Looking for Utah wilderness


New Member
Sep 26, 2013
Hi everyone!
I'm going on a trip from Oct 4 till 13, and I got 9 days for travel. I fly to Vegas and rent a car there but I want to go to Utah. I'm going there alone, looking for solitude hiking, watching wilderness, backcountry. I'd like to find some abandoned paths, old cabins :) I think about going for first 2 days to Great Basin NP, doing Wheeler Peak. One day to make some canyon and fishing or visiting Capitol Reef? Than 3 days in Bryce or Zion.. or maybe hiking any national forest can be better for solitude and fishing? What about fishing in Utah? The best idea is to hike and fish in the same time but it can be difficult in rather dry areas of Utah national parks. I'm almost 26, but I have hiking and backcountry experience from last few years. What do you think about this plan? Can you give me any advices or recommendations? Thanks a lot!
Solitude, scenery and fishing, eh? Go to Escalante, Boulder Mountain and Capitol Reef. The Escalante/Capitol Reef areas are some of the best around, especially for dodging crowds. And if you like to fish, head up onto Boulder Mountain on Highway 12 between Boulder and Torrey. Some of the best fly fishing in the state up there for fat brook trout and the fall colors should be stellar!
You won't find much solitude in Bryce or Zion. Capitol Reef, yes if you're wiling to get out of the main section of the park. Also consider the Grand Staircase-Escalante area.

Beware hitting Wheeler too quickly if you're coming up from low elevation.
The hiking+fishing equation is much easier in the summer months with mountain access.

Your plan sounds good. I wouldn't start at Great Basin, as you will be driving past a lot of great stuff on your way there.

From Vegas, depending on what time you arrived, there are a lot of options. If you got in late, you could head south for a short drive to Valley Of Fire State Park. If you had more time to drive, Zion is the closest National Park. Don't expect much solitude there during this stretch. Bryce is close a few hours from Zion. Stay away from the major overlooks and your pretty golden in Bryce. Pick a hike over 6-8 miles and you won't see many people at all. Just south of Bryce is Cannonville, and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. This is where the real solitude is. Hit up Willis Creek, Round Valley Gorge, or one of the hikes near that area and you will not be disappointed.

You could drive up through Escalante (the town) and maybe do a few hikes down Hole in the rock road, or blow by go through Boulder, and Go up to Capitol Reef. The southern part of Capitol Reef-The Waterpocket Fold district is where the magic is hidden. Check out Lower, or Upper Muley twist for an amazing hike. If you want to commit more time check out Hall's Creek, one of my all time favorite hikes.

There is more GSENM just west of Capitol Reef (it's almost 2 million acres). Hikes in the Wolverine loop are all great.

If you are stuck on the idea of fishing, you could check out Fish Lake north of Capitol Reef, but my experience there was not great. I'd skip it and save fishing for another time. Come back during the summer and hit the Uintas, or maybe the Winds just north of us.

Between Zion, Bryce, GSENM, and Capitol Reef, you've got 9 days spent real quick. Great Basin is cool, but the high elevation, and being out of the way comparatively to our other national parks makes it not work as well for trying to get a bunch in during one time, especially in this season.
Gotta second Nick's post. Boulder Mtn Fishing, lots of redrock nearby. Wheeler Peak/Great Basin is the outlier, but if you're heading out that way, Notch Peak is a worthy destination
Thanks a lot for so valuable and abundant advices! :) Yeah, probably I'll skip Great Basin, although it could be great for soiltude and wilderness. I think to rearrange my trip to Capitol Reef, Escalante, Boulder Mountain, Bryce and Zion. I hope the weather will be good, because to be honest, my personal goal is to spend every night in a tent and - as much as I can - doing it backcountry. And could you give me some info about wildlife, like what part of Utah is reliable for possible animal encounters? Early sunrise in Grand Escalante is a good choice?
Even with the shutdown there is still lots and lots to do. All of the state parks are open (Valley of Fire NV, Snow Canyon SP, Kodochrome SP, Goblin Valley SP, etc), I am pretty sure you could access the wilderness areas. I dont see enough manpower to even attempt to patrol wilderness. Near St George we have Beaver Dam Mountain Wilderness, Paiute Wilderness, Red Mountain Wilderness near Zion Canaan Mountain Wilderness, and Red Butte Wilderness. Near Goblin Valley you would might be able to access two of the most famous slots in the area. Little Wildhorse and Bell (im not sure who manages these canyons probably BLM so maybe not, but if the BLM in other areas is as decimated as the BLM in Washington and Iron Counties I dont see much of a problem. For example BLM has I think 4 people working the rest have been furloughed)

From what I understand the BLM arent going to be doing much so most of the land managed by BLM should basically be open other than some of the major things (wave for example) I doubt you would encounter any problems. Some things near Zion on BLM land. Eagle Crags, Guacamole Trail, JEM trail, Hurricane Rim/Canal Trail, Canaan Mountain, Gooseberry Mesa trail system, Flying Monkey, Grafton Mesa (pretty much all of the mountain bike trails in washington county are BLM) I am not 100% on BLM but a guy I talked to recently who is in the "know" seemed to think BLM is pretty much not going to patrol, well wouldnt have the manpower to patrol.
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