Canyonlands National Park

The Maze

Island Activities | Needle Activities | Horseshoe Activities

The Maze is the most remote district of Canyonlands, attracting self-reliant visitors in search of solitude amidst the red rock wilderness. This area ranks as one of the most remote and inaccessible regions in the country. Four-wheel-drive roads and foot trails lead to the Land of Standing Rocks, the Doll House and the Maze Overlook. The Maze itself, described as a "thirty square mile puzzle in sandstone," is a complex jumble of canyons that can be reached only on foot.

Because of the distances involved in reaching the district and the difficulty of roads and trails, travel to the Maze requires a greater degree of self-sufficiency. Rarely do visitors spend less than two or three days in the Maze, and the area can easily absorb a week-long trip.

Maze visitors should be skilled in the use of map and compass and in technical four-wheel driving. The Maze and Orange Cliffs contain roughly 19 miles of established trails and about 130 miles of four-wheel-drive roads.

Hiking & Backpacking

Hiking in the Maze is strenuous but rewarding. Primitive trails lead into the Maze and to other geological features, as well as to views of the rivers. There are no signs at most trailheads or intersections. Routes are cairned lightly or not at all. If you are following a cairned route, do not count on finding cairns in the washes. Many of the canyons look similar and are difficult to identify without a topographic map.

Routes may require the negotiation of pour-offs, steep slickrock, or "moki" steps (small steps carved into the rock). A 25 ft. length of rope is useful for raising and lowering packs in difficult sections. The Maze Overlook Trail and many other routes in the district require some basic climbing maneuvers and may be uncomfortable for hikers who dislike heights. Routes generally involve walking through some deep sand.

Most trailheads start from four-wheel-drive roads. Visitors with two-wheel-drive vehicles may park at the North Point Road junction, approximately 2.5 miles southeast of Hans Flat Ranger Station, and hike 15 miles to the Maze Overlook. Depending on the vehicle, hikers may also be able to negotiate the 14 mile road to park at the top of the Flint Trail switchbacks. There is no entry below the Orange Cliffs without high clearance and four-wheel drive.

Backpackers stay in at-large camping zones and permits are required. Several springs are found in the inner canyons of the Maze, but there is no water above the canyon rims. Locations of seasonal water sources are available from the rangers at the Hans Flat Ranger Station.

Four-Wheeling

A high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary for all Maze four-wheel-drive roads. Descending into the Maze requires traversing slopes of bentonite clay that are extremely slippery when wet and should not be attempted in poor conditions.

In winter, ice and snow on roads can cause hazardous conditions and the roads are often impassible. Two- wheel-drive roads may become four-wheel drive when it snows or rains heavily. The Flint Trail is usually closed in winter.

The road around Teapot Canyon leading into the Land of Standing Rocks is considered very difficult under any conditions and involves considerable risk of vehicle damage. Four-wheel drivers in the Maze should be prepared to make basic road or vehicle repairs and should carry the following items: one or two full-size spare tires, extra gas, extra water, a shovel, a high-lift jack, and from October to April, chains for all four tires.

Permits are required for all overnight stays. Backcountry vehicle campers and mountain bikers stay in designated vehicle sites and must provide their own washable, reusable toilet systems. Systems may be purchased at Hans Flat; some rentals are available in surrounding communities. No water is available along Maze four-wheel-drive roads.

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