Backpacking/Packrafting Needles and Maze Districts of Canyonlands


Apr 18, 2022
I'll be heading out to the Maze district of Canyonlands for a packrafting trip in a few weeks. I went earlier this summer and decided to focus on getting as much Maze miles as possible. I am finalizing my route, and I was hoping those more familiar with the Maze district could share their thoughts on the route.

Day 1 I will hike from Elephant Hill TH and get down to Lower Red Lake Canyon Trail to get to the River.
Day 2 I will have crossed the river, cached my raft, then head up to the Dollhouse area. I will hike the road to the South Fork of Horse Canyon, and camp a few miles into the canyon.
Day 3 I will continue up the S. Fork of Horse Canyon towards the Maze Overlook. I will head up to the overlook for the view then head down. Before heading to the SE Fork, there is a triple arch I have heard about further up Horse Canyon that I will stop at. After this I will head towards the Harvest Scene.
Day 4 I will continue down the SE Fork (with a detour to the spring at waypoint 9) and exit the canyon. I will head past Chimney Rock into Shot Canyon, and take the trail towards the Confluence Overlook.
Day 5 I will hike to the Confluence Overlook, then head towards Beehive Arch and the Dollhouse. I will hike back down to Spanish Bottom.
Day 6 I will cross the river and hike out. I have a feeling I will want to go the most direct way back.

This route is ~60 miles, averaging 10/day.

Does anyone have any feedback? I'm mainly unsure about the route after the Maze Overlook. Pete's Mesa Trail or the SE Fork of Horse Canyon?
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This is what the route including Pete's Mesa would look like.
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A lot of hiking for a short boat ride.........
This sounds like a cool plan with a high adventure factor. Hopefully the monsoon season has filled many potholes with water.
I did something similar, but it's been about 30 years, so I don't remember a lot of details. We canoed Stillwater Canyon 6 days from Ruby Ranch to Spanish Bottom, then Tex's River Ways came down to drop off a 10 day supply of backpacking gear, and pick up the canoe. We carried up a cache of food to hide in the Dollhouse, then hiked back down and camped at Spanish Bottom. The next morning we hiked up with our backpacking gear and headed out into Ernie's country for a 5 day clockwise loop, heading out through Wide Valley then back north through a canyon towards Lizard Rock. From there we hiked back east to our cache in the Dollhouse. We resupplied from our cache and hiked back west out the road, then did another clockwise loop to the north of the road up through Horse Canyon and back. Eventually we got back to Spanish Bottom and got picked up by Tex's. They brought in some cold beer, which was well received after 10 days in the Maze. S
Sorry about not having any real logistical beta on the route. Regardless, I think you'll have a great adventure.
Hi! I'm planning a similar trip and I'm curious if you went and have any updates?