Dangerous Hike: The Maze, Utah

The Maze District in the Canyonlands National Park only receives about 2,000 visitors per year, a significantly lower amount than any other part of the park. The reason isn't because it's not a fascinating hiking area, but more because of how dangerous it is. The Maze is the least accessible district of Canyonlands: you are pretty much guaranteed to need a high-clearance four-wheel-drive to get to the entrance of all trails. And, you'll need to bring a lot of gear, as food, water and gasoline won't be found in the area. Plan trips for spring, when temps are lower and a few potholes may hold water. A 25-foot length of rope is often essential for raising or lowering packs in difficult spots. Many routes may make hikers with a fear of heights uncomfortable. Permits are required for all overnight trips in the backcountry. Most hikers that make it to the area spend more than 3 days, often upwards of a week, exploring the area. Since it takes so much preparation to successfully enter, you really want to plan a full trip so that you can see all of the following features: The Doll House, Maze Overlook, Land of Standing Rocks, Golden Stairs, Orange Cliffs. If you aren't familiar with reading topographical maps and you don't own a gps, this isn't the trip for you! Staff members are available at 435-259-4351 to help with trip planning form M-F, 8am to 12:30PM Mountain Daylight time, and sometimes until 4PM. The Hans Flat Ranger Station is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is a small sales area with books and maps. There are no amenities like food or gas, no entrance fees and no potable water sources in the Maze District. It takes about 6 hours from the station by 4 wheel drive to make it to the Maze District. There are few major ways to reach the Maze Overlook and other popular destinations, but be sure to research your trip for the most up to date information: - Visitors with two-wheel-drive vehicles may park at the North Point Road junction, approximately 2.5 miles southeast of the 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. - Another popular way for backpackers to reach the Maze is via jet boat shuttle from Moab. A two-hour shuttle provides access to Spanish Bottom on the Colorado River. From there, a foot trail climbs over 1,000 feet to the Doll House.

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