The Maze in March


Aug 26, 2014
A couple weeks back myself, @scoags, and another friend made the long drive out to Utah from Illinois. We had planned a similar trip for the previous year that had to be cancelled at the last minute, so anticipation was high.

We arrived at Horseshoe Canyon in the late afternoon with the plan of hiking the canyon the next day. Then we would pick up our permits and camp near the ranger station before beginning the backpacking portion of the trip.

Since we camped right outside Horseshoe Canyon we got an early start and had the place to ourselves. We spent a long time at the Great Gallery.

Back atop Horseshoe Canyon

Sunset over French Spring fork of Happy Canyon

Up early the next morning, we got a good start from the North Point Road. Caught some nice clouds against the blue sky as we made our way to the Overlook.



Eventually we made it to the Maze Overlook. Seeing this for the first time is really something, to see this sight all the sudden after walking so far. I began to wonder how challenging the navigation would be.

We eventually found a nice campsite. We awoke the following morning to snow!


We spent most of the morning jumping from alcove to alcove, watching the snow and sleet. Washes that were completely dry the day before were suddenly full of water. Waterfalls poured down from the top of the canyon. Luckily this was a planned rest day. After lunch the snow died down and we went to see the Harvest Scene.


Up at Chimney Rock we were treated to a view of our surroundings dusted in snow.


Day 3 we went from the Maze proper into Water Canyon via Shot Canyon. The trail on top of the canyon from below Pete's Mesa to Chimney rock had great views all around.





The hike into Shot Canyon was fun. Wouldn't want to hike up it though, that would be quite a workout. Views from the wash were great, and we had great afternoon light as we approached the pass into Water Canyon.

We found a nice campsite in Water Canyon and decided to try our luck cowboy camping. While there wasn't any rain, we picked what was probably the coldest night of our trip. The stars plus the sunset that night and sunrise the next morning made it worth the hassle.

Next morning we did some exploring in Water Canyon.

Beautiful slick rock shelf in Water Canyon.


Then we went up to the Confluence Overlook.

After spending some time at the Confluence Overlook, we moved on to find camp near Beehive arch.

The next day we woke up to clouds but no precipitation. We dropped packs to explore the Dollhouse, and then took the trail down into the Maze at Chimney Rock en route to South Fork Horse Canyon.

Enjoyed a nice sunset that evening with a view of the Chocolate Drops.

The next morning we got an early start up the Maze Overlook trail. Much more fun going up than down.


Eventually caught a bit of sun on our way back out the North Point Canyon.

We made it back to our vehicle and found there was still ice keeping our left over beers cold! A fairy tale ending indeed.

This was the first time any of us had been into the Maze, and it was nothing short of incredible. During our 6 days in the Maze we saw 8 people total, mostly between our vehicle and the Maze Overlook. Weather was pretty much ideal, with temps in the high 50s and very little wind. Even the snow day was fun, since it luckily coincided with our planned rest day.

Overall it was an amazing trip. My only qualification would be the drive from the Hans Flat ranger station to the North Point Road. I had never been on a road with any serious rock outcroppings before, so I found it pretty rough. But with lots of help from spotters it was manageable. My worry was mostly due to the fact that we had a rental Hyundai Santa Fe (fair ground clearance, decent power, but FWD) with no full-size spare.

My first trip into the Maze taught me two things: I need to live closer than a 25 hour drive from Southern Utah, and I think I need a truck.
The maze is quite the interesting place. It has a certain pull to it. After hiking there last year my first impression was that I didn't really want to go back all that much, but now I do. It snowed a bit on us during April, but not enough to create any accumulation.
"Eventually we made it to the Maze Overlook. Seeing this for the first time is really something"

In my 15 or more times there, I have found that every time is like the first time. You know what to expect but your mind does not store it as big as it is live.

The last time I climbed out of the Maze to the Maze Overlook was on a July afternoon. It was not nearly as much fun as the climb down that morning.

42 years ago I discovered the Maze and the whole canyon area of SE Utah in a photo book while living in Michigan. I knew it was so special that I would want to live closer. I bought a 4x4 and moved to Salt Lake before really seeing the area. No regrets.

Thank you for that wonderful TR.
Seeing your pics, I really regret not climbing up to the Maze Overlook when I was there. It was raining and wet, and towards the end of a 2 week trip so I pooped out. Thanks for the report, I really enjoyed it.