The American Southwest is filled with bucket list adventures that are perfect for beginners, all the way to experience adventurers. We spent a few weeks in this part of the country this past summer. We dug around and found some of our favorite hiking and backpacking adventures that line the paths of Utah, the Grand Canyon, and Death Valley.
What: Bucksin Gulch to Paria Canyon
Where: Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Utah
If Canyon hiking is your thing then you have to explore the Buckin Gulch to Paria Canyon. The 43-mile, point-to-point hike will take adventurers through the longest, deepest slot canyon in North American, the Bucksin Gulch. Surrounded by sunset sandstone walls, hikers will cross the Paria River over 50 times while exploring. Although this hike is multi-days, the natural arches, waterfalls, natural springs, and epic canyon scenery make the hike entirely worth it. Paria Canyon and Bucksin Gulch can be done separately, but why not just do them together in an amazing backpacking adventure?
What: Tanner Trail to Grandview via the Escalante Route
Where: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Gradn Canyon provides a lot of opportunity for hiking and backpacking. This may be our favorite. Offering exciting challenges and sweeping grandeur, the Tanner Trail to Grandview is a backpacker’s wildest dream. The trail will take hikers through some of the most scenic and geological areas of the Grand Canyon, allowing explorers to get up close and personal with the canyon. The hike includes slot canyons, camping at a beach, and solitude. Hikers will get a true perspective of the Grand Canyon with this hike.
What: The Sundance Trail to Dark Canyon
Where: Dark Canyon Primitive Wilderness, Utah
Utah’s Canyon Country is probably one of the best places to hike and backpack and if you’re in luck, you will have the entire Dark Canyon all to yourself. Hikers who love adventures will travel 2-3 hours in any direction to reach the trailhead, which is well worth it since the scenery in the Dark Canyon is some of the best you’ll ever see. Dark Canyon even got the nickname of “the Little Grand Canyon” because of the always changing hues and sheer cliff walls. The Sundance Trail is rugged and exhilarating, taking hikers into the depths of the Dark Canyon and giving them unlimited options for hiking into side canyons and tributaries. If you’re more of a beginner but still want an adventure, The Sundance Trail also offers a simple day hike but if you want to go to the extreme you can spend at least a night or two out exploring Utah’s wilderness.
What: Marble Canyon via Cottonwood Canyon
Where: Death Valley National Park, California
Surrounded by natural springs and towering cottonwood trees sounds amazing right? You can get all that in none other than Death Valley. Known for their ecologically diversity, billion-year-old marble, and slot canyons, Death Valley is a wonderful place to explore and the best thing about it, you’re pretty much alone the entire time. The Marble Canyon via Cottonwood Canyon offers a rough and wild adventure that will have any hiker or backpacker truly appreciating the beauty of Death Valley. If you’re a beginner don’t worry, you can still enjoy Death Valley via Marble Canyon without all the thrilling excitement.