Adventure Travel USA

Staying Safe When Hiking In Utah

Table of Contents


Utah is a state full of surprises. It has great desert scenery and the Great Salt Lake. It is rugged, beautiful and diverse. It is home to some of the most gorgeous natural views in the nation. Some of the state’s largest attractions include Zion, Bryce Canyon and Arches.

However, Utah is no stranger to adventure. Not only is it home to some of the finest national parks and the most dangerous canyonlands in the world, but it also has some of the most dangerous, and even downright extreme, wilderness areas and hiking trails in the entire US. The problem is that hikers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts often underestimate the Hiking dangers and risks of staying in some of the parks, especially Utah’s remote wilderness areas.

Bryce Canyon
Brown Rock Formation

This is the unfortunate reality of hiking in Utah. When hikers venture into the state’s national parks and other areas that are open to the public, they must make safety their top priority. And it’s not hard to see why. The state’s most dangerous canyons include the Zion, Escalante and Cedar canyons. Some of the more scenic and picturesque areas include Cedar Breaks and Bryce Canyon. Still, while some hikers and campers find the state’s remote wilderness areas to be a welcoming place to visit and spend time, others find that it isn’t always safe to visit.

Some of the areas are not accessible without special equipment. In some cases, the state’s wilderness areas are closed to the public. The most frequently seen warning signs in Utah are: “Danger Do Not Enter,” “No Campfires,” and “Do Not Disturb Wildlife.”

In the state’s largest national park, Bryce Canyon,park officials have posted warnings against certain activities, including climbing on the rock faces, trying to touch the rocks, and being too close to the canyon rim. Officials have placed signs near the entrance that list the top 10 most-recent deaths that have occurred within the park. While Bryce Canyon is the park with the most fatalities, other Utah’s national parks are not immune to dangerous visitors. Zion National Park has lost many lives to hikers who have fallen from cliffs and other cliff faces. As a result, park officials routinely search visitors’ bags for hiking supplies and climbing gear. Some have even added more warning signs near dangerous hiking and climbing areas.

There is no question that some of Utah’s national parks, wilderness areas, and hiking and camping trails can be extremely dangerous. With that said, a few precautions can help hikers and campers avoid disaster. First, hike at times when the temperatures are cooler, such as in the fall or early spring. Hikers and campers often underestimate the effect of temperature on their physical and mental capacity. When hiking in a warm summer, hikers can quickly become dehydrated and experience heat stroke. Similarly, hypothermia often strikes when hikers stay in an environment with temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, it is best to hike in cooler weather.

Another precautionary measure is to prepare your hiking and camping gear before you go. Take time to assemble your backpack, make sure you have the proper hiking and camping supplies, know where to eat while on a backpacking trip, and learn the top ten tips to prevent heat stroke and hypothermia. Finally, know where you are hiking or camping and what the weather forecast is for the area you are hiking. You never know what the weather will do.

When hiking or camping, always check weather reports to make sure that the area is safe for hiking or camping. Hikers often underestimate the effect the weather will have on their physical and mental capacity. You should always be prepared for the worst-case scenario, including the potential for heavy rain or snow.

In addition to hiking, there are some other activities that can make for great camping experiences, especially in Utah’s national parks. In many of these parks, you will find great opportunities to catch trout, watch sunrises and sunsets, and even star gaze at night. When camping in the national parks, be sure to look into the various opportunities that are offered in each park. These can include canoeing, swimming, fishing, kayaking, bird watching, wildlife viewing, photography, and much more. To find out more about the outdoor and wildlife programs offered at some of the Utah national parks, check out the National Park Service’s National Parks and Recreation web site.

Hiking Safety Checklist

  • Plan ahead and prepare: Research the area you plan to hike, check the weather forecast, and make sure you have the appropriate clothing, supplies, and gear.
  • Tell someone: Let someone know your plans, where you’ll be, and when you’ll be back.
  • Stay on the trail: Sticking to the trail helps reduce your chance of getting lost or injured.
  • Bring a map: A map of the area you plan to hike will help you stay on the right track and can help you in case of an emergency.
  • Watch the weather: Pay attention to the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
  • Wear appropriate clothing: Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that can protect you from the sun, wind, and cold.
  • Pack the essentials: Bring plenty of water, snacks, a first aid kit, a flashlight, a whistle, and a compass.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Pay attention to potential hazards such as cliffs, wildlife, and flash floods.
  • Know your limits: Only hike trails that are within your abilities and don’t overexert yourself.
  • Stay together: If you’re hiking with a group, make sure you stay together and look out for each other.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, always remember that it is as important as ever to educate yourself on the dangers and risks of hiking and backpacking in the wilderness areas of Utah. Just because you can sell off your stuff and buy a bus ticket doesn’t mean you should do it. And always remember: sometimes not seeing the writing on the walls until it’s too late is just a small detour.