Visiting the Canyonlands Maze District: What You Need to Know

If you live for a rugged desert experience, then look no further than the Canyonlands Maze District. Known as some of the most remote landscapes in the country, just getting to The Maze District is a feat unto itself. This less-traveled, often rugged landscape features plenty of backcountry adventures for the avid hiker, 4-wheeler, and mountain biker.

Where is the Canyonlands Maze District?

Out of the three districts in Canyonlands National Park, The Maze is by far the furthest from Moab and the most difficult to reach.

Head west on I-70 until you reach SR-24. Take SR-24 for 30 minutes south past the Goblin Valley State Park turnoff. From there, you will see signs for The Maze on your left. Head down the 46-mile two-wheel-drive road until you reach the Hans Flat Ranger Station. The ranger station is roughly three hours from Moab.

To reach the first trailhead, you’ll need to travel five to 6 hours down a moderately challenging 4WD road.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Maze District?

You can visit the Canyonlands Maze year-round, but there are certainly better times to visit than others. In general, the weather is best between April through October. You’ll want to be extra prepared, as there are no easy-to-reach attractions in the Maze.

The key to visiting the Canyonlands Maze District is to have excellent weather. Always check the forecast before heading out and take note of any rain. Rain spells disaster in the desert, so be sure to understand the forecast and how it affects the risk of your chosen activity.

How Long Should I Visit?

Since it takes a half-day just to get to the canyons in the Maze District, you’ll want to plan a several-day trip. Rarely do people visit the Canyonlands Maze for just a few days. Trips typically last about one week in total. Because of this, every trip to the Maze requires a permit. You’ll also need to show a park pass or pay a fee at the ranger station, then pay for your permit. One permit costs $30 and includes 6 people for up to two weeks.

Pro Tip: You’ll want to plan your route in advance. Although it’s rare that permits in the Maze are unavailable, there are several areas that only have one permit per night. To avoid disappointment, reserve your permits in advance.

Attractions to Visit in the Canyonlands Maze

If you’re truly committed to adventure, there are a lot of awesome things in the Maze. Most hiking trails are not well maintained. You’ll need to have solid rock scrambling skills and be prepared to descend and ascend steep, rocky, and slick trails.

Map, compass, and GPS navigation are essential, and getting lost is common. In fact, some of the Canyonlands Maze hasn’t even been properly mapped yet, so take care. Most routes require you to plan your own adventure, but the Maze Overlook Trail and the Flint Trail both offer a great starter route for the area.

4WD technical roads are quite popular in the Maze. These overland routes are some of the most challenging and most beautiful in the country. Must-see trails include:

  • Standing Rocks
  • The Dollhouse
  • The Chocolate Drops
  • The Harvest Scene

Tips for Visiting the Canyonlands Maze District

Before you plan a trip to the Canyonlands Maze, keep these tips in mind.

Pack in All of Your Supplies and Then Some

You need to be 110-percent self-sufficient to visit the Maze. Gas cans, vehicle repair kit, extra food, extra water, and a solution for the bathroom are required.

Have a Map, GPS, and a Plan

Your navigation skills must be up-to-snuff just to access the Maze District. You’ll want a GPS, map, compass, and a game plan once you pass the Hans Flat Ranger Station.

Watch the Weather

Bad weather can quickly transform the desert landscape into a treacherous adventure. Roads are often impassable after rains, and any canyon hiking requires a vigilant understanding of the weather to avoid deadly flash floods.

Hire a Guide

If all of this sounds overwhelming, consider hiring a guide to visit the Canyonlands Maze District. This is an area for experienced individuals, so take out some element of risk with a guided tour of the area.

Reserve Permits

Any activity in the Maze requires a permit. Plan your trip in advance and put together a permit reservation with your planned itinerary.

Use a Satellite Communicator

Due to the remote location, traveling with a satellite communicator, such as a Garmin InReach is a great way to make a rescue situation a little easier.

The Canyonlands Maze features incredible canyon systems that give this district its name. Worthy as a stand-alone trip or an intrepid outing during a longer getaway, this remote desert wilderness is a must-see.