Backpacking Utah’s Slickrock Canyon Country is unlike exploring any other landscape on Earth; it is an unbelievably colorful region of deep red-walled canyons with clear streams flanked by a lush growth of willow and cottonwood. There are slot canyons and ancient Indian ruins, too. It is spectacular! Above the canyons are high, wide-open mesas of sprawling “slickrock” sandstone, plus sandstone domes, sand dunes, arches and many other spectacular geologic features. Open woodlands of juniper and pinyon provide additional greenery, and from these mesas you can see forever! Backpacking in Utah with Big Wild is a truly unique experience.
Big Wild Adventures has been organizing and leading some of the best Utah backpacking trips into the canyon country wilderness for over three decades. Join us in the big wilds of Canyonlands National Park, the Escalante Canyons and the Utah Grand Staircase backcountry of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. By the way, the Grand Staircase trip is one of our more rugged and remote Utah backpacking trips. The Utah backcountry is among the most exciting and primeval landscapes on Earth!
Please note that our Utah hiking trips may fill up quickly, and we take reservations on a first-come, first-served basis. So don’t miss out! To reserve your space, call 406-848-7000. We can’t wait to backpack southern Utah and explore the colorful wilds with you!
Utah $1,900 (inclusive*) • April 9-14, 2017
Trip at a glance: The trip is rated moderately easy and its base is Moab, UT. In this trip we will explore some of the most colorful landscapes on this planet. This adventure in the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park will include colorful sheer canyon walls, beautiful arches, unique high desert vegetation, refreshing streams flanked by lush growth of willow and cottonwood, and magnificent rock formations. Native wildlife is also in this portion of the Colorado Plateau includes desert bighorns, bobcats, golden eagle and more. We will see ruins and pictographs of ancient cultures. This trip is absolutely beautiful and you will experience much of what backpacking in Utah’s unmatched canyon country has to offer on a really mellow hiking route. This is one of the best backpacking trails in Utah. View full trip details >>
Utah (inclusive*) • next offered in spring, 2018
Trip at a glance: This trip is rated fairly strenuous and its base is Cedar City, UT. We will adventure just a few miles north of Arizona in an extremely remote section of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This National Monument is full of deep canyons, colorful rocks, spectacular views, high mesas, arches and awesome sandstone formations. This trip also includes cool desert streams, pinyon-juniper forests, peregrine falcons and other birds of prey. At the end of a long day, you will have the opportunity for some great star gazing. This is a real gem, a relatively unknown wild chunk of southern Utah canyon country! View full trip details >>
Utah $1,900 (inclusive*) • October 15-20, 2017
Trip at a glance: This trip is rated moderate and its base is Cedar City, UT. Although uphills are limited, there are lots of stream crossings, some hiking upstream, some bushwhacking, and lots of sand. This trip is absolutely stunning! We will be hiking through a magnificent canyon system that has been cut by the Escalante River. We will hike through colorful sedimentary rock formations of the Colorado Plateau including red canyon walls, arches, alcoves and more. The Escalante River and tributaries are full of cool water and lined with lush growth of oak, cottonwood, box-elder, willow and grass. Whether you get to see spring wildflowers or fall colors in October, this is a trip you will not want to miss. There is always plenty of time to explore side canyons. We spend a minimum of one night on top of the slickrock desert above the canyon where the views are stunning! In this area we also typically see ruins and rock art of ancient cultures. View full trip details >>
Please click on photos to enlarge.
*All trip prices include equipment (backpack, day-pack, tent, sleeping bag and pad, eating utensils), food and cooking (3 meals/day plus snacks), cooking gear, trip planning, comprehensive safety instruction, all user/permit fees, transportation from town to and from the trailheads, and our professional guide/naturalist staff. There is a $300 discount if you bring your own equipment.
The Utah Landscape
Utah is a land of such radical and amazing diversity that it is difficult to characterize it in a small amount of space. Nonetheless, we’ll give it a try. North-central and northeastern Utah harbor the two most famous mountain ranges in the state, the Wasatch and the Uintas. Though there are few chunks of big wilderness in the Wasatch, the High Uintas Wilderness is the largest high mountain wild area in Utah. Though less isolated and wild, the Wasatch Mountains form a striking backdrop to the Greater Salt Lake City Utah metropolitan area, also known as the “Wasatch Front”.
Big Wild Adventures eschews hiking near large metropolitan areas. We want our clients to experience real wilderness in a remote setting, with minimal light pollution and maximum wildness. Fortunately, when the Wasatch Front is in the rear-view mirror, wild Utah quickly begins to assert herself, and what an assertion it is!
Although there are many other rugged Utah mountain ranges beyond the Wasatch and the Uintas, it is the Canyon Country that comprises Utah habitat for Big Wild Adventures. This otherworldly landscape of southern Utah forms the bulk of a geographic region unlike any other on Earth. Geologists call it the Colorado Plateau, but in popular jargon much of this Utah landscape is simply known as “Canyon Country”. Or “Slickrock Country”. Or “Red-rock Canyon Country” or even “Canyonlands”, although that name is more properly reserved for Canyonlands National Park, one of Canyon Country’s major protected areas and a place frequented by Big Wild Adventures.
Whatever you call it, though, you get the picture. To call Canyon Country in Utah colorful understates the reality. A kaleidoscope of colored rocks dominate the scenery, and yes, many of the rocks are red or reddish, a facet of the iron oxide that results from weathering rock in the high desert Utah climate.
But exploring in Utah’s Canyon Country isn’t just about the rocks and their colors. Deep, often vertical-walled canyons slice through the Utah plateaus. Amazingly verdant plant communities flank cool clear canyon-bottom streams, though some of the Utah canyons are as dry as the Sahara. Don’t worry, though, Big Wild guides know which canyons have water. And some of the canyons are true slots; so narrow that one must turn sideways in order to move!
There’s something in the Utah high desert Canyon Country for most everyone, and while Big Wild co-owner Howie Wolke feels claustrophobic in the slots, he loves the wide-open expanses of the “slickrock desert” plateaus that rim the canyons. And why not? The views are vast; the skies are deep blue and starry-black at night. The twisted junipers and other desert-adapted plants are widely-spaced and therefore have developed an individualism that seems lacking among plants in wetter, more botanically-crowded environs. And the snow-capped peaks of the not-too distant Henry, Abajo, and LaSalle Mountains frame the colorful arid canyon and mesa wilds. If you’re looking for a really unique Utah adventure, please join us in the wilds of the Escalante Canyons, or the Grand Staircase backcountry or the incomparable back of beyond in Canyonlands National Park!