As one of the most rugged and remote areas of the Utah desert, the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park is tough to reach. Requiring a 6-hour 4x4 journey just to reach the trailhead, the spectacular Maze Overlook Trail brings a whole new definition to the phrase “intrepid adventure.” Although the trail itself is easy compared to many of the routes in the Maze, it takes some effort to hike the Maze Overlook Trail.
The most challenging part of this journey is likely just getting to the trailhead. First, you’ll need a high-clearance, 4x4 vehicle such as a Jeep or 4Runner. Be prepared and pack in all of your supplies, food, and water. There’s nothing out this way for hours and hours.
Take the Hans Flat Road to Recreation Road 777 to the entrance of the Maze District. You’ll need 4WD just to get here, otherwise, it’s a 14-mile journey by foot just to the trailhead.
There are several splits in the road so be sure to carry a map and pay attention. The trailhead is marked, but carry a GPS backup just in case. It’s about a 6-hour drive to the trailhead from the visitor’s center and you’ll need a permit.
Pro Tip: Don’t leave home without an emergency repair kit for your vehicle. Getting towed out of the Maze is very expensive and help will be slow to come.
The Maze Overlook Trail isn’t the roughest trail in Canyonlands National Park, but it certainly isn’t the easiest either. As far as Maze adventures go, this one is certainly more crowded, but you’ll often be one of the only people roaming this vast, open desert.
Make your way down into the wild world of the Maze. These complex canyons bring you to the heart of some of the most remote parts of the country. In fact, several areas still have yet to be properly mapped.
The trail features a river, a beautiful rock art panel called The Harvest Scene, class 4 scrambling, and plenty of sweeping views. It’s rugged, remote, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous. A perfect adventure for a seasoned hiker that’s interested in getting deep into the desert landscape.
Here’s a look at a few handy trail facts about the Maze Overlook:
Round Trip Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 964 feet
Difficulty: moderate, with scrambling and exposure
Estimated Time: 4 to 5 hours
Dogs Allowed?: no
Don’t let the moderate rating fool you, the Maze Overlook requires some advanced hiking knowledge. For starters, it’s essential you bring in all of your supplies for base camp. Secondly, you need to be confident scrambling exposed, loose desert rock.
Be sure to bring plenty of water, since you’ll likely be exposed in the sun for parts of the day. Sturdy footwear is also a must since you’ll be scrambling and using your hands.
Lastly, since the trails in the Maze are not well marked, a proper GPS device with the route loaded, plus a map and compass are super helpful.
The Maze Overlook Trail brings you remote desert beauty with a bit of effort. However, this worthwhile adventure delivers big on views, history, and navigating a landscape that will keep you smiling around every bend.