherokee Trailhawk through the area the past several days, I can say that "our" KL has conquered the beast! The TH handled everything that could be thrown at it and met the challenge!
While camped at the backcountry campground called Devil's Kitchen, which is only accessible via foot, mtn bike or 4x4. As we pulled into the campground, several other campers all came out to the road to greet us. All other campers had driven Wranglers in. If ever there was a picture perfect example of the description, "jaws dropped" it would have been the case. One comment we heard was "someone brought a 'station wagon' over Elephant Hill!!"
After we had camp set up in the gorgeous alcove of site #4 (I would highly recommend that one, or #2 if anyone ever goes there), two couples from Fort Worth, Texas came over to say hello. They wanted to see the "car" that made it. One guy was a police man, his wife a nurse. The other guy was an IT consultant and his wife a school teacher. All so very friendly. Both guys were extremely impressed with the Cherokee. They wanted to see it and hear about it. I spent over an hour talking with them and showing them the KL. One guy, the policeman, even crawled underneath it to have a look. They couldn't stop talking about it. The IT guy said, "I've got to get one of these!" He was impressed with the gas mileage, with the luxurious looking interior, just about everything. I think he actually would have listened to a trade offer if I had the inclination.
We would run into them off and one the whole while we were there, evidently having had similar itineraries. We even drove out and over Elephant Hill on the same morning. Upon reaching down to the parking lot at the trailhead, the police guy came over and shook my hand. He was so impressed with the Trailhawk!
The Cherokee in action is a great sales tool. I should get a commission from Jeep. Anyone work for a Jeep dealership in Fort Worth? You may have a sale in a few days....
We entered Canyonlands National Park from the south. We passed through an area called Beef Basin and Ruin Park. It is rich with ancient Anasazi Native American cliff dwellings. We visited several sites I had never seen before, after getting tips and leads from others who have visited the place.
Just before crossing the southern boundary of Canyonlands NP is a particularly challenging hill named "Bobby's Hole Hill. Some call it "Impossible Hill." There are "warning signs" posted lest anyone take a real "station wagon" into the adventure.
Just after crossing into Canyonlands NP is another named obstacle aptly called SOB Hill. We saw why. There is a sharp 90 degree turn while climbing about a 45 degree slope with not much room to negotiate. I made several attempts at the turn, but could not get enough traction. I eventually had to pull forward and back up the last part. That "pull in and back up" method is actually "required" by the Park Service for some extremely tight switchbacks at Elephant Hill.
While camped at Devil's kitchen, my wife and I hiked around to several beautiful places while were in the area. Some of them were Chesler Park, the Pinnacles, the Joint Trail, and into Elephant Canyon. We did not make it to Druid Arch.
On our day of departure from the area, we passed by a few more obstacles on the trail. They were all fairly amazing. My wife who was the photographer of all of the trail shots. But at this point as we were departing out the trail, she was so mesmerized by the trail obstacles, she forgot to click a picture at many of them. Driving, I was kind of distracted myself to remind her to get a pic... We have several pics, however, and I will show several.
The most challenging spot of all was an unnamed feature located between an obstacle called "The Silver Stairs" and Elephant Hill itself. It is located about a 1000 yards from Elephant Hill on the exit climb up and over to get to the parking lot. This particular obstacle, not named, has about a 4 foot high angled ledge that if you were to drop off of it......well, they'd be a problem. The ledge angled in such a way as to make the road narrower and narrower until in connected to a high sandstone wall on the right shoulder of the road. Fortunately the KL was itself narrow enough to squeeze against that right wall and dropped down the ledge at a place where it was only about 24 inches high. My wife got a picture of the spot after I came off of the ledge and just down a corner... I did not want to go back up and try it again for a better picture Oh well. It's unnamed, but I have a few things I could call it...
Here are some pics
2015 Cherokee Trailhawk:
Granite Crystal, 3.2L V6, 8.4 Nav, black leather, sunroof, tow, tech, comfort/conv, no hood decal, 9 speakers, CD player, Maximum Care lifetime warranty, Mopar first aid kit, rear rubber cargo mat, Thule Aeroblade cross bars (black), Thule Rapid Aero feet, Kuat Vagabond X cargo basket, RRO rock rails with smooth covers, Mopar door sills, Raingler ceiling net, Raingler seat headrest handles, MFC aluminum lift kit, RRO winch bar and Warn M8000S winch, BFG T/A KO2s
Last edited by taatmk; 05-31-2015 at 06:46 PM.