Utah Backpacking & Canyoneering

Backpacking and canyoneering trips in southern Utah are perfect for individuals seeking their first canyoneering adventure, or experienced desert travelers looking for an exciting challenge. Participants will learn canyoneering skills in a safe and fun environment and explore some of the most fascinating desert topography in the world.

Trip Photos

  • Hiking along the Escalante River Hiking along the Escalante River
  • Setting up a rappel in a more technical slot canyon Setting up a rappel in a more technical slot canyon
  • Exploring a 5-day backpacking loop in Utah's canyon country Exploring a 5-day backpacking loop in Utah's canyon country
  • Descending a slot canyon in Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument Descending a slot canyon in Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument
  • Heading out on day 1 of a 7 day backpack through the Escalante Heading out on day 1 of a 7 day backpack through the Escalante
     

Trip Notes

Location: Utah
Meeting Point: Salt Lake City, UT
Destination: Utah's Canyon country
Duration: 7, 12 days
Price: $1550, $2600 (+ tax, in USD)
Activity Type: Backpacking
Season: February, March, April, September, October, November
Guide to Guest Ratio: 1 to 4
Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5
Paperwork Required: Registration, Health Form, Liability Waiver

Related Trips:

Trip Description

Backpacking and canyoneering trips in southern Utah are perfect for individuals seeking their first canyoneering adventure, or experienced desert travelers looking for an exciting challenge. Participants will learn canyoneering skills in a safe and fun environment and explore some of the most fascinating desert topography in the world.

The Utah desert is one of the more remote areas in the continental United States. Within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and surrounding wilderness areas, there exists a landscape of red rock canyons, high mesas, lush river valleys and sandstone bluffs. This area offers varied terrain for exciting backpacking and technical canyoneering.

Picture friction climbing up a narrow sandstone slot as you navigate a desert canyon from top to bottom or turning a corner and finding a spring surrounded by green ferns, mosses and grasses in this arid land. The desert landscape is ideal for wilderness expeditions into the heart of canyon country

LOCATION: The landscapes of southern Utah’s wilderness areas, including Glen Canyon Recreation Area, and Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, make for incredible exploratory adventures. Towering sandstone spires, secluded arches, technical slot canyons, and broad desert vistas make up this incredible wilderness landscape. We choose from a variety of incredible routes that explore some of the most remote reaches canyon country.

The trip starts and ends in Salt Lake City.

ACTIVITIES: These multi-day trips focus on safely exploring desert canyon country. While our exact itinerary may vary due to weather, conditions, goals and abilities, here are some components that AMG canyoneering trips focus on:

Wilderness backcountry travel in canyon country
Explore technical slot canyons
River Crossings
Slot Canyon Safety
Pothole Escapes
Rapelling Instruction
Ascending Instruction

CANYON COUNTRY: Within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument lie some of the most alluring desert landscapes on the planet. The delicate ecosystem of the southwest hosts an abundance of wildlife.

OUR GUIDES: Alaska Mountain Guides & Climbing School Inc. instructors and guides are professionals. They are special individuals who have a passion for being in the desert canyon environment. They have a wealth of experience from guiding throughout Utah, Alaska and the world, and they genuinely enjoy sharing their knowledge. Their skill and positive attitudes help our guests to have the best possible experience during their trip.
Your safety and enjoyment are their primary goals.
Our low guide to client ratio allows us the flexibility to accommodate individual goals and expectations.

Day 0: Meet in Salt Lake for a pre-trip orientation, the evening prior to your departure. After a brief meet-and-greet with your guides and fellow guests, we will discuss the trip, your goals and expectations. Lodging and meals on your own.

Day 1: We’ll transport about 4-6 hour drive from Salt Lake into canyon country. Once at our location, we’ll set up camp and head out on some great short canyon hikes to familiarize ourselves with the terrain, and explore unique slot canyons.

Days 2 – 5: We’ll head out on a multi-day backpacking adventure.  The exact itinerary may vary depending on conditions, and group ability.  We’d head out for a 4 day backpacking loop, delving into the backcountry wilderness.  Each morning, your guide will prepare a hearty breakfast.  Our route will travel overland above canyon country, and drop into verdant canyons and follow sinuous streams and rivers.   Most of the traveling is off-trail and traveling over hard rock surfaces or the sandy bottoms of the canyons.  Each night we’ll pick a new camping spot.  Over the 4 days, we’ll also teach ongoing canyoneering and technical skills to be able to tackle more technical canyoneering objectives.  We’ll return to our basecamp area on day 5, and back to our vehicle staging area.

Day 6: We’ll explore a more technical slot canyon in the area. It may involve rappelling, scrambling, down climbing, and perhaps some wading.   Exact canyons will be conditions dependent and group abilities, however there are a multitude of exciting slot canyons to explore in the area of varying difficulties.

Day 7: Travel back to Salt Lake City.

Do I need previous backpacking or canyoneering experience?

No experience necessary, however, recommend some basic camping experience so that you are familiar with how to be comfortable in the outdoors.  We recommend experience with carrying a backpack.  If  you have more experience, we can easily adjust the itinerary and structure to have a program that is more advanced.

What will the temperatures be like in desert?

Typically the days are warm in the sun, and the nights are cold.  The temperatures fluctuate by as much as 60 degrees.  During the shoulder seasons it is likely to expect frost on the tent in the morning, and comfortable in shorts and a T-shirt during the day.  Sometimes the narrow canyons can be chilly as they don’t get much direct sunlight during the day.

Where will we be sleeping during the trip?
We will be based in the backcountry, and with some nights camped nearby our 4×4 support vehicle.   We will be sleeping in 2 or 3 person tents for the duration of the trip.  Alaska Mountain Guides provides tents, cooking equipment, etc., and has equipment such as sleeping bags for rent.

What type of safety gear is required? What type of safety gear is provided?
Alaska Mountain Guides provides helmets, harnesses, and wetsuits (for more technical canyons with water), as well as ropes and all technical equipment.

Can you handle special dietary needs?
We can happily accommodate a reasonable amount of dietary restrictions, such as gluten free or diary-free. Please let us know any restrictions before arrival.

What is the group size like?
Your group size may be as small as 3, and may be as large as 8 guests and 2 guides. We are happy to arrange for smaller or larger groups on a custom basis.

Trip Documents:
  • Equipment List – Overview of personal clothing and equipment that you’ll need for this trip.
  • Rental Gear List – List of personal items available for rent
  • Registration Form  – Outlines policies, and essential information.  One required per participant.
  • Health Form – This form enables our guides to have accurate health information in the event of an emergency.
  • Land Based Activity Waiver  – One required per participant. Guests under the age of 18 may go on one form.
  • Travel Info – Salt Lake City – Helpful information on how to get to/from Salt Lake City.

Price: $1550, $2600 (+ tax, in USD)
Start Dates: Sunday departures September - November and February - May

What is included in the trip price:
  • Group gear – Tents, stoves, etc.
  • Required gear – ropes, helmets, harnesses, technical equipment, safety equipment
  • Expedition food – All food while out in the field
  • Transportation during trip – Airport transfers, travel to/from southern Utah
  • Professional guides – Our guides have extensive knowledge of the area and a passion for canyoneering in southern Utah.
Guests are responsible for the following:
  • Personal clothing & equipment – review the equipment list included under “Documents”,  we are happy to email to you as well.
  • Food & Lodging in SLC – Salt Lake boasts a diverse selection of quality hotels and restaurants
  • Trip insurance – we highly recommend trip insurance for all of our programs
  • Airfare – review the “Travel Information” under “Documents” for more details
  • Reviewing trip policies – please reference our policies page for policies regarding payment, cancellations, refunds and guest responsibilities.
  • Gratuities
To Book your adventure, follow the steps below:
  1. Please call to confirm availability at 1-800-766-3396 or fill out an online form to request more information via this link:
  2. Place a $250 deposit to reserve your spot: this can be place over the phone by credit card, check in the mail, or through our payment gateway.
  3. Once you’ve reserved your spot, you’ll receive a welcome packet with all the necessary registration forms and trip information.
  4. We kindly ask that you submit all of the necessary trip registration information at least 45 days prior to your trip.

Feel free to call or email anytime if you have questions about your upcoming trip. Our team is excited to help you prepare for your adventure!

Guest Comments:

"My 7 day trip in Escalante with Joel was the perfect fall vacation. I learned a ton about technical slot canyoneering, and explored some magical locations on the backpacking section along the Escalante River. Joel was a great guide! Fun, knowledgeable, and safety conscious." - Marsha L.