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10 Greatest Utah Backpacking Journeys – Bearfoot Idea


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Though Utah is most well-known for its “Mighty 5” Nationwide Parks (Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion), greater than 70% of the state is assessed as public land from nationwide monuments to recreation areas to nationwide forests to BLM areas, and the alternatives for out of doors recreation are expansive.

For those who’re able to stretch your legs on some longer multi-day hikes, listed here are 10 of the most effective backpacking journeys in Utah, starting from extremely stunning overnights to difficult week-long journeys.

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Greatest Utah Backpacking Journeys – Mapped

1. Coyote Gulch Loop

  • Location: Glen Canyon Nationwide Recreation Space
  • Path Sort: Loop
  • Distance: 10.6 miles
  • Steered Time: 2 days, 1 evening
  • Problem: Laborious
  • Allow wanted? Sure
  • Greatest Seasons: Spring and fall

For those who’re out there for a comparatively brief however delectably candy in a single day hike, head to Coyote Gulch, which borders Glen Canyon Nationwide Recreation Space and Grand Staircase-Escalante Nationwide Monument.

This hike will be performed in a number of variations, as much as 22 miles in size, however this 10.6-mile loop hits most of the space’s highlights together with two arches, a pure bridge, and quite a few waterfalls.

First, cease on the Escalante Interagency Customer Heart within the city of Escalante to select up your allow, inquire about street circumstances and get the newest climate report.

The ten.6-mile loop is accessed by driving the notoriously rutted Gap within the Rock Highway to the infamously sandy 40 Mile Ridge Trailhead. Relying on the street circumstances, which change from yr to yr and season to season, you’ll doubtless want 4WD, particularly for the deep sand on the final two miles to the trailhead. In case your automobile isn’t 4WD, you could possibly begin the loop from the Hurricane Wash trailhead, 33.8 miles down Gap within the Rock Highway.

Coyote Gulch’s greatest draw is the miracle of water within the desert. You’ll doubtless get your ft moist on this hike because the route follows and constantly crosses a perennial stream to its confluence with the Escalante River. Watch out for flash flood hazard in late summer time and keep away from this hike if thunderstorms are within the forecast.

Red rock dome arch in Utah with two windows open to the sky and stream running underneach
Coyote Gulch

From the 40 Mile Ridge Trailhead, the primary mile is a little bit of a sandy slog however quickly you’ll enter the Crack within the Wall, a decent 18-inch extensive fissure that drops you off the sting of the mesa into the canyon.

Plan to deliver a rope to decrease your backpacks via this part. The perfect campsites are discovered between miles 4 and 5 and water is discovered all through the canyon seeping from pure springs trickling out of the canyon partitions.

To exit the canyon, you’ll have to sort out a brief scramble up some ledges simply previous Jacob Hamblin Arch. Inexperienced hikers could discover this part intimidating, however there are sometimes mounted ropes right here to assist defend the climb however chances are you’ll need to deliver your individual.

Planning data

  • Permits: Permits are free, however it’s essential to get hold of one from the Escalante Customer Heart within the city of Escalante, Utah.
  • Trailhead instructions: There are a number of locations you can begin your Coyote Gulch hike. This loop begins on the parking space off of Fourty Mile Ridge Highway
  • Essential notes: The route will be harmful because of flash floods. Test the climate earlier than heading out and don’t try it if rain is within the forecast.

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2. Reflection Canyon

  • Location: Glen Canyon Nationwide Recreation Space
  • Path Sort: Out and Again
  • Distance: 15.2 miles
  • Steered Time: 2 days, 1 evening
  • Problem: Reasonable
  • Allow wanted? Sure
  • Greatest Seasons: Spring and fall

This adventurous in a single day hike ends at top-of-the-line sundown/dawn spots in southern Utah, overlooking a uniquely squiggly arm of Lake Powell. This view of shiny blue goosenecked bays bordered by towering Navajo sandstone cliffs was made well-known by Nationwide Geographic after which Apple computer systems, which used a picture of this vantage level in commercials for the 2012 MacBook Professional.

Landscape view out over winding river through Reflection Canyon in red rock country of Utah
Reflection Canyon

You’ll want a dependable 4WD automobile to drive the 50 miles of ruts and bumps down the Gap within the Rock Highway to the trailhead. From there, you’ll want a robust sense of course and loads of water. There are not any sources of water on this trek so that you’ll want to hold sufficient for 2 days of strenuous mountain climbing and an evening of tenting and cooking.

Earlier than leaving Escalante, you’ll want to have the route downloaded in your favourite mountain climbing app. A lot of the route runs over slickrock and there’s no outlined path. Intention to comply with the lengthy line of cliffs in your proper (west) as you hike south. For those who stray too far east away from the cliffs you’ll find yourself in a maze of usually impassable slot canyons.

About 5 miles from the trailhead, you’ll flip southeast to move in the direction of the overlook. From right here, you’ll be handled to magnificent views from sundown to stars to dawn.

Planning data

  • Permits: Permits are free, however it’s essential to get hold of one from the Escalante Customer Heart within the city of Escalante, Utah.
  • Trailhead instructions: The parking space is off Gap-in-the-Rock Highway
  • Essential notes: You need to deliver sufficient water for 2 days and one evening of mountain climbing and cooking. There isn’t a water on the route.

Learn Extra

New to mountain climbing within the desert?

3. Decrease Hackberry Canyon

  • Location: Grand Staircase-Escalante Nationwide Monument
  • Path Sort: Out and Again
  • Distance: 12.4 miles
  • Steered Time: 2 days, 1 evening
  • Problem: Reasonable
  • Allow wanted? Sure
  • Greatest Seasons: Spring and fall

Journey again in time to go to a historic cabin and the gorgeous Sam Pollack arch on this in a single day trek into Decrease Hackberry Canyon.

Positioned on the southern finish of the Cockscomb, an imposing and colourful ridge of uplifted sandstone, Decrease Hackberry Canyon winds into the center of the comb, following an exquisite creek that runs many of the yr.

About 4 miles into the hike, you’ll attain Frank Watson’s cabin. Inbuilt 1914 utilizing cottonwood logs harvested on-site, this one-room cabin was restored in 2021 and is a wonderful instance of a 100-year-old homestead.

Intrepid hikers can also need to hunt down a good older abode within the close by aspect canyon: a small meals storage granary, some grinding stones, and an intriguing humanoid pictograph discovered close by in a hidden alcove.

After exploring the cabin and the aspect canyon, hike one other half mile north up Hackberry Canyon to the confluence with Sam Pollock Canyon the place you’ll discover some nice tenting choices beneath the cottonwood bushes.

Following Sam Pollock Canyon to the northwest, in one other 1.5 miles you’ll attain the spectacular Sam Pollock Arch.

a man stands near the Sam Pollock Arch on the Hackberry Canyon Trail
Sam Pollock Arch | Photograph: Mary Caperton Morton

Planning data

  • Permits: In a single day permits are free, however have to be obtained at a Grand Staircase-Escalante Customer Heart or at developed trailheads.
  • Trailhead instructions: Begin your hike from the Decrease Hackberry Trailhead close to Kanab, Utah.
  • Essential notes: The AllTrails map under doesn’t embrace the 3-mile spherical journey hike as much as Sam Pollock Arch.

4. Paria River to Lee’s Ferry and Buckskin Gulch

  • Location: Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Space
  • Path Sort: Level to Level
  • Distance: 40 miles
  • Steered Time: 4 days, 3 nights
  • Problem: Laborious
  • Allow wanted? Sure (and they’re aggressive)
  • Greatest Seasons: Spring and fall

Get your fill of world-class slot canyons on this 40-mile route that begins in Utah and ends on the Colorado River in Arizona.

The Paria River is a significant tributary of the Colorado, becoming a member of the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry upstream of the Grand Canyon.

Alongside the best way, you’ll spend two complete days in a slim slot canyon with an elective aspect journey into Buckskin Gulch, one of many world’s longest steady slots.

Permits for each the Paria and Buckskin Gulch are extraordinarily aggressive with solely 20 folks a day allowed into the Paria. See allow data under.

The Paria’s stunningly stunning setting makes this a well-liked hike however it’s necessary to know that it is usually extraordinarily difficult. For a lot of the trek, you’ll be repeatedly crossing the creek and sometimes wading within the water in addition to dodging ubiquitous quicksand.

Paria Canyon
Paria Canyon

Spring and fall are essentially the most fascinating months however freezing water temperatures early and late season could make for depressing circumstances.

In the summertime, the canyon dries up and turns right into a furnace whereas late summer time monsoons can ship lethal flash floods in these inescapable canyons.

For those who handle to snag a allow throughout a superb climate window when the Paria is operating however not too excessive, you’ll be in for a few of the most stunning days of your life.

After leaving from the White Home trailhead, the canyon begins narrowing down into its legendary slot, passing between towering pink partitions of Navajo sandstone.

Simply after 7 miles, you’ll cross the confluence with Buckskin Gulch with just a few campsites close to the junction. A aspect journey up the slim hall of Buckskin Gulch is a must-do. This is without doubt one of the most stunning and harrowing slot canyons on Earth!

Woman stands in Buckskin Gulch slot canyon in Utah
Buckskin Gulch | Photograph: Jono Melamed

Again within the Paria, you’ll proceed south, following the limitless twists, turns, and meanders into the ever-deepening and narrowing slot. Preserve your eyes out for springs seeping from the partitions. These are your finest water sources, because the Paria itself is often too silty to filter.

After greater than 30 miles within the narrows, the canyon widens because it approaches its mouth on the Colorado River. Right here you’ll discover Lee’s Ferry, a historic crossing of the Colorado that now serves because the put-in for rafting journeys into the Grand Canyon.

Planning data

  • Permits: Permits for Paria Canyon are very aggressive. They turn out to be out there on the primary of the month 3 months forward of the month you need to hike (for instance, Might dates can be found on February 1st). You possibly can apply for Paria Canyon permits at Recreation.gov.
  • Trailhead instructions: There are a number of trailheads out there for Paria Canyon. For the route above, begin your hike from the White Home Trailhead close to Kanab, Utah.
  • Essential notes: Since this can be a point-to-point hike you’ll both have to arrange your individual automobile shuttle or organize one. There are a number of outfitters that you could guide with.

5. The Boulder Mail Path

  • Location: Grand Staircase-Escalante Nationwide Monument
  • Path Sort: Level to Level
  • Distance: 15 miles
  • Steered Time: 3 days, 2 nights
  • Problem: Laborious
  • Allow wanted? Sure
  • Greatest Seasons: Spring and fall

Till the Thirties, the distant city of Boulder, Utah acquired its mail by mule, transported through the Boulder Mail Path. Operating in a reasonably straight line between Escalante and Boulder, the Mail Path crosses three main canyons and loads of slickrock.

With precipitous drop-offs and deep water sections, the route will not be for the faint of coronary heart and it’s a marvel that the postal mules recurrently traversed it with few mishaps.

The Mail Path will be hiked in both course however for the reason that Boulder trailhead is nearly 1,000 ft larger in elevation than the Escalante trailhead, most individuals hike from east to west for a web downhill hike, ending in Escalante.

A lot of the route is well-cairned however you’ll need to be aware of navigating on slickrock and have the route downloaded in your favourite mountain climbing app earlier than you start.

Silhouette of hiker standing on overlook with views out onto Utah slickrock landscape
Photograph: Mary Caperton Morton

The three main canyons, from east to west, are Sand Creek, Dying Hole, and Mamie Creek, every with its personal character.

Water is often present in each Sand Creek and Dying Hole and fewer reliably in Mamie. Dying Hole is the deepest and arguably loveliest of the three canyons, requiring an 800-foot descent down via Navajo sandstone benches into the canyon.

In Dying Hole, you’ll doubtless get your ft moist as you comply with the creek for a few mile. Keep away from the brushy banks as they’re usually rife with poison ivy. Additionally, flash floods are an actual hazard right here so you’ll want to verify the climate earlier than you decide to this hike.

The slickrock climb out of Dying Hole is marked by cairns and is straightforward to overlook. The opposite route continues downstream to the place Dying Hole meets the Escalante River.

You’ll additionally cross a fourth, unnamed canyon earlier than reaching the Escalante trailhead. In complete you’ll achieve and lose round 2,500 ft of elevation all through the 15-mile trek, going from Boulder to Escalante.

Planning data

  • Permits: Free permits for in a single day Boulder Mail hikes can be found at any Grand Staircase-Escalante Nationwide Monument customer middle.
  • Trailhead instructions: Begin your hike from the Boulder Mail Trailhead close to Boulder, Utah.
  • Essential notes: Since this can be a point-to-point hike you’ll both have to arrange your individual automobile shuttle or organize one. There are a number of outfitters that may provide help to out.

6. Bullet Canyon to Grand Gulch

  • Location: Bears Ears Nationwide Monument
  • Path Sort: Level to Level
  • Distance: 20 miles
  • Steered Time: 3 days, 2 nights
  • Problem: Reasonable
  • Allow wanted? Sure (and they’re aggressive)
  • Greatest Seasons: Spring and fall

Greater than 1,000 years in the past, this advanced of deep serpentine canyons in what’s now Bears Ears Nationwide Monument was a neighborhood inhabited by tons of of individuals.

Many generations of households made a residing right here by rising meals and searching wild recreation and residing in multi-roomed dwellings, usually located beneath overhanging cliffs. In addition they created artwork by portray and etching the partitions of the canyon.

However because the local weather turned hotter and dryer, sources turned scarcer and other people started constructing defensive dwellings and meals storage constructions excessive on cliff ledges, reachable by solely seemingly superhuman feats of athleticism and bravado. Round 700 years in the past, folks left the canyon, shifting into bigger Pueblo communities to the south and east.

Hundreds of historic dwellings are discovered all through the Bears Ears area however Grand Gulch is legendary for the density and preservation of websites. As we speak, Grand Gulch is preserved as an out of doors museum, with many artifacts and relics left in place.

Open air kiva from Native American sight in Bears Ears National Monument in Utah
The Grand Gulch space of Bears Ears Nationwide Park is preserved as an out of doors museum with many websites like this kiva | Photograph: Mary Caperton Morton

All guests to this fragile and sacred place should comply with all Depart No Hint ideas, in addition to extra tips for visiting archaeological websites, together with:

  • Leaving every part the place you discover it
  • Not consuming in or close to websites (meals attracts rodents)
  • Not coming into constructions
  • Not climbing or leaning on partitions
  • Not touching or respiratory on rock artwork

Permits for this journey, which follows Bullet Canyon to Grand Gulch to Kane Gulch, are aggressive and all hikers, together with day hikers, have to verify in on the Kane Gulch Ranger Station earlier than exploring the world.

Water stays scarce in these canyons so you’ll want to verify with the rangers that springs are flowing or chances are you’ll want to hold water to your whole journey.

Planning data

7. Below the Rim Path plus Rigg’s Spring Loop

  • Location: Bryce Canyon Nationwide Park
  • Path Sort: Level to Level
  • Distance: 31.8 miles
  • Steered Time: 3 days, 2 nights
  • Problem: Laborious
  • Allow wanted? Sure
  • Greatest Seasons: Late spring, summer time, and fall

Bryce Canyon is without doubt one of the nation’s smallest nationwide parks, solely masking 55 sq. miles of land. However what the pocket-sized park lacks in dimension it makes up for in surroundings. It boasts an extremely colourful hoodoo spire-studded amphitheater that has been scooped out of the high-elevation Paunsaugunt Plateau.

Bryce is legendary for its awe-inspiring overlooks however backpackers can get to know the park’s hoodoos, home windows, and slot canyons on a extra intimate degree on the Below the Rim Path.

Landscape views over Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah with red rock and hoodoo features
See the hoodoos and spectacular Bryce Canyon panorama up shut on the Below the Rim backpacking journey | Photograph: Mary Caperton Morton

This 23-mile path begins at Rainbow Level within the south and runs north to Bryce Level, skirting the forested base of the plateau’s japanese edge. For bonus miles, add on the 8.8-mile lengthy Rigg’s Spring Loop in the beginning of your trek.

Park shuttles join all the overlooks, together with Rainbow Level and Bryce Level, making for straightforward logistics in the beginning and finish of your hike.

Bryce Canyon reaches elevations over 8,000 ft, preserving this park a lot cooler in the summertime months than the remainder of Utah’s pink rock nation, which is commonly too sizzling for summer time exploration. However even with cooler temperatures, water continues to be scarce within the amphitheater. At all times verify with park rangers about water availability earlier than starting your trek.

Some hikers elect to go away a water cache on the junction of the Below the Rim path and the Swamp Creek connector path. Bottles have to be labeled with the hiker’s identify and allow dates and have to be packed out on the finish of your hike.

Planning data

  • Permits: Permits for backcountry tenting in Bryce Canyon Nationwide Park will be obtained on-line via Recreation.gov. Permits can be found as much as three months upfront. Permits can also be out there on a walk-in foundation on the Guests Heart.
  • Trailhead instructions: Begin at Below the Rim Trailhead.
  • Essential notes: The map under solely exhibits the 23-mile Below the Rim Path. You even have the choice of including on the 8.8-mile Rigg’s Spring Loop in the beginning. For transportation, use the Park shuttle to get to/from the trailheads.

8. West Rim Path

  • Location: Zion Nationwide Park
  • Path Sort: Level to Level
  • Distance: 14.1 miles
  • Steered Time: 2 days, 1 evening
  • Problem: Reasonable
  • Allow wanted? Sure (permits are aggressive)
  • Greatest Seasons: Spring and fall

Take the scenic footpath route into Zion through the West Rim path. This 14-mile route begins at Lava Level within the Kolob Canyons unit of Zion, northwest of the primary a part of the park.

Lava Level sits at practically 8,000 ft of elevation, whereas Zion Canyon dips all the way down to 4,000 ft, making this a web downhill hike.

For the primary 6.5 miles, you’ll be handled to sweeping views of Wildcat Canyon and the West Rim of Zion earlier than starting your descent at Cabin Spring into Zion Canyon the place you’ll finish on the Grotto Picnic Space.

With a bit planning and loads of luck, you can additionally apply for a allow to hike Angel’s Touchdown, which you’ll cross in your approach down into Zion. A brand new lottery system was applied in 2023 to restrict the variety of hikers on the notoriously slim route, however it’s value attempting for a allow because it’s a spectacular hike (for those who don’t thoughts heights!)

The West Rim’s larger elevation makes this route attainable in the course of the hotter summer time months, however try to be ready to spend a part of the day within the shade and hike within the cooler morning and night hours.

There are 9 designated campsites alongside this route and water is often out there from a number of springs and pure sources alongside the best way however you’ll want to verify availability earlier than you begin your hike.

Backpacker hiking on rock ledge in high country of Zion National Park
Get pleasure from unbelievable views as you descend down into Zion Nationwide Park on the West Rim Path | Photograph: Mary Caperton Morton

Planning data

  • Permits: Half of the out there permits for the West Rim Path will be obtained on-line via the Zion Wilderness Reservation web site. Be aware that you could reserve a campsite for every evening of your journey. The opposite half of the campsites can be found on a walk-in foundation on the Zion Nationwide Park Customer’s Heart.
  • Trailhead instructions: The West Rim Trailhead is positioned close to Lava Level within the northern part of Zion Nationwide Park.
  • Essential notes: There are a number of personal shuttle operators that present transportation to the West Rim Trailhead. The Zion Nationwide Park shuttle doesn’t present service to this trailhead.

9. Mount Timpanogos

  • Location: Uinta-Wasatch-Cache Nationwide Forest
  • Path Sort: Out and Again
  • Distance: 14.3 miles
  • Steered Time: 2 days, 1 evening
  • Problem: Laborious
  • Allow wanted? No
  • Greatest Seasons: Summer time and early fall

Towering over the larger Salt Lake Metropolis metropolitan space, Mount Timpanogos, affectionately often called “Timp”, is the second-highest peak within the Wasatch Vary, reaching 11,753 ft in elevation.

The 14.3-mile spherical journey hike to the summit features over 4,400 ft of elevation and for many individuals, is finest damaged up into an in a single day hike.

The trek begins on the Timpooneke trailhead, subsequent to the Timpooneke campground, and follows the South Fork River previous Scout Falls up into Timpanogos Basin. Most individuals elect to camp right here, close to Emerald Lake, and sort out the ultimate climb as much as the saddle and scramble alongside the windy ridge to the summit.

On high, you’ll be rewarded with unparalleled views of the Nice Salt Lake Valley, Utah Lake and Provo Canyon. Mountain goats are sometimes noticed on the encircling cliffs and ridges.

Watch out for lightning hazard in the summertime, although. It’s finest to be off the summit by early afternoon to keep away from thunderstorms.

This hike may also be performed from the Aspen Grove Trailhead, which has the same mileage and barely extra elevation achieve, assembly the Timpooneke route close to Emerald Lake.

Woman sitting on summit of Mount Timpanogos in Utah with beautiful mountain ridge vista behind her
Get pleasure from unbelievable vistas on the summit of Mount Timpanogos, the second highest peak in Utah’s Wasatch Vary

Planning data

  • Permits: No allow is required to hike Mount Timpanogos
  • Trailhead instructions: Begin on the Mount Timpanogos North Trailhead. Alternatively, you can begin at Aspen Grove Trailhead and even make it a loop backpacking journey.
  • Essential notes: Mount Timpanogos is understood for late afternoon thunderstorms. Intention to be off the mountain by early afternoon.

10. Uinta Highline Path

  • Location: Uinta-Wasatch-Cache Nationwide Forest
  • Path Sort: Excessive Uintas Wilderness
  • Distance: 104 miles
  • Steered Time: 9 days, 8 nights
  • Problem: Laborious
  • Allow wanted? No
  • Greatest Seasons: Summer time

Utah’s most well-known long-distance hike follows the crest of the Uinta Mountains, an east-to-west operating mountain vary within the northeast nook of the state. Alongside the best way, you’ll tag King’s Peak, the best level in Utah at 13,528 ft and identified for being one of the crucial distant excessive factors within the state.

Landscape photo of King's Peak and Uintas Mountain Range in Utah
The Highline Path passes beneath the shadow of King’s Peak, the best level in Utah at 13,528 ft. Hikers have the choice so as to add 1.2 miles to the summit

The Highline Trai will be hiked in both course, however most thru-hikers elect to go from east to west, beginning at McKee Draw and ending at Hayden Cross close to Mirror Lake.

The path crosses eight named mountain passes, throughout 11,200 ft of elevation, altogether gaining and shedding over 16,000 ft of elevation.

Water abounds on this route and will be discovered in lots of small creeks and alpine lake basins and meadows. In between the passes, you’ll dip again into aspen groves and pine forests, which may give some cowl in the course of the afternoon thunderstorms that usually roll throughout the mountains in late summer time.

The mountain climbing season will be brief within the Uintas, particularly in deep snow years when the passes could stay snow-covered till late July or August.

Planning data

  • Permits: No allow is required to backpack the Highline Path
  • Trailhead instructions: If beginning within the east (the most well-liked course), begin at McKee Draw Trailhead. The western trailhead is on Hayden Cross.
  • Essential notes: For those who plan on doing the complete Highline Path, you’ll have to have a resupply plan because the route doesn’t cross via any cities.

Utah is residence to limitless out of doors adventures. Listed here are just a few extra Utah weblog posts that can assist you plan an epic journey to this unbelievable state:

Have you ever performed any backpacking journeys in Utah? What are your favourite trails and routes? Which of those are in your bucket listing? Tell us within the feedback!

Bearfoot Theory | Looking for an adventure in Utah? Look no further than these top backpacking trips! From the red rock canyons of Zion National Park to the remote wilderness of the Uinta Mountains, Utah offers some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in the country. Whether you're a seasoned backpacker or a beginner, this blog post will guide you through the best backpacking trips in Utah, with tips on planning your trip, what to pack, and what to expect on the trail.



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