Feb 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm #1285338
Myself and two friends are planning a 7-9 day long road/backpacking trip in southern Utah. We're planning on flying in to Vegas and renting a SUV. We're thinking about hitting the GC, Bryce, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands and Escalante. I'd like to see Canyon Du Chelly but we think it's too far out of the way. We would like to squeeze in a 2-3 night loop trip of possible. None of us have ever been to this part of the country so we're looking for input on the "must-see/do" areas in this region. We're shooting for sometime in the middle of May.
I know my query is pretty vague but you gotta start somewhere….
AlFeb 8, 2012 at 3:17 pm #1836481
@ramblerLocale: On the AT in VA
Do not miss Arches National Park. There are plenty of trails near Moab, UT. You could check with the Outward Bound Headquarters there for suggestions.
Google "Moab, Utah Outfitters"Feb 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm #1836490
David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
Al, what sort of experience and fitness does your group have? What are your goals/hopes for the backpack? There are so many good options.
Mid-May can be rather hot in the lower elevations of southern Utah (meaning 5k and under). For that reason, and because it's a lot of driving, I would skip the Moab area and just focus on Zion/Bryce/Escalante and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The official opening of the North Rim is usually around that time. Even if you're a bit early, you can drive around the gate on dirt roads and still take the paved highway into the park.Feb 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm #1836984
Two of the three of us are experience backpackers but none of us has much desert experience. That's why we're thinking of just doing short overnight trips. I don't know if I'd be confident enough to do a multi day trip. I think we're just going to go to each park on the list and stop in to talk with the rangers. They have the best intel anyway, (trail conditions, water sources, etc)Feb 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm #1836990
+1 for skipping Arches/Canyonlands that time of year. Hot, busy, and pretty far from the other areas.
A few good short easy hikes in the escalante area:
Hang out and swim at upper calf creek falls (a little chilly in May but still quite enjoyable)
Coyote Gulch would be a good scenic short backpack. Lower Death Hollow as well (from Escalante: either Boulder Mail trail-DH-Escalante or just hike down the escalante into lower DH.) Plenty of water on both.Feb 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm #1837091
David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
You'll have a blast no matter what you do. Too many good options to list. The best ones come down to preference. That said, here's what I would do if had your schedule and two friends who were fit, adventurous hikers but desert neophytes (one bullet per day, double bullets are primo food options in each area).
-Fly into Vegas, rent car, buy groceries, drive to Springdale. If early flight, hike Angels Landing, watch the sunrise, picnic dinner on top, hike down via headlamp. Car camp at Coal Pits Wash TH (free). If late flight, do Angels the next morning.
–Mean Bean for coffee, Pizza Noodle for dinner.
-Drive to Bryce. Hike Fairyland, Navajo, Peakaboo trails. Camp north of park on FS land (free).
–breakfast at Bryce Pines is good. Do NOT eat at Ruby's Inn.
-Drive to Escalante. Get water and beta. Drive to and hike Peakaboo/Spooky. Drive to Egypt TH. Camp.
-3 day backpack. Egypt TH to Fence Canyon, explore Neon and Ringtail canyons, hike out 25 mile Wash and cross country back to TH. Get beta from Steve Allen's books and bring good detailed topo maps.
–pizza, beer and ice cream at Escalante Outfitters. You could reserve a cabin, too.
-Drive to Buckskin Gulch. Shortcut down the Pariah. Mind the washboard. Out and back exploration from Wire Pass TH. Camp (free) at TH.
-Drive to North Rim Grand Canyon. Dayhike down North Kaibab to hearts content. Camp outside park at Parrisawampitts Point (free, bring water, beer).
–breakfast and cookies at Jacob's Lake Lodge are good. Beer from Teddy Roosevelt bar on North Rim lodge porch, too.
-Leave.Feb 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm #1837101
W I S N E R !BPL Member
"–Mean Bean for coffee, Pizza Noodle for dinner."
Pizza Noddle is responsible for at least 50% of all the calories I've ever consumed- in beer and food- outside of campgrounds or the backcountry in Utah. Good call Dave.Feb 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm #1837104
Fantastic itinerary. Do that.Feb 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm #1840005
You guys rock!Feb 17, 2012 at 11:02 am #1840802
Elizabeth TracyBPL Member
What Dave C. said.
Here's a good book with very detailed intel on many of the canyons/routes involved:
Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau (Kelsey)
Buckskin/Paria and the Escalante are world class destinations. Most people make the mistake of skipping them just cuz they are not inside a national park.
I consider the entirety of southern Utah to be a giant national park. Except, a lot of it can be had without the attending crowds :)
Dave C's proposal entails one day in Zion (Angels Landing), and taking the 3-day trip in Escalante. I am not familiar with that specific loop he recommends in the Escalante. But generally the Escalante is going to be more rugged than Zion, etc. if you are new to desert backpacking. (I would consider Coyote Gulch in Escalante, for instance, a rugged-ish trip, with some Class 2 scaling of stuff down towards the big river.) You could consider switching the two itineraries, by backpacking for 3 days in Zion (West Rim Trail) and spending your one day in Escalante exploring the day-hiking slot canyons (Peekaboo Gulch, etc.). That would put your backpacking trip onto a route that is 100% on trail (no x-country), and also to a higher/cooler location if the weather really heats up.
But Escalante backpacking for a few nights would be wonderful. You'd get solitude. It is probably manageable if you have a good basic sense of direction, a guidebook/map, and people who aren't afraid of getting their feet wet or sliding down a rock here and there.
– ElizabethFeb 17, 2012 at 11:05 am #1840804
Elizabeth TracyBPL Member
…and, don't sell yourself short on the day you are exploring Buckskin Gulch. Get an early start and have all day for a long out-and-back.
That gulch is out of this world. It gets more interesting the further down you can go.
– ElizabethFeb 17, 2012 at 11:22 am #1840815
For Escalante beta, I'd highly recommend Steve Allen's Canyoneering 3 over Kelsey. Allen's books, especially Canyoneering 3, are some of the best guidebooks for anywhere I've ever read. Kelseys books are good for some ideas and he's an, uh, interesting guy, but there are lots of not-so-nice trip reports out there of people trying to follow his route descriptions.
The Fence/Escalante/25 mile wash trip is easy navigation except for the last part back to the trailhead, which isn't difficult if you can use navigation tools and can get ahold of Allen's route description. Deer flies can be bad in this area in May, so plan ahead.
West Rim is nice as well but you'd have to do an out and back unless you want to deal with a shuttle.Feb 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm #1840920
Sounds like you have a good plan so far, there's tons of great hikes in this area.
If you are looking to explore the area but don't want to rent a car, you could try the Wicked Desert Experience backpacker shuttle. They have a shuttle service that starts from Las Vegas going to Zion, then to Moab, before heading to Flagstaff (Grand Canyon) and then back to Vegas.
They stop at each location twice a week, so you can plan to spend a few days in each location before moving on. I recommend checking them out for the shuttle service OR for trip planning advice. Schedule and more info can be found on their site – http://www.wdexperience.comMar 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm #1851333
I do have another question:
Is it best to treat water (Potable Agua) or to filter it? Are most of the water sources really silty? Or we will have to carry all of our water in?
AlMay 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm #1882837
I just wanted to follow up and give a big thanks to all that contributed info. We flew into Vegas, camped at Valley of Fire. Then we drove to Zion and hiked the Narrows on the first day, did Observation Point on the second. Next was Bryce. We hiked Queen's Garden and part of Peek-a-boo. Next we drove to Coyote Gulch and spent two nights there. On the way out we stopped and did the slot canyons Peekaboo and Spooky. Then we drove to the north rim and hiked partway down North Kiabab. We camped several nights on BLM land for free. All in all it was a great trip.
If anyone needs specific info feel free to PM me.Apr 2, 2013 at 7:35 pm #1972179
Jim MacDiarmidBPL Member
Since this post already has a lot of good info on a trip I'm planning, I'm reviving it with my own requests for advice.
I'm doing the Zion Traverse from Thursday May 9-Saturday May 11(Wildcat Canyon->West Rim Camp 2->Out). But I plan on flying in on Saturday, May 4 to Las Vegas.
landing about 1:30pm and driving to Bryce National Park.
Reading this thread, I'm think I want to do some version of Bryce National Park(Sunday), Escalante(Monday), Grand Canyon North Rim(Tuesday), pick up my permit and Zion Narrows day hike(Wednesday) before starting my trip on Thursday.
Day 1, I'm going with what Dave Recommends:
Drive to Bryce. Hike Fairyland, Navajo, Peakaboo trails. Camp north of park on FS land (free).
and that sounds good to me. Then the next day driving to Escalante. What should I do there? There's quite a few recommendations on BPL for Escalante, in this thread and others. I'd like to dayhike and then drive as close as possible to the North Rim on that night so as to day hike as much of the North Kaibab trail as time allows, being in or near Springdale, UT on Tuesday night so I can hike a good portion of the Narrows on Wednesday. What would you dayhike in Escalante, presuming a 9-10am start and a finish around 6:30-7pm, which allows 3 hrs to get to that night's destination(close to or in Springdale?
So; camping/lodging options near North Rim of the Grand Canyon? Camping/lodging options between the North Rim and Zion, close-ish to Zion(Parrisawampitts Point looks like a 3 hour drive, so a bit to far on Wednesday morning)? I'm willing to book motels if that's the best option for any night.
Thanks for the help with last-minute planning.Apr 3, 2013 at 10:11 pm #1972654
I highly recommend hitting up Zion. I did a couple overnighters in the South Desert and Kolob Canyon in mid March, it was absolutely beautiful. They had just gotten the biggest snow of the year the day we got there so those 2 areas were the most recommended as far as trail conditions go, but still had a little mud. West and East Rim should have good conditions by May though! I'd say go to the Wilderness Desk and ask for their recommendations. But I promise you can't go wrong with Kolob and deep into the South Desert. Y'all have fun and let us know how it goes!Apr 3, 2013 at 10:15 pm #1972656
Sorry, just realized this trip was 2012! Glad y'all had fun!
Jim, so jealous of your upcoming Zion Traverse. Enjoy and fill us in!Apr 5, 2013 at 5:33 am #1973037
@aldoleopoldLocale: Great Lakes
While in Springdale, eat at Oscars. You'll be glad you did.
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