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October 22, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged America’s best backpacking trips, Angels Landing, Arizona, backpacking The Narrows Zion, Beehive Traverse, Best desert Southwest backpacking trips, Best U.S. backpacking trips, Bright Angel Trail, Buckskin Gulch, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Gorge, Capitol Reef National Park, Chesler Park, Chimney Rock Canyon, Chimney Rock Trailhead, Coyote Gulch, Coyote Natural Bridge, family backpacking, Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon South Rim backpacking trips, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Grand Wash, Grandview Point, Grandview Trail, Hermit Trail, Jacob Hamblin Arch, Kolob Canyons, North Fork of the Virgin River, North Kaibab Trail, Paria Canyon, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Royal Arch Grand Canyon, Royal Arch Loop, South Bass Trail, South Kaibab Trail, Southern Utah hiking backpacking, Spring Canyon, The Needles District, Tonto Trail, Utah, Utah parks, West Rim Trail, Zion Canyon, Zion Narrows, Zion National Park   |   7 Comments

David Ports backpacking the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

By Michael Lanza

Everyone remembers his or her first visit to the desert Southwest. The bizarre, vividly colored geology of southern Utah and Arizona ignites wildfires of the imagination that burn permanent impressions. I recall staring at rock formations sculpted in ways I’d never observed before and thinking, “How can this be?” And you’ll find very worthy dayhikes and roadside eye candy in classic parks like Grand Canyon, Zion, and Canyonlands. But leaving civilization for days to probe more deeply into those parks—and other canyon-country gems you may not know much about—opens invisible doors to experiences that amplify the feelings inspired by these mystical landscapes.

After a quarter-century of chasing the best backpacking trips in southern Utah and the Grand Canyon area, I’ve put together this list of what I submit are the 10 best.

The descriptions and photos below all link to stories at The Big Outside that have more images and information about these trips—including when to apply for a backcountry permit, which is coming up soon for many of them if you want to take one next spring.

I’d love to read your thoughts about my list—and your suggestions for trips that belong on it. Please share them in the comments section at the bottom of this story.

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Todd Arndt hiking the North Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park.

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