Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Backpacking - Boulder Mail Trail

Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 4?10
Activity level
Starting from
$1,249 for REI Members
$1,374 for non-members
Departures Sep 2020-Oct 2020

Travel back in time on a 4-day backpacking trip along the historic and stunning Boulder Mail Trail.

The remote and wild Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is the last unmapped terrain in the country. Within this quiet, ethereal landscape lies the remains of the Boulder Mail Trail. A former causeway for indigenous communities, the BMT became a delivery route for mules transporting mail between Boulder, Utah and Escalante, Utah. Since then, outdoor enthusiasts have reveled in its quiet, understated beauty.

From the blooming shores of Death Hollow to the chiseled sandstone of Mamie Creek Natural Bridge, we?ll explore many hidden treasures along the legendary route. Our expert guides provide historical and cultural education and tips on backcountry travel. We'll leave with a deep appreciation and understanding of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the crucial role it has played in the lives of those who have called it home.

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Trip Highlights

  • Backpack the most scenic sections of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  • Follow the infamous Boulder Mail Trail to the edges of Escalante, Utah
  • Explore the lush, green oases of Death Hollow
  • Marvel the amphitheater of Mamie Creek Natural Bridge
  • Learn valuable route-finding skills and backpacking tips from your expert guides
  • Bask in the solitude of one of the most remote areas within the United States


This trip is rated Moderate Plus (3?4). Trip members will carry their own backpacks weighing 35?40 pounds over distances of 2?6.5 miles daily over varied terrain and elevation variations. Please make sure your backpack is fitted to your body before the trip.

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking

What's Included

Lodging and meals as indicated on daily itinerary; professional guide service; round trip transportation to/from host hotel and throughout the trip; see this trip's Gear List for details regarding any equipment provided by REI for use during your trip.


Frontcountry campsite, 1 night; backcountry campsites, 2 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Explore vibrant Snow Canyon State Park en route to Escalante, Utah

Meet your guides and fellow travelers at 7am in Henderson, Nevada. After a brief orientation, we set off on an approximately two-hour drive to Snow Canyon State Park. We?ll start with a hike through the picturesque red rock and ancient black lava flow unique to the area. After lunch, we?ll finish the day with a 3.5-hour drive to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park to camp for the night. Lunch and dinner provided.

Hiking: 2?3 miles, Elevation gain/loss: minimal; Van transfer: 6 hours (broken into two 3.5 hour segments)

Day 2

Hike the Boulder Mail Trail before descending 700 ft into Death Hollow

After a 45-minute drive, we begin our journey along the Boulder Mail Trail. We'll enjoy breathtaking panoramas of the Boulder Mail Trail as it traverses along the Escalante River. After some time, we?ll begin an exhilarating descent 700-feet into Death Hollow. A lush tributary of the Escalante River, Death Hollow flows with shimmering blue waters surrounded by towering sandstone canyons. We?ll make camp along its serene sandy shores before enjoying a well-deserved backcountry meal prepared by our guides. All meals included.

Backpacking: 6.5 miles, Elevation loss: 1000'

Day 3

Explore Death Hollow and stand at the base of Mamie Creek Natural Bridge

In the morning, the sounds of nature and the sweet aroma of coffee revitalize our spirit of adventure. Before breaking camp, we?ll grab our day packs and explore the more remote corners of Death Hollow. As our guides lead us along the canyon floor, we'll learn the history of this remarkable area in addition to helpful tips on route-finding and backcountry travel. Later in the morning, we?ll break down camp and journey to our next campsite along Mamie Creek. En route, we?ll make a side trip up Mamie Creek and enjoy one of the area?s most stunning natural bridges. All meals included.

Hiking: 2?3 miles; Backpacking: 2.3 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +800'/-560'

Day 4

We finish our exploration of the BMT on the edge of Escalante, Utah

We hit the trail early in the morning for our 6.5-mile journey to the Escalante River Trailhead. We leave the narrow canyons and lush riverbed behind as the trail opens back up to expansive views and sandstone desert pavement. We?ll enjoy our last miles on the BMT as it meets up with the Escalante River, our exit point on this amazing adventure. Finally, we?ll celebrate our journey's end with a hearty lunch in the town of Escalante, Utah before our drive back to Henderson, Nevada.

We estimate arriving back in Henderson, Nevada at approximately 6:30pm. Be advised this time may vary depending on group pace, weather, trail conditions, traffic and other elements beyond our control. Breakfast and lunch included.

Backpacking: 6.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +750'/-1,000'; Van transfer: 5 hours

Gear List

This gear list has been created to help you choose the best equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. The weather and other conditions at the time of your arrival will dictate what clothing and equipment you will be required to use each day and what (if anything) can be left behind. It may be a necessary precaution that you bring certain items on the list, even if it is uncertain whether or not they will be needed.

What to pack

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.