Sweeping High Plateau Canyon
Remote, Wild Canyon Complex
Waterfalls, Ruins, Petroglyphs
200 million years of Earth's History
One of the least-explored places in lower 48
Up to 40 mi/72km
The PhD geologist adventurer will be capable of handling daily hiking mileages of 7 to 10 miles on generally unmaintained trails with up to 5000 feet of elevation change, and a BackPack weight of 35 to 40 pounds. Trails are often steep with loose footing and there may be exposure to intimidating heights. Expect periods of rugged and physically demanding hiking. Participants should be in excellent health, regularly active and exercise 4 to 5 days per week. Prior backpacking experience is strongly recommended.
Venture into Robbers Roost, Fable Plateau, and Bears Ears to explore of America’s last wilderness frontiers
The Dark Canyon Wilderness and Primitive Area Complex is truly one of America’s last frontiers. Our Sundance to Dark Canyon Backpacking tour explores Robbers Roost, Fable Plateau, and Bears Ears in this Grand Canyon-like setting that has a little bit of everything; sweeping views of the Dark Canyon Country, cross-country hiking and exploration, deep and spectacular narrows, fascinating geology, and utterly remote solitude. Just getting here is an adventure in and of itself, as we take our shuttle off the beaten path along thrilling 4wd trails to the Sundance Trailhead where this epic hiking adventure begins. We will have the opportunity to hike and explore much of Dark Canyon’s outstanding wilderness, and see some of the finest views in Utah or the American Southwest. The best thing is, you just might have Robbers Roost, Fable Plateau, and Bears Ears all to yourself!
Hikers should have the ability to hike on and off marked trails, to scramble over obstacles and/or barriers with frequent changes in elevation for up to 14 miles per day, carrying medium sized packs of gear. All hikes are one-way, except in case of emergency, and are traveled at a steady walking pace with breaks.
A real back-packing trip, comfort is what you carry with you. There are no showers or electricity on the trail and restrooms are primitive. Backpackers can expect to sleep on a sleeping pad outdoors or in a small tent. Food consists of single-entrée meals, some food are freeze-dried or dehydrated with a few fresh food selections. Meals are prepared by your guide and served “group-style” out of pots and usually eaten out of personal meal-kits while sitting on the ground.2
Hikers will visit the remote frontier. Guides will take you to the hard-to-reach and hard-to-find attractions that remain completely untouched by the crowds. Groups will see few, if any, other hikers through the trip. Overnighting is private and secluded.
The Sundance to Dark Canyon Backpacking tour begins in Moab, UT where after final preperations we will hit the road on a scenic drive into Utah’s famed Roober’s Roost Country, through the wonderful “Bears Ears”, and onto the idyllic Fable Plateau. After an epic 4×4 adventure, we will arrive at the Sundance Trailhead, where we will make camp overlooking this impressive desert canyon landscape. Just getting here is an adventure in itself!
Time in the car: 4 hours
Elevation & Distance: Optional side hike
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today’s hiking adventure begins with sunrise yoga overlooking Dark Canyon before we start our thrilling descent. The hiking is rugged, but you are up for the challenge! The outrageous scenery will distract any misgivings however, as this is one of the most spectacular views in the entire American Southwest. The sun will dance across the orange, red, purple, and blonde rocks as we descend into Dark Canyon, arriving in its depths after a few miles to make our basecamp for the remainder of the journey. After a well-earned lunch, we will begin our exploration of the Dark Canyon Complex. Get ready, this canyon is absolutely outstanding, and its hiking opportunities are nearly endless!
Elevation & Distance: 6-12 miles, 1500 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAYS 3 & 4
Days 3 & 4 of the Sundance to Dark Canyon Backpacking tour is all about exploration from our basecamp. We will navigate the depths of Dark Canyon along with its several tributary canyons such as Lost Canyon, Youngs Canyon, Lean-to Canyon, and even make it down to the Colorado River!
Elevation & Distance: 6-12 miles each day, 300-600 foot elevation gain/loss per day
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Our final day on the trail retraces our steps up and out of Dark Canyon via the Sundance Trail, continuing to marvel at the sweeping and seemingly endless views across the Colorado Plateau and Escalante Canyon Country. After we reach our shuttle, we will pile in and celebrate our great trip like geologists, with a cold beverage at a local watering hole before heading back to Moab.
Elevation & Distance: 6 miles, 1000 foot ascent
Drive Time: 6 hours
*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.
A professional, degreed, licensed and medically trained geologist/guide
All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your geologist/guide will
prepare all trail meals)
All food, including a mix of fresh and pre-made backcountry meals
Roundtrip Transportation from your hotel in Moab to Dark Canyon and all activities/attractions
Entrance fees, camping fees, and backcountry permits
We provide all your meals from a light breakfast on day 1 through lunch the last day. Your geologist/guide will prepare a variety of meals on the trail that will fit the day’s activity. Feel free to tell us about your food preferences, as we’re more than happy to tailor the menu to your needs/desires. Some specialty diets may require an additional fee.
All meals will consist of one entree, prepared by your geologist/guide. Fresh options will be limited, as backpacking typically requires lightweight, non-perishable foods. There will be trail snacks that consist of nuts, fruits, chocolate, and other “gorp” style mixes.
We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.
Whats Not Included:
Transportation to/from Escalante, Utah
Lodging the night before/after the trip
Clothing, raingear, and footwear
Personal toiletries, sunscreen
Water bottles/hydration bladder
Headlamp or flashlight
Guide gratuity (suggested 10-15% of trip cost)
*Upon booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet
How many people are in the group?
Most backpacking trips in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will accommodate 6 people plus one geologist/guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 10 people plus 2 guides.
Are there age restrictions?
Children under 12 are generally not permitted on any of Blue Marble’s scheduled trips. This can be negotiable on private tours, please contact us to discuss this policy
How do I sign up?
In order to confirm a reservation, we require an initial deposit of %50 of trip cost per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking. Your deposit is payable through our online booking platform or over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee).
Where does the trip begin & end?
This trip will begin/end in Moab, Utah and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Escalante. You will want to fly into Moab. Please visit our / page for information on airports, shuttles/rental cars and recommended hotels.
Where do you meet our guides?
We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 4:30pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the host hotel. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation. Most trips will depart between 6am and 8am.
*This meeting is not mandatory, but highly recommended, as we will depart early the next morning. If you are unable to attend, please let us know in advance so that we can make alternate arrangements.
What do we do with our car and extra stuff?
We will provide all transportation to/from trailheads for the duration of the trip. We will pick you up at the host hotel and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the host hotel can leave their cars at the hotel. These hotels will often store your luggage for you, as well. If not, we are happy to store extra luggage at a secure location for the duration of the trip. If you are staying at a different hotel, you will need to check with them as to whether you can leave your car there
What time will we get back on the last day?
Expect to be back at the host hotel by 6pm on the last day of the trip. Some trips will return earlier but we cannot make any guarantees. In general, it is recommended that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.
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Join Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism on geology-themed hiking and backpacking adventures! Find the perfect Grand Canyon hiking tour, Utah Canyon Country Tour, Vermillion Cliffs Backpacking or hiking.