Posts Tagged ‘canyonlands’

Canyonlands National Park – Access from Hanksville Side

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Canyonlands National Park

A view to the southwest over Canyonlands National Park toward the Henry Mountains.

Canyonlands National Park features more than 337,000 acres of incredibly scenic and colorful landscape.   The park is separated by the Colorado and Green Rivers into three main districts–The Maze, Island in the Sky, and The Needles, plus remote Horseshoe Canyon which is geographically separated.  The two rivers join at the Confluence, and have been a significant force in sculpting the deep sandstone canyons, as well as offering world-class white water adventure.


The confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers inside Canyonlands National Park

Each district in Canyonlands shares remote desert qualities but each also has its own distinct character. There are no roads which connect the districts, so it’s best to settle on a section and plan to spend a few days exploring. The Maze district on the western edge of the park is accessible from Hanksville, and is just one more reason to visit Capitol Reef Country.

Views toward Hanksville, Utah over Canyonlands National Park

The Maze section of Canyonlands is one of the most spectacular and remote wilderness areas in Utah.  Here in The Land of the Sleeping Rocks the Maze is bordered by the Orange Cliffs of Glen Canyon, and is defined by sheer cliffs, canyons, and ravines sculpted by water and gravity.  Strenuous trails lead to Shot Canyon, Water Canyon, Horse Canyon and more.  Four-wheel drive roads in the Maze are extreme.  Flint Trail is one of the most popular, but can be closed during winter and slippery when wet.  Expect to spend several days exploring this area and come well-prepared as there are no amenities such as food, gas, or potable water here (you can find all of this in Hanksville).   Bring at least one full-size spare tire, a high-lift jack, gas, water, and tire chains in the winter.  This section of Canyonlands can be reached from Hanksville via Highway 24 to the unpaved Lower San Rafael Road (County Road 1010), near Goblin Valley. From here, it’s about 48 miles to the Hans Flat Ranger Station, and then another three to six hours to reach the canyons. While it’s generally easy for passenger vehicles to travel the county road, a high-clearance vehicle is required once inside the park. The Hans Flat Ranger Station is open during the day year-round.

Canyonlands National Park Utah

An aerial view over some of the rough and scenic back-country that is found in Canyonlands

Horseshoe Canyon is located northwest of the Maze district and can be reached from the 31-mile unpaved Robbers Roost Road, or from a four-wheel drive track from the Maze. This small district, about five square miles, is well known for its hundreds of ancient Indian pictographs, accessible from a rocky, two-mile spur road that leads into the galleries.  Art lovers, history buffs, and adventurers alike may want to tackle the strenuous 3.25-mile trail that leads to The Great Gallery, showcasing some of the best preserved rock art on the Colorado Plateau. The trail follows a sandy dry wash, and descends 600 feet below the slick-rock canyon rim.  Guided fall season and springtime hikes in Horseshoe Canyon can be arranged through the Maze district.

Horseshoe Canyon

A view of some of the famous Pictographs found in Horseshoe Canyon - Utah

Island in the Sky, Horseshoe Canyon, and the Needles districts are the best options for single day trips.  The Maze is ideal for multi-day to week-long back-country trips, mountain biking, extended hiking, four-wheel adventures, boating on the Colorado River, or rafting on the white waters of Confluence.  Summer and winter temperatures can be extreme, with fluctuations of up to 40 degrees in a single day.  There is no public transportation available to or within Canyonlands National Park.  Back-country permits are required for overnight camping.   Solar power provides all of the electrical needs in Hans Flat.  There are many campsites within the park and the closest to Hans Flat include High Spur (45 minutes); Flint Seep, Happy Canyon and The Neck (1 hour), Golden Stairs (1.5 hours), Panorama Point and Cleopatra’s Chair (2 hours). Campsites from two to 4 hours from the ranger station include Maze Overlook, Ekker Butte, and Teapot Rock.  Chimney Rock, Doll House, Standing Rock, and The Wall all require a five to six hour drive.  There are limited spots at each campsite, and it’s first come, first served.

Read more about Canyonlands – here.

Hanksville Today

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Hanksville Utah

A view of the landscape - looking north from Hanksville

Hanksville is about an hour from any other community, but its location—central to Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Glen Canyon, Goblin Valley, the San Rafael Swell, the Henry Mountains, and Robber’s Roost—can’t be beat.   It’s a gateway town to some of the coolest things Capitol Reef Country has to offer.  It’s simply surrounded by awe-inspiring landscape formations.

Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley State Park is just minutes north of Hanksville, Utah

Hanksville was only incorporated a handful of years ago, but it’s been an important presence for more than a century.  With a past as colorful as it’s landscape, Hanksville was known for being an outlaw hideout, and for stores of gold and uranium buried deep in the earth.  Now scientists and visitors alike flock here for another amazing, fairly recent discovery: dinosaurs.  The Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry is a must-visit, especially during certain summer weeks when paleontologists are on site.  And after you’ve stepped back in time, move forward into space with a visit to the Mars Desert Research Station.  Thanks to the incredible red rock terrain it’s one of only four simulated Mars habitats in the world, and best of all you won’t need to make a space odyssey, since it’s only 7 miles from Hanksville.


A view to the west over the downtown area of Hanksville, Utah

In spite of its remote location, Hanksville is pretty accessible from all directions, and you’ll be driving across spectacular landscape on the way. Head west on Highway 24 to Capitol Reef National Park, or south to the Henry Mountains. Highway 95 south takes you straight to Hite Marina on Lake Powell. And speaking of getting here, did you know charter flights are available at the Hanksville airport?

Hanksville Sign

Looking south from the crossroads of Hwy 24 and 95. Mileage to other destinations are shown.

Gas, food, and lodging are available here, so you can stick around for a few days to take advantage of the location. For lodging and dining options click on the links.   With a few markets, gas stations, convenience stores, auto repair and towing, and even a houseboat station, you should have just about everything you need to make Hanksville your next base for a Capitol Reef and Canyonlands area adventure!