Luinil - Traveling with the Blue Star


May 2021 — The Maze District, Canyonlands National Park.
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Copyright © 2015 - 2021 Larrie Easterly

May 2021

The day after my trip on the Burr Trail Curt, Chuck, David and I headed to the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The Maze is one of the most remote places in the United States. The name comes from the deep canyons that wend their way around the high mesas that are in the area.

Desert View

Desert View — Photo Galley

We checked in at the Hans Flat ranger station to convert our reservations into the actual permits needed to camp and travel in the Maze. There are about 19 campsites in the Maze with a limit of three vehicles and 15 people per site. Some of the sites take a full day to get to on the very rough and rocky roads.

It took about a half hour to convert the reservations that we made months in advance into the actual camping permit and to hear the travel and camping rules at the ranger station.

Once the ranger checking us in finished her instructions we headed north to High Spur Slot Canyon. Along the way we stopped at High Spur campground to check out where Curt and David would be spending the night.

High Spur Slot Canyon

High Spur Slot Canyon — Photo Galley

We entered the slot canyon near its head. As we walked down its length the walls climbed higher and higher. Sometimes the canyon walls were far apart and other times we had to take off our backpacks and turn sideways to get through the narrow sections. Even though we sucked in our bums and tummies we still scraped on the rock walls as we shimmied through. There were also several drop-offs that we had to climb down. One of them was a six foot drop. We looked at it carefully to verify we could get back up it before heading further into the slot. The last thing we wanted was to do down a drop and not be able to get back up it.

After we got back to our vehicles Chuck and I headed back towards the ranger station to get to our campsite at North Point while Curt and David headed back to their site at High Spur. Due the Parks rules the four of us were using two different permits for two different campsites. The sunset that night at North Point was beautiful.

The roads in the Maze area are a mix of smooth dirt, rough gravel and even rougher slick rock along with steep drops and tall steps to keep a driver on their toes. It is easy to scrape or bang the bottom of your vehicle or puncture a tire if you are not paying attention. Most of the roads including the Flint Trail were put in by mining companies looking for uranium during the 40’s and 50’s.

Horse Canyon from Panorama Point

Horse Canyon from Panorama Point — Photo Galley

The following day Chuck and I headed to Panorama Point before heading to our campsite at Cleopatras Chair. The Maze district is on two levels. Our permit allowed us to camp on the upper level while Curt and David’s permit allowed them to camp on both levels. The view into the lower level of the Maze from Panorama Point is spectacular.

Cleopatras Chair is a massive rock formation that looks like a lounge chair. To get the full effect you need to be several miles away from it. We were too close to it at the campsite to get the appreciate its shape. The view of Millard Canyon with its orange rock walls at the campsite more than makes up for the lack of a good view of the chair.

Starry Night

Starry Night — Photo Galley

The following day we met back up with Curt and David and headed back to Panorama Point before we headed back to North Point for a our third night and Curt and David headed down into the lower section of the Maze to camp at The Dollhouse campground. We had cloudy weather at the start of the trip, now the sky was clear allowing the stars to shine in all they glory.

The following day we spent some time watching two trucks work their way slowly up the Flint Trail. We would be going down the trail the following day into the lower section of the Maze to meet up with Curt and David. We enjoyed the view from the edge of the cliff long enough for me to get a light sunburn before heading to our campsite at Happy Canyon.

Flint Trail

Flint Trail — Photo Galley

The Flint Trail drops about 880 feet (268 meters) over 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers) from Flint Flat through a series of tight switch backs and steep drops to the top of narrow mesa between Big Water Canyon and Range Canyon. The trail has incredible views that I could not enjoy do to the narrowness of the trail and the steep drops that I had to go down. Once down we worked our way along the face of Lands End mesa meeting up with Curt near Sunset Pass. David was not with him. We found out that the road out to the Dollhouse was too difficult for his vehicle so he turned around and headed home a day early.

Walls of Stone

Walls of Stone — Photo Galley

Continuing south across Water Hole Flat, then across the face of the Tar Cliff and Fault Point we entered Andy Miller Flat where we worked our way around the tips of mesas and the heads of canyons before reaching Utah Highway 95. Along the way we passed amazing rock formations and free standing rock walls that looked incredibly thin to be standing upright.

Highway 95 took us across the Colorado River before we made the turn to Hite Marina where we got gas, a few supplies and gifts at the store. From there we headed back into the desert towards the area around Robbers Roost and into the Monti-La Sal National Forest where we met up with our buddy Bruce just before finding our campsite. Bruce had planned to meet us in this area after he finished a parallel trip with his brother. It was good to see him again.

The next morning we started the next phase of our trip, searching for Pueblo and Anasazi ruins. That part of the trip is in the next report.

Statistics Total miles driven in the Maze: 176
Highest speed: 18 miles per hour
Lowest speed: 5 miles per hour
Average speed: 12 miles per hour
Gallons of gas: 13.6
Average miles per gallon: 12.9

Past Travels
Singing Canyon

Burr Trail

Beach at Conception Bay

Baja California Mexico

Hawaii

Hawaii

282 feet below sea level

Barrancas del Cobre

282 feet below sea level

282 feet below sea level

Summer Lake Hot Springs

Summer Lake Hot Springs

Twin Rocks

Twin Rocks