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Hiking & Backpacking: Tips

Dry Fork CanyonBefore you embark on a hike or a backpacking trip, take time to plan and be prepared with the proper equipment, maps, knowledge, and a backcountry permit. Always carry extra water, food, matches or a lighter, a signal mirror, and foul weather gear. Technology can make backcountry travel more comfortable, but be aware that cell phones, radios, and GPS units do not work in many areas.

Always make sure that someone knows your plans, when you are due back, and who to call if you are overdue. Search and rescue can take several days. It is expensive, and you may be charged for your rescue.

Almost all hiking is on unmarked routes where the use of a map, compass, and/or a GPS unit is necessary. The terrain is rugged. River travel involves numerous water crossings or walking in water for long distances and bushwacking through dense brush. Side canyons and slots can have deep pools of cold water even in the summer months. Flash floods can occur any time of the year. Quicksand is common and may be waist-deep in places.

Benches and slickrock areas are broken with steep, impassable cliffs, pouroffs, ledges, and areas of deep sand with little or no shade. Never climb up or down into areas that you are not absolutely sure you can climb back out. Never assume that you can continue forward.

Conditions change seasonally and often suddenly. This is a beautiful but unforgiving landscape. Some problems you might encounter are unexpected snow storms, flash floods, lightning storms, impassable roads, extreme heat or cold, dried up water sources, and high water from floods or spring runoff. This is a land of extremes.

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

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