road from Hite to Water Hole Flat

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
420
Does anyone know how long I should expect it to take to drive from Hite to the Waterhole flat area under normal road conditions in a Subaru Outback? I'm thinking that for my next trip to the Maze (whenever that ends up being), I may try to take my car as far as it will safely/comfortably go, then take my mountain bike the rest of the way to the Land of Standing Rocks. I've read that it's an easy road up to roughly that point, but I have no clue as to how long I should expect that drive to take. As a point of reference, I took my car to the top of the Flint switchbacks this last March, but wasn't comfortable taking it any further than that. I'm assuming that I can probably take it to the Water Hole Flat area, and maybe even close to the Teapot Rock Campsite?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!
 
Last edited:

napatony13

Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2021
Messages
119
I made it to WH Flat in my truck/camper last Fall...then it started raining/snowing so we turned around and drove out. You shouldn't have any trouble making it as it's mostly flat dirt with some slickrock sections when you cross some of the bigger washes. My recollection is that it was rutted/washboarded just enough that you couldn't make great time. I would guess it took about 2 hours max to make it that far. As I understand it the road is OK to Teapot Rock but gets gnarly past that point. I'm also considering a similar trip...getting the camper as far as Teapot campsite and then biking to the Harvest Panel hike in the Maze. Still don't have a bike yet, so not sure when it will happen.
 

scoags

Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2017
Messages
92
It's been two years now, but we had a similar experience to @napatony13. we made it to the campsite at Teapot rock, but after that it was a little too much for what we wanted to do. If i recall correctly, the worst part about the drive there was some pretty rutted out sandy areas shortly before the campsite. 2 hours from Hite seems about right, although I'd say on the longer side of that, but I could be a slow driver.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
420
Thanks! That pretty much confirms the impression I had. Now I just need to buy some cheap bikepacking bags to help for trips like this...
 

dennisrodman

Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2022
Messages
11
Hey everybody! I'm new here but came to ask pretty much this exact question, and these responses are so helpful! I called the Hans Flat ranger station to ask this EXACT question last week and they told me NO WAY. I have been to the maze multiple times and know that I want to spend the duration of my next trip there in Ernie's Country exclusively. I have gone in via the river (Tex's motor boat) and the North point trail, and would prefer to go in this way. I am not sure if it's because I'm female (although almost all the rangers in the maze seem to be as well) but it's been like pulling teeth to get information on this road. From everything I've read, I would be able to drive my Escape to the Water hole flat area, and backpack into Ernie's from there - but the ranger said this was absolutely out of the question. If anyone has any insight, I'd love to hear it. I'm also aware that rangers must treat each of us like we have never set foot outside, which I totally understand....but also, I try to make it clear when I call that I have done EXTENSIVE research and am familiar with the area.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,800
just throwing out another option for getting to Ernie's Country, if you can get down the flint trail you can park at the Golden Stairs campground and then it's a pleasant and pretty hike down. if I recall correctly we woke up in SLC, drove for 6-7 hours, and then had plenty of time to mosey over to the vicinity of either Lou's or Clell's spring where we camped for a few nights. no part of the drive or hike was particularly difficult.
 

IntrepidXJ

ADVENTR
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,463
just throwing out another option for getting to Ernie's Country, if you can get down the flint trail you can park at the Golden Stairs campground and then it's a pleasant and pretty hike down. if I recall correctly we woke up in SLC, drove for 6-7 hours, and then had plenty of time to mosey over to the vicinity of either Lou's or Clell's spring where we camped for a few nights. no part of the drive or hike was particularly difficult.

I'd guess if they are worried about the road from Hite to Water Hole Flat, which is usually a decent road for vehicles with a little clearance, then the Flint Trail would probably be out of the question.
 

dennisrodman

Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2022
Messages
11
just throwing out another option for getting to Ernie's Country, if you can get down the flint trail you can park at the Golden Stairs campground and then it's a pleasant and pretty hike down. if I recall correctly we woke up in SLC, drove for 6-7 hours, and then had plenty of time to mosey over to the vicinity of either Lou's or Clell's spring where we camped for a few nights. no part of the drive or hike was particularly difficult.
I've never seriously considered the flint trail -- i think i've just been lead to assume it's pretty rough and i wouldn't make it. is that not the case in your experience?
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,800
I've never seriously considered the flint trail -- i think i've just been lead to assume it's pretty rough and i wouldn't make it. is that not the case in your experience?
I've only been down/up it once and it wasn't at all a big deal for a 4runner and an old Pathfinder. I mean it's steep and has sharp turns but there wasn't much clearance required and certainly no rock crawling. I understand the condition varies a lot though! so maybe just got lucky
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
420
I've never seriously considered the flint trail -- i think i've just been lead to assume it's pretty rough and i wouldn't make it. is that not the case in your experience?
I drove to the top of the Flint Trail last year in my Outback. I definitely didn't feel comfortable taking my vehicle any further than the top, but conditions and (personal risk tolerance) vary. This is where my old mountain bike came in handy though!
 

CodyL

Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2018
Messages
51
Its about 30 miles from pavement at Hite to Waterhole. Usually around an 1:45- 2 hrs. I've breezed along this stretch of road some years and its been a mess other years. Since you've been to North Point, you should be fine making it over to flint Flat. It doesn't get any worse than the 2 sections to NP turnoff. Agree with others above, I would not take an Escape down Flint. Plus that section from the bottom of flint over to Golden Stairs needs high clearance. Have you talked with Will at Hans Flat RS? He has been there for many years and has always been my best source of info. What direction are you coming from? How far south are you heading into Ernies country?
 
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dennisrodman

Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2022
Messages
11
Its about 30 miles from pavement at Hite to Waterhole. Usually around an 1:45- 2 hrs. I've breezed along this stretch of road some years and its been a mess other years. Since you've been to North Point, you should be fine making it over to flint Flat. It doesn't get any worse than the 2 sections to NP turnoff. Agree with others above, I would not take an Escape down Flint. Plus that section from the bottom of flint over to Golden Stairs needs high clearance. Have you talked with Will at Hans Flat RS? He has been there for many years and has always been my best source of info. What direction are you coming from? How far south are you heading into Ernies country?
No, i have not spoken to Will but it sounds like I'd like to! When we hiked in from North Point, we drove my friends Honda Element a few miles past Hans Flat ranger station - not sure if that's the point most people stop or we had to stop sooner - but I believe my Escape has slightly more clearance than their Element so that sounds promising.

To your other point: Not sure where I'd be coming from, maybe Hanksville as I love that area and would like to do more in the Henry's this summer/fall. Regardless I'll be putzing around in Utah for a while before hand most likely.

I would LIKE to head further south into Ernie's country this time but am pretty unfamiliar with that southern-most section of it below Ernie's. I was incredibly enchanted with Ernie's country last year, in particular Sweet Alice canyon and Sand Tank canyon and the fins area (I know these canyons all seem to have multiple names)...but if you've been into that area deeper, I'd love ANY and all feedback/suggestions.

As I said before I have had trouble getting much information from the rangers at Hans Flat...I know i'm not the only one that has had these issues, but it's become really frustrating and that's ultimately why I'm here on this site. I never know to what extent i can really "trust" what they're telling me or if they just think I'm going to get lost and cost them time and money in search and rescue? lol. honestly something i have been trying to figure out for a long time. But to this point I have been able to work through it by being very persistent and asking thousands of questions - eventually I get the right person but always seems to take many tries.

But yeah, last thing I'll say is last time I called I asked about this road and if I could get my car to this point. The very young sounding ranger sounded uncertain but kinda optimistic, then put me on hold for a while, came back and said no way and told me to do my own research. Ok-- thanks :) lol. so that's where I ended it: assuming I'd only ever be able to get into the maze via the river or that north point trail (which I'd prefer not to do again - it was GREAT but i just wanna start closer to Ernie's if at all possible)

Thanks for reading this novel.
 

Parma

@parma26
.
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Messages
735
No, i have not spoken to Will but it sounds like I'd like to! When we hiked in from North Point, we drove my friends Honda Element a few miles past Hans Flat ranger station - not sure if that's the point most people stop or we had to stop sooner - but I believe my Escape has slightly more clearance than their Element so that sounds promising.

To your other point: Not sure where I'd be coming from, maybe Hanksville as I love that area and would like to do more in the Henry's this summer/fall. Regardless I'll be putzing around in Utah for a while before hand most likely.

I would LIKE to head further south into Ernie's country this time but am pretty unfamiliar with that southern-most section of it below Ernie's. I was incredibly enchanted with Ernie's country last year, in particular Sweet Alice canyon and Sand Tank canyon and the fins area (I know these canyons all seem to have multiple names)...but if you've been into that area deeper, I'd love ANY and all feedback/suggestions.

As I said before I have had trouble getting much information from the rangers at Hans Flat...I know i'm not the only one that has had these issues, but it's become really frustrating and that's ultimately why I'm here on this site. I never know to what extent i can really "trust" what they're telling me or if they just think I'm going to get lost and cost them time and money in search and rescue? lol. honestly something i have been trying to figure out for a long time. But to this point I have been able to work through it by being very persistent and asking thousands of questions - eventually I get the right person but always seems to take many tries.

But yeah, last thing I'll say is last time I called I asked about this road and if I could get my car to this point. The very young sounding ranger sounded uncertain but kinda optimistic, then put me on hold for a while, came back and said no way and told me to do my own research. Ok-- thanks :) lol. so that's where I ended it: assuming I'd only ever be able to get into the maze via the river or that north point trail (which I'd prefer not to do again - it was GREAT but i just wanna start closer to Ernie's if at all possible)

Thanks for reading this novel.
The NP Rangers need to be overly cautious. Just like when they tell you Angels Landing takes 4-6 hours to hike and is a near death experience, they have to cater to the masses. At the Hans Flat station they seem to always show everyone the photo of the guy who took a Jeep Liberty down the Flint Trail despite multiple people telling him no. The photo is of the vehicle upside-down on the trail and needed a tow truck to rescue him. People wanting to take ill equipped passenger cars on 4WD roads isn't something they encourage.
And the Waterhole Flat area gets really muddy, so be prepared for that.
 

R@nger

New Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2022
Messages
4
Maze Ranger here -


I understand it can be difficult getting a hold of somebody at Hans Flat who has first-hand experience on a particular trip plan. It takes a long time for a new ranger to be able to experience all of these places in-person: we manage 350 square miles, and get asked about nearly all of it, in addition to other areas we do not manage at all (Poison Springs, Hite, Robber's Roost, Spur, Big Ridge, Labyrinth Canyon, other CANY districts, etc.). Between everybody here, there's an answer to just about everything. Sometimes it just takes some persistence to get a hold of the right person. We never try to exaggerate conditions to visitors (I know some NPS units get in that bad habit, and I've been on the receiving end myself), but at the end of the day, some of these answers come down to personal risk tolerance and experience. And as you'd expect, some visitors who claim they're experts are... well, not.

I'll echo what some other people have said: I would not take anything short of a HC 4WD down the Flint Trail in its current condition. Storms last summer did a number to the trail, creating the worst conditions we've seen in 30+ years. We have a ranger in the field right now, and should have an updated conditions report by tomorrow. You can always park a car at the top and hike down, but that can be exhausting on the return when combined with the Golden Stairs. The road to Flint Flat has a couple small obstacles, but I agree that it's easier than the road to the North Point trailhead after the turnoff.

The road to Waterhole Flat from Hite is in good condition as of when I drove it on 3/22 (2WD would suffice, but high clearance is important). A Subaru could make it, but you might bottom out or get stuck in deep sand. My concern would be changing conditions: if a storm moves in, most roads out here can turn to 4WD quickly, adding a few impromptu days to your vacation (which is fun if you have extra supplies, less so if not). Waterhole Flat pretty much turns into a mudhole after a big storm. The road does get a little gnarly just before Teapot campsite, but you can park a vehicle just past the 4-way intersection at Waterhole Flat. Keep in mind not to park a car at the campsite, for the sake of people camping there.

Ernie's Country is a nice area, and the southern end is remote. You can drop into Teapot many ways near Waterhole Flat, and Range Canyon is easy to access from the Lou's Spring area.

Also as a heads up - the Hite Outpost is closed down for the foreseeable future as they change concessionaires. I wouldn't rely on them for gas until further notice.

Please let me know if you have other questions!


Bryce
 
Last edited:

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
420
Maze Ranger here -


I understand the difficulty with getting a hold of somebody at Hans Flat who knows the area first-hand. It takes a long time for a new ranger to be able to experience all of these places in-person: we manage 350 square miles, and get asked about nearly all of it, in addition to other areas we do not manage at all (Poison Springs, Hite, Robber's Roost, other CANY districts, etc.). Between everybody here, there's an answer to just about everything. Sometimes it just takes some persistence to get a hold of the right person. We never try to exaggerate conditions to visitors (I know some NPS units get in that bad habit, and I've seen it myself as a visitor), but at the end of the day, some of these answers come down to personal risk tolerance and experience. And as you'd expect, some visitors who claim they're experts are... well, not.

I'll echo what some other people have said: I would not take anything short of a HC 4WD down the Flint Trail in its current condition. Storms last summer did a number to the trail, creating the worst conditions we've seen in 30+ years. We have a ranger in the field right now, and should have an updated conditions report by tomorrow. You can always park a car at the top and hike down, but that can be exhausting on the return when combined with the Golden Stairs. The road to Flint Flat has a couple small obstacles, but I agree that it's easier than the road to the North Point trailhead after the turnoff.

The road to Waterhole Flat from Hite is in good condition as of when I drove it on 3/22 (2WD would suffice, but high clearance is important). A Subaru could make it, but you might bottom out or get stuck in deep sand. My concern would be changing conditions: if a storm moves in, most roads out here can turn to 4WD quickly, adding a few impromptu days to your vacation (which is fun if you have extra supplies, less so if not). Waterhole Flat pretty much turns into a mudhole after a big storm. The road does get a little gnarly just before Teapot campsite, but you can park a vehicle just past the 4-way intersection at Waterhole Flat. Keep in mind not to park a car at the campsite, for the sake of people camping there.

Ernie's Country is a nice area, and the southern end is remote. I would be surprised if you met another visitor while wandering in Range or Teapot canyons. You can drop into Teapot many ways near Waterhole Flat, and Range Canyon is easy to access from the Lou's Spring area.

Also as a heads up - the Hite Outpost is closed down for the foreseeable future as they change concessionaires. I wouldn't rely on them for gas until further notice.

Please let me know if you have other questions!


Bryce
Lots of good info here. Thanks for taking the time to post this.
 

IntrepidXJ

ADVENTR
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,463
Maze Ranger here -


I understand it can be difficult getting a hold of somebody at Hans Flat who has first-hand experience on a particular trip plan. It takes a long time for a new ranger to be able to experience all of these places in-person: we manage 350 square miles, and get asked about nearly all of it, in addition to other areas we do not manage at all (Poison Springs, Hite, Robber's Roost, Spur, Big Ridge, Labyrinth Canyon, other CANY districts, etc.). Between everybody here, there's an answer to just about everything. Sometimes it just takes some persistence to get a hold of the right person. We never try to exaggerate conditions to visitors (I know some NPS units get in that bad habit, and I've been on the receiving end myself), but at the end of the day, some of these answers come down to personal risk tolerance and experience. And as you'd expect, some visitors who claim they're experts are... well, not.

I'll echo what some other people have said: I would not take anything short of a HC 4WD down the Flint Trail in its current condition. Storms last summer did a number to the trail, creating the worst conditions we've seen in 30+ years. We have a ranger in the field right now, and should have an updated conditions report by tomorrow. You can always park a car at the top and hike down, but that can be exhausting on the return when combined with the Golden Stairs. The road to Flint Flat has a couple small obstacles, but I agree that it's easier than the road to the North Point trailhead after the turnoff.

The road to Waterhole Flat from Hite is in good condition as of when I drove it on 3/22 (2WD would suffice, but high clearance is important). A Subaru could make it, but you might bottom out or get stuck in deep sand. My concern would be changing conditions: if a storm moves in, most roads out here can turn to 4WD quickly, adding a few impromptu days to your vacation (which is fun if you have extra supplies, less so if not). Waterhole Flat pretty much turns into a mudhole after a big storm. The road does get a little gnarly just before Teapot campsite, but you can park a vehicle just past the 4-way intersection at Waterhole Flat. Keep in mind not to park a car at the campsite, for the sake of people camping there.

Ernie's Country is a nice area, and the southern end is remote. You can drop into Teapot many ways near Waterhole Flat, and Range Canyon is easy to access from the Lou's Spring area.

Also as a heads up - the Hite Outpost is closed down for the foreseeable future as they change concessionaires. I wouldn't rely on them for gas until further notice.

Please let me know if you have other questions!


Bryce

Thanks for the info. Maybe I'll see you on Wednesday when I stop by to pick up my permit on the way to the Land of Standing Rocks :thumbsup:
 

CodyL

Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2018
Messages
51
@dennisrodman. Yes I'd highly recommend the southern section of Ernies to someone who has already seen the northern canyons of The Maze and has experience with this country. Going down Range canyon to the Colorado is a pretty and secluded walk. Several hidden gems in there as well. Make sure you water up at Lous!! Great views overlooking the river as you head towards teapot, and you can loop back out teapot to the road if you have 2 cars. You won't see another soul, although last spring I did pass a female ranger on her way out. Last note- if you come in at Hite- stop at clearwater to explore if you like panels- a few gems in there too!

@R@nger. Great info Bryce, and thanks for reminding me of the balance you need to have with the current conditions and balancing that with the public. I hope its ok I threw Wills name out there in an answer- and if its any consolation, you were a close 2nd...ha ha!!
 

dennisrodman

Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2022
Messages
11
Maze Ranger here -


I understand it can be difficult getting a hold of somebody at Hans Flat who has first-hand experience on a particular trip plan. It takes a long time for a new ranger to be able to experience all of these places in-person: we manage 350 square miles, and get asked about nearly all of it, in addition to other areas we do not manage at all (Poison Springs, Hite, Robber's Roost, Spur, Big Ridge, Labyrinth Canyon, other CANY districts, etc.). Between everybody here, there's an answer to just about everything. Sometimes it just takes some persistence to get a hold of the right person. We never try to exaggerate conditions to visitors (I know some NPS units get in that bad habit, and I've been on the receiving end myself), but at the end of the day, some of these answers come down to personal risk tolerance and experience. And as you'd expect, some visitors who claim they're experts are... well, not.

I'll echo what some other people have said: I would not take anything short of a HC 4WD down the Flint Trail in its current condition. Storms last summer did a number to the trail, creating the worst conditions we've seen in 30+ years. We have a ranger in the field right now, and should have an updated conditions report by tomorrow. You can always park a car at the top and hike down, but that can be exhausting on the return when combined with the Golden Stairs. The road to Flint Flat has a couple small obstacles, but I agree that it's easier than the road to the North Point trailhead after the turnoff.

The road to Waterhole Flat from Hite is in good condition as of when I drove it on 3/22 (2WD would suffice, but high clearance is important). A Subaru could make it, but you might bottom out or get stuck in deep sand. My concern would be changing conditions: if a storm moves in, most roads out here can turn to 4WD quickly, adding a few impromptu days to your vacation (which is fun if you have extra supplies, less so if not). Waterhole Flat pretty much turns into a mudhole after a big storm. The road does get a little gnarly just before Teapot campsite, but you can park a vehicle just past the 4-way intersection at Waterhole Flat. Keep in mind not to park a car at the campsite, for the sake of people camping there.

Ernie's Country is a nice area, and the southern end is remote. You can drop into Teapot many ways near Waterhole Flat, and Range Canyon is easy to access from the Lou's Spring area.

Also as a heads up - the Hite Outpost is closed down for the foreseeable future as they change concessionaires. I wouldn't rely on them for gas until further notice.

Please let me know if you have other questions!


Bryce
WOW! Thank you so much for all of this - I really appreciate you taking the time to post all of this too, as someone else already said. This is incredibly valuable and helpful. I am going to plan a late September trip via the Hite road and bring even more emergency supplies in case a storm does come in and muck things up. Thank you for the heads up about Hite too. Will bring gas from elsewhere!
 
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