hunting for precious gemstone
Arizona Silver Rush and Old West History
classic Sonoran desert scenery
use real mining/geology tools
epic sunsets, remote desert solitude
Up to 25 mi/47km
The Graduate geologist adventurer will be capable of hiking 4 – 10 miles daily. Trails are generally maintained and have 5000 feet or less of change in elevation. Your backpack will weigh 30-45 lbs. Graduate time traveling hikers should be in good health, and exercise regularly. Previous backpacking experience is advised.
Strike it rich in Arizona’s Wild West Boom Country
Tombstone. Bisbee. The OK Corral. Doc Holliday, Waytt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, Geronimo, and the Wild West. It all happened right here in the grand Sonoran Desert of Arizona. John Wayne, Gary Cooper, and Clint Eastwood made movies to commemorate those lofty days, and now you have a chance to create your own peice of history on our Wild West Prospector Backpacking Tour. Hunt for silver, copper, and all of their related minerals in the howling desert mountains of southern Arizona. Your geologist/guide knows the best spots to find the coolest stuff, not to mention your use of hammers, hand lenses, chisels, acid testers, and other mining/geology equipment. The adventure alone is enough to say you’ve struck it rich.
Guests will need the ability to hike on and off trail in places that may have physical obstacles or barriers with aggressive elevation change for up to 15 miles per day, carrying up to 40 pounds of gear. In every case other than an emergency situation, hikes are one-way and are performed at a 2 to 3 mph 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.
Our Wild West Prospector Experience begins in Tucson, Arizona, the city known as the “Old Pueblo” and capital of the old Arizona Territory. From there we head south to the rich mining districts outside of Tombstone and Bisbee, world famous for producing ore worth many millions of dollars sparking the 1880’s silver rush in Arizona. We will then strap on our packs, load up our hammers and prospecting gear, and head off into the turquoise mountains. Hiking among these rugged desert mountains and iconic Saguaro cactuses will lend a true sense of old school adventure. After a few miles we will find our camp and spend the night eating a classic miner’s supper and dreaming of riches beyond our wildest dreams.
Time in the car: 2.5 hours
Elevation & Distance: 3-5 miles, 1000 foot ascent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
This morning wakes with the sun, as we will be spending the day searching for associates of silver and copper; bornite, chrysocolla, wulfenite, and other colorful specimens yielded by these historic mountains. In tow will be chisels, geologic hammers, hand lenses, and everything else that the 1880’s prospector might have been carrying with him. Your geologist/guide will hunt alongside with you, explaining the source and formation history of these fabulous gems, and giving perspective as to why this area is particular was of such interest. Happy hunting!
Elevation & Distance: 3-5 miles, rolling topography
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Our final day contains more great gem hunting in the turquoise mountains, a search for some of the world’s finest “peacock ore” outside of a small ghost town, and a stop in Tombstone to drink in the history and culture of this Old West mining boom town. After we get our fill we will head back to Tucson.
Elevation & Distance: 2-4 miles, rolling topography
*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 Tucson, Arizona and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Tucson. You will want to fly into Tucson, Phoenix, or Mesa. 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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