5 BEAUTIFUL BACKPACK CAMPING SPOTS IN UTAH

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3. NEON CANYON & GOLDEN CATHEDRAL AT GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT

Also located near Escalante, Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral are technically a part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Here, you’ll witness the clearest night sky and experience the area’s compelling magnetism. Even if you lived in Escalante your entire life, it’s likely you wouldn’t have the chance to explore all of the area’s natural wonders. Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral are two different locations separated by less than a mile. Getting to Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral is a bit trickier than you’d expect, so it’s important that you come with someone who is experienced and that you have at least some technical know-how (as well as the necessary gear). Depending on the time of year, you could need ropes for rappelling or dry suits. The trail itself is about 9.2 miles-long, and there are various spots suitable for camping along the way. Why are they named Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral? A few pictures and you’ll probably be able to figure it out on your own.

4. JARDINE JUNIPER TRAIL

Jardine Juniper Trail is famous not only because it’s gorgeous, but because it leads to an ancient, living juniper tree which is estimated to be about 3,000 years-old. The tree itself looks like it is indeed 3,000 years-old, though it still manages to produce greenery each year. The Jardine Juniper Trail is accessible through Logan Canyon, and is also known for its exquisite fall foliage, lovely meadows, and inspiring vistas. You could hike this trail in one day (it’s 8.8 miles out and back), but the trail is popular with light backpackers because the hike is strenuous (you may not want to complete the entire trail in one day) and deserves to be savored.

5. WEST RIM TRAIL AT ZION NATIONAL PARK

For some, West Rim Trail’s 18 miles can be completed in a single day. For most, however, the hike is better spent as a two-day backpacking trip. Almost undoubtedly, any experienced Utah backpacker (and likely backpackers from other states) will have hiked this trail once, if not multiple times. It is remarkably well-known, and its location inside Zion National Park only adds to its prestige. The hike is strenuous but gorgeous, and can be completed in late spring, summer, or early fall. The trail includes nine campsites as well as three water sources, and will take you on a journey through otherworldly landscapes that typically feature most of the colors of the rainbow.

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