Fall Hiking Season is Here: Coalpits Wash Backpack in Zion’s Southwest Desert


It’s time to start thinking about some desert hikes, don’t you think?   The area that Zion National Park calls the Southwest Desert offers some dandy fall hikes, particularly if you’re wanting to get away from the crowds that sometimes jam up Zion Canyon.

There are 6 backcountry campsites in the Coalpits Wash area, and a couple of ways to access them.  The longest hike in – I think it’s about 8 1/2 miles –  is to follow Chinle Wash.  I’d like to try that option next time, but on this trip we opted for the shorter route up Coalpits Wash.


About two miles up the wash you meet Scoggins Wash coming in from the right.  We decided to follow it, since we’d reserved Campsite 3, which is on the mesa top above Scoggins.

Actually, it’s way above Scoggins…up and over a steep hill.


I think Campsite #3 is the best of the six, although there’s no water anywhere near.  The views, however, make up  for that.



I of course had my usual post-hike reward of bourbon and cashews while enjoying the view.  A horny toad kept me company.



It was an overcast day, with flat light, but the skies cleared overnight.    Coffee and the sunrise the next morning couldn’t be better.



The hike out follows the mesa top, then down to Coalpits Wash.  Campsite #5 is near both a perennial spring and the wash – which I think is usually flowing – but the burned trees make it not as picturesque as Campsite #3.


Water, though, really is a big plus.


The Park Service has updated info on the water conditions for each hike, which you can check when you pick up your permit.  They also have a link on their website: http://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/watersourceconditions.htm

Ready to go?

About westerner54

Hello. I'm Cindy, and I love to hike, bike and explore the outdoors - particularly the western U.S.
This entry was posted in Backpacking, Hiking, Nature, Outdoors, Southwest hikes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Fall Hiking Season is Here: Coalpits Wash Backpack in Zion’s Southwest Desert

  1. WestEastern says:

    Beautiful! Looks like a good time to us.

  2. Marty says:

    A couple of questions for you, Cindy. What were the temps like at this time of year? How much water did you haul up to your mesa campsite? Thanks for posting; very nice photos.


    • westerner54 says:

      We actually did this hike last April, in the early part of the month, so the temps were probably in the 70s. I think that by the end of September it should start cooling down some again. If I remember correctly, we carried 5 liters of water, which was plenty. We did refill a couple of them at the wash for the hike out.

  3. Marty says:

    Oh, and I’m glad I’m not the only one to carry a little hooch while backpacking. In fact, my trail name is Medicine Man or Med Man because I pour a little Jack Daniels in an old medicine bottle.
    The top is tight and secure and……why not??

  4. Mind Margins says:

    Heck yeah I’m ready! Zion is another one of my favorite parks. I would love to do some backcountry hiking there. I’ve also never done The Narrows hike. It’s either too crowded or the water is too deep and cold!

  5. Ingrid says:

    It’s been years since our last visit to Zion. Thanks for reminding me what a truly beautiful place it is.

  6. Looks so peaceful and beautiful.

  7. Janet says:

    Beautiful photos. I’ll have to visit there someday.

  8. Great hike! Been wanting to explore that area. I like your post-hike reward too!

  9. Love it all. Can I have the bourbon and cashews even if there’s no place nearby for taking such a worthy hike without being char-broiled in the sun? 😉

  10. alpinemystic says:

    Love seeing the contrasts between that terrain and the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest! Thanks!

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