Kaleidoscope Rocks Of Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Utah $2,100 • April 22-27, 2024

ArchThe wild backcountry of Canyonlands National Park is one of the most colorful and awesome landscapes on earth. Sheer canyon walls, mesas, arches, hidden grasslands, cool desert streams, and an unbelievable profusion of spectacular rock formations characterize this magnificent portion of the Colorado Plateau. Wildlife includes desert bighorn, puma, bobcat, coyote and golden eagle. We usually encounter and explore some fantastic and haunting ruins of ancient cultures.This is classic red rock canyon country, absolutely beautiful and other-worldly. Though the region is high desert, the diversity of life and its adaptations to a harsh environment are truly amazing. Warm sunny days are the rule, but the high desert weather can be unpredictable. This trip is moderately easy and its base is Moab, Utah.

This trek is in the wild backcountry of Salt Creek, a beautiful red rock canyon with cool, clear year-round water and lush vegetation. We usually hike down the canyon from beginning to end, and hire a shuttle service to move our vehicle while we’re in the canyons.

TREK BASE: Grand Junction, Colorado. Comfort Inn, 750 ¾ Horizon Drive, Grand Junction, CO, 81506, 970-245-3335. The motel is right next to the airport

MEETING TIME: Pre-trip orientation including food/gear handout plus safety talk at 6 PM the evening prior to the first trip day. For example, if the trip is from the 3rd to the 9th, the pre-trip meeting is 6 PM on the 2nd.

Utah AdventuresTRANSPORTATION: Air service to Grand Junction, CO. Hotel right next to airport.

TREK RATING: Because there are few uphills with packs, we rate this trip moderately easy. Daily mileage is modest, usually 4-7 miles, depending upon our chosen camp.

ELEVATIONS: 5500-6500 feet. We typically start high and hike down into and along the canyons.

WEATHER: Warm sunny days and cool to frosty nights are typical; however, spring weather on the high desert plateau occasionally brings cold wet storms, so be prepared for anything from 80-plus degree heat to cold rain and even snow.

FISHING: There was probably great fishing during the Pleistocene.

SPECIAL FEATURES: An absolutely gorgeous, otherworldly and colorful landscape of sculpted sandstone and unique high desert vegetation. Spring wildflowers or golden autumn colors. There are lots of nesting and migratory birds and other wildlife. On most routes we’ll see fascinating and well-preserved ruins and artwork of ancient canyon cultures.

Canyon CottonwoodSPECIAL TIPS: Bring plenty of color film or camera batteries. We do recommend that you treat the water. Streams can be silty, so backup your filter with iodine tablets in case the filter clogs.

STATUS: Due to local/regional politics, the park backcountry has not been designated Wilderness under the Wilderness Act of 1964. So the Park Service allows and even encourages the use of 4-wheel drive/all-terrain vehicles in some parts of the park, though not in the areas we visit. This argues for Wilderness designation!

ITINERARY: We usually visit a remote part of the Needles District, and the trailhead is about 1½ hours driving time from Moab. Most years we’ll end up at a different trailhead than where the trip begins, and you can always count on at least one layover.

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Space is limited!
Have questions? Call (406) 823-0337

Please note: We vary the route and camps from year to year depending upon local conditions and other factors, mileages and elevations are approximate. Return to the main Utah backpacking page to reach about other treks.Dos Backpackers

Upper JumpSalt Creek Rock Spire

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Upper Jump Camp Area - Version 3Canyon Wall

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Photo of Stevens Arch from one of our Utah backpacking trips

List prices include our complete gear package and there is a $300 discount if you bring your own (see our Canoeing List, Backpacking List, and/or Questionnaire for details – found here). Also, we offer a $300 discount for the second trip in a calendar year. Scheduled trips are for persons ages 14 and over. Exceptions to the age requirement will be made by us on a case-by-case basis.

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