Y Hikers Find Beauty and Awe in Canyonlands

Updated: May 23, 2018

In December, four intrepid Y explorers trekked deep into Canyonlands, Utah. After traversing 46 miles of backcountry dirt roads, we set off on foot for the Maze, one of the most remote places in the lower 48 states.


A narrow trail cut down from the cliffs and we wandered through washes and barely-marked routes. An owl dropped off its prey in front of us. Two days later, we stood above the Maze, a breath-taking array of canyons that splintered off in all directions, with tall spires of rock rising in the distance. Some scrambling and lowering of packs later, we stood deep in the canyons. We explored, finding frozen streams and rock art created thousands of years ago.

We stood above the Maze, a breath-taking array of canyons that splintered off in all directions, with tall spires of rock rising in the distance.

The second leg of the journey took us to the Needles. We hiked in and set up a base camp in an open field with a panoramic view of the sandstone spires. We scrambled through immense boulder fields, edged along the 2-foot-wide passages of the joint trail, and surveyed the hundreds-feet-tall Druid Arch. Our days were filled with David's tales of Utah. Each frigid evening, we'd play poker for snacks and gaze up into the clear night sky. The Geminis sent shooting stars streaking across the sky. The incredible colors of the rock, the sprawling canyons, the weathered routes crisscrossing the slick rock bluffs, all provided a welcome respite from the busy outside world.

- Jeremy Brouillet, Graduate Student and Caltech Y Outdoors Leader


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