A Utah Backpacking Challenge

Our Utah Backpacking treks are all in the spectacular red-rock canyon country of southern Utah. It’s a landscape like no other, with vast stretches of open desert, high juniper-dotted mesas and plateaus with great expanses of naked sandstone and sand. There are towering colorful rock formations galore, and vertical red canyon walls rising above clear desert canyon-bottom streams flanked by lush growths of grass, wildflowers, willow and cottonwood. Wow, what a place! Flanking Canyon Country are snow-covered mountains, such as the La-Salles, the Abajos and the Henrys. The Henry Mountains were the last mountain range to be discovered in the lower 48 states, and we have great views of these high rugged peaks from areas of our Eacalante Canyons treks. All of the canyons and streams eventually drain into the Colorado River, or at least what was the Colorado River before the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation stopped it up with a big plug of concrete known as the Glen Canyon Dam. But that tragedy is another story. Stay Tuned. The good news is that despite the destruction, there’s still plenty of great wild country to explore and backpacking in Utah is a wonderful and unique experience!

One warning, though. There are few maintained trails. If you’re used to simply studying maps and plotting a route based upon the look of the contour lines, beware! The sandstone forms cliffs, nearly everywhere. Some are hundreds or even thousands of feet high, but some form shear walls of just 20 or 30 feet. If you’re looking at a map with 40 foot contour intervals, a 30 foot cliff won’t show up. And that’s plenty to stop your hike cold, right at rims’ edge or at the base of the vertical wall! Walking down a canyon or a wash and coming upon a sudden drop off that cannot safely be descended is called “getting rimmed” and it’s got nothing to do with basketball. But it has everything to do with common sense: if it’s too steep and dangerous, don’t try it! Backtrack and find another route. Or better yet, sign up for one of our Big Wild Adventures guided Utah backpack treks in the Escalante Canyons, the Grand Staircase backcountry or the wilds of Canyonlands National Park. We’ve been at it in Canyon Country for a very long time, and in each of our three guiding areas we know the secret routes to safely navigate through this amazing maze of canyon and mesa. And we also know how to find ancient ruins and other magical wonders of these other-worldly landscapes better than just about anyone. See you in Utah!

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