Ep. 130: Canyonlands – The Maze | Utah off-road 4×4 travel camping hiking

Hey there, welcome back to GrandAdventure! I'm your host Marc Guido, and in this episode we're going to take a4X4r trip through the remote Maze District of Canyonlands NationalPark in Utah, so stay tuned! Unlike most National Parks, you won'tfind any paved roads in the Maze District of Canyonlands.

As matter of fact, it's all dirt 4×4 trail.

So you won't find any tour buses filled with gawkingtourists.

As a matter of fact you can have a hard time finding anybody at all.

It's one of the most remote places in the lower 48.

Now, we visited back in 2014 with our friends Marc and Karen for a five-day4x4 trip through The Maze that we're going to share with you on this episodeof Grand Adventure.

For most visitors, Canyonlands National Park means theIsland in the Sky District, from which the remote Maze District is separated bythe canyons of the Green River.

It takes hours to drive between the two, includingthe final 46 miles on dirt road just to reach the Hans Flat Ranger Station.

Eventhen you're still not yet in the park, as you first have to traverse the OrangeCliffs Unit of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area just to enter the parkitself.

The Maze is the most remote and least visited unit at Canyonlands, andrequires a greater degree of self-sufficiency.

Rarely do visitorsspend less than three days in The Maze, and the area can easily absorb aweek-long trip.

We'd only see one ranger Jeep, and one group of four mountainbikers in our four full days in The Maze.

It's a place to bring lots of water, extra gas, and even spare parts for your vehicle.

Apparently one rancher is somewhat annoyed by the behavior of visitorsheading for The Maze.

All vehicle camping within the Maze District is at designated backcountry campsites, for which reservations arerequired as part of a backcountry permit required of all overnight visitors.

Forget your RV, and you must have a high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle withlow range on all Maze District backcountry roads.

4-wheel drive roads in The Maze are extremely difficult, present considerablerisk of vehicle damage, and should not be attempted by inexperienced drivers.

ATVsare not permitted, nor are pets or wood fires.

For this trip we're truck and tentcamping, and our first night is at the backcountry camp at Flint Seep.

WhileFlint Seep won't win any awards for its beauty, it was merely a location fromwhich to stage the rest of our expedition, and panoramic views ofMillard Canyon were just steps away.

We'd spend the night here before heading intoThe Maze in the morning.

The Flint trail is a series ofprecipitous switchbacks graded into the cliff wall guarding the entrance of TheMaze.

After rain overnight that threatened to derail our schedule, it finally abatedon the second morning of our trip.

After watching a group of three Jeeps make itsafely to the bottom we concluded that the clay was not sufficiently slick toalter our travel plans.

We would proceed.

Looking back, the switchbacks of theFlint Trail are fairly visible.

You really have to wonder what made someoneonce upon a time think that this would be a great place to build a road.

Oncesafely down we headed northeast across Elaterite Basin on route to the Maze Overlook.

These couple of park rangers will bethe only people we'd encounter in our first 24 hours in The Maze.

After averaging only 10 miles per hourthis day, we arrive at our campsite at the Maze Overlook.

The naming of The Mazeis obvious.

In the afternoon I opted to descendalone into The Maze, maintaining radio contact with Marc and Karen on the rim.

Iwould encounter no other humans on this hike.

In several places Moki steps arecarved into the rock face to make the hike even possible without ropes.

This isthe first of two slots along the route into The Maze.

Traveling alone, it dawnedon me that anything I got down through I'd have to be able to get back up toreturn to my truck.

That isn't the most reassuring thought, and the Maze OverlookTrail requires basic climbing maneuvers in order to negotiate sections of steepslickrock and pour offs, and a length of climbing rope is handy to raise andlower packs in difficult spots.

At the bottom of the trail you arrive inthe primary wash of Horse Canyon South Fork in the middle of The Maze.

I was bound for what turned out to be notone, but three separate arches formed by a single pourover.

As I neared the siteI noticed a lot of deer scat before I inadvertently flushed two large bucks.

Slab forms the bottom of the wash, andthere was even a bit of water still flowing in places.

After visiting thetriple arch I decided to press on to the Harvest Scene Pictograph Panel.

It was a unique and somewhat etherealexperience to be here completely and utterly alone, feeling as if I wassomehow spiritually connecting with the artists who painted this panel thousandsof years earlier.

Before breaking camp on our secondmorning, I'd return to the Harvest Scene in better weather, accompanied thistime by Marc.

Our third day's travel would include 14miles by 4×4 to our third night's camp at Ekker Butte, with views across theGreen River to the Island in the Sky beyond.

if you've never tried it, Twinkies and ryewhiskey are a match made in heaven.

Our fourth travel day would be a big one:26 miles to our fourth night's camp at Sunset Pass.

Sunset Pass is a beautiful campsitenestled amongst a forest of petrified wood.

It's also a great spot for a sun showerafter several dusty days on the trail.

Rather than exit The Maze by doublingback up the Flint Trail, we headed out to Utah Route 95 near the Hite Bridgevia Waterhole Flat, a memorable drive along the Colorado River marked by opendesert, narrow fins and tall spires.

Upon reaching Utah Route 95 at Hite, the first asphalt we'd seen in nearly a week, we aired our tires back up withinview of the upper end of Lake Powell.

So we truly hope that you've enjoyedcoming along with us to The Maze! Now if you're not yet a Grand Adventurer, now'sthe time: smash that little red subscribe button down there in the corner andring that notification bell, because we bring new outdoor adventure travelvideos to you each and every Wednesday.

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Until nextweek please remember, life is nothing but a Grand Adventure! We'll see you then!.

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