Coyote Gulch

Coyote Gulch is located in southern Utah and is part of the Escalante river and it is an awesome backpacking trip and is perfect for a two day trip or five days or forever. Part of what makes the Gulch such an experience is the fact that it allows you to enjoy all of the aspects of southern Utah- the red rocks, the arches and other formations, and crisp canyon rivers and waterfalls- not to mention slot canyons.

To really enjoy Coyote Gulch it is necessary to backpack in and stay at least two days, unless you’re training for a triathlon and are running the trail- bad idea. There are about four to five different trails that one could take to get into the gulch. The one that I have always taken is called the crack route, named because part of the hike involves traversing a crack in the edge of the canyon. There are other routes that are apparently not as intense as this one. The hike in starts on the edge of a huge rock plateau, this portion is fairly easy but it is a little difficult to follow the rock cairns (if you don’t know what these are, the picture below is an example.) However, like i said earlier- this is the easy part.

The next portion is by far the hardest, and its because of this section that I would probably discourage the less experienced traveler from attempting it. The rock plateau ends at a cliff, anywhere from 15-30 ft high or higher in some spots. The only way to get down this and to the sand hill that will take you into the actual gulch is to traverse through a slot canyon/crevasse-this is where things get exciting. If you have backpacked in you’re not going to be able to fit through the crevasse with your pack on. What my group did was we sent someone through the crevasse first and then lowered the packs over the edge with a rope and then the person below would untie the pack at the bottom. The crevasse isn’t too extensive and depending on your groups hiking/climbing ability, it should take the average person 20-30 min.

The next portion is the sand hill, going down isn’t too bad. If I remember correctly its anywhere from a half mile to a mile. If you are wearing sandals you will want to run because that sand is hot! I have many fond memories of my friends screaming in shock and then starting to run down the hill. There isn’t much of a trail here but it just kind of feeds into the narrow canyon at the bottom. You’ll want to plan for this hill when you’re coming back, not to get caught hiking up the sand hill in the middle of the day- it is the hardest part of the return trip.

After the sand hill you are in the gulch, congratulations! This is probably the most enjoyable part of the hike, you can hike along the side or just in the river if you want as you go up through the canyon. There are camping sites along the river, but if you can try and camp under one of the many inlets in the canyon do it. After you’ve set up camp you have many rock formations that you can hike to relatively easily. This is a must for any outdoor enthusiast, and therefore sometimes it can be crowded but the canyons big enough that you shouldn’t run into too many problems. There is a running stream literally throughout the whole canyon so if you bring a water purifier than you’ll have ample source. Oh and by the way, the horse flies can be bad down there- be careful!!

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