Backpack from the Grand Canyon's Cremation Canyon to Utah Flats

Rate this Adventure Arizona South Kaibab Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2527 Feet

Adult Beverages
Bathrooms
Food Nearby
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Backpacking to Utah Flats is special because it is an under-visited part of the park. The only people we could see from camp were those who were across the canyon hiking down at night with headlamps. The park only hands out 2 permits to this area at a time. This trip offers excellent views for sunrise and sunset and plenty of caves, cracks, and cliffs to explore. Be sure to bring a camera, the views are killer and you won't want to camp there without a camera.

Note: The spot on the map is the beginning of the hike into Cremation Canyon Campground. For the full report on getting there, check out this adventure.

Heading out of the campsite at Cremation Canyon, look for hints of a trail where you will scramble up, following other boot prints and cairns that lead the way. Head up through a saddle and look for Piano Alley (giant rocks that have rolled down the drainage from Utah Flats). Scramble up Piano Alley and work your way up the canyon until you pop out up on top of Utah Flats. You are able to set up camp anywhere up on this bluff but we chose to go to the east side of the drainage where we had a nice view up river and overlooking Phantom Ranch. There were plenty of cracks, crevices, puddles, and cliffs to explore up here...not to mentions the killer sunset and sunrises.

Our choice to exit the area consisted of taking the same route back down which took about an hour and a half to get back to Phantom Ranch followed by taking the South Kaibab trail back out to the rim. See Backpack to Cremation Canyon for more info on the exit.

The woman at the back country office was pretty against us doing this due to the difficulty and unmarked trails. So be prepared to scrambled, slip, and slide, but trust me...it’s worth it.

Pack List

Your pack list may vary from mine but here are some of the basic items I would recommend. Everyone backpacks differently.

  • Plenty of water and electrolytes
  • Pack
  • Sleeping Bag / Pad
  • Tent / Bivy
  • Warm Clothing
  • Food and Camp stove
  • Coffee
  • First Aid Kit
  • Comfortable boots and tall socks
  • Sun Block
  • Sun Glasses
  • Hat
  • Camera
  • Permits vary around the canyon and you should check in to the back country office before starting this adventure to be sure you have the proper permit and information to complete it safely and legally.
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Gregg Boydston

U.S. Forest Service Hotshot Living in and exploring the Eastern Sierra.

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