Canyonlands Maze Photo Tour

On this backcountry photo tour into the Maze, the wildest and most rugged of the three districts in Canyonlands National Park, we will explore fantastic wilderness locations that very few people get to see. This is a unique opportunity for solitude and original photographs in one of the most remote regions in America. Even today, the Maze is a difficult place to get to, requiring an expedition-grade high-clearance 4WD vehicle, special driving skills, and much logistical planning. The Maze sees 100 times less visitors than Island in the Sky. Backpacker Magazine once rated the Maze the riskiest of America's 10 most dangerous hikes.

For this trip, QT Luong will be partnering with Brian Martinez, guide and photographer from Navtec Expeditions, an outfiter and guide service with three generations of experience in the Moab area, who has the knowledge and vehicles to organize a safe and (relatively) confortable trip. This is one of the first photo tours or workshops, if not the first, to be offered into the Maze, perfect for the adventurous photographer.

The itinerary has been specially crafted to maximize photographic opportunities. Since the main goal of the trip is photography, unlike on regular tours, we can stop and take our time as needed. We camp at great scenic spots to enjoy golden light there. Our trip takes place at the time of the year with the most pleasant weather for hiking during the day. Fall colors even graces some canyons. Taking advantage of dark skies and lack of light pollution, our timing shortly after the new moon will also be conductive of night photographs filled with the Milky Way.

The group is limited to 6 participants. QT Luong will be available at any time during to tour to provide individual instruction tailored to each participant's need, including image review and processing.

Day 1 - Oct 8. Depart Navtec at 8:00 am. After cutting across the Green River Desert and visiting a way cool canyon, we enter the Maze. In the afternon, we hike Horseshoe Canyon - through the less-known but shorter Deadman trail - to visit the Great Gallery, one of the most significant rock art panels in North America, spending some time there for night photography as well. Total hiking 3.5 miles 750 ft elevation.

Day 2 - Oct 9. We begin the day exploring the High Spur slot canyon, extremely photogenic and non-technical (no ropes). We then head down the Flint trail over to the Maze Overlook where we camp, so we can photograph at the best vantage point over the Maze from late afternoon to sunrise. Total hiking 2.5 miles 750 ft elevation.

Day 3 - Oct 10. At the Golden Stairs, you have the option of hiking the China Neck and meeting the vehicle below or continuing through Teapot with the 4WD. We then hike into Ernie's Country to see a 2000 year old archeological ruin still in perfect condition before making camp in the Land of Standing Rocks below striking rock formations. Total hiking 3.5 miles elevation -1000 +250

Day 4 - Oct 11. We have the option to hike from Chimney Rock on the ridge to Pete's Mesa overlooking Jasper Canyon to the bottom of the Maze, visiting the intringuing Harvest Scene pictograph panel before continuing the loop under the Chocolate Drops, considered one of the greatest hikes in Canyonlands National Park. Alternatively, a shorter loop around the Doll House is possible for those preferring a shorter hike. We camp at the Doll House, a fantasy-land of sandstone pinnacles and spires considered to be one of the most photogenic and remote places in the Southwest. Total hiking 12 miles 1000 ft elevation (optional, shorter hike possible)

Day 5 - Oct 12. We start the day with a short hike to a big ridge overlooking Ernie's Country that has 4 incredible arches. We continue down past Gunsight Butte to Hite Marina. There, we board a plane back to Moab. The scenic flight, in perfect late afternoon light, offers us a new and satisfying perspective on the vast and remote country we have just explored. Return time by 6:30pm.

LEADERS: QT Luong & Brian Martinez
DATES: October 8 to Oct 12, 2013
DEPARTURE: Moab UT, pickup from hotel possible
LOCATION: Canyonlands National Park, Utah
LODGING: Primitive car-camping. Use own gear or rent from Navtec
TRANSPORTATION: 4WD, return by flight included
FOOD: All meals, freshly cooked included
DIFFICULTY: Day hikes up to 4 miles RT, one optional longer day hike, no camping gear to carry
PRICE: sold out

photos on this page © Navtec or QT Luong.