Expansive views, towering cliffs and glistening lakes all await on these scenic trails. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite backpacking trips in the western side of the United States, but I’m sure there are some missing. What would you add to the list?
1. Buckskin Gulch, Utah
PHOTO: Will Rochfort
Located in southern Utah, Buckskin Gulch is breathtakingly beautiful. As one of the longest and deepest slot canyons in the world, it is over 13 miles long and rarely wider than 20 feet. The canyon is so deep that sun barely reaches the bottom, resulting in darkly patterned walls and flood-swirled etchings.
Water poses another adventure for intrepid hikers as muddy pools frequently collect on the floor of the canyon. Depending on the season, these “puddles” can be up to three feet deep, causing a sporting detour for backpackers. Don’t let the extra work detour you though; this canyon is worth the sweat equity!
Beauty aside, Buckskin can be dangerous if you are caught in the canyon during a flash flood. With very few—if any—escape routes offered on the steep sandstone walls, be cautious and triple check the weather before entering the canyon.
Trip Details: ~25 miles roundtrip; point-to-point hike. There are a handful of trailheads but Wire Pass and Buckskin Trailhead are the most popular. A permit is required for both day use and overnight trips, and can be acquired through the Bureau of Land Management.