The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park
Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
192Trip End Oct 14, 2011
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I woke up after spending the night at the North Point Campground, the one closest to the Hans Flat Ranger Station and to the entrance to the Maze District. After breakfast I got in the car and headed for Cleopatra's Chair and the Panorama Point Overlook. This was my first introduction to the roads in the Maze District and it was rather disconcerting since, while the road I was on was pretty awful, it was considered one of the better ones.
Cleopatra's Chair is a huge red sandstone formation. I took a few pictures and spent a little time there but I didn't wander around much. A lot of the soil in Canyonlands is what is known as cryptobiotic soil, a biological soil crust that is a living groundcover that takes decades to form and is very fragile. To avoid damaging the cryptobiotic soil you have to walk on rock surfaces or in sandy washes so I just stayed near the parking area.
The Panorama Point Overlook affords a view of Island In the Sky, the most accessible and commonly visited area of the park, to the northeast and to the Maze to the southeast. I spent some time there wandering around the edge of the canyon before heading back toward my campsite. It was still early in the afternoon so I decided to head south to the Bagpipe Butte Overlook and the Flint Trail Overlook. The Flint Trail descends several hundred feet down the steep rock face from the Orange Cliffs to the west into the canyon to the east. Most people heading into The Maze take the Flint Trail but I'm going to be going around outside the park and coming back in from the southern entrance instead so I was curious to see what I'll be missing. I then headed back to the North Point Campground for the night.