Backpacking in Utah

Backpacking in Utah can mean standing atop a 13,000 foot mountaintop staring out over alpine lakes and dense forests of pine and aspen thousands of feet below. It can also mean trekking in a stream with water shoes through a mystical desert canyon, periodic swim breaks beneath beautiful waterfalls, walking through natural bridges, and wondering what life must have been like for the Anasazi who lived here a thousand years ago.

There is no more varied place on earth to backpack. To begin such an adventure in Utah, to step into its thousands of miles of wilderness, can be an extremely cathartic experience. The season can determine whether you choose to head for the mountains, make a pilgrimage to the desert, or both. More than 70 percent of Utah is public land: five National Parks, nine million acres of National Forest, millions of acres belong to the National Monuments and National Recreation Areas, and 42 percent of Utah is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. That adds up to unbelievable choices for backpacking that would take more than a lifetime to complete.

Regardless of where you choose to hike, be cautious. Never hike alone, always tell your friends and family where you are going and when you plan to return. Always carry plenty of water in both the deserts and mountains. Bring a first-aid kit and a water filter. Be prepared to be truly self-reliant. It's a good idea to take more food and water than you think you'll need in the event you become stranded. Most importantly, have a safe, fun, and rewarding experience.

Many professional guides offer hiking treks throughout Utah, including National Parks and Wilderness Areas.