My two friends and I stumbled around in the dark, desperately trying to find the edge of the cliff by flashlight.
When we finally found the edge of the cliff, we began the dangerous night-time descent into one of the West’s most beautiful red canyons.
While I wouldn’t recommend trying to find your way into a steep canyon at night, I would definitely recommend a backpacking trip to Coyote Gulch, one of the most spectacular destinations in the South Western United States. Coyote Gulch is a tributary of the Escalante River in southern Utah. The river bottom winds along the base of high vertical canyon walls, red sandstone arches, and natural bridges. There are plenty of great spots to camp and even more spots to explore. The canyon is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Although this canyon is a popular destination during the summer, I first visited it during the winter. There hadn’t been any hikers in the canyon for two weeks before our visit, so we had the rare opportunity to experience Coyote Gulch in it’s purest form. I was completely blown away by the enormity of the rock formations and the vast spectrum of colors. We scrambled down the canyon, always trying to avoid the frigid water. Around each corner I witnessed a strange, new type of waterfall which slowly carved away at the red sandstone.
Now for the logistics. I would recommend taking 3 days & 2 nights to backpack the gulch with your friends. Make sure to line the inside of your backpack with a couple of water-tight river bags, to ensure that you always have dry clothes & gear. Bring warm clothes, even in the summer, as temperatures can plummet at any time in the desert. I would also strongly advise you to check the weather forecast to ensure that there will be no rain in a hundred mile radius, because flash floods can ruin your life, even if the rain comes from very far distances. In addition to the traditional backpacking supplies, it would be a good idea to wear waterproof hiking boots with waterproof gaiters for the occasional river crossing (at the bottom of this review, see my favorite gaiters and some other good gear that would be useful for this backpacking trip). If you hike Coyote Gulch in the summer, it is much safer to hike in the water.
I would also recommend that you bring along a good SLR camera, with a lightweight tripod, for photographing the many waterfalls, arches, natural bridges, and cliffs. The Cottonwood trees can be particularly spectacular in the autumn. You should also pack your camera in a waterproof dry bag.
This review isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide for hiking Coyote Gulch, just a starting point to let you know how amazing it is. So you should thoroughly read up on the details of this hike. Click here and here for good reviews of the hike and for directions on how to get to Coyote Gulch. You should also purchase the below book if you’re serious about backpacking Coyote Gulch:
Below is my favorite photo that I took in Coyote Gulch. Most people can’t tell what it is…can you?
Here’s an amateur video that I found which will show you some great footage of the canyon:
Please let me know what you think of this destination, and share some of your favorite places as well! Will you please share this review with your friends? Here are a few of the useful items that I said I’d share:
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