Southwest Unbound Top Sites

THE NARROWS 

THE NARROWS 

The Narrows remains one of Zion National Park’s top hiking pick. This 16-mile backcountry path follows Virgin River’s north fork, leading through ankle to waist-deep water and into aptly narrow slot canyons. Though travelers can hike all 16 miles of the Narrows, it can be customized to various ability levels and shortened to any desired length. The Narrows is a great choice during summer and fall when you’re aching to cool off and slosh around in some water. 

Pipe Spring National Monument

PIPE SPRING NATIONAL MONUMENT 

Pipe Spring National Monument: one of the National Parks’ best kept secrets. Situated near the Arizona/Utah border at the desert oasis of Pipe Spring, the monument features a historic pioneer fort originally built in the 1870s as a safety measure amongst growing settler-Native American tensions. The fort was rarely used as such, however, as the Mormon settlers and the Kaibab Paiute tribe were able to live here in peace. 

Today, visitors can find the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians Visitor Center and Museum, which houses artifacts of both Native Americans and settlers. Visitors can also see historical demonstrations of late 1800s life, tour the fort and surrounding cabins, visit the orchard and gardens or walk along the Ridge Trail. 

GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT 

GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT 

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, or GSENM, offers almost 2,000 square miles of empty Utah backcountry—a veritable playground for any outdoorsman. 

The Grand Staircase, formed from a series of plateaus that dip down from Bryce Canyon to the Grand Canyon. Visitors can find various distinct plunges at the Grey Cliffs, Pink Cliffs, Vermillion Cliffs, Chocolate Cliffs, and White Cliffs. 

 

KAIPAROWITS PLATEAU

Kaiparowits Plateau: this difficult to pronounce plateau sits over 9,000 feet up, and it marks the GSENM’s highest, most remote reaches (read: wild with outstanding views). If you make it up here, keep an eye out for the Late Cretaceous fossils that litter the landscape. 

 

CANYONS OF THE ESCALANTE 

A labyrinth carved from the gnawing waters of the Escalante River, the canyons found within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument offer some of the world’s most stunning hiking trails. This rugged world consists of sandstone cliffs, narrow canyons and shadowy grottos all laid out across vastly diverse topography. Make sure to keep your camera out: the contrast between the sunset-hued canyon country and the aspen and pine blanketed mountains makes for some photo-hungry views.