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Canyon Connections: Link Grand Canyon To Zion

Trek empty terrain all the way from the Grand Canyon to Zion.
grand_canyonAvoid flash floods by looking for debris on canyon walls (Mark Lisk).

The Hike
When we asked the creators of the 800-mile Hayduke Trail, which winds from Arches
to Zion National Parks, to name their favorite section, the answer was easy:
Sections 13 and 14, the final 157 miles of this long-trail tribute to Edward
Abbey’s cranky anti-hero. “No one hikes this surreal landscape if they’re not
on the Hayduke. You have the whole desert to yourself,” says co-founder Joe
Mitchell. Starting near Kaibab Lodge at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, you’ll
spend two weeks linking dirt roads, trailless open desert, wind- and water-carved
sandstone, and confounding slot canyons. The section ends at Zion’s wet and
mossy Weeping Wall. Along they way, you’ll cross the Kaibab Plateau through
quaking aspen stands, ford the Colorado River in Saddle Canyon, skirt the aptly
named Vermillion Cliffs, and scale 6,486-foot Cable Mountain–through some
of the desert Southwest’s most iconic scenery.

The Crux
Staying hydrated. The Hayduke links water sources (one every 20 miles on average),
but the 38-mile section from Yellowstone Mesa (near Colorado City, Arizona)
to the East Fork of the Virgin River (south of Zion NP) is completely dry.

The Key
Advanced scouting and supply caching. Thru-hiker Ryan Choi buried five-gallon
plastic buckets along the waterless 38-mile stretch (at Yellowstone Road and
Pine Spring), then wrote detailed descriptions, took photos, and entered corresponding
waypoints into his GPS. Another valuable resource is the Arizona Game and Fish
Wildlife Water-Catchment Map Book ($35, azgfd.gov), which catalogs the state’s “guzzlers”–troughs and springs
that traditionally provide water for wildlife and cattle but work fine for parched
hikers, too.

The Way
From Jacob Lake, Arizona, take AZ 67 south 43.7 miles to the Grand Canyon’s
North Rim Visitor Center. From St. George, Utah, take I-15 seven miles north
to UT 9. Merge right, and head 18.4 miles to Kolob Rd., which leads 15.2 miles
into Zion’s Kolob Canyon Visitor Center.

Plan It
Check hayduketrail.org for current beta and maps. Read Hayduke Trail: A
Guide to the Backcountry Hiking Trail on the Coloado Plateau
($20, University
of Utah Press). And contact Deep Desert Adventures (deepdesert.com)
for resupply and shuttle assistance.

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