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Explore The Backcountry: Utah's Top 10 Backpacking Trips

Leave the city behind for a couple days.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Utah is known for having incredible access to the outdoors. In most cities throughout the state, you can go from eating lunch downtown to setting up camp in the backcountry within an hour. Not bad, eh? A little further afield, Utah is also home to some incredible, incredibly remote areas that are well worth the effort. Scan the list below for something that fits your schedule and ambition and start making your weekend plans. Better to print out your maps than rely on your phone, though, because you can’t count on a signal.

1. Backpack Mount Timpanogos

Photo: Lindsay Daniels

Conquer one of the most iconic mountains in Utah and the second highest peak in the Wasatch Range. If you’re feeling brave and conditions are right, you can slide down the snow fields towards the top. Wheeee! Learn more.

2. Backpack to Red Pine Lake

Photo: Sam Watson

Access to the trailhead for Red Pine Lake is about 25 minutes from SLC (see what we mean?!) And you won’t sacrifice quality for proximity here — The gorgeous hike through thick aspens and pines is worth driving for hours. Learn more.

3. Backpack and Camp at Ibantik Lake

Photo: Colton Marsala

At just five miles round trip and 1000 ft. elevation gain, this is a great trip for those without a ton of hiking or backpacking experience. It’s a beginner hike with advanced scenery: watch for mountain goats, alpine lakes, meadows and other beautiful views. Learn more.

4. Backpack Amethyst Basin

Photo: Conor Barry

If your backpack has a fishing pole groove worn into it, Amethyst Basin is a good spot for you. There is great fishing in the stream winding through the meadow below the lake. Learn more.

5. Backpack to Red Castle and Red Castle Lakes

Photo: Sam Watson

At 25 miles round trip, this trip is a good challenge and a chance to really get out there. Then there’s, you know, waking up to this scene. Learn more.

6. Backpack Coyote Gulch

Photo: Colton Marsala

The Escalante River has carved a pretty incredible playground over many years, and lucky us — we get year-round recess. Coyote Gulch is a great way to experience southern Utah in a more remote location than some of the more popular destinations. Learn more.

7. Backpack Reflection Canyon

Photo: Kathleen Buenviaje

An intense 20-mile hike with no services, hours from civilization. If a jaw drops in Grand Staircase and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? Learn more.

8. Backpack Bryce Canyon’s Under the Rim Trail

Photo: Emily Goodman

This is another trail where you could very well be the only person for miles. One of the many benefits of that is an extra-dark sky with extra-bright stars. Learn more.

9. Backpack to Joint Trail in the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

Photo: Jonathon Reed

Explore some of the most unique rock formations in the world in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Learn more.

10. Backpack Kings Peak

Photo: Jacob Moon

Tackle Utah’s highest peak at 13, 572 ft. and catch incredible views of all Utah’s thirteeners from the summit. Learn more.

Get more information on these trails and others around Utah at Utah.com.

Cover photo: Emily Goodman

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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