View Full Version : Stock XJ - Elephant Hill? (Canyonlands)

April 20th, 2006, 04:50 PM

I may head up to the Needles District the first week in May. Has anyone run Elephant Hill in a stock XJ? Can it be done without any carnage? The plan is to camp and hike, but looking for other things to do while I am there. Thanks!

Mike Boyle
April 20th, 2006, 06:42 PM
Last time I ran it we had a stock ZJ with us and he made it through with no problems. There are a few places you'll need to pick the right line to get through, but nothing that should be too difficult.

April 20th, 2006, 08:40 PM
It will be a cake walk. They put asphalt in the big ledges/drop offs so you could do it in any SUV. There is one steep switchback section where you pull down forward, and then reverse (back up) to the next one.
There is a trail that we ended up on some where out of Elephant Hill that was pretty hard and long and wound around 6 and 7 shooter peaks.
There is such good scenery while wheel'n in Canyonlands. You get to go through Needles and some other cool spots. You have to pay for a parks pass to wheel and there is a gas station at the ranger district too.

April 20th, 2006, 09:56 PM
hit the chessler park/joint trail for a hike, its amazing and great slot canyons for fun !!! the xj will be fine...

April 20th, 2006, 10:35 PM
Make sure you report back after, I'm dieing to do that trail.

April 21st, 2006, 08:01 AM
You'll be totally fine. The sign at the trailhead even shows a stock XJ on an optional, more difficult obstacle. It's a very fun trail. Just enough challenge to make it interesting without having to be afraid of messing up your rig. With stock-sized tires, you'll have to go slow through a couple of the rockier sections where clearance might be a little bit of an issue, but that's it.

April 21st, 2006, 10:55 AM
I would certainly want to get out and hike for a bit, and that would be the plan. I would also be hiking into Hell's Kitchen and some other areas, just from the main paved loop. Now I just need to sit down and figure out how much it will cost with gas, towing a trailer uphill all the way to canyonlands. It may be more cost effective for me to just fly somewhere instead...

April 21st, 2006, 12:23 PM
Here's a link to some photo's from my 2004 trip, the Cherokee is mine and the Samurai belongs to my brother:


I have been on this trail numerous time since 1983 and it's one of my favorites, although the NPS has done a lot to make it much easier over the years.

The "Joint Trail" is a must. The view is inspiring and hiking the "Joint" is a blast. You also need to hike to the "Confluence", it's amazing.

If the road through "Beef Basin" is open, you can take it out and avoid coming back over "Elephant Hill", however it's a long trip and if the road is muddy you won't make it.

April 21st, 2006, 02:06 PM

Thanks for the info. I've driven on the clay hills of Beef Basin Rd during a thunderstorm, and it was pretty scary. You can go down, but you can't go up again. That clay is sticky.

Have you made the trip from Beef Basin North up to the Bobby Jo campsites and the Joint Trail head? My maps says that Bobby's Hole is 'frequently impassable for 4-wheel-drive vehicles? Any insight?

Elephant Hills is on the list if I make it out there. I'll probably spend between $200 and $300 on gas. Still cheaper than flights/hotel/car etc. Plus it's Canyonlands. What else do you need?

April 21st, 2006, 07:30 PM
In 2003, we made the trip over Elephant Hill, hiked the Joint Trail, then headed to Beef Basin and came out east of the park entrance. The trail is not difficult, the hill climb coming out of the Bobby's Hole area is the toughest part.

That was the first trip with my Cherokee in stock condition. I had 3.07 gears and worn out street tires. I wasn't comfortable with going back over Elephant Hill, so we opted to go back through Beef Basin.

Comfortably Numb
April 22nd, 2006, 09:24 AM
The Park Service uses mostly stock Cherokees, until recently anyway, now they have a bunch of Liberty's. The commercial tour companies use stock 4 door long bed F-250's & Suburbans.

If you're planning to camp in the park you best have reservations, especially for the backcountry sites, in fact you should already have your site reserved probably 60 days ago.

April 23rd, 2006, 01:02 PM
I'd love to camp in the park, but I know it won't happen. I've never camped in the park before. I've been there quite a few times and know plenty of nearby places to go. Then again, I've never been there in May...

April 23rd, 2006, 07:56 PM
I think the second pic answers your question:D