Backpacker - - #TRAILCHAT -

Dis­cover a dif­fer­ent kind of fall color in the desert. Here, amid the 200-foot-tall sand­stone spin­dles of Cany­on­lands’ Nee­dles District, the soft au­tumn light paints red and orange slick­rock new shades of pink and pur­ple. Em­brace the idyl­lic fall con­di­tions (day­time temps in the 50s and night­time temps in the 30s) in one of the South­west’s best play­grounds on the Peek­a­boo Trail: From Squaw Flat, head 5 straight­for­ward miles south to Peek­a­boo Camp ($30; reser­va­tion re­quired). The easy lo­gis­tics—by Cany­on­lands stan­dards— mean more time for ex­plor­ing the area’s di­verse ter­rain and ru­ins. “Ev­ery turn on the trail brings a new ad­ven­ture and ob­sta­cle,” says pho­tog­ra­pher Ja­son Le­wandowski. “You trudge through a sandy wash, then you climb a steel lad­der in a nar­row slot to get on top of the mesa, where there’s a slick­rock sec­tion along the edge of a cliff.” Re­cent rain will likely leave potable wa­ter in rock de­pres­sions called tina­jas, but don’t push your luck: Pack in a gal­lon per per­son per day. Con­tact nps.gov/cany

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