Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Hiking
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Maps: Topographic maps may also be ordered from the USGS, Public Inquiries Office, 125 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84138.

Utah road maps and Multipurpose Maps may be obtained from the Utah Travel Council, Council Hall, Salt Lake City, UT 84114.

Water availability varies from hike to hike. An abundance of springs may be available on some hikes; other hikes may have no water at all. Always filter or boil water since Giardia or other pathogens may be present.

Weather: The best months for hiking the canyons are March through mid-June and September and October. Springtime weather may vary from warm days and cool nights to rainy and even snowy conditions. Summer months bring very hot temperatures while autumn usually promises pleasant hiking weather. Winter temperatures may dip well below zero.

Thunderstorm season is from mid-July through September and is the period when flash flood danger is greatest. Flash floods may occur at any time, however, so keep an eye on the sky—especially before entering a narrow canyon. Camp above the floodplain each night to avoid an unpleasant "midnight surprise." Remember that storms several miles away may cause flash floods where you are, even if you are enjoying clear skies.

Backcountry Travel: When hiking, walk on slickrock or sand whenever possible. Stay on established trails to prevent creating new ones. Likewise, never cut switchbacks. Cryptobiotic soils, the dark crust of lichens, fungi, algae, and moss that binds desert soils, is easily damaged when walked upon and may take years to regenerate. In canyons, walk in or along streams so that high water will erase your footprints. Following these practices will prevent erosion and soil damage.

Campsite Selection: When possible, choose an existing campsite with no vegetation or organic soil. Sandy or slickrock benches make the best sites. All campsites should be at least 100 feet, preferably 200 feet, from water sources to prevent contamination. Do not make "improvements" such as trenches or rock structures and avoid trampling vegetation around the perimeter, which prevents the campsite from becoming enlarged and barren. When leaving your camp, rehabilitate the area by scattering dead leaves or twigs around. Make sure nothing has been left behind.

Campfires: Fire rings, charcoal, soot stains on rocks, and garbage in fire pits all leave unsightly scars. Charcoal from modern fires may also contaminate archaeological evidence, making it impossible to date ancient campfire remains. For these and other reasons, fires are not allowed within Glen Canyon NRA, and are discouraged on BLM administered lands. Besides, the stars or the play of moonlight on canyon walls are experiences you won't want to miss.

Sanitation: The dry desert climate often preserves waste before decomposition is complete, so extra attention is required. For human waste, dig a "cat hole" six to eight inches deep and at least 100 feet from water sources. Carry out toilet paper in a plastic bag.

All washing should also be done at least 100 feet from water sources. Use only biodegradable soaps and pour wash water on the ground away from springs and streams.

For some reason, many people find that carrying an empty container out of the backcountry is more work than carrying a full one in. Please think of those who will visit after you and carry out all trash.

Pets and Livestock: Dogs threaten wildlife and may prevent hikers from seeing any animals. They also foul campsites, trails and streams, so their excrement must be disposed of in the same manner as human waste. Additionally, they may get into trouble in this rugged country. For their own safety, to prevent intrusions on others and for your convenience, pets are best left at home. If you do bring a pet, it must be kept on a leash within Glen Canyon NRA.

Saddle and pack stock are welcome, however, processed feed must be carried to prevent spread of noxious weeds. Picket stock away from campsites and water sources and in a manner to prevent pawing of roots or stripping bark.


Published: 28 Jul 2009 | Last Updated: 9 Jun 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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