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Hayduke Trail Utah Slot Canyons, UT


In the remote Utah backcountry, lies a magical world of slot canyons, mesas, and buttes that remain unseen by all but the intrepid traveler. We will be backpacking through narrow, towering slot canyons along the East Fork of the Virgin River, just outside of Zion National Park. This area, the so-called Barracks is one of the finest and most colorful and lonely areas in Southern Utah. Our route is most often traversed as a more scenic alternate to those hiking the Hayduke Trail.

The remoteness of the area and near vertical slickrock can make the going challenging primarily due to dramatic drop-offs and precipices, so if you have a fear of heights, this trip is not for you. However with these challenges come great rewards like ubiquitous red rocks, ancient petroglyphs, colossal sandstone walls, interesting arches, winding canyons, natural bridges and even some wildlife such as lizards, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and possibly even black bear.

Our trek begins at Meadow Creek just East of Zion NP. We quickly descend a 50' vertical downclimb that will require ropes and scrambling. (We will lower packs separatel). We head down Meadow Creek toward Mineral Gulch and the so-called "7 Arch". Expect to see a few mystical Petroglyphs / graffiti.

Then we head into the meat of our trip, the Barracks, which is part of Parunuweap Canyon. These narrow slot canyons have towering walls that obscure the sun most of the day and wind ever downward towards a plaque commemorating John Wesley Powell. We'll then turn back upstream and follow the Virgin River all the way to the road, Mt. Carmel Junction.

Water may be scarce at times so we will need to have enough capacity to carry about 8 liters (16 pounds) of water in our packs, although when in the canyons there should be water almost all the time. We will know the water situation better as the trip approaches. In September the temperature moderates and the water is still reasonably warm. Expect great sunsets and amazing star-gazing on days when we're not in the slot canyons.


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures as high as 90 and as low as 30, with an occasional chance of rain or possibly even snow. Here is the historical September weather in nearby Zion although expect the canyons to be cooler. Be prepared with lots of sun protection and water containers that add up to 8 liters of capacity.

Probable Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Chris Frey


$1275 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Las Vegas (LAS), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, round-trip ground transportation from Las Vegas to the Barracks, 7 days of trail meals, BLM permits, backcountry fees and awesome guides.


The Hayduke Trail can be gentle and enjoyable to hike, especially within the level, sandy-bottomed canyons or on the flat, rocky, view-laden mesas. However, there will also be sandy patches and in many areas slickrock with sometimes dramatic dropoffs. And walking in water can be very slow. Plus a few places have challenging scrambles the require the use of your hands and butt.

Important Notes

This trip is not on the actual Hayduke Trail, however it's a popular variation many Hayduke Trail hikers traverse to make their thru-hikes more scenic.

Here's a topographic map of our route

Fatpacking practices Leave No Trace. Toilet paper does not decompose in the desert ecosystem, so it must be packed out, although we can leave human waste buried far away from water sources.

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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Fly into Las Vegas McCarran Airport (LAS). The best time to arrive is between around Noon-3PM. However, if you can save a substantial amount on your flight by arriving at say, 11AM or 5PM, then do so.

Take the free airport shuttle to local hotel (TBD)

Equipment shakedown

Before body composition measurements taken

Body temperature take to check for the possiblity of Covid fever

Trail mix distribution

Go to REI Las Vegas, 710 S. Rampart Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89145, (702) 951-4488, for last minute or forgotten equipment

Go out for group dinner (Dinner not included in trip cost)

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Early wake-up. This could be a long day with a lot of things to do.

Second set of before body composition measurements taken

Body temperature take to check for the possiblity of Covid fever

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage. Try to keep this to a small amount of stuff.

Free breakfast at Hotel

Car shuttle over 3.5 hours to Mt. Carmel Junction just East of Zion National Park. We will probably stop in St. George, UT along the way

Begin hiking near Meadow Creek, elevation 5950'

Soon after we begin, we will have to downclimb a 50' section of trail. We will lower packs first and then each participant will descend, tethered by a rope reminiscent of rappelling. If you have a fear of heights, please consider how you would fare on this section.

Hike 4.5 miles down Meadow Creek to a large flat area where the canyon opens up and the water goes underground, elevation 5175'

Dispersed camp where the water flow ends, elevation 5175'

Miles today: 4.5. Total miles: 4.5

Possible bailout: Utah-9

Monday, September 27, 2021

Hike 0.9 miles to Mineral Gulch confluence, elevation 5075'

Drop packs and day-hike 2.0 round trip miles to 7 Arch, elevation 5325'

Hike 3.3 miles down Mineral Gulch Canyon to the East Fork of the Virgin River and go downstream until we find a suitable campsite, elevation 4800'

Dispersed camp on the East Fork of the Virgin River, elevation 4800'. We will camp here again 3 nights from now

Miles today: 6.2. Total miles: 10.7

Possible bailout: 1 day away

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Hike 4.5 miles along the Virgin River to the Barracks, elevation 4850'

Dispersed camp at a flat spot near the confluence of French Canyon, elevation 4850'

We will camp here 2 nights

Miles today: 4.5. Total miles: 15.2

Possible bailout: Far away

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Day-Hiking only today, this will be a breathtaking, rugged remote section

Day-Hike 4.8 round trip miles on the Virgin River to the John Wesley Powell plaque, elevation 4525'

The natural progression of our hike would be to climb out to Checkerboard Plateau in Zion National Park, but Zion prohibits commercial backpacking groups from operating within its boundaries.

Dispersed camp at a flat spot near the confluence of French Canyon, elevation 4850'

Miles today: 4.8. Total miles: 20.0

Possible bailout: Zion, one day away

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Hike 4.5 upstream miles through the Barracks to a flat spot near the Mineral Gulch confluence, elevation 4800'

Dispersed camp at the same spot we camped 3 nights prior, elevation 48--'

Miles today: 4.5. Total miles: 24.5

Possible bailout: 2 days away

Friday, October 1, 2021

Hike 6.2 upstream miles along the East Fork Virgin River, elevation 5000'

Dispersed camp near the confluence of Monument Hollow, elevation 5000'

Miles today: 6.2. Total miles: 30.7

Possible bailout: 1 day away

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Hike 3.2 upstream miles along the East Fork Virgin River to Mt. Carmel Junction on US-89, elevation 5175'

End of hiking

Miles today: 3.2. Total miles: 33.9

Shuttle 3.5 hours back to Las Vegas

After measurements taken

Check into local hotel TBD

Dinner and awards Ceremony. Dinner not included in trip cost.

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Free Hotel Breakfast

Take Free Airport Shuttle

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