Sandstone country

Drive and hike the red rock wonderland of Utah's Canyonlands National Park

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The Maze and Horseshoe Canyon

Some of the world's best Native American rock art can be found in the Great Gallery, deep in the park's Horseshoe Canyon. The canyon was added to the park in 1971 to protect the images, which were daubed on the walls between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago. On one 300-foot-long panel depicting more than 60 red ocher figures, you can easily recognize bighorn sheep, warriors, and flitting birds, but other armless, larger-than-life, more mysterious images spur conjecture and continue to defy interpretation.

While Horseshoe Canyon is easy to reach, the same can't be said of the wilderness heart of the Maze, a destination for serious backpackers.

ACCESS: Horseshoe Canyon is 119 miles west of Moab via U.S. 191, I-70, State 24, and Hans Flat Rd., which is 30 miles of graded dirt road suitable for sedans but best avoided in wet weather. The Maze is another four or five bouncing hours along Horseshoe Canyon Access Rd., a route best left to experienced drivers in high-clearance four-wheel-drives.

BEST VIEW: From the plateau at the Horseshoe Canyon Trailhead, watch sunset colors splash across the rippled topography of the canyon.

BEST HIKE: The Horseshoe Canyon Trail runs a moderate 31x4 miles one way to the Great Gallery, mostly along a sandy wash. Rangers lead hikes to the rock art at 9 a.m. Sat, Apr-Oct.

CAMPING: A wide spot on the rim of Horseshoe Canyon at the trailhead can handle six or so car campers on a first-come, first-served basis (free; no water, vault toilets). Camping within the canyon is prohibited inside the park.


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