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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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’.
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.