Capitol Reef & Escalante Hiking

Trip Length 7 Days
Group Size 4-11
Activity level
Starting from
$2,999 for REI Members
$3,225 for non-members
Departures Sep 2020-Oct 2021

This 7-day adventure provides a feeling of remoteness and ruggedness unmatched in the Lower 48.

Capitol Reef is a treasured gem of the national park system. Located in the heart of Utah?s red rock country, this remote territory was the last place in the continental United States to be mapped. Now, travelers from all over the world come to Capitol Reef to explore the stunning cliffs, canyons and domes that make this area a true geological playground.

Our hiking routes, personally selected by REI Adventures' top guide, Steve Kasper, are decidedly off the beaten path. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument's 1.9 million acres are filled with natural wonders, from the wide open cliffs and terraces of Grand Staircase to the more intimate narrows of the Escalante River canyons. We retrace an abandoned pioneer trail across a vast slickrock wilderness, hike past cliff dwellings and squeeze our way through some of the least traveled slot canyons in the monument. Evenings are spent in relaxation and comfort, reflecting upon the perfection of one of nature?s wildest playgrounds.

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Trip Highlights

  • Hike among the sandstone and slot canyons of Capitol Reef National Park
  • Explore 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  • Marvel at Bryce Canyon National Park?s fantastic hoodoos
  • Enjoy unique hikes carefully selected by top guide Steve Kasper
  • Hotel-based throughout


This trip is rated Moderate [3].� rip members should be capable of hiking up to 8 miles (up to 6 hours) while carrying at 10-15 pound daypack (depending on gear choices) on most days. There is some off-trail hiking which may include moderately inclined sandstone.

  • Hiking

What's Included

Six nights accommodations based on double occupancy; meals as noted on the itinerary; vehicle transfers as noted in the itinerary; guide leadership; park entrance fees.

All operations are conducted under the commercial use authorization of Steve Kasper Adventure Travel, Inc.


Hotels, 6 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Rendezvous in Salt Lake City and set out for Capitol Reef National Park.

Our trip begins today in Salt Lake City, Utah. After meeting our fellow adventurers at the airport at 11am this morning, we begin our 4-hour drive to Torrey, the location of our lodging for the next three nights, conveniently located near the entrance of Capitol Reef National Park. We?ll check in before changing into our hiking gear and setting out for a short warm-up hike to Cooks Mesa, where we?ll have a picnic dinner overlooking the colorful sandstone fins and domes of the Waterpocket Fold. Dinner included.

Hiking: 2 miles. Terrain: dirt trail. Elev. gain/loss: 300?. Transfers: 4 hours.

Day 2

: Hike Capitol Reef's slickrock trails, past natural bridges and spires.

We begin our hike along the Navajo Knobs Trail, visiting the impressive Hickman Natural Bridge along the way. At a viewpoint above the historic fruit orchards of Fruita, we have a picnic lunch as we enjoy breathtaking views of the Waterpocket Fold and talk about the unique geology of the area. Our hike continues to another spectacular viewpoint for a bird's-eye view of one of the park's most iconic geological features. We return to our hotel for some free time before we meet for dinner. All meals included.

Hiking: 7 miles. Terrain: moderately steep slickrock, mostly on-trail, with a 2,000? climb.

Day 3

Follow the twisting narrows of Sulfur Creek, a beautiful slot canyon.

After a short van ride to our trailhead we?ll enjoy an exhilarating hike through the narrows of Sulfur Creek today, wading in the cool shallow water beneath multi-hued cliffs towering 800? above. Dozens of small cascades and a dazzling waterfall await us on this spectacular through-hike. We?ll negotiate a few short downclimbs as we make our way through this rugged canyon. Our exploration ends at the park Visitor Center, where we have some time to appreciate the interpretive exhibits. All meals included.

Hiking: 6 miles. Terrain: off-trail in sand/gravel wash, wading in calf-deep creek, some downclimbing/rock scrambling required, 600? descent.

Day 4

Hike along the rim of Waterpocket Fold. Travel to Escalante today.

Today's hike takes us up along the rim of the Waterpocket Fold and then into impressive Chimney Rock Canyon, where we'll be on the lookout for 200-million-year-old petrified wood. After lunch in the quiet recesses of Chimney Rock Canyon we'll begin our drive on Scenic Byway 12 over Boulder Mountain to the frontier town of Escalante. We spend the next three nights here. All meals included.

Hiking: 4 miles. Terrain: mostly on-trail, with a 600' climb. Transfers: 2 hours.

Day 5

Explore Grand Staircase-Escalante on a hike in a remote canyon.

Our first hike in Grand Staircase-Escalante takes us into a whimsical and photogenic canyon, passing through a rarely explored part of the Monument via several sets of long, winding narrows on this point-to-point through-hike. The Navajo sandstone in this area is unusually colorful, displaying a wide range of textures and formations. Note that there will be alternate routes available around the narrowest passages for those preferring to skip this part of the hike. At day's end, we return to our nearby lodging. All meals included.

Hiking: 8 miles. Terrain: varied including sandy/rocky/muddy wash bottom, some rock scrambling and tight narrows. Elev. gain 200'/loss 850'.

Day 6

Discover ancient cliff dwellings in the Escalante River Canyon.

We marvel at the color palette and geological diversity of the Grand Staircase as we hike along the rim and then over the edge of the Escalante Monocline into the depths of the Escalante River Canyon. We follow a cross-country route across textured white sandstone to an old pioneer trail that takes us into the heart of the main canyon. As we hike along (and in) the river, some of the afternoon?s scenic highlights include a dramatic skyline arch, an immense natural bridge and an ancient cliff dwelling. In most national parks, these features would draw large crowds but in Escalante, we have them almost certainly to ourselves. Back at our lodging, we enjoy a farewell celebration dinner with our guides and begin daydreaming about our next great adventure. All meals included.

Hiking: 9 miles. Terrain: mix of on- and off-trail, including open slickrock, some river wading and rock scrambling.?? Elev. gain/loss: 150'/1,100?.

Day 7

Hike among the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon before returning to Salt Lake.

Today we drive through the Grand Staircase portion of the Monument on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park, where we?ll go for a short hike through the fantastically shaped, wildly colored limestone hoodoos that Bryce is famous for. After lunch on the trail, we?ll begin our return trip to Salt Lake City, arriving at the airport by 5pm. Please do not schedule flights prior to 7pm this evening. Breakfast and lunch included.

Hiking: 2-3 miles. Terrain: dirt trail. Elev. gain/loss: up to 700'. Transfers: 5 hours.

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary as this will help you and the field staff.

What to pack

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Travel documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Photo Identification

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.