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November/December 2005

From the Grand Canyon to Canyonlands: Hiking At The Speed Of Sound

Seven national parks in 7 days--starring a ragtop, Red Bull, and one scary rabbit.
Backpacker_Magazine_Zion_NPZion National Park, Nick Driggs/Utah Office of Tourism

Was it worth all the effort? Let’s put it this way: A half-hour after we stumbled over the sun-baked rim, I was floating in a hotel swimming pool, marveling at the oversized escapade we’d stuffed into 7 short days. Four hours later, I was getting misted as I savored a Sierra Nevada on a Vegas lounge chair. And one interminable hour after that, I was bellied up to the most outrageous buffet in town, loading up platters with baby green salad, Peking duck, seafood risotto, and crab legs. I kept at it until I was in pain. A few deep breaths later, I staggered back for a Swedish meatball the size of a nectarine. Sure I was full, but as any student of physics can tell you, it’s all relative.


Permits Backcountry reservations are essential at the Grand Canyon ( and a wise idea in Canyonlands ( and Zion ( The other 4 parks do not accept advance reservations and issue same-day permits. In Arches and Petrified Forest, backcountry camping is extremely limited. Buy a Golden Eagle Pass ($50) rather than pay an entrance fee at each park.

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