Cara MacDonald, KSL.com

The best multi-day backpacking trips in Utah

By Spencer Durrant, KSL.com Contributor | Updated - May 12th, 2019 @ 1:51pm | Posted - May 12th, 2019 @ 12:13pm



THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Backpacking in Utah is an absolute treat. From the High Uintas wilderness to the forested plateaus of south-central Utah, there's more wild country to explore in the Beehive State than anyone could see in a single lifetime.

So much incredible scenery is a good problem to have, but it does make choosing where to next explore a bit difficult. Today, we'll look at a few of the best multi-day backpacking trips, located throughout the state, that provide experiences you'll never forget.

The Narrows

Where: Zion National Park

Distance: 16 miles

Recommended days: 2

The Narrows is arguably Utah's most popular hike, but the majority of people who go out to enjoy this wonder of geology do so by hiking from the bottom of the canyon to a point upstream, like the Orderville Gulch.

However, there is an option to hike the entire length of The Narrows canyon from the top down. The trail actually starts outside of Zion National Park, at Chamberlain's Ranch. The National Park Service says the trailhead for the top-down Narrows hike is 1.5 hours from Zion.

The hike is 16 miles long and is generally broken up into a two-day trip. There are multiple campsites within the canyon, but you will need to reserve them in advance. You'll also need a Narrows permit, which you can find here.

Red Castle Lakes

Where: North Slope, Uinta Mountains

Distance: 20 miles

Recommended days: 2-3

The Red Castle Lakes are an extremely popular backpacking destination, but for a good reason. This part of the Uintas is arguably the most scenic, and access to the Red Castle area doesn't require your typical slog up egregiously steep terrain. Per Clever Hiker, your total elevation gain on this trip is 1,437 feet. Spread over 20 miles, that's a very gradual incline.

With so little elevation gain going on, you really have more time to stop and smell the roses. From fishing the numerous creeks and ponds along the way, to taking pictures of the abundant wildlife, this is a trip that has something for just about everyone.

There is no fee or permit to backpack in and out of Red Castle Lakes. You will, however, have to pay a fee to park your vehicle at the China Meadows trailhead.

Picture Lake

Where: South Slope, Uinta Mountains

Distance: 29 miles

Recommended days: 3-4

Picture Lake is a remote, stunningly beautiful lake tucked away on the south slope of the Uinta Mountains northwest of Moon Lake. Picture Lake is located in some of the more rugged and remote country in the Uintas.

Elevation gain here is strenuous, clocking in at 4,284 feet according to All Trails. You'll start this trip from the Lake Fork trailhead, located right next to Moon Lake.

From there, you're left alone in a vast wilderness area, stuffed to the brim with lodgepole pine, aspen, sage hens, moose, elk, and deer. The Picture Lake trail gets a lot of traffic in August, but heading in during other months will likely mean you'll have the place to yourself.

These are just three of the best multi-day backpacking trips available in Utah, but they give a fairly good taste of what you can expect when exploring the Beehive State's endless pristine outdoors.

Have you done any of the trips on this list? Do you have others to add? Let us know in the comments!

Spencer Durrant

About the Author: Spencer Durrant

Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing writer, outdoors columnist, and novelist from Utah. His work has appeared in Field & Stream, TROUT Magazine, Hatch Magazine, and other national publications. He's also the Managing Editor of The Modern Trout Bum. Connect with him on Twitter/Instagram, @Spencer_Durrant.

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