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Backpacking Coyote Gulch, The Most Underrated Hike in Utah


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Photo by @osalom

Full of cinematic landscapes and neverending canyons, Utah has become one of the biggest travel destinations in the West. Having the 3rd most National Parks (5), Utah gives visitors plenty of destinations to choose from. Although National Parks highlight some of Utah’s best features, areas outside of the parks such as The Wave and Antelope Canyon provide outdoor enthusiasts with a whole different experience. Amongst these areas is Coyote Gulch, a unique backpacking experience many don’t know about. Backpacking Coyote Gulch is something every backpacker should experience. Here are a few options backpackers have when visiting this underrated Utah treasure.

Visiting Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument:

Located at the tip of Southern Utah is Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Back in 2017, the area was downsized for mining purposes which brought the area lots of controversies. Since such controversy, the area saw a spike in visitation, causing the demand for permits to rise. Fortunately for those visiting Coyote Gulch, day-hiking is permit-free while backpacking permits can be obtained first-come, first-serve at the visitor center. More information can be found here.

Backpacking Coyote Gulch: 

Coyote Gulch is a slot canyon located at the eastern end of the National Monument and is often done over 2-3 days. Hikes can range a little over 11-miles depending on how far visitors decide to venture. Backpackers can expect to hike along the Escalante River as they experience vast red rock formations and various waterfalls. Fires and pets are not permitted in the area so backpackers are encouraged to bring light sources for when the sun goes down. 

Backpacking Coyote Gulch can be done in a variety of ways. The area has multiple trailheads (Red Well, Hurricane Wash, Crack In The Wall) that visitors can begin at. All trailheads can be done as a starting destination or a finishing destination. Because of this, many backpackers leave their cars overnight while backpacking Coyote Gulch. All visitors will have the option to hike out-and-back or park two cars at each trailhead. Alternatively, visitors can pay for one of the many shuttle services found here

Backpacking Coyote Gulch Continued...

Once on the trail, backpackers can expect to come across some of the most iconic landmarks in the area. The most iconic spots include Jacob Hamblin Arch, Cliff Arch, and Coyote Natural Bridge. Because this area is a National Monument, camping is free and can be done anywhere along the trail. Most people backpacking Coyote Gulch split their trip into 1 or 2 nights. The majority of campsites are cultivated in the middle of the area near Jacob Hamblin Arch and Coyote Natural Bridge and are a perfect midway point for backpackers. A more in-depth backpacking itinerary can be found here

Much of the Coyote Gulch area involves sandy trails and water features. Water shoes have been recommended to hikers as well as lightweight-running shoes. Backpackers should pack accordingly. Access to river water can be found all along this hike so bringing a water filter is essential. 

Visiting Coyote Gulch is an adventure for everyone. No matter what kind of exploring visitors choose to do, Utah’s unique desert area will provide visitors with an unforgettable experience. 

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Written by @visualsbyry