Two previous articles describe the easy going lengthy dirt road trek to the Hans Flat Ranger Station and the dangerous ride down the Flint Trail Switchbacks to Doll House Road in Canyonlands National Park. Going from Hans Flat directly to Doll House Road via the Flint Trail definitely is not recommended for many good reasons, even for a heavy duty 4x4 vehicle, so it is best to nix this venture from the wish list. All is not lost because there actually is a much safer way to get to Doll House Road and other points of interest in this vast wilderness area. This pathway is also much easier on a vehicle, so there will be less of a chance to encounter reliability issues. Heading north on the Flint Trail from Utah Highway 95 near Hite will certainly be a much more pleasurable experience than negotiating the dangerous switchbacks near Hans Flat.
A light duty high ground clearance 4x4 can easily handle the trip from Hite to Doll House Road on the Flint Trail, but going any further is risky business. This lengthy dirt road passes through the entire Orange Cliffs district of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which offers the same magnificent red rock landscapes as what can be found in the neighboring Canyonlands. This entire region can be viewed from the Orange Cliff Overlook atop the towering Island In The Sky further north in Canyonlands and the distant views are all that most of the mainstream tourists will ever see. For those who live for a world of adventure, touring the Orange Cliffs up close and personal is guaranteed to inspire fond memories that last a lifetime.
Simply put, a landscape artist will be truly awestruck when seeing the Orange Cliffs for the first time. These towering red rock outcrops are heavily eroded and the vertical slabs of rock that touch the sky are all that remains of many of the buttes. There is literally one breathtaking panoramic view after another along this section of the Flint Trail, so be sure to set plenty of time aside for the lengthy ride. Backcountry camping is an option, but this is a highly protected area and permits will be needed.
On a side note, I did the perilous journey from Hans Flat down the Flint Trail Switchbacks, so the Flickr photo album depicts the opposite direction of what is recommended. Looking at the album in reverse will show what the trip is like when starting the journey on Highway 95. I also ran out of daylight, so the final leg was photographed at dawn. As can be seen in the photos, sunrise and sunset are the best times of day for viewing the Orange Cliffs, because the golden light enhances the blazing colors. At the north end of the Flint Trail there are options to continue onward to the Maze Overlook, Doll House, Golden Stairs, Millard Canyon and a few other points of interest, but the trails to these destinations are extremely rough and a heavy duty 4x4 will be needed. Doing an out and back in the Orange Cliffs District is the safe way to go, so buckle up and enjoy the scenic drive!
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