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#197773 - 02/23/17 02:40 PM Backcountry Camping Suggestions
blurange Offline

Registered: 02/23/17
Posts: 1
A buddy and I are looking to go hiking/camping sometime late April/Early May.

We've done Grand Canyon and Zion in the past, so would prefer another national park.

Originally looking at Glacier, but it sounds like it may be too snow packed.

Have read that Yosemite is good that time of year.

Thinking about Olympic National Park - would this be a good time to go?

#197778 - 02/23/17 04:56 PM Re: Backcountry Camping Suggestions [Re: blurange]
BZH Offline

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 907
Loc: Torrance, CA
It is a high snowfall year, you are probably not going to get very far at high elevation unless you are well prepared for snow and ice. Olympic at lower elevation may be nice, but I've never been there.

#197780 - 02/23/17 05:23 PM Re: Backcountry Camping Suggestions [Re: blurange]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6560
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
We're talking approximately 200% of normal snowfall all up and down the west coast (Cascades, Sierra, Olympics) this year, give or take maybe 50%. Plan on everything being at least a month to two months later than average in melting out. Maybe more!

In addition, the severe storms have created havoc with trails everywhere, and I doubt they will all get fixed this year.

Might be a good time to go east instead?
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#197782 - 02/23/17 06:43 PM Re: Backcountry Camping Suggestions [Re: OregonMouse]
balzaccom Offline

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1799
Loc: Napa, CA
Death Valley. Great hiking and exploring, and still not too warm in March and early April.

Take water.

check out our website and blog:

#197783 - 02/23/17 08:24 PM Re: Backcountry Camping Suggestions [Re: balzaccom]
toddfw2003 Offline

Registered: 01/08/16
Posts: 358
Loc: Texas
The Grand Staircase / Canyons of the Escalante. Blows Zion away. Far less people and its fee. Check out Coyote gulch/Neon canyon and choprock canyon. To the east of Zion

#197788 - 02/24/17 11:08 AM Re: Backcountry Camping Suggestions [Re: toddfw2003]
BrianLe Offline

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
"The Grand Staircase / Canyons of the Escalante. Blows Zion away."

I have no experience with this (sounds great!), but will note that Zion is a pretty great option too. There are certainly other Utah destinations that would be a fine choice as well.

One place you could consider in the Olympic N.P. would be the coast --- coast hiking is somewhat unique. I think it was April that my wife and I spent a week hiking along that coast and really enjoyed it.
Brian Lewis

#197869 - 03/05/17 11:54 AM Re: Backcountry Camping Suggestions [Re: blurange]
HPD Offline

Registered: 12/22/16
Posts: 64
Loc: Colorado High Plains
Late April/early May is a tough time in the West, especially this year. For that matter June looks to be locked in snow and July may be as well, at least in the front half. I've heard the Sierras are holding 50-60 feet of snow in places!

Olympic NP, as BZH mentioned, could work as long as you stay closer to sea level. The snowpack is close to statisical average in there but April/May is early to be getting up very high in terms of how much snow travel you're going to have to do.

I like the Grand Staircase in Utah. Not too hot when you're going although it could be plenty warm. Lots of options in there if you don't mind some backroad driving. Zion, at least the last time I was there in April, was a zoo!!

A friend of mine is in Death Valley right now, he loves it there this time of year.

You might want to consider the Moab area as well. April is a busy time for sure but there's lots of room to spread out, especially if you have a 4WD vehicle.

One other option that I haven't explored is the Gila Wilderness in NM. My son did a trip there once in March and had a lot of good things to say about the place. Snowpack is very light down there this year, so far.

Another one to consider would be the Lost Creek Wilderness in Colorado. While most of Colorado this year is snowbound with 120-150% of the statistical average snowpack, this area often has much less. Haven't heard what the conditions are like this year but it might be worth checking into. This and the Gila could provide a more traditional "mountain" experience early in the season for you.

Good luck!!

#197870 - 03/05/17 01:31 PM Re: Backcountry Camping Suggestions [Re: HPD]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6560
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I just found this article on early/late season backpacking in Colorado, courtesy of PMags.

Many areas of the Southwest have gotten so much rain lately that the wildflower show this year will be extraordinary and not to be missed. The desert wildflower reports on this site will keep you up-to-date on what's blooming where.

Possible winter/spring hikes in Oregon Remember, though, that we're used to lots of rain around here, and your time frame is definitely within the Northwest's normal rainy season. Also, even some of our year-around hikes (such as the Columbia River Gorge) are still iced in with lots of trail damage.

Do note that regardless of season, much of the West's best backpacking is outside National Parks! In fact, I prefer to avoid National Parks because they are (1) crowded and (2) restricted by a lot of bureaucratic rules and regulations.

Edited by OregonMouse (03/05/17 01:45 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#197875 - 03/06/17 09:13 AM Re: Backcountry Camping Suggestions [Re: OregonMouse]
Shaun Offline

Registered: 02/16/17
Posts: 2
Loc: Oregon
I recommend Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Very nice to get started after the winter. Lot's of wildflowers and not too busy, which makes it feel quite remote at times. Enjoy!


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