Hiking Trip in Utah
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Feb 19, 2013 8:09 AM Last Post By: eurotrash
Feb 17, 2013 8:37 PM
Hiking Trip in UtahI am driving a rental car from Denver to do some hiking in Utah during the first week of April with a friend. We don't want to spend a fortune with accommodations. Please help with some questions:
1. Is it warm enough to camp this early in the Spring?
2. Are we better off staying at a cheap place at a city outside the parks to save on the whole hassle of setting up and tearing down a campground?
3. We have about 6 days total for our trip. We are both in excellent shape and would like to experience the best hiking in Utah. Some challenging hikes would be nice. We are thinking Zion and Bryce for now. Would it also be worth trying to fit in Escalante, Arches, or Canyonlands? Please recommend any hikes that you feel would be awesome?
4. I understand that some trails (like The Narrows and Subway at Zion) need to be reserved. Can this be done ahead of time on the internet? How many days ahead? Are these trails going to be open in early April?
Any advice on hiking would be much appreciated. I have traveled enough to understand that its better to focus on only a few areas instead of going all over the map but its hard to choose with so many great places in Utah.
Feb 17, 2013 9:27 PM
1I am driving a rental car from Denver to do some hiking in Utah during the first week of April with a friend. We don't want to spend a fortune with accommodations. Please help with some questions:
1. Depends on the altitude and the weather. See http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/coopmap/ April weather is very volatile and you can expect anything from blowing snow to 70F with sunny blue skies. ("Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get!")
2. I can't answer that for you. If you have three left thumbs and are Tent Challenged, a room may be the better option. ;)
3. Whoa! 6 days is nothing. Pick two or three areas at most.
Zion, in particular, is a long ways from Co. You'd save a full day of driving by sticking closer to Arches. Maybe Arches, Goblin Valley (some excellent slot canyons nearby - http://www.americansouthwest.net/slot_canyons/san_rafael_swell/index.html) and Capitol Reef or the gorgeous, hike rich, drive down to Hite Crossing.
Escalante is superb, but also vast. A week will only scratch the surface. You'll need to do some research before just wandering out there.
4. AFAIK, neither hike is much fun in early April. (Unless you are a polar bear.)
Here's a good starting place...
Feb 17, 2013 9:57 PM
21. It also depends on your gear...and you. What you think is too cold, I might think is merely invigorating. Or vice versa. If you have good cold-weather gear, you'll be more than comfortable just about anywhere in Utah in April. If not, and the weather turns "volatile", you may end up quite uncomfortable.
2. I agree, that's largely about you, but also the particular hikes you're interested in. Camping has its own hassles and rewards. Some of the hikes you may want to do are far enough from towns that camping is probably the best option. Close to Moab or Escalante it may make more sense, from a purely logistical standpoint, to use motel rooms.
3. Coming from Denver with only 6 days, I'd stick completely around the general Moab area, or maybe mix it up with a trip out to Capitol Reef or the San Rafeal Swell (wonderful canyons, less visited than other areas). Canyonlands Needles District has some of the best hiking in the region - highly recommended. A hike out the Confluence overlook, via Chessler Park, would be a highlight of any trip. Arches has several fabulous hikes besides the short but iconic trip to Delicate Arch. The Fiery Furnace is permit-only, but is absolutely one of the best hikes in southern Utah.
Escalante is wonderful, but if you drive all the way down there you should commit to spending your 4 full remaining days there. Escalante has a few easily accessible attractions but really rewards longer explorations. Wet slot canyons will not be fun, and the Escalante River itself may pose something of a problem, depending on runoff conditions. You'll have to consider this carefully if you want to go down there.
Bryce in April is a crap shoot - it is considerably higher elevation than other parks and may still be snowed in. Zion is so far that I can't see just driving past everything else in Utah to spend an extra 5 hours each way getting there and back.
4. Never mind the driving distance, these hikes are a no-go in April. The water in the Subway is cold in June, and the Narrows will be not only frigid but more than likely dangerously high with spring runoff.
Feb 18, 2013 1:40 AM
3I agree that if you're flying into Denver with just six days (in total?) - then Zion NP and Bryce Canyon NP are too far there and back to get the most value from your trip. Either fly to and from Las Vegas to visit Zion or Bryce (assuming you don't live in Denver) - or take the advice above and stay solely around the broader Moab region - it's great (and from my modest experience, I think the hiking is better in Arches, Canyonlands, etc).
We have found Utah motels fairly inexpensive ... and to my mind camping is less fun when you are changing location each day or two. Again - I don't now whether you're flying into Denver - if so, carrying the right gear with you is more problematic.
Feb 18, 2013 7:28 AM
4Thanks for all the great advice! I am leaving from Denver because I actually was going to try to ski a few days in Summit County Colorado. I skied Alta/Snowbird last year in Utah. But it would make a lot more sense to just wait to do some Colorado skiing at a later date. I'm sure I could find some more great skiing In Utah to complement the hiking. It would be nice to check out Deer Creek, Park City, or Canyons. It is also $150 cheaper to fly from Chicago to Denver instead of Salt Lake:) I guess I have a decision to make. Unfortunately our Spring Break is early April but I really wanted to hike The Narrows at Zion but I guess I will need to try some of the other great hikes recommended on here. It probably would be a better trip if we stick to motels and fly in to Salt Lake. I actually have 10 days total for the trip.
Feb 18, 2013 8:17 AM
5I want to add a note of caution to your plans. If you are serious about exploring slot canyons and you have no experience with them,read this. I would also suggest that you make certain that someone who cares about you knows where you are going and when to expect you to return each day that you intend to hike into a slot canyon. In a slot canyon, you can get "in over your head," both literally and figuratively in a slot canyon before you realize what just happened.
Be careful and have a great time.
Feb 18, 2013 9:23 AM
Feb 18, 2013 11:41 AM
7Came up with two trips. Please make any suggestions and let me know which one you think would be best?
Option 1 Utah Spring Break Trip
Wednesday Fly in To Salt Lake
Thursday- Ski Alta
Friday- Ski Deer Valley
Saturday- Rest Day and Drive to Zion:
Sunday: Zion - Emerald Pools, Kayenta Trail
Monday: Zion - the Narrows (if possible) if not: Observation Point, Hidden Canyon and Echo Canyon.
Drive to Bryce:
Tuesday: Bryce - Fairyland Loop, Peek-a-Boo Loop, or Navajo Loop/Queen's Garden.
Wednesday: Bryce - do whatever didn't fit into Tuesday.
Thursday: Drive to Escalante- Devils Garden, Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch
Friday: Escalante - Lower Calf Creek Falls
Saturday: Drive to Salt Lake
Sunday: Fly Home
Option 2 Colorado/Utah Spring Break Trip
Wednesday Fly in To Denver
Thursday- Ski Breckenridge
Friday- Ski Keystone
Saturday- Ski Vail
Sunday Rest Day and Drive to Arches
Monday: Arches -
Wednesday: Drive to Canyonlands get in a small hike
Thrusday : Canyonlands
Saturday: Drive to Denver
Sunday: Fly Home
Feb 18, 2013 1:07 PM
8Since you've found some slots, you might consider adding these to your SLC loop.
Willis Creek and Bull Valley Gorge, road and trail conditions allowing.
If Skutumpah Rd. is too messy, see if you can reach Round Valley Draw.
You might try something a bit more ambitious. Maybe the Cosmic Ashtray, or one of the many arches within hiking distance of Hole-in-the-Rock rd. The Zebra/Tunnel pair are also tempting, although they are likely to be protected by a moat of freezing, waist-deep water so early in the season. The Gulch Trail, reached via Burr Trail Road, makes for a pretty, intermediate length hike. Phipps Arch?
Please listen when people say that the Narrows will be damn cold. If wading knee-deep through ice cold melted snow sounds 'fun' ...
Feb 18, 2013 2:09 PM
9Zion: I suppose one could rent some neoprene booties in Springdale and brave the lower end of the Narrows, if water levels are safe (not even remotely gauranteed in April). A through-hike is out of the question. Why are you skipping Angel's Landing? Probably the next-most-iconic hike in the park, after the Narrows.
Bryce may still be quite snowy, depending on how the weather evolves over the next month. Hard to say right now.
You can probably fit Brimstone Gulch into your Peeka-boo and Spooky hike, and make a full day of it.
You can easily blow a week around Moab, hiking every day - including areas outside of Aches and Canyonlands, and April is a great time to be there. There are many excellent guidebooks to dayhikes in the area, both within and outside the National Parks. Within Arches NP, you must hit Delicate Arch and the Fiery Furnace; Wall Street and the Landscape Arch hikes are nice also. You might consider a longer day trip to Bell and Little Wild Horse Canyons (near Goblin Valley). The best hiking in Canyonlands is in the Needles District, which is quite remote (although the access road is paved). That's one where camping will really be more convenient, and the campground is one of the nicest around.
On an unrelated note...I understand that you want to check everything out, but you might enjoy your skiing trip a little more by moving less. Each of your resorts is huge, and will easily entertain you for more than a day. Why hassle with moving constantly?
Feb 18, 2013 2:22 PM
10I read somewhere that Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch wound up with their names swapped (possibly the surveyor had one whiskey too many). Landscape Arch is very delicate indeed, and looks like it could fall down any moment, whereas Delicate Arch is extremely robust, and out on the landscape in a very dramatic way.
Anyway - both are very pleasant to get up fairly close to.
Feb 18, 2013 8:09 PM
Feb 19, 2013 12:00 AM
Feb 19, 2013 8:09 AM
13In 10 days of hiking So. Utah, Bell and Little Wild Horse Canyons were the best thing I did on the trip. I had never done a slot canyon before, I'm sure there are hundreds that are much more hard-core, but at least for me it felt like a manageable adventure. There is a good campground in the state park at nearby Goblin Valley (which is pretty cool to check out itself).
Also re: Lower Calf Creek falls on a Friday - not sure how popular it is in April, but in September we had to abandon not only our plans of camping there, but of doing the short hike because the parking lot was overflowing with no nearby alternative.
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