Pumpkin spice madness isn’t the only thing that marks the arrival of autumn. For adventure seekers, fall is corn maze season, and we aren’t talking about your run-of-the-mill kid’s day trip mazes.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, corn mazes have an ancient history that dates back to the fifth century B.C. Mazes, or labyrinths, were first designed as a place for people to meditate on their spiritual journeys. The “twisting yet serene” paths were thought to challenge guests to examine their intentions in life and encourage them to seek spiritual healing. In the early nineteenth century, the vine and flower maze in New Harmony, Indiana, encouraged walkers to think about their roads to contentment. And in Germany, young men were expected to walk through mazes as they approached adulthood. While they have a weighty history, most modern-day mazes are more about fun than philosophy. There is even a Corn Maze Directory so you can scout out the latest and greatest in maize mazes.
In 2014, California was proud as a peacock to announce that they had the largest corn maze in the world. The 63-acre field was plowed into a confusing labyrinth of lanes worthy of a Rubik’s Cube algorithm. It was all fun and games until a group of people got lost. And we mean really lost. The first group who couldn’t find their way out during the season opening decided to take measures into their own hands and called the police. Stuck in the maze for four hours, they didn’t realize that they could actually walk through the corn in such a situation — it’s not a real wall, after all. Another set of callers stuck in the same Cool Patch Pumpkin maze called police when they worried the patch would close with them still stuck inside.
Gore Farm owner Michael Blee is famous for his maze creations. He has designed mazes on his property for almost a decade. Blee spent six months creating the Snakes and Ladders corn maze in 2007, which was the world’s largest board game maze. The twisty tunnels carved into a cornfield at Gore Farm in Upchurch are meant to be “played” like the game. Participants start at one spot and work their way through the field as they progress in the game.
Ready to take on a corn maze yourself? Here are some of the country’s craziest.
Cool Patch Pumpkins, Dixon, Calif.
Big brand sponsors like Starbucks and Ford are eager to get in on a piece of the action at Cool Patch in California. The original Guinness Book of World Records titleholder for world’s largest maze (in 2007), the farm beat its own record by expanding from 15 to 60 acres. Sponsored checkpoints guide visitors through the labyrinth, as do GPS coordinates and makeshift maps.
Farmstead Corn Maze, Meridian, Idaho
In 2014, Idaho’s original corn maze celebrated the 75-year anniversary of The Wizard of Oz with a movie-themed maze that featured all four main characters, the Emerald Palace, a hot air balloon, and a yellow brick road — all carved into a corn field. Pedometers are given out at the information booth as part of Farmstead’s Fit Club so you can figure out just how many steps it takes to walk through the maze, and hidden signs throughout the field allow you to text in for a clue on how to get out.