Neck Spring Loop, Island in the Sky: Neck Spring Trailhead, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Neck Spring Loop - 5.8 miles

Island in the Sky: Neck Spring Trailhead

High open slickrock along the Neck Spring Loop

High open slickrock along the Neck Spring Loop

Round-Trip Length: 5.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 5,812' - 5,985' (max elevation on loop)
Elevation Change: +173' net elevation gain (+975' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Neck Spring Loop - 5.8 Miles Round-Trip

The Neck Spring Loop circles the rim and upper reaches of Taylor Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. This moderate 5.8 mile loop begins at Shafer Canyon Overlook and drops past three natural springs before returning to the rim.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Visitors will enjoy varied terrain, oasis-like springs and exceptional views from high open slickrock. The following description travels counter-clockwise:

The trail heads west over the road and levels .25 miles before dropping into a scenic landscape dotted with pinyon, juniper, blackbrush and ephedra. Note Navajo Sandstone domes atop the rim, which are relatively uncommon in this district.

The trail curls south just below the rim and moderates on a rolling, packed dirt path to Neck Spring (1.4 miles : 5,662'). The spring originates in the steep upper canyon with oak, mahonia and cottonwood lining its path.

Social trails venture through the area, but hikers should minimize impact on this sensitive microhabitat. The trail turns out from under the rim and away from the spring on a series of short, steep hills in deep sand.

It makes a hairpin turn down rock slabs at 2.27 miles, then levels across an open terrace with emerging views of Wingate Sandstone walls deep in Taylor Canyon (2.55 miles : 5,625’).

At 3.0 miles (5,595’) the trail turns back into a cul-de-sac that holds two springs, whose tree-lined corridors can be seen from a distance. You’ll cross the first stream at 3.15 miles to Cabin Spring (3.3 miles : 5,623’), which supports a large collection of cottonwoods.

The trail turns sharply up from Cabin Spring on a steep, cairn-marked climb back to the rim (3.5 miles : 5,870’). Here it levels on open slickrock along the rim back to the road (4.95 miles : 5,945’).

This is arguably the most enjoyable section of the hike, with exceptional views and two short intervals of grassy pasture. Follow cairns closely, and keep a safe distance from the edge.

Cross the road and continue north to an overlook (5.52 miles : 5,808’), where the trail ends and you'll continue on the road back to Neck Spring Trailhead to complete the loop (5.8 miles : 5,812’).

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 27.140 W109 49.229 — 0.0 miles : Neck Spring Trailhead
  • N38 27.177 W109 49.414 — .25 miles : Begin descent
  • N38 27.043 W109 49.329 — .5 miles : Moderate travel in upper canyon
  • N38 26.758 W109 49.357 — .95 miles : South heading under canyon rim
  • N38 26.558 W109 49.493 — 1.4 miles : Neck Spring
  • N38 26.914 W109 49.714 — 2.0 miles : Travel moderates beyond steep rolling hills
  • N38 26.918 W109 49.861 — 2.27 miles : Hairpin turn down rock slabs
  • N38 26.978 W109 50.092 — 2.55 miles : Level terrace with views into Taylor Canyon
  • N38 26.616 W109 50.239 — 3.15 miles : Cross unnamed spring corridor
  • N38 26.541 W109 50.327 — 3.3 miles : Cabin Spring | begin steep climb to canyon rim
  • N38 26.546 W109 50.474 — 3.5 miles : Reach canyon rim, begin open slickrock travel
  • N38 26.398 W109 50.213 — 4.0 miles : Rolling travel on wavy slickrock on rim
  • N38 26.402 W109 49.753 — 4.5 miles : Great views from top of canyon
  • N38 26.541 W109 49.370 — 4.95 miles : Cross back over road
  • N38 26.884 W109 49.287 — 5.5 miles : Trail spills onto road; take road to Neck Spring Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • Limit your impact on the springs and spring ecosystem by staying on designated trails and avoiding unnecessary contact with the water.
  • Ranchers once developed the springs for use by livestock, and some remains can be found along the trail. Leave items in place for others to enjoy.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips in Canyonlands National Park. Permits can be acquired at Visitor Centers the day of or day before your trip. Advance reservations can be made up to 4 months out and are recommended during peak season.

Call the Backcountry Reservation Office for more information: 435.259.4351

Click here to access the online reservation system.

  • There's a $30 fee per party to backcountry camp in Canyonlands National Park.
  • Hikers must camp in designated sites where explicitly stated. You may otherwise choose your own campsite in designated at-large zones.
  • At-large sites must be at least 1 mile away from any road and 300' from any archeological site, historical site or water source.
  • Mountain Bikers and 4WDs must stay on established roads and camp in designated sites at all times.
  • Fires are not permitted at backcountry campsites or within the backcountry in Canyonlands National Park.
  • Desert water sources are scarce and fragile. Do not bathe or wash dishes in creeks or pools. 

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $25 fee per vehicle to enter Canyonlands National Park (defined as private passenger cars with 15 people or less). Passes are good for 7 consecutive days.
  • $15 per motorcycle.
  • $10 per person (walk or bike).
  • Dogs are not permitted on trails in Canyonlands National Park.

Directions to Trailhead

The Neck Spring Trailhead is located .45 miles from the Island in the Sky Visitor Center on the left (east) side of the road. The trailhead parking area also accesses the Shafer Canyon Overlook.

Contact Information

Canyonlands National Park

2282 SW Resource Blvd

Moab, UT 84532

Island in the Sky District: 435.259.4712

Backcountry Reservation Office: 435.259.4351

Park Administration: 435.719.2100

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