Backpack the La Verkin Creek Trail
Utah › Lee Pass Trailhead, Zion NP
Added by Alex Anderson
Hike and Camp at La Verkin Creek Trail in Zion National Park and get all the benefits of Zion National Park without the crowds. The Northwest section of the park offers the same beautiful mountains, canyons and wildlife as the more populated southern portion of the park.
I've visited Zion National Park twice this year and the experience between the two visitations were like night and day. Zion National Park is by no means a secret, and for good reason. Hikes such as Angels Landing, and the Narrows are locations which are sought after by every outdoorsman and novice alike! With 8 million visitors annually and counting, being bumped off Angels Landing Cliffs by an impatient visitor is a reality. With all these people packed into one small park, the park service had to cut off access to the main road and start a shuttle system that takes away from the wild experience and makes you feel like you are at Jurassic park during the summer months.
One of the best ways to avoid the crowds is to hike in from the less visited northwest portion of the park. Hike in on the La Verkin Trail in Kolob Canyon. With less people on trail, more wildlife is out and about. I saw multiple deer, rabbits, and coyotes. Visit this portion of the park and enjoy peace and solitude unheard of in Zion National Park on a major trail. I stayed at Campsite number 5 the first night, which is very close to Kolob Arch, and right on the water. The second night I stayed at site number 3, which is closer to the trail head, but you don't get the same experience as site 5. Site 3 is on a ridge further away from water, and although it provides a great view of Kolob Canyon, the wind whipped through the exposed site all day. All in all you cant go wrong with any of the 10 sites on the trail.
Although it is very easy to gain a permit online, you should plan well in advance to reserve a campaite due to the limited number of campsites on the La Verkin Trail. You also want to check the hours of the Kolob Canyon Visitors Center. When I arrived the Kolob Canyon Visitors Center was closed and I had to drive all the way around the park to the southern entrance. The drive to acquire my permit set me back by 3 hours. The permit cost 15 dollars for 1-2 people, 20 dollars for 3-7, and 25 for 8-12.
Directions: Zion National Park is one of the easiest National Parks to access. Just off I-15 between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas in Springdale, UT. The Kolob Canyon Visitors Center is at Exit 40 on I-15 northwest of the main section of the park. Take the Kolob Canyon Rd roughly 4 miles as it gains elevation to the Lee Pass Trailhead. The road offers many turnouts and other trailheads before ending after 5 miles at Timber Creek Overlook. The Lee Pass Trailhead is clearly marked and offers a small parking area. The La Verkin Creek Trail itself is 11 miles long, but the majority of the campsites are located within the first 7 miles of the trail. At the 7 mile mark the trail intersects with the Kolob Arch trail. The arch which is possibly the largest free-standing arch in the world, is the destination for most of the day hikers on trail. The trail to the campsites is downhill the entire way from the trailhead, so be ready for a long gradual uphill on the way back.
For more information, visit the NPS.gov website.
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This was one of my very first backpacking trips, my first ever in Utah, and it remains a favorite! Very fond memories of camping among the red cliffs and hiking out to see Kolob Arch. Don't forget the desert can be unpredictable and cold in spring and fall, even with warm temperatures during the day!
Hiked La Verkin In April
Excellent hike. Coming back you'll feel every step as it's all uphill at the end. This out and back is truly beautiful and one of my favorite backpacking trails. You'll need a permit which you can get the day before you go. As a local let me tell you this hike is best done sept-oct or March-May. In the summer getting a pass is very difficult. River Water tastes very earthy as cattle graze in the mountains above. Tastes kinda like cucumbers.
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