time back one of the guys in the 4x4 group posted an interest in making
a multi-day trip to the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. I,
and others, showed interest. This area of the park is the most remote
and least traveled. We
settled on dates and reservations were made (days not too hot, nights
not too cold, a preference
for a new moon phase for great star gazing).
There'd be three people and three vehicles. We'd spend four nights in
the park and at least one night outside the park at a "dispersed
Canyonlands N.P. is divided into three major areas called districts. Picture a lower case letter y. The Colorado River is the right side of the y - coming in at the top right and flowing to the bottom of the y. The Green River comes in at the top left of the y and joins the Colorado. The three districts are isolated from each other by the rivers and landscape.
The northern / top portion of the y is the Island in the Sky District. This is the most accessible and most visited being closest to population with asphalt roads to overlooks (family car, camper, tour bus accessible). I have visited this area a few of times over many years (the first when family moved to California in July of 1994). Next, with respect to accessibility & popularity is the Needles District. This is the southeast / right side of the y. A fair bit of it is automobile accessible though it's somewhat out of the way and is more suited to high clearance vehicles. A few 4x4 trails are in this area - with perhaps my favorite trail, Elephant Hill. The purpose of this visit is for the Maze District - the western / left side of the y. This is perhaps the least visited and most remote section of the park. High clearance 4x4 required.
Our trip is set for four nights at park campsites with the first night being at dispersed camping along Poison Springs Road before entering the park.
Gasoline for the vehicles will be one item to manage as the trip from the closest gas station back to the same gas station measures out to 207 miles. My jeep with a 15 gallon tank can readily run that distance if it were on asphalt roads (with high range gearing and full tire pressure). Moving to 4x4 trail, with low range gearing along with lower tire pressure, fuel range can be cut in half. I'll bring along five gallons of extra fuel and will try running to conserve fuel (staying in high range gearing as much as possible and keeping the tires at a higher trail pressure [more bumpy]). Fortunately, one of the gents in the group has a pickup and is bringing ample extra fuel - an appreciated safety net.
|Overview of the complete trip - Fort Collins to Utah, to the sights and back to Fort Collins.
(the loops were counter-clockwise)
Elevation profile for the whole trip - home to home.
Elevation profile for only the Hanksville to Hanksville section of the