Utah backpacking

Backpackers in the narrows of Paria Canyon, in southern Utah and northern Arizona.

Take a Top 5 Southwest Backpacking Trip: Paria Canyon

By Michael Lanza

Walls of searing, orange-red sandstone towered hundreds of feet overhead in a chasm at times no more than a dozen strides across. A shallow river flowed like very thin chocolate milk down the canyon, spanning it from wall to wall in spots. And the spectacle had only just begun: We were mere hours into the first day of one of the most continually stunning, multi-day canyon hikes in the Southwest: Paria Canyon.

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A backpacker hiking to Vogelsang Pass in Yosemite National Park.

10 Adventures to Put on Your Bucket List Now

By Michael Lanza

Are you looking for great trip ideas for your personal “bucket list?” Well, you’ve clicked to the right place. This freshly updated list spotlights 10 of the best backpacking trips and other adventures in the U.S. and around the world—from Grand Teton, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Canyonlands national parks to Paria Canyon, a Canadian Rockies hike that belongs on any list of the world’s great treks, plus a few that may not be on your radar—all of them worthy of your bucket list.

All of them are also trips that you should—or must—start planning now to take them in 2023.

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A backpacker enjoying the view from Maze Overlook in the Maze District, Canyonlands National Park.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the Maze in Canyonlands

By Michael Lanza

With our first steps on the descent from Maze Overlook into the labyrinth of mostly dry desert canyons that comprise one of the greatest geological oddities in the National Park System—the Maze in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park—we had to remove and pass our backpacks over a ledge drop of several feet. But that was nothing compared to what lay ahead. Following a wildly circuitous trail marked by cairns but otherwise unobvious and not visible on the slickrock, we passed below redrock cliffs and towers, traversed the sloping rims of giant bowls of rippled stone, and several more times passed our packs to scramble through tight crevices and downclimb a ladder of shallow footsteps chiseled into a sandstone cliff face.

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A hiker on the Taylor Creek Trail, Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park.

Photo Gallery: Hiking the Kolob Canyons of Zion National Park

By Michael Lanza

Hiking in the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park, you get down to business with five-star scenery with your first step from your car. At the Lee Pass Trailhead, Taylor Creek Trailhead, or the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint, you’re immediately greeted with views of crimson cliffs soaring hundreds of feet tall. Then it just keeps getting better.

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A campsite in Painter Basin, below 13,538-foot Kings Peak (right) in Utah's High Uintas Wilderness.

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the High Uintas Wilderness

By Michael Lanza

Early on the third morning of a six-day hike through Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness, I walked to the shore of the Fourth Chain Lake at 10,900 feet, where we had camped. Its waters sat absolutely still, offering up a perfect, inverted reflection of the mountains. By that afternoon, we reached 11,700-foot Trail Rider Pass, our second high pass of the day, with a view that took the edge off our weariness. Behind us, the valley of Lake Atwood, which we had hiked up, stretched for miles; ahead lay our destination, Painter Basin (photo above), an expansive, almost barren plain at 11,000 feet below the highest peak in Utah, Kings Peak.

In those first three days of hiking, we encountered a grand total of two other people.

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