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The Sculptured Earth: End of Trails in The Maze

Lost in The Maze III | Friday – Monday, March 31 – April 3, 2023

After spending the past couple years working to hike all of the trails in Canyonlands National Park and completing the ones in The Needles and Island in the Sky districts in 2018 and 2019, I turned my attention to my remaining trails in The Maze, but it’s taken me a bit longer to hike them all since it’s not quite as easy to get over there for a quick weekend trip. Last spring I had hiked most of the remaining trails from the Land of Standing Rocks with my friends Dave and Jared, but we did not have the time to make it down into lower Horse Canyon on that trip, which was now my only trail left on this official map that I’ve been using to keep track, and also my final trail left in all of Canyonlands! After that trip I made it my goal to hike into lower Horse Canyon this spring, so I booked a backpacking permit back in November and invited my friend Jackson to come along. Although Jackson had never been into The Maze before, he was very interested in checking out Horse Canyon since we had floated past its mouth on the Green River in Stillwater Canyon last September.

On Friday afternoon Jackson and I left from work and made our way over to Hanksville, where I topped off my gas tank before continuing on down North Wash towards Hite. Since the Flint Trail switchbacks were still covered with snow and I had already picked up our permit the previous weekend, we had no reason to stop by the Hans Flat Ranger Station and headed straight to the bottom of the Flint Trail Road to started driving into Under The Ledge country.

The scenery was looking good as we drove the long winding road around the forks of Rock Canyon on our way toward Andy Miller Flats.

Rock Canyon Country

The Sewing Machine

Sewing Machine

Below The Point

Evening Views

A quick view into The Cove as we drove by.

The Cove

Tar Cliff

Tar Cliff

Here’s a view of my Friday night campsite at sunrise on Saturday morning after a great night of sleep.

Clearwater Camp

Gunsight Butte Sunrise

Gunsight Butte Sunrise

We got an early start on Saturday morning and made it over to the Horse Canyon Trailhead later in the morning after a brief stop at the Maze Overlook. I figured since Jackson had not been to The Maze before, he should at least see the overlook while we were nearby.

Elaterite Basin & Orange Cliffs

We followed the trail along the edge of the White Rim and ‘Yellow Rim’ to a break in the cliff where it is able to switchback down into the canyon.

The Yellow Rim

This often ignored canyon in The Maze is actually a very beautiful hike.

Sculptured Earth

The Narrows

The Narrows

Tafoni is all over the place!

Along the Canyon Wall


Canyon Wash

This was a strange pinnacle that we passed underneath. It seemed to change shape depending which direction you were facing…

Strange Tower

Ekker Butte towers above the canyon.

Ekker Butte

Jackson hiking through another section of narrows while I stayed above.

In The Narrows

Once we started to find some water we went looking for a good campsite for the next two nights. We knew the weather forecast was calling for a lot of wind, so we tried to find a spot that was protected and not around too much soft sand. It took us longer than I would have liked to find a good site, but we did eventually find one. Once our tents were setup we wandered the canyons some more until just before sunset.

Canyon Afternoon

Along The Wall

Maze Walk

Dos Hoodoos

We found two nice arches during our evening walk.

Maze Arch I

Arch Cove

Maze Arch II

We returned to camp shortly before sunset, ate dinner and then I climbed up above camp to take a couple more photos during the golden hour.

Maze Evening View

Petes Mesa

Creek View

Block of Rock

Horse Canyon Campsite

Maze Camp

Last Light at Camp

Once the sun was down we went to bed early since it had been a long day, and we had another long day planned for Sunday. Thankfully, we did not get the strong winds overnight that had been predicted and I slept well again.

We woke up with sunrise, ate a little breakfast and then started hiking down the canyon. It was a beautiful morning and the reflected light was nice.

Morning Reflection

Jackson hikes ahead of me as we travelled down this very curvy canyon. Although we were only about 2.5 miles away from the large pourover when we started, the hike to get there would be over 6 miles in length.

Hiking Down the Canyon

Around The Bend

Canyon Hiker

Big Boulder

Tall Wall

Once the small stream we were following started flowing into a shallow carved slot, I knew we were getting close to the end…

Carved Narrow

When we first reached the large pourover we followed the bench around as far as we could go for a look down into the lower end of Horse Canyon.

After The Jump

Then we climbed down into the narrow slot to see if we could follow the stream to the pourover. It entered an amazing chamber and the light was spectacular!

Narrow Canyon

Curved Ledge

Jackson on his way down the chute.

Down The Chute

Did I mention that the light was amazing in here?

Light Around the Bend

Exploring The Chamber

The Other Way

There was a large green pool down below the large pourover. The next time we float through Stillwater Canyon we are going to have to visit it from the bottom.

Big Green Pool


Golden Chamber

Chamber Pool

We rested and ate lunch in the large chamber before starting our hike back up the canyon.

Headed Back

Beginning of the End

We stopped to explore a couple different alcoves on the way back.

Alcove Exploring

Alcove Wall


I was feeling pretty tired when we made it back to camp, so I pretty much just relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Evening Water

I did find a couple inscriptions from the 1920’s near our campsite.

W.C.A. Aug 28 1920

On Sunday night the wind did start to pick up, but thankfully we had selected a pretty well-protected site and the wind didn’t cause us any problems over night and it was actually pretty calm when we were taking down our tents before sunrise on Monday morning. We had got up about an hour before sunrise so we could pack up camp and start hiking out early. About halfway through our hike back the wind finally started to pick up significantly and began blowing sand and dust around.

Watching the sun come up and strike the canyon walls as we hiked back up canyon.

Canyon Morning

Panorama Point over White Rim

Panorama Point over White Rim

Here’s a different view of that unusual pinnacle we saw on the way in, this time bathed in early morning light.

Morning Pinnacle

Walking along sculpted walls in Horse Canyon.

Canyon Wall

Hiking back though the narrows and not too far from my Jeep at the trailhead.

Back Through the Narrows

Once we climbed out of the canyon we found that the wind was pretty brutal and and we hadn’t been getting the full brunt of it down in the canyon. Luckily, it was a only a short walk back to the Jeep so we didn’t have to hike through it for very long. It did make the drive home quite a bit interested with frequent dust storms along the way. Hanksville was pretty engulfed in blowing dust when we arrived to get a quick lunch and get some gas. I’ve never seen dust storms this bad in Utah before, which made visibility pretty bad in a couple of areas. On the plus side, it was mostly a tail wind and I got great gas mileage on the way home! Oh yeah, I’ve also now hiked every ‘official trail’ in Canyonlands National Park, so I’m pretty happy about that, too!


Rock Art of The Maze

While we were wandering the canyons of The Maze, we found a couple rock art sites and revisited another. Here are some photos of the petroglyphs and pictographs that we saw along the way.

This was the largest panel we stumbled upon. There were a couple pretty large bighorn sheep petroglyphs, plus many other smaller figures.

Bighorn Panel

This is certainly an interesting figure…

Interesting Figure

These two bighorn sheep were my favorite with one in profile and the other looking right at you.

Two Big Bighorn

Ready for Battle

Ready for Battle

A couple of the smaller figures near the bottom of the panel.

Lower Edge Petroglyphs

Faint Petroglyph Panel

Faint Petroglyph Panel

Two Little Petroglyphs. The lower figure appears to be running?

Two Little Petroglyphs

Three little white pictographs that we almost missed.

White Pictographs

Four Fingers

Four Fingers

We had a little extra time to revisit the Shield Site, which is one of my favorites in The Maze.

Shield Site

Shield Site Left

Shield Site Right

>> End of Trails in The Maze Photo Gallery


  1. Tammy Brislin
    Tammy Brislin April 11, 2023

    Awesome post, especially the rock art. I am always in awe of the ancient visuals. Surely, they had contact with alien beings!
    We are headed to the Maze this week for our first trip ever, you inspire us to explore more and more and more!

  2. SteveR
    SteveR April 12, 2023

    A great report as always, of an area (Maze in general) that I have yet to get to. I’m curious about how well defined the Shield is. Have they been refreshed/restored? Doesn’t look like chalked as seen elsewhere.

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat April 12, 2023

      Pretty sure they are not refreshed/restored as this site isn’t very well-known. If you look at the bottom of the cliff where the rock is flaking off, you will see that the layer behind the reddish/yellowish rock is very white, so that’s why the petroglyphs are very white where it’s been pecked away.

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