World's longest, deepest slot canyon
800 foot sandstone walls
Arches, Giant rock falls
Pleasant hiking in refreshing, watery canyon
Desert Canyon Oasis
Bucket-list canyon scenery
44 mi/70 km
The Undergraduate geologist adventurer is capable of hiking 2-6 miles daily. Trails are generally maintained and have 1500 feet or less of change in elevation. Your backpack will weigh between 20-35 lbs. Undergraduate time traveling hikers must be healthy and relatively fit. Previous backpacking experience is a good idea, but not required.
Experience one of the premier canyon hikes on the Colorado Plateau; deep slots, soaring sunset-colored walls, and trickling water everywhere
The Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument is a geologic playground for the intrepid adventurer. It’s home to spectacular geologic features, numerous narrow canyons, outrageous sunsets, solitude, and the world’s longest slot canyon, Buckskin Gulch. A Buckskin Gulch to Paria Canyon Backpacking tour explores a deep, narrow canyon carved by the forces of water, wind, and time into gleaming sandstone walls, towering over 1000 feet above the Paria River. The hike covers roughly 38 miles of canyon, and as you make your way through the canyon, the beautiful sunset red-orange sandstone cliffs clim higher with every step. You will marvel at the beautifully sculpted walls, natural springs, ancient petroglyphs and a natural arch. Near the confluence, Paria Canyon opens to spectacular views of Lee’s Ferry and the Colorado River, the mouth of the Grand Canyon. Paria Canyon is a secret wonder of the Southwest and this backpacking tour is sure to astound, astonish, and leave an indelible mark and memory.
Guests will need the ability to hike on established trails with noticeable elevation change over uneven natural surfaces for up to 10 miles per day, carrying up to 15 pounds of gear. Some routes may not have a shorter or turn-around option and the group will move 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
The trail less traveled, with some side trips to more popular overlooks and areas. Hikers can look forward to ease of access and simplicity of entry at parking, destinations, meals and morel. If there are crowds, then they’re easily avoided. Overnighting locations combine the convenience of access with the feeling of true solitude in the mother nature.
The Buckskin Gulch to Paria Canyon Backpacking tour begins at the Wire Pass Trailhead in the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness of Utah. After final preparations, we will begin our hike along Buckskin Creek. From the relatively wide Wire Pass Trailhead, the canyon will narrow fairly quickly and dramatically, with sandstone walls rising above us. There are frequent stream crossings, as well as a short jaunt to Cobra Arch, as we make our way deeper and deeper into the amazing narrows of this stone maze. After several miles we will arrive at our camp near the confluence with the Paria River. Kick back as your guide sets up camp and prepares an excellent dinner.
Time in the car: 3.5 hours
Elevation & Distance: 9 miles, 160 foot descent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today’s hiking adventure starts with a gorgeous stroll in Upper Paria Canyon to Slide Rock, a unique feature of this canyon, made all the more enjoyable with only your daypack! Bring your camera and sense of wonder…this canyon is outstanding. Returning to camp, we’ll pack up and head further into the depths of Paria Canyon. Expect another day of frequent creek crossings, towering canyon walls and outstanding scenery.
Elevation & Distance: 9 miles, 160 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Our third day offers more sunset sandstone, freshwater springs and world-class hiking. A short side hike will take us to Wrather Arch, an excellent geologic feature spanning over 200 feet. It is one of the most secluded natural arches in the Arizona and the American Southwest. Tonight’s camp will be in the vicinity of Shower Spring.
Elevation & Distance: 9 miles, 350 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today’s hike will watch as Paria Canyon begins to open up as we exit the narrows and enter its wider desert gorge reaches. Geology is the mechanism for this changing scenery, and you will bear witness! As we pick our way through the rugged gorge, keep your eyes sharp for the ancient rock art that dots the cliffs, ruins, and a homey pioneer ranch near the cree.
Elevation & Distance: 12 miles, 600 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
The final day in this paradise begins with a lazy morning (or a spectacular sunrise, if you so choose). We will follow the ever-widening and deepening canyon to its confluence with the Colorado River and Lonely Dell Ranch. We’ll meet our shuttles, have a tasty lunch, and make the scenic cruise back to Flagstaff. Cheers!
Elevation & Distance: 5 miles, minimal descent
Drive Time: 2 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 Flagstaff, Arizona and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Flagstaff. You will want to fly into Flagstaff or Phoenix. Please visit our travel 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.