Arizona's Marble Canyon & Vermillion Cliffs BaseCamp
A Geologist Experience

Trip Details

Type: BaseCamp Hiking, Paddling,
and Whitewater Rafting

Trip Code: AZMV

Duration: 5 Days

Distance: Up to 25 mi hiking plus
lake paddling and rafting /53 km

Fitness: 2
Comfort: 2
Solitude: 3

Origin: Flagstaff, AZ

Cost: $1400/person

Trip Description:

The Marble Canyon & Vermillion Cliffs BaseCamp tour celebrates the most iconic and special parts of Northern Arizona's Painted Desert.  We will hike, paddle, and play in and around Marble Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, and Lake Powell in a tour de force of Painted Desert Icons.  We will check out the famous Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon for enlightening photography workshops, take a relaxing paddleboard out on Lake Powell to observe the Glen Canyon Area, hike and explore the famous Coyote Buttes and White Pockets of the Vermillion Cliffs, and take an epic and exhilirating whitewater rafting trip through Lee's Ferry and Marble Canyon to the mouth of the Grand Canyon.  Some of the most famous and spectacular geology and scenery awaits, are you ready for this? 

  1. Coyote Buttes, Vermillion Cliffs
  2. White Pocket, Vermillion Cliffs
  3. The Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
  4. Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park
  5. The Corkscrew, Antelope Canyon
  6. Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park
  7. Lake Powell, Arizona
  8. The Antelope Ray, Antelope Canyon
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Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

The Marble Canyon & Vermillion Cliffs BaseCamp tour begins with a scenic drive across northern Arizona's Painted Desert, with a midday stop at Antelope Canyon, and a sunset excursion of Horseshoe Bend for geology photography workshops.  These are two of the most well-known scenes in the entire west, and they are incredibly spectacular for tremendous photos.  After hiking around, playing with our cameras, and a sunset dinner prepared by your geologist/guide at the Horseshoe Bend overlook, we will cruise out to our comfortable and private camp site in the Kaibab National Forest and prepare for the epic journey ahead.  
Drive Time: 3 hours
Distance & Elevation: 3 miles, 160 foot descent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Sunset Dinner

Day 2:

Your second day into the Marble Canyon & Vermillion Cliffs BaseCamp tour begins with a hearty breakfast, then rolls into one of its namesakes, Marble Canyon.  We will delve into one of Marble Canyon's excellent and thrilling side canyons en route to the Colorado River, as your geologist/guide gives you a full tour through the millions of years expressed in the layercake of Colorado Plateau sediments.
Distance & Elevation: Up to 10 miles, up to a 1000 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

Day 3 presents unique adventure, as we cruise out to Lake Powell behind Glen Canyon Dam, up into Utah to observe the Wahweap toadstools, then onto paddleboards to navigate beautiful and scenic Lake Powell.  Lake Powell is well known for sweeping views of sunset orange and red rocks, gorgeous rock formations, still, clear, refreshing waters, and a relaxing environment of beaches and carefree recreation.  After another fantastic sunset dinner on the beach, we will return to our comfortable and private campsite.
Distance & Elevation: paddling miles, no elevation change
Breakfast, Lunch, Sunset Dinner

Day 4:

Your third day offers an epic exploration of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, including hiking around White Pocket, Water Pockets, and the famous Coyote Buttes.  Vermillion Cliffs is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery and mind-bending geologic features in the world, and we will hike, explore, and photograph many of them on this amazing day.
Distance & Elevation: 5 miles, no elevation change
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:

Our final day in Marble Canyon may be the most exciting; whitewater rafting on the Colorado River.  We will pack up and break camp early, then head to Marble Canyon to meet our boat.  Glen Canyon Dam to the mouth of the Grand Canyon offers some of the best raft paddling waters in the world, exciting for beginners and veterans alike.  After a thrilling day on the Colorado River, we will head back to Flagstaff.
Distance & Elevation: 5 miles, minimal descent
Breakfast, Lunch
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.

What’s Included:
A professional, degreed, licensed and medically trained geologist/guide
All necessary gear: daypack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your geologist/guide will prepare all meals)
All food, including a mix of fresh and pre-made backcountry meals
Roundtrip Transportation from your hotel in Flagstaff to Marble Canyon and all activities/attractions
Entrance fees, camping fees, and backcountry permits

Meals: what to expect
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 and in camp 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 available, and meals will be served cafeteria-style on covered tables.  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.

What’s Not Included:
Transportation to/from Flagstaff, AZ
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 basecamp trips in Arizona 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 $500 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 over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-602-904-2536
Travel Logistics

Where does the trip begin/end?
This trip will begin/end in Flagstaff, AZ and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Flagstaff. You will want to fly into either Phoenix (2 hour drive) or Flagstaff. Please visit our  Travel Resources  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 in Flagstaff. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation.  Most trips will depart between 5am and 6am.

*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 in Flagstaff 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 in Flagstaff by 5pm at the latest 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.

Trip Dates

2017 Dates
June: 24-28
July: 21-25
August: 16-20

2018 Dates
June: 24-28
July: 21-25
August: 16-20

More dates to come soon…
Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!
Call 1-602-904-2536 or email us  for details.