Maze Memorial Weekend III

The Doll House | Memorial Day Weekend
Thursday – Monday, May 26-30, 2016

Doll House Sunset
A beautiful sunset over The Doll House in Canyonlands National Park.

While crowds of people were lined up to get into Arches National Park and Island in the Sky this holiday weekend, Diane and I were back in The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park where we would only see a couple other people the entire time. This is why Diane and I have kept coming back back here for the past three years over Memorial Day weekend. Make sure to check out our previous trip reports from 2014 and 2015. This year we invited our friends Marty and Dave along to spend a few days down in The Doll House and the Land of Standing Rocks. It has been a few years since I last visited this area and I was looking forward to getting back and actually spending a few nights in The Doll House.

Diane and I left home after work on Thursday evening and drove west into Utah where we topped off the fuel tank in Green River and then resumed the drive across the San Rafael Desert towards the Hans Flat Ranger Station. We continued past the ranger station to our first campsite at Happy Canyon near the top of the Flint Trail where we planned to meet up with Marty and Dave. As we drove along the edge of the Orange Cliffs, we stopped at a few of the overlooks to catch the sunset and take a couple of pictures. We made it to camp just after the sun had set and found Dave and Marty already there. We quickly got our tent setup and went to bed early.

Passing this sign always signals the beginning of an adventure.

The Beginning

A nice view from the Millard Canyon Overlook shortly before sunset.

Millard Canyon Overlook

This way to the Flint Trail…

Flint Trail Sign

We made it to the Bagpipe Butte Overlook just in time to catch a little color.

Bagpipe Butte Overlook

Buttes

The Orange Cliffs were certainly glowing orange this evening.

The Orange Cliffs

On Friday morning I woke up a little before the sunrise and hiked along the rim of the South Fork of Happy Canyon to take a few photos. After that we packed up camp and decided to drive out on The Big Ridge to see how far the road would go since none of us had been out that way very far before. Dave was hoping we could make it out to Buckacre Point for a view over the Dirty Devil River Canyon, but after about an hour of driving the road got too washed out to safely continue, so we turned around and descended the Flint Trail on our way to The Doll House. It’s been over five years since I drove this road around the head of Teapot Canyon to the Land of Standing Rocks and for some reason I remembered it being rougher than it was on this trip? We made good time and were soon setting up camp at the Doll House 3 campsite. After camp was setup we we hiked out into Ernies Country to do a little exploring and search for some rock art. We found everything I was looking for and watched a beautiful sunset as we returned to camp for the night. The view from camp was spectacular, but the gnats and no-see-ums were pretty terrible on this trip.

A narrow peninsula of sandstone juts out into the South Fork of Happy Canyon before sunrise.

Happy Canyon Point

Our tent at the Happy Canyon Camp as the sun comes up.

Happy Canyon Camp

The Henry Mountains and view over North Hatch Canyon from our turn-around spot on The Big Ridge.

End of the Road

My new JK tackling it’s first rough trail as we drove around Teapot Canyon on our way to The Doll House.

JK in Action

Dave’s Jeep has seen this road many times before.

Going Up

Two-track into The Doll House.

Two-Track

The end of the road…my Jeep parked in the Doll House 3 campsite.

Jeep in the Doll House

Dave climbed up to this narrow ledge for a closer look at some faint Barrier Canyon Style pictographs I spotted from below.

Photographing Faint Pictographs

A big red pictograph of a bear.

Bear Site

Another nice panel of pictographs we found.

Barrier Canyon Style Pictographs

Dave and Diane hike through tall grass in Ernies Country.

Waist High

Platform Rock

One last panel of faint pictographs we discovered. Look closely to see the tiny sheep in the center.

Point Pictographs

On our way back to camp we were treated to some amazing views.

Main Flat View

Make sure to stop and enjoy the scenery.

Taking in the View

Some nice virga developed over The Doll House on our hike back.

Virga

Back to Camp

Doll House Virga

Not a bad view from camp…

Evening at Camp

Click on this image for a larger panoramic view of The Doll House this evening.

Doll House Panorama

We even had a rainbow in the sky for a little while before sunset.

Canyonlands Rainbow

It looked like there was some nice light in The Needles across the Colorado River this evening, too.

Needles Light

Saturday I had planned for our longest hike of the weekend and it looked like it was going to be a warm one, so we tried to get started early. After dropping my Jeep off at Chimney Rock we returned to The Doll House and hiked out on the Green and Colorado Rivers Overlook Trail. For some reason I had the idea that this was going to be a flat and boring trail (don’t ask me where I got that idea from?) and I was pleasantly surprised to find it very scenic and enjoyable. When we reached the intersection with the connector trail to Water Canyon Diane found some shade to rest in while Dave and I continued to the edge overlooking the Colorado River in Cataract Canyon. We then returned to Diane and continued down into Water Canyon and quickly crossed the divide into Shot Canyon. By this point the sun was beating down, the temperature was pretty warm, and the heat was taking it’s toll on us. Because of this, we weren’t really able to enjoy the hike through Shot Canyon as much as I would have liked to, especially since we had to climb 400 feet out of the canyon at the end. We definitely slowed down at the end of this hike, but we made it out OK. We returned to camp and rested up the remainder of the evening. I had gotten pretty dehydrated on the hike, so I made sure to drink plenty of fluids and kept out of the sun. The bugs were still pretty annoying.

Sunrise at Doll House #3

Morning in Camp

A twisted juniper and beautiful reflected light.

Juniper Light

Underneath Beehive Arch.

Beehive Arch

Reflected light in a very short slot canyon along the trail.

Corridor

Along the Trail

Overlooking Cataract Canyon near the end of the the trail.

Cataract Canyon View

Upstream

The way down to Water Canyon.

The Way Down

Passing through a narrow canyon in the divide between Water and Shot Canyons.

Pass

We could see Chimney Rock, our destination, from the divide.

Chimney Rock View

The upper part of the steep trail we used to exit Shot Canyon.

Exit Trail

There was a nice view over Jasper Canyon after we exited Shot Canyon.

Jasper Canyon

When we got out of the canyon we were able to see my Jeep on the horizon below Chimney Rock…the final destination.

Bring Me the Horizon

An evening view of the La Sal Mountains from camp.

Distant La Sals

Just another evening in The Doll House.

Evening Doll House

We were moving camp on Sunday, so we packed up and then went on a short easy hike on the Granary Loop trail. Dave and I had done this hike on our trip here about five years ago, but for some reason we didn’t remember too much about it (besides the granaries, of course) and were pleasantly surprised to recall just how nice of a hike it is even though it’s pretty short. We took our time on this trail before returning to our vehicles at the trailhead and then drove back into the Land of Standing Rocks to our last campsite at The Wall. While the view from this camp was outstanding, the actual camp site offered little in protection and shade and was pretty exposed. Plus, the gnats and no-see-ums seemed to be even worse at this site! We setup camp camp and then rested for a few hours in what little shade we could find. I was originally planning for us to hike out to the Chocolate Drops on Monday morning before heading home, but we thought it might be better to hike it this evening instead and decided to do that. Luckily, we had some clouds blocking the sun for most of the hike out which helped keep us a little cooler. I have to say that this was a really nice trail with great views in every direction. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and it was great to see the Chocolate Drops up close and personal. We returned to camp just in time was catch another spectacular sunset and then got to watch a little lightning storm off in the distance before going to bed.

A hazy morning view from the trail down to Spanish Bottom.

The Haze

Storage bins at the end of the Granary Trail.

Storage

I loved the colors reflecting off the sandstone here.

Maze Granary

Hiking back to the trailhead through a slot in the rock.

Granary Trail

Spotlight in The Maze below as we hiked across the ridge to the Chocolate Drops.

Maze Spotlight

Almost there!

Getting Closer

View from the side.

Side View

I’ve seen them many times from afar, but they were even more impressive up close.

Chocolate Drops

The Chocolate Bars

Hiking back to The Wall.

Back to The Wall

Our three Jeeps at the trailhead.

Three Jeeps

We made it back to camp just in time to catch another nice sunset.

Land of Standing Rocks

Another spectacular view from camp.

The Wall Camp

Unnamed Butte

Can’t beat the view from inside our tent.

That View

Diane enjoyed the view from camp, despite the bugs that were constantly bothering us.

Enjoy the View

Interesting clouds looking the other direction.

Desert Clouds

Just as I was getting ready to go to bed there were a few bolts of lightning in the distance near the Island in the Sky, so I set my camera up and stayed up a little later trying to photograph them.

Distant Lightning

Island in the Sky Lightning

After photographing a colorful sunrise on Monday morning we packed up camp for the last time this trip and started the drive back home. Marty decided to split off from us and head back through Hite since he had never been that way before, while Dave and I returned back up the Flint Trail. As soon as we reached the pavement we noticed how busy the roads were with people heading back home from the holiday weekend. There seemed to be a line of traffic coming back from Moab towards Salt Lake City, plus plenty of vehicles driving back into Colorado on I-70. It was nice to avoid that kind of traffic in The Maze for the past few days. Aside from the bugs and the heat,we had another great ADVENTR weekend on the Colorado Plateau!

I wasn’t planning to get up and photograph sunrise this morning, but when I noticed these colors from my sleeping bag I had to get up and take a few photos.

Morning Color

Land of Standing Rocks Dawn

Elaterite Morning

Driving back out past The Mother and Child Rock.

Mother & Child

Marty’s Jeep at the end of the roughest part of the road around Teapot Canyon. From here it was an easy drive the rest of the way home.

High Clearance Only

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