Hiking Book Review: Utah Canyon Country

"Utah Canyon Country" by Lauri J. Schmidt
“Utah Canyon Country” by Lauri J. Schmidt

I have a review of a great book to share with you today: Utah Canyon Country: 20 Must-See Sites and Short Hikes by Laurie J. Schmidt.  I’d had my eye on the book for some time, so when I was the lucky recipient of a copy of the book, I was ecstatic, waiting with bated breath until the postal service delivered the package.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Published in 2018, the book itself covers 20 sites in detail, but it goes a lot further than just telling you how to hike the trail.  There are suggestions for other area attractions, ideas on where to stay, and detailed driving direction to each site.  It also won the Independent Publisher Book Awards, so apparently I’m not the only one who thinks it’s high-quality.

The title page for the Devils Garden Trail in Arches National Park, Utah Canyon Country, Laurie J. Schmidt
The title page for the Devils Garden Trail in Arches National Park

As a hiking guidebook writer myself, I was very interested in seeing how a fellow hiker had organized and interpreted the elusive term “guidebook” and “trail guide.”  Overall, I was very impressed with Laurie’s attention to detail, concise descriptions, and her ability to know what is most important to the visitors to Utah Canyon Country.

I was most impressed with the book’s quality.  Maybe it’s a little too heavy to want to put in an overnight pack, but since it’s about short hikes, the extra weight shouldn’t be an issue.  And what you get for that weight is glossy pages that are easy to flip through, full-color photos of every hike, and print that’s big enough to read (I like that, and I’m not even far-sighted).

Pages about Goblin Valley State Park, Death Valley National Park, Utah
Pages about Goblin Valley State Park

The photography is excellent, from the cover photos to the interior decorative pictures.  Laurie has worked hard to get great shots, and it shows here.  Even if you can’t make it to all of the trails, you’ll still enjoy seeing what they look like!

There are also suggestions on at least one other hike or destination to see in the area of each featured trail.  I really appreciate that; there’s nothing quite like setting out for a full day’s adventure only to discover you’ve done it by noon.

Pages detailing the history of the Devils Garden area of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah Canyon Country, Laurie J. Schmidt
Pages detailing the history of the Devils Garden area of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

My biggest (and possibly only) disappointment was that it’s not really a hiking guide.  There are short descriptions of the hikes (certainly enough to get you there), but the book is more of a guidebook to the hikes – in other words, it talks about the history and tales surrounding the areas.  That’s fantastic, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.  But given that most of the trails are very short, I suppose you don’t need more than an explanation on how to get to the trailhead, and Laurie goes much further than that.

That said, each hike does have at least a short description, trail mileage, difficulty, elevation change, entrance fee, cautions, and miles to the nearest services.  Most also have suggestions on where to stay.  So the descriptions are perfectly adequate, if not quite what I expected.

Back cover of Utah Canyon Country: 20 Must-see Sites and Short Hikes by Laurie J. Schmidt
Back cover

So overall, do I recommend it?  Yes!  If you’re just visiting Utah’s Canyon Country for the first time, I highly recommend it for its historical accuracy and excellent hiking suggestions.  Those who want a more detailed hiking guide to a specific park might want to look elsewhere.  But for trail suggestions in southern Utah, a clean, easy-to-understand interface, or an armchair read, Laurie’s book is exactly what you’d want to buy.

Buy the Book using the link below!