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Trip ideas for Southern Utah...
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Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
Trip ideas for Southern Utah... on 02/28/2008 07:28:19 MST Print View

I often do weekend trips in Southern Utah's red rock country, but am finding it difficult to plan a 5-7 day trip due to scarcity of water. Most of the hikes you read about in guidebooks or on the internet are day hikes or overnighters at most.

Does anyone have any routes they have done where they were able to reliably find water once a day? (I'm OK with carrying 5L at one time).

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Trip ideas for Southern Utah... on 02/28/2008 07:47:17 MST Print View

Oh man! There are LOADS of possibilities down there! This time of year, water is rarely an issue.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

Needles (Canyonlands NP)- do a big loop. This is some of the most beautiful and varied terrain- it's like a hiker's playground. This is my first choice for desert beginners. It's accessable and you have loads of choices to head off in your own direction without a huge commitment.

Maze (Canyonlands NP)- get a high clearance 4wd and head in on the Flint. Or stop at the overlook to make the entry shorter. I could spend a lifetime there.

Grand Gultch- looking for solitude and ruins? Done deal.

Paria Canyon- Start at the Buckskin and head down to Arizona. It doesn't get more incredible than this. And with that many days you can choose to go slowly and explore or to head down and back up! Get permits early or have a plan B.

Those are just a few. Keep in mind that guidebooks have to be very conservative and that most of your water concerns really arize in July and August. Once you select a certain trip, you'll be able to find where the springs and water holes are from the rangers or on maps. 5L of water at some stretches may be necessary.

David Passey
(davidpassey) - F

Locale: New York City
Re: Trip ideas for Southern Utah... on 02/28/2008 08:33:34 MST Print View

I've spent a lot of time in that country. This time of year, there will be a lot of water. For myself, I would probably hike primarily (perhaps exclusively) in water sandals (Chacos), which are great for the water, the sandy paths and the sandstone in that region.

You might focus on the Escalante drainage. For example, if the Escalante is your trip "artery", you can hike up drainages, cross the benches, drop into the next drainage and hike back to the Escalante. Maime Creek, Deer Creek, Boulder Creek, Harris Wash, Coyote Gulch, and others will all have water this time of year, and the canyons are spectacular. It's hard to go too far wrong. Once you get away from the bridge at highway 12, you can find some lonely, beautiful spots, freshwater springs, etc.

ULA has Brian Frankle's trip report of hiking this country. He blew past the Escalante drainage, but if you're looking to explore canyons you can meander there for a long time without duplication.

You might call Escalante Outfitters located in Boulder UT. They would have a sense of water levels--some of the drainages may be difficult to hike early in the season. Also, flow rates are recorded on the internet, so you could probably check yourself, though without having a basis of comparison, the flow rate won't tell you much.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Trip ideas for Southern Utah... on 02/28/2008 12:30:15 MST Print View

Yes- Escalante is a marvelous place! There are so many choices down there. I can't count the trips from Seattle to southern Utah that I've made! David is totally correct- you could wanter forever and never touch the same place twice.

I've seen many peopl in sandals but I haven't liked this option. For trips where walking in water is common I prefer a closed shoe that drains easily. I also use shortie gaiters. I find the sand gets into the sandals and is uncomfortable and that I grind my toes when climbing. But there are many ways to enjoy it!

The ability to carry water is a key piece. If you make it to Needles (a great first so. utah backpack) then Chesler Park is totally dry. You will have to haul water and this is common many places down there.

Have a blast! My Utah trips have stopped now that I have a young one at home...I can't wait until he's ready for a big Utah trip!!!


Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
Escalante area... on 02/28/2008 13:02:53 MST Print View

David - I'm completely in love with the Escalante area - I've done Coyote Gulch about 5 times now. The most recent trip we were going to try to hike down Coyote, up Stevens Canyon (drains into the Escalante) and east to the Waterpocket Fold. From there we could head down to Halls Creek if we had time. Unfortunately, Stevens ended up being filled with bramble bushes from edge to edge. That put a stop to that idea.

I'm not so worried about taking off into uncharted territory this time of year - but many of my trips end up being in the summer where washes or pockets have dried up. During my past few 4x4 trips down to the area I've been marking springs and shallow streams with my GPS, but I don't know if I can rely on those, and wouldn't want to be almost out of water and find out my "source" is dried up.

I'll try doing a Needles loop. Doug - do you have a certain route you took? My family did Buckskin as a day hike (without me!) and couldn't tell me anything about reliable water if I were to keep on going.

I'll be down in the Powell area hiking in a couple weeks... near Bullfrog. I'll post some pics for you Doug. And... if anyone wants to plan a hike let me know!

Edited by splproductions on 02/28/2008 13:05:30 MST.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Escalante area... on 02/28/2008 18:15:24 MST Print View


You will love Needles. It's very different from Escalante.

When you have the maps of that area, you'll love all the short loops that are possible- you can put together a wide array of combinations, all of which are incredible.

Druid Arch is a must see. I like to base myself in Chesler- anything is reachable from there. Don't miss the Joint. Heading down toward the Colorado is interesting but I love the areas around Chesler the best. Plan on putting together lots of loops because the area is so varied and interesting. Heading down to Salt Creek is an incredible walk. Man, I want to go!!!

Springs can be unreliable, especially the ones we rely on in the Spring. In a place like Needles, the maps will show the reliable ones. On the way to Druid there is always water.

The Kelsey books show springs too and I've found them to be very reliable. I enjoy his books- he's a character and not loved by all but his information is spot-on (except for his times- I think he runs and posts his best time in the books).

I'd love to see the pics so I can live vicariously!


drew doty
(drewdoty1444) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz, CA
planning a trip to so.utah! on 05/26/2008 23:57:53 MDT Print View

hi there i see all of you have spent some time in the canyons of so. utah...i am jealous! i am planning a trip there in late november of this year and was curious if Nov. would be a good time of year? i also was looking at going in april as another option. is there a preference as to which time of year?

are there usually a couple of storms that have dropped some rain in Nov. and made water sources easier to find? is there a chance of snow and what are the night time temps getting down to. i was there last summer in july and man was it hot. i was looking at going somewhere in the escalante drainage. thanks for any advice!


Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
Utah on 06/06/2008 18:59:07 MDT Print View

The Needles district at Canyonlands National Park is a fantastic place! I've spent the last three Thanksgivings there and it never disappoints. There are soo many options to choose from like whats been discussed. Chesler park, joint trail, Lost Canyon and tons of other places to see. There are also great arches as well. You can book spots up to 2 weeks in advance then they become first come first serve. I've showed up all three years and never had a problem, but spring break is another thing. November is also a great time for the weather, it is usually nice in the mid 70's with wonderful nights. The cairns are easy to follow and take you to spectacular scenary including the Hoodoo's and the great expanse of Chesler Park.

You can't go wrong here and its not the crowded. Campsite selection advise would be CP5 which is right next to an old cowboy camp and old 'graffite' with old negro bill reward portrait.

Utah's a great state and you can't go wrong, no matter where you go.

Have fun!