7 friends, 5 days and a 120-mile journey into one of the most remote regions of the world….
This past September, friends Janice Tower and Leslie Kroloff took off on a five-day bike trip into “The Maze“, the most remote area of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park and one of the most inaccessible regions of the United States. Both Janice and Leslie were experienced cyclists—Janice bought her first mountain bike in 1992 and Leslie had been cycling for 10 years, seriously for about four. Both had been on Escape Adventure tours in the past and had even biked another area of the park—The Trail of the Ancients—a previous year. “We’re kinda repeat offenders,” Janice joked.
Clearly, neither woman was a stranger to the outdoors or to breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Yet despite the numerous bike miles they’d logged together in national parks, including nearby Bryce and Zion, Janice and Leslie found themselves impressed by the Maze’s size and beauty. This is perhaps surprising considering Janice and Leslie are from the largest and arguably one of the most beautiful states in the US—Alaska. In the following paragraphs, two of the women the Escape Adventure staff have affectionately nicknamed “The Alaska Chicks” share some of the reasons why the Maze trail in Canyonlands National Park is one of their favorites.
Journeying Into a Vast Emptiness
a “red rock jungle”, only receives 2,000 visitors per year. To put that number in perspective, the park’s “Island in the Sky” sees 100 times that amount; 264,000, to be exact.Part of the reason the Maze remains one of The Canyonlands’ best kept secrets is the fact that it’s extremely difficult to reach. Even those traveling by car have to drive two and a half hours on a highway and then another five hours on a rough dirt road. But for many, including Janice and Leslie, that is part of the appeal. Janice, who has also biked The Trail of Ancients, another Canyonlands trail, says of the Maze, “The solitude and remoteness of the region makes it a quieter experience. the Maze is a very spiritual place.”
Exploring a Forgotten Land
One of Janice’s and Leslie’s Tour Guides
Tour guide Merrick Golz, doing what he does best!
Why is the Maze your favorite tour?
“What’s really cool about it is you never have to get back into the vehicle. You can take yourself through the whole maze using human power. You get to see a lot of cool stuff when you ride or hike that you don’t get to see in a car. We spend five days going through this incredible remote area and then get to fly back over everything…”
Do you ever bored of it? You’ve been working for Escape Adventures for 8 years. That’s a lot of time in the Maze.
“No way. Every trip, I like to explore some new tiny area. I have tour guests who’ve done the Maze three times.”
Okay, so time to talk about food. How in the world do you prepare all those fancy meals when you don’t have access to freezers or refrigerators?
“I actually cook better meals on tour than at home,” he laughs. “We keep everything in coolers. We can keep everything nice and cool for up to two weeks.” Thought he said it can be tough keeping everything from spilling over in the jeep because, as Merrick put it, they have a “really gnarly drive.”
What are some of your favorite things on the menu?
“The strawberry goat cheese appetizer, homemade chips and salsa, bison enchilada pie, salmon with garlic red potatoes and asparagus and dutch-oven pineapple upside down cake. ”
How do people take showers on the trip?
Merrick explained they use portable solar showers. “It’s a large plastic bag of water…the sun heats it up,” he explains. And in Merrick’s opinion, it’s something worth experiencing.”There’s something incredible about taking a shower in the open air desert. It’s an incredible feeling.”
What kind of animal life have you encountered on the Maze?
“Big horned sheep, coyotes, bull snakes….”
“…And rattle snakes.”
What’s the coolest thing that’s happened while in the Maze?
“Some of the most exciting times on tour happen when everything goes wrong. Cool thunder storms, flash floods, equipment failure…. One time it snowed, which made for an exciting adventure. The snow…it’s incredibly beautiful on the rocks.”
If you could pick only three words to describe the Maze tour, what would they be?
“Remote, stunning, inspiring.”
What do you love about working as an Escape Adventures guide?
“Every day is different. I get to explore and have adventures every day while showing people these amazing places. It’s the best job ever.”