The Needles are a series of spires formed out of a resistant red and white sandstone layer called Cedar Mesa Sandstone common throughout the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. This 245 to 286 million year old layer was once a dune field on the eastern edge of a shallow sea that covered what is California, Nevada and western Utah today. Sand was blown in from this direction and formed the white bands in the Cedar Mesa Sandstone. The red bands came from sediment carried down by streams from a mountainous area near Grand Junction, CO. These layers of sand were laid down on top of each other and created the distinctive rocks seen today. Starting about fifteen million years ago, the Colorado Plateau was pushed up thousands of feet and rivers, such as the Colorado and the Green, cut down and carved deep canyons. Water, the primary force of erosion, eats away or weathers rock by attacking the cement holding the sand grains together. Moreover, during storms, rushing water knocks loose sand and rocks as it flows down washes causing additional erosion. The water naturally acts faster on areas of weakness within the rock, such as fractures and cracks. The Needles occur in an area with many fractures called joints.

Canyonlands - Needles District

The Needles of Canyonlands National Park - located in the Needles District.