Zion to Arches Hike Trip Report

This past spring I hiked 726.5 miles over 44 days from Zion to Arches. It was a great hike and I accomplished most of what I set out to do. Similar to the video trip report, I’m splitting the written report into multiple sections to make it easier to focus on each part of the hike. I will update this page soon so that one can click on each section below to read the actual daily journal for that section and/or see the associated photo gallery.

See the 2018 Interactive Map for route details.

Part 1: The Zion Traverse
72 miles, 6 days*

The trip began with a cross-country stretch to get into the Kolob Canyons and an unexpected snowstorm. I left the snow behind as I made my way down the West Rim and crossed Zion Canyon to climb up the East Rim. I made my first-ever trip out to Cable Mountain Viewpoint and then after failing to find a new route down into East Canyon, I retraced my steps back to East Rim Trail to get down to Checkerboard Mesa.


Part 2: The Barracks

38 miles, 3 days

I’ve gone through the Barracks three times now and it has always been amazing. I explored a few of the side canyons as I made my way out to near Mt. Carmel Junction where I had my first cache of the trip.

 

Part 3: Up the Grand Staircase
52 miles, 3 days

Leaving Diana’s Throne I dropped down into Red Canyon and Peek-a-boo Slot (and had to climb out due to an obstacle and re-enter lower down canyon!) A cross-country stretch took me along the White Cliffs up to Skutumpah Canyon which I took up to intersect the backroad by the same name. Then I went up Meadow Canyon toward the Pink Cliffs — the top layer of the Grand Staircase geological formation.

Part 4: Bryce to the Paria
42 miles, 3 days

Picked up the Grand View Trail in the Dixie National Forest and followed it up to Bryce Canyon National Park. After climbing up to Rainbow Point, I dropped back down on the Under-the-Rim trail before exiting the park to camp where I awoke the next morning to several inches of new snow! The snow soon turned to rain as I made my way down to Bull Valley Gorge where I had my next cache. The slot canyon was a muddy mess, so I decided to road-walk over to Willis Creek. It was a continuous day of rain as I made my way down through the Willis Creek Narrows and on to the Paria.

Part 5: The Upper Paria
36 miles, 3 days

When the sun finally came out I took advantage of the opportunity by hanging my gear out to dry and doing some side hikes to an awesome balanced rock and a canyon known as Red Slot. Back with my gear I continued down the Paria to Deer Creek to see the rock art and then eventually to the colorful-stripped hills and the Old Pahreah Townsite.

Part 6: Yellow Rock to Wahweap Hoodoos
32 miles, 2 days

Followed a new-to-me route from the Paria to Yellow Rock before making my way over to Coyote Canyon where I did an exploratory route down. The next day I followed some “administrative” backroads through a barren landscape before arriving at the amazing Wahweap Hoodooss.

Part 7: The Kaiparowits Plateau
98 miles, 6 days

After a dry and fairly miserable few days through the southern canyons of the Kaiparowits, I ditched my planned route and instead headed back to the Hayduke Trail where I knew what to expect including the limited (but reliable) water sources. Checked out Wind Window Arch atop Fiftymile Mountain for the first time and then followed the original Middle Trail down to the Hurricane Wash.

Part 8: Coyote Gulch and Stevens Canyon
37 miles, 3 days

Another fun trip through the scenic (and popular) Coyote Gulch. Once at the Escalante River I made my way up into Stevens Arch before continuing up the ledges of Stevens Canyon looking for the way back down to the canyon floor. Unable to find the route, I eventually had to backtrack through the arch and to the Escalante before going up Stevens Canyon from the bottom as I’ve done before.

Part 9: Capitol Reef to Bullfrog
57 miles, 4 days

After making my way over the Waterpocket Fold via the Baker Route, I went up Halls Creek and through the narrows which was not nearly as eventful as the last time I was there (the flash flood of 2015). North of the narrows I took the Airfield Route to exit Capitol Reef National Park and made my way over to Bullfrog Canyon. An unexpected obstacle required a detour to the south and then a short hitch to the marina where I got my next re-supply.

Part 10: Swett Creek and around Lake Powell
65 miles, 3 days

North of Ticaboo I followed a backroad up Shootamaring Canyon and past a uranium mine and several dead cows. Past the saddle of the Henrys I made my way over to Swett Creek where I descended down through the narrows and eventually to Lake Powell and then followed the northern shore around to the North Wash area. Got a fortunate assist from a friend so I didn’t have to pound the pavement (again) over to the area near Hite.

Part 11: Dark Canyon to Fable Valley
39 miles, 2 days

Enjoyed being back to a good water source when I finally got to the bottom of Dark Canyon. After several dips in the great stream, I headed up Youngs Canyon. After a bit of a navigation challenge, I made it up and out of the canyon, over the plateau, and down a string of dryfalls to get into lower Fable Valley.

Part 12: Through the Needles
62 miles, 3 days

From Gypsum Creek I headed through Beef Basin and then took a detour from my planned route and headed through Ruin Park — where I enjoyed seeing a few ruins. I followed the Jeep road past the southern entrance of Canyonlands National Park and to the Needles. Enjoyed doing the Joint Trail again and seeing Chesler Park before dropping into Elephant Canyon and doing a side hike to Druid Arch. Instead of heading over to Salt Creek via Peek-a-boo, I decided to make a beeline for the campground and then on to Needles Outpost.

Part 13: Hayduke North from Canyonlands
58 miles, 3 days

After a short diversion from Needles Outpost I picked up the Hayduke Route again in “We-Hope-So” Wash before climbing out and following the remote ridges over to Indian Creek and then up Rustler to the Lockhart Basin area. Was fortunate to get more water in Lockhart Canyon before re-connecting with the Jeep road which I followed to southwest of Moab.

Part 14: The Final Stretch to Arches
38 miles, 2 days

From the Chicken Corners area I continued on the Hayduke along the Jeep road north until leaving it to take a new-to-me route up through Jackson’s Hole and up to Amasa’s Back. Had an amazing final camp where I got to see the final sun on the Behind the Rocks area. Took Jackson’s Trail down to Kane Springs Canyon where I followed the road to Moab, through the town, and then into the southern end of Arches National Park. After a short stroll up Lower Courthouse Wash, I met up with my parents and the hike was over! After that I joined them in seeing some of the “touristy” spots in the park just to complete the experience. 🙂

* the above mile/day summaries are somewhat inaccurate due to splits between the sections. also note that I track “all miles walked” as opposed to “trail miles”.

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One Comment

  1. What a trip and superbly documented as ever! Love that you are still exploring new options – there’s lots to go at out there!

    You are probably aware of the route, but we hiked last month from the Zion road west of Checkerboard Mesa up to the plateau trails using the eastern of the two molar canyons on the ‘many pools’ route. This would involve some road walking to Checkerboard Mesa but is a superb scrambling and slickrock route.
    I can send a map if required.
    Anyway, well done and look forward to the details…
    Brian