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View Full Version : Utah Escapes - Canyonlands National Park - Maze District / Goblin Valley State Park



Mechengineer2
06-02-2012, 11:57 PM
For the long Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I decided to seize the day and embark on a journey to the remote Maze District on the south west side of Canyonlands National Park. A journey that we had been considering for a number of years, we had finally given ourselves the motivation to make it happen. This area of Canyonlands is known for its extreme isolation and breathtaking scenic beauty. As a photographer it has been an entry on my bucket list. This was the day to make the dream a reality.

Our drive out of Denver was met with the usual snarled traffic jams in a bumper-to-bumper concrete jungle. As we made our way through the I-70 corridor and past the Eisenhower tunnel, we were met with a blast of wind as predicted by the high wind warnings that day. Fighting the steering wheel, we made our way through to Grand Junction, CO. Instead of open country and clear skies, we were met with a full blown dust storm turning the skies brown and blocking out the sun at times. Winds gusting over 70 mph and low visibility, we fought our way through into Utah.

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As we hit Green River, UT the skies began to clear and we could once again see the sun breaking through. After gasing up and grabing a bite to eat, we made our way down Highway 24 toward the town of Hanksville, UT. Along the way, we stopped at the Goblin Valley State Park to take in the unusual scenery.

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After taking in a beautiful sunset, we made our way through Hanksville to Caineville, UT and the five star accommodations at the Rodeway Inn … a hotel literally in the middle of nowhere but agreat base camp for journeys to The Maze District as well as Capitol Reef National Park.

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More Photos below ...

Mechengineer2
06-03-2012, 12:18 AM
The next morning we gased up in Hanksville and filled up the reserve cans to carry an extra 10 gallons of fuel. Our destination was the Hans Flat ranger station at the entrance to the Maze District in Canyonlands as well as Glen Canyon National Park.

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Our goal was to get a back country camping permit for Monday night. The dirt road to Hans Flat (not the easiest to find) is a 45 mile journey across wide open desert and grasslands. A very scenic journey by itself. At the end of the 45 miles, the appearance of the ranger station seems to defy all logic as it is completely isolated. An outpost may be a better description.

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The road keeps going and going ...

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Officially in the middle of nowhere ...

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Finally ...

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We find success and are able to get a camping permit for the Chimney Rock campsite in the Land of Standing Rocks. The rangers first words were “Has anybody warned you about the roads on this side of the park?” I point to my Jeep out the window as the ranger breathes a sigh of relief. She goes on to describe the trail to the Land of Standing Rocks as difficult with a few technical spots / obstacles. Especially after the Teapot Rock campsite … a point of no return. Then a stern warning …

“You are on your own out here. If you get into trouble you will have to save yourself. Cell phone service is almost non-existent and there won’t be anybody coming for you. It is hours to anything resembling civilization. Be prepared for anything and everything. Good luck!”

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After leaving the ranger outpost, we ventured out to the Panorama Point Overlook to get a view of The Maze and what we are in for. After several hours, we reached the overlook. The scenery was spectacular. Incredible rock formations, canyons, and buttes.

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Then began the long journey back to the hotel in Caineville for the night.

Mechengineer2
06-03-2012, 12:32 AM
The next morning we gassed up for our epic journey to the Chimney Rock campsite and filled the ARB fridge with food, drinks, and lots of water. I have never filled gas tanks so full. We checked out of the hotel, took a deep breath, and started the journey. We were back at Hans Flat by 10:30 AM and began to make our way down the Flint Trail. After stopping at several overlooks, we reached the start of the switchbacks that take you down into the canyon. A nice warning sign greets you here.

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The switchbacks are extremely narrow and you will have a few butt clinching moments as you do have to throw the transmission in reverse on a couple of the turns to make it around … and I have a 2-door! Definitely some pucker factor here.

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After descending the switchbacks, the trail then runs along the edge of a cliff for a ways offering amazing views. Nothing too nerve-racking. We made a quick stop for lunch then proceeded on and down yet another steep descent into the grasslands below.

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More photos below ...

Mechengineer2
06-03-2012, 12:44 AM
We make it through to Teapot Rock passing one lifted truck along the way. We later discover that this will be the ONLY vehicle that we will pass while on the trail. We will not see anybody else for the rest of the journey … which does freak us out later on as we reach the Land of Standing Rocks. Passing Teapot Rock, another warning sign telling of the challenges to come.

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The obstacles begin to hit … and they don’t let up for several hours. While most are fairly easy compared to Steel Bender or some of the other hardcore trails in Moab, remember that this trail is many hours away from anything remotely resembling help. A major breakdown here could be a catastrophe and very seriously put you in a survival situation if you are alone. We took things nice and easy.

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Making it through the difficult section of the trail, we found ourselves exhausted. As we approached the campsites, the famed scenic beauty of the Land of Standing Rocks came into view. Difficult to describe with words, this is a landscape of amazing, awe-inspiring beauty. I think the best way to describe it is “sacred”. The rocks in this area jut out of the ground like totem poles. How these few tall rock pillars survived the eons of erosion and weathering is certainly a mystery.

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6.5 hours after leaving the ranger station and 9 hours after leaving the hotel, we pull up to the Chimney Rock campsite and learned exactly why the ranger recommended it. The scenery is incredible and extends in all directions. Truly magnificent.

http://i990.photobucket.com/albums/af26/Photoengineer57/Canyonlands%20-%20The%20Maze/2J0Q7068.jpg


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More photos below ...

Mechengineer2
06-03-2012, 12:53 AM
First things first, we emptied the 10 gallons of fuel out of the jerry cans into the main gas tank in the Jeep and were relieved to find that we had a full tank with which to get home.
We setup camp and got dinner on the grill before sunset. No campfires are allowed in Canyonlands National Park. So, we had everything cleaned up before the sun dipped below the horizon. The lighting at sunset and the twilight hour made for some amazing views. Needless to say, I was glued to the cameras clicking and filming away…


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The new LED Coleman lantern that we picked up at REI worked wonders. It did a great job of lighting up the tent as darkness fell.

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The stars came out and gave us a show that night. My wife and I each saw a number of shooting stars as we lay in the tent. The one thing that made us uneasy though was the complete and utter silence. No wind, no sounds of bugs chirping away, no sounds of a nearby stream flowing … just no sound whatsoever. So, when a lizard tried to crawl under the tent … needless to say I thought the worst and figured a snake was trying to get in. I picked up a knife and ran out of the tent … thankfully didn’t find anything.

http://i990.photobucket.com/albums/af26/Photoengineer57/Canyonlands%20-%20The%20Maze/2J0Q7384.jpg

At this point I decided to unplug the ARB fridge to be confident that the battery would have enough juice to crank the engine and get us out the next day. Started kicking myself for not having a dual-battery setup. If that battery goes … that’s it … were done. Nobody around to offer a jump start.

Mechengineer2
06-03-2012, 01:05 AM
The next morning came and lit up the opposite side of the canyon. Truly a beautiful sight.

http://i990.photobucket.com/albums/af26/Photoengineer57/Canyonlands%20-%20The%20Maze/2J0Q7399.jpg

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We packed up the Jeep … relieved as the engine started knowing we were all set to make the long journey back home. The way out was the way that we came in. There is one alternate route that takes you out through Glen Canyon … but decided to pass back by the ranger station.

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Lots of cryptobiotic soil / crust out here ...

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After coming back up the switchbacks and making our way back past the ranger station and through to the open grasslands on the other side, we began to get that awesome feeling of freedom! We rolled the windows down put our arms out and smiled as we watched the world go by. An epic experience! Certainly one we will not forget!

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If you decide to drive this trail and experience it for yourself, bring a friend or two or three, a couple of well built Jeeps, and plenty of spare parts. I carry spare drivelines and axles along with other spare items … brake lines, serpentine belt, steering hydraulic lines, fluids, etc. I also do my own work on the Jeep so I know the mechanics. Driving this trail alone is a risk. Yes, we did it … but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Hope you enjoyed this write-up! If you want to see more photos, please visit Alpine Spectrum Photography on Facebook.com.

I will be releasing a video of this trip. Watch for In Search of Freedom - Chapter 4 coming soon to You Tube and Vimeo.

BlackDiamondBound
06-03-2012, 03:40 AM
Great pictures! thanks for sharing, looking forward to the video. Did I miss in search of freedom part 3?

MTG
06-03-2012, 04:30 AM
Awesome! Looks like an amazing place!

BONDSY
06-03-2012, 04:55 AM
It a crying shame I live so far away from this beautiful countryside. Thanks for post these pictures, and for sharing the story.:yup:

2012jkfng702
06-03-2012, 04:58 AM
Awesome pictures. Can't wait to get on some more overnighters.

RanchoRubi
06-03-2012, 02:52 PM
Eric,

an incredible photo essay/journal on the trip:thumb: Thanks for sharing :clap2:

Jkzinger
06-03-2012, 02:59 PM
What a fantastic journey and photo collage! I would be all over this trip with a few other Jeeps!

JKRay
06-03-2012, 03:22 PM
Beautiful! That is one awesome trip :thumb:something I would love to do someday... :daydream:

Mechengineer2
06-03-2012, 04:22 PM
Great pictures! thanks for sharing, looking forward to the video. Did I miss in search of freedom part 3?

Thanks for the feedback! I'm currently working on In Search of Freedom Part 3 which will cover Steel Bender and the Lockhart Basin trails. Hope to have it released soon. Then part 4 of the series will cover Goblin Valley, the Maze, and Colorado National Monument.


Awesome! Looks like an amazing place!

This truly is an amazing place. Put it on your bucket list!


It a crying shame I live so far away from this beautiful countryside. Thanks for post these pictures, and for sharing the story.:yup:

Thanks Bondsy! Back in 2003, my wife and I took the plunge when we moved to Colorado. Following a massive layoff (40% of the workforce) at my previous employer, my wife and I moved out here with no jobs and not knowing a soul in the area. We were all alone without a safety net. Thankfully it all worked out. It's events like this which really change your life. It gave us the motivation to move to an area where we truly wanted to live.


Awesome pictures. Can't wait to get on some more overnighters.

Thanks! Love the multi-day wheeling trips. They're always an adventure.


Eric,

an incredible photo essay/journal on the trip:thumb: Thanks for sharing :clap2:

Thanks for the comments! Appreciate it!


What a fantastic journey and photo collage! I would be all over this trip with a few other Jeeps!

Yes ... do take some friends with you on this trip. It will give you a new definition of the word remote.


Beautiful! That is one awesome trip :thumb:something I would love to do someday... :daydream:

This is another one of those epic wheeling trips that everybody should do at least once in their life. An incredible experience.

alpa
06-11-2012, 04:19 AM
Wow,great pictures! Thx for sharing with us. Can't wait to hit Utah this year again.

estim8d
07-09-2012, 04:27 AM
Beautifully done. What a great trip!

catahoula
01-13-2014, 01:32 AM
Never seen these before. Awesome pics! Please post more of your travels. Very nice rig as well.:thumb:

BUMP!!!

JK-JOHN-E
01-13-2014, 02:24 AM
Never seen these before. Awesome pics! Please post more of your travels. Very nice rig as well.:thumb:

BUMP!!!

YEAH, thanx for telling us this story. AWESOME pictures and sights. And to you Catahoula, thanx for finding this thread and the bump...Bump:yup::clap2:

NFRs2000NYC
01-13-2014, 03:09 AM
YEAH, thanx for telling us this story. AWESOME pictures and sights. And to you Catahoula, thanx for finding this thread and the bump...Bump:yup::clap2:

Amazing trip, and one I hope to do sometime later this year. Is there a part 1 and 2 of your journey? I tried searching for them but couldn't find em....can you post up links?

OverlanderJK
01-13-2014, 06:17 AM
You guys realize this thread is 2 years old and the OP hasn't logged in in almost a year right?

NFRs2000NYC
01-13-2014, 06:19 AM
You guys realize this thread is 2 years old and the OP hasn't logged in in almost a year right?

Negative, but glad you pointed it out. :D I hate when people bump ancient threads. lol

catahoula
01-13-2014, 02:32 PM
You guys realize this thread is 2 years old and the OP hasn't logged in in almost a year right?

Thanks for pointing that out...I can read. You can get on forum as well and not log in. There are members out there that don't post often as well. Thanks for the useful post though! WTF?! I happened to like the pics of his trip and wanted to bump to share with other members.

OverlanderJK
01-13-2014, 04:45 PM
Thanks for pointing that out...I can read. You can get on forum as well and not log in. There are members out there that don't post often as well. Thanks for the useful post though! WTF?! I happened to like the pics of his trip and wanted to bump to share with other members.

Calm down chief.

catahoula
01-13-2014, 05:33 PM
Calm down chief.

I am buck.

NFRs2000NYC
01-13-2014, 05:35 PM
Calm down chief.


I am buck.

:D

http://youtu.be/RkBiQOYgNVk?t=3m42s

catahoula
01-13-2014, 08:53 PM
:D

http://youtu.be/RkBiQOYgNVk?t=3m42s

:cheesy::cheesy::thumb: