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

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


Hey there, welcome back to Grand
Adventure! I’m your host Marc Guido, and in this episode we’re going to take a
4X4r trip through the remote Maze District of Canyonlands National
Park in Utah, so stay tuned! Unlike most National Parks, you won’t
find 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 gawking
tourists. 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-day
4×4 trip through The Maze that we’re going to share with you on this episode
of Grand Adventure. For most visitors, Canyonlands National Park means the
Island in the Sky District, from which the remote Maze District is separated by
the canyons of the Green River.It takes hours to drive between the two, including
the final 46 miles on dirt road just to reach the Hans Flat Ranger Station. Even
then you’re still not yet in the park, as you first have to traverse the Orange
Cliffs Unit of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area just to enter the park
itself. The Maze is the most remote and least visited unit at Canyonlands, and
requires a greater degree of self-sufficiency. Rarely do visitors
spend less than three days in The Maze, and the area can easily absorb a
week-long trip. We’d only see one ranger Jeep, and one group of four mountain
bikers 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 visitors
heading for The Maze. All vehicle camping within the Maze District is at designated backcountry campsites, for which reservations are
required 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 with
low range on all Maze District backcountry roads.
4-wheel drive roads in The Maze are extremely difficult, present considerable
risk of vehicle damage, and should not be attempted by inexperienced drivers. ATVs
are not permitted, nor are pets or wood fires. For this trip we’re truck and tent
camping, and our first night is at the backcountry camp at Flint Seep. While
Flint Seep won’t win any awards for its beauty, it was merely a location from
which to stage the rest of our expedition, and panoramic views of
Millard Canyon were just steps away. We’d spend the night here before heading into
The Maze in the morning. The Flint trail is a series of
precipitous switchbacks graded into the cliff wall guarding the entrance of The
Maze. After rain overnight that threatened to derail our schedule, it finally abated
on the second morning of our trip. After watching a group of three Jeeps make it
safely to the bottom we concluded that the clay was not sufficiently slick to
alter our travel plans. We would proceed. Looking back, the switchbacks of the
Flint Trail are fairly visible. You really have to wonder what made someone
once upon a time think that this would be a great place to build a road. Once
safely down we headed northeast across Elaterite Basin on route to the Maze Overlook. These couple of park rangers will be
the only people we’d encounter in our first 24 hours in The Maze. After averaging only 10 miles per hour
this day, we arrive at our campsite at the Maze Overlook. The naming of The Maze
is obvious. In the afternoon I opted to descend
alone into The Maze, maintaining radio contact with Marc and Karen on the rim. I
would encounter no other humans on this hike. In several places Moki steps are
carved into the rock face to make the hike even possible without ropes. This is
the first of two slots along the route into The Maze. Traveling alone, it dawned
on me that anything I got down through I’d have to be able to get back up to
return to my truck. That isn’t the most reassuring thought, and the Maze Overlook
Trail requires basic climbing maneuvers in order to negotiate sections of steep
slickrock and pour offs, and a length of climbing rope is handy to raise and
lower packs in difficult spots. At the bottom of the trail you arrive in
the primary wash of Horse Canyon South Fork in the middle of The Maze. I was bound for what turned out to be not
one, but three separate arches formed by a single pourover. As I neared the site
I noticed a lot of deer scat before I inadvertently flushed two large bucks. Slab forms the bottom of the wash, and
there was even a bit of water still flowing in places. After visiting the
triple arch I decided to press on to the Harvest Scene Pictograph Panel. It was a unique and somewhat ethereal
experience to be here completely and utterly alone, feeling as if I was
somehow spiritually connecting with the artists who painted this panel thousands
of years earlier. Before breaking camp on our second
morning, I’d return to the Harvest Scene in better weather, accompanied this
time by Marc. Our third day’s travel would include 14
miles by 4×4 to our third night’s camp at Ekker Butte, with views across the
Green River to the Island in the Sky beyond. if you’ve never tried it, Twinkies and rye
whiskey 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 campsite
nestled amongst a forest of petrified wood. It’s also a great spot for a sun shower
after several dusty days on the trail. Rather than exit The Maze by doubling
back up the Flint Trail, we headed out to Utah Route 95 near the Hite Bridge
via Waterhole Flat, a memorable drive along the Colorado River marked by open
desert, 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 within
view of the upper end of Lake Powell. So we truly hope that you’ve enjoyed
coming along with us to The Maze! Now if you’re not yet a Grand Adventurer, now’s
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week please remember, life is nothing but a Grand Adventure! We’ll see you then!

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

  1. Hello Marc, You were able to keep up with the jeeps with your truck on this trip? The reason I ask is I had a 3/4 ton chevy truck that I would never have tried to follow my CJ5 with in some places. Beautiful cinematography of the area.

  2. Just saw the "No Pets" sign. That's a shame. One more place we can't go. I wonder why they have that restriction in such a remote area?

  3. Marc… Great premiere. Had to laugh at the Prius comment. I took my Chevy chevette in there on my first trip there in 1987. It had around two hundred thousand miles on it at that time. Never say never.
    Happy holidays to you and your family. Safe travels my friend.
    Randy in Des Moines. ??☃️✌

  4. Fabulous images, Marc. This was a real treat adventure for sure.

    Do you know what they used to paint the petroglyphs? Or was it some kind of acid wash etched into the rock? I have always wondered about that.

    Also, I wasn't sure about some of your panoramic shots. Were they panos stitched together or video pans?

    Did you guys bring extra gasoline just in case?

    Gord

  5. Amazing footage equally amazing how far out there you can get so close to home. Thank You for the detail as always you've probably prepped many a traveler for destinations that could be testy without a bit of foresight. Gotta Love Utah!

  6. Thank you for the amazing tour of that part of Canyonlands. I have been to the outher sections but don't have anything to make that drive with. I don't think I want to try it in my CR-V. Who doesn't like Rye and Twinkies???

  7. Amazing scenery…great videos as usual. Doubt I'd be up for some of those ascent/decent hikes though. Well…maybe with some help from your Twinkies and rye whiskey…lol.

  8. Great video but I am bummed ☹️ out I won't be able to visit this area. My van won't be able to make it. So, do you have any videos about where to escape the heat in the summer. It might be worth making one …no one has yet. ?

  9. Fantastic video of such beauty and you have such a gifted way to narrate your journey! Thank you for sharing and making me so want to bring my Jeep there! ??
    ~Debi~

  10. Fantastic video Marc, I totally enjoy your series traveling around the western states & the boondocking sites you cover. We plan to use many of them on our next spring/summer trip we have planned. Could you please tell me what program you use for the video's & how you get the still shot movements from the pictures? Thanks

  11. So beautiful! The music, the photos…gorgeous! You should work for the National Parks and do video tours for wannabe travelers (like us!) Camping in the wild has never been on my to do list, but wow! The beauty of these remote places makes me want to rent a 4×4 and GET OUT THERE! A perfect place for a Vision Quest. What time of year were you there? It looked like great weather except for a couple of rainy days? Thanks for sharing! Sooo good…???❤️✌?

  12. Thanks for another beautiful video.
    One note: I would make sure to store the fuel cans in the shade as much as possible. They can rupture if pressure builds up. Venting helps but also means you’re losing fuel, so the cooler they stay, the better.

  13. Marc, that was truly spectacular. I would have loved to have seen that firsthand. Certainly not for the faint of heart!

  14. Marc — hope you and your wife have a wonderful Christmas … appreciate you! Larry, AKA: FelineGood

  15. Amazing land near you…..I found myself getting real close to the computer screen trying to take it all in.  I will watch again soon, love feeling like I'm in the adventure with you. God has created us a beautiful world.

  16. Do you need locking differentials for the Maze? I have a Ford Ranger 4×4. It looks like I could do those switchbacks.

  17. Next time you go out there may I suggest a beautiful campsite at Standing Rock another beautiful campsite at the dolls house

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