Our trip begins in Las Vegas where we meet our fellow hikers and guides. Our guides briefly talk us through the basics, ensuring everyone has all they need before we set out. We make our way deep into Utah on a five-hour drive to Bryce Canyon, taking in the beauty of the Southwest as we go. Arriving at the park, we enjoy our first dramatic views from the rim. This chain of natural amphitheaters, formed by erosion, is brimming with thousands of brightly colored spires (called hoodoos) striped in red, orange, and white—some standing more than 200 feet tall. After a quick lunch on the canyon rim, we hike into the hoodoos. After a rewarding hike, we bid adieu to Bryce Canyon and continue to beautiful Kodachrome Basin State Park where we set up camp and get tips for our backcountry adventure. Kodachrome Basin State Park is a geologic oddity with 67 monolithic spires surrounded by layers of vivid sandstone. Photography enthusiasts might remember Kodachrome film, which was the inspiration for the park’s eventual name. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 2.9 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +822' / -820'; Van transfer: 5.5 hours
We rise early this morning to fuel up on breakfast and hot drinks before breaking camp and heading towards the Boulder Mail Trail. After a stunning transfer to the trailhead, we don our packs and set off towards Death Hollow. We’re traversing one of the more remote areas of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument today and the views certainly don't disappoint. We break for lunch and water refills at Sand Creek before continuing toward the rim of Death Hollow, where we set up camp amidst the breathtaking scenery unique to the area. All meals included.
Backpacking: 5.1 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +626 / -967'; Van transfer: 1.5 hours
We awake to the sun breaching our tents, the aromas of steaming coffee and tea, and the knowledge that we have nothing we need to do today except explore nature. After a delicious backcountry breakfast, we delve further into Death Hollow, a lush oasis and tributary of the Escalante River. After climbing out of the hollow and back onto another stunning mesa we press on towards our next camp at Mamie Creek. We aim to get to Mamie Creek in time for some lunch and relaxation on the beach before setting up camp. Once we've dropped our heavy gear, we set off to explore the Mamie Creek Natural Bridge, a genuine highlight! Tonight, we settle in near the shores of Mamie Creek where we eat a well-earned dinner and watch as sunset fades into one of the darkest skies in the continental United States. All meals included.
Backpacking: 3.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,142'/ -1,539'; Optional hiking: 1.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: Minimal
Sunrise in the backcountry just can't be beat. As we pack up camp, we reflect on all we've done and all we've learned. For some, this has been their first expedition, while for others it is part of a deep connection with the most remote places on earth. For all of us, we've added an unforgettable experience to our lifetimes, obtained new knowledge of ourselves and our abilities, pushed through discomfort or worry, and come out the other side stronger for it. After leaving camp we climb out of the Mamie Creek drainage and onto the Antone Flat where we spend the bulk of today's hike. Being up on the flats gives us the sense of becoming part of the extensive landscape of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We've spent days hiking and exploring but have still only seen a sliver of the 1.87 million acres that make up this American treasure. As we reach the Escalante River we know we're nearly back to town, so we relish this last mile. Once back in our van we head into town for lunch before the drive back to Las Vegas. We hope to be back in Las Vegas by 6pm, but that can't be guaranteed. If flying out this evening, we recommend booking a flight that departs at 9pm or later. Breakfast and lunch included.
Backpacking: 6.4 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,317' / -1,544'; Van transfer: 5 hours