The Maze, Canyonlands NP

1:14 p.m. on January 26, 2012 (EST)
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103 forum posts

Last year I went out to Canyonlands and fell in love with this park and I am planning a return trip out there this fall. I am planning on spending an entire week out in The Maze district. For those not familiar with the maze it is considered by many to be one of the least accessible places in the lower 48 and can only be reached by a mind numbing 3-5hr dirt road. Its 45 miles on a dirt road just to reach the ranger station! It also contains some of the most gnarly jeep roads in that area. I have a 2000 4WD Jeep wrangler with 2"  lift and have some decent experience doing 4WD. What I am planning on doing is forgoing the jeep roads into the maze but backpack in, but this causes its own set of problems. Backpacking in means that I need to supply water for myself and my lady friend for 7 days in the desert canyons. = Logistical nightmare. This is my main problem: water.Oh and I have to carry it all, my lady friend hikes in about 50 pds of camera equipment and I carry everything else.

The rangers at canyonlands and a number of jeep outfitters that I have contacted have told me that generally the springs are reliable BUT ill be damed if I drive from New Orleans to BFE canyonlands 1600 miles away and then down a 3 hr dirt road only to spend 3-4 days because I don't have water. I have looked at a number of solutions but what I am looking at doing right now is dumping my internal frame UL pack that I normal use and picking up my old school Frame pack. I figure with the frame pack I can bring at least 4 days of water for the two of us. I hope that this is enough for us to get to the canyons of the maze, look for the water sources and be able to get back to the jeep if they are indeed dry.

any suggestions to my Logistical problems? I already thought about the"q drum" (google it) but the last thing I need a a 100+pd dead weight even loosely tethered to me in canyons of all places.


3:42 p.m. on January 26, 2012 (EST)
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5,239 forum posts


How much water do you figure is enough for you and your ladt friend? I figure at least a gallon a day to drink then another quart or two for cooking and at night. Water weighs 2 lbs to the quart which would mean (by my water needs) 12 lbs of water for just me per day at the least. Thats a lot to carry for just water, not to mention a tent(?),sleeping bags, pads, cook gear, lights and food.

I would also like to go into that area this year sometime maybe in the fall, but I would be going in by mountain bike with panniers. I don't drive and cycling is my main transportation from here in southern Arizona to Utah this spring then all summer and fall then back to the southwest somewhere else.

Did you ask the rangers if there is a permit needed to go into the maze and is it free or cost something? Just curious about this.

4:16 p.m. on January 26, 2012 (EST)
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103 forum posts

Im almost 100% sure that its free permits to camp in the Maze. It is at large camping also, so you just reserve a set of dates you will be in the area. You really dont have to worry much about "not getting a permit" here. The Maze only get about 900 annual visitors because the inaccessibility of this district of canyonlands

If you are going to cycle to canyonlands I would recommend going to the Needles district. The drive into the park along Utah 211 is a classic scenic drive into one of our nations great National Parks. From 211 there is the famous "Newspaper Rock" pictographs that are literally on the side of the road. There is a well paved road that goes through the ranger station/welcome center and then leads to the two trail heads. From the trail heads you can access a number of backcountry campsites and some of the best canyon hiking I know. I have heard of people mailing supplies to this ranger station, but I would contact them and ensure it is a possibility before ever sending a package.

If you wanted more of a pure bicycling adventure I would use a mountain bike (if that is possible) and over the course of a few nights ride the White Rim 4WD road in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands.

Indian Creek on UT211-

Me at the overlook of Elephant canyon accessed from back country campsite CP1-

its a great place to visit.


10:58 a.m. on January 27, 2012 (EST)
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5,239 forum posts


I have been riding a mtn bike for touring since 1986. I use road tires for normal touring and knobbys for off road and dirt roads. The sand in the backcountry of the Utah canyons area is very soft, more like silt than sand and often hard to ride on. I have spent a lot of time in the Grand Staircase area in SW Utah.

I carry a lightweight Golite internal frame pack that will get me a week or more from the trailhead and off my bike. I use plastic pail panniers I designed for touring and when I go on long hikes in the backcountry where there are roads to access the areas I leave caches along the way. This way I can go in with 4 - 8 weeks of food and gear and stay out for up to two months away from society.

I designed two panniers in 2007 while working in Zion NP and made two more last summer for my last tour down to Tucson.


Me and my fully loaded Mountain bike the day I left Tucson in late September and rode down to Tucson 511 miles over 2 weeks. Boy was I fat then. I lost 25 lbs during my tour to Tucson.


Second day out from Tucson crossing the Little Colorado River between Winslow and Holbrook AZ with my homemade pail panniers.

I have been bike touring since September 1982 and have ridden about 75,000 miles since then. My longest tour was in 1983-84 when I rode 7000 miles from WY to NY to AR to AZ and back to WY. I rode across Alaska in 2006 traveling 1000 miles from the Arctic Ocean near Prudoe Bay to the Pacific Ocean at Homer Spit south of Anchorage.


I followd the straightest route going down from the north to the south.

12:13 p.m. on January 27, 2012 (EST)
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5,239 forum posts


I was just looking at maps online and was looking at the Kane Spring Canyon area.


Theres a dirt road that enters the beginning of the canyon down south of Moab  in the lower right on this map above. It goes off the highway where the road curves to the SW at Bridger Jack Mesa, below Behind The Rocks. It goes down into Kane Spring Canyon and then stays along the NE side of the canyon bottom and circles up and around to the Colorado River. Kane Springs gets pretty wide near the upper middle of the map then narrows again before emptying into the Colorado. The road goes on and back up to the highway just south of Moab. Looks like its about a 40-50 mile trip from one end to the other.


This is the area showing where the road off the highway head down into the canyon and heads northwest.


This is the lower midsection of the canyon.


And this is where the road enters the narrows just before the Colorado and the road circles around back to the highway near Moab.

The rea has many side roads off of it and many side canyons without roads to stop and explore.

Do you have the email address for the ranger station for this area?

5:04 p.m. on January 27, 2012 (EST)
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5,239 forum posts


I just found this information online for Canyonlands Permits:

 Island, Needles, Maze areas

Backpacking $15

4WD/Mtn. Bike $30

 4WD Day Use (Needles)$51 vehicle per permit


April 26, 2018
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