Canyonlands Hiking Guides
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Canyonlands National Park Hiking Tour
Canyonlands Guided Backpacking
Canyonlands Backpacking Tour
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Canyonlands Classic

Highlights

  • Unique and diverse canyons
  • Arches, towers and oases
  • The best of Canyonlands
  • An unforgettable narrow joint canyon
  • Famous Chesler Park
  • Adventurous slickrock traverses
  • Darkest of night skies & stunning starscapes

Description

Our Canyonlands-Needles backpacking Loop features the best slickrock traverses, views and deep canyons this stunning area has to offer. The Needles Loop is where guests can find themselves among unimaginable sandstone pillars, spires, arches and multi-colored canyon environments that endlessly characterize the landscape. On this tour you will see up close and personal the rock formations that give the Needles District its name!
Our backpacking trip begins in Moab, Utah where we get an early start and drive to the trailhead. From the trailhead, the route is an interconnected web of trails that weave in and out of canyons, sometimes via ladders built into the rocks, to high-slickrock benches that offer the kinds of views that inspire unforgettable outdoor experiences. We journey through several canyons, all different in character, and spend a day traveling through a spectacular, narrow joint canyon on our way to a sublime collection of sheer rock towers. At the head of one of the canyons, Elephant Canyon, lives a massive arch unlike any other in canyon country called Druid Arch - it boasts an angular profile and two narrow, elongated openings that makes it look more like a formation from Stonehenge than a natural arch!

The public agencies that oversee this region require that everyone pack out all solid waste, including human waste. We provide resources and training to make this manageable and efficient. However, if you'd rather embark on a trip in Utah where that isn't required, we recommending checking out our Capitol Reef Backpacking Trip

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Trip Dates

Click on a date to register.
You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.
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800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Itinerary

Day 1
  • Shuttle to the Trailhead: 1.5-2 hour drive
  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 360 feet
We begin this exceptional Canyonlands backpacking tour with pick-up from your hotel in Moab and make our way out to the Needles District. Our hike begins with a gentle ascent to our first of a series of sandstone ridges with expansive views of the snow-covered La Sal Mountains to the northeast. We travel in and out of canyons that tease us with views of wave upon wave of colorful sandstone formations below. We will eventually drop down into our canyon home. We will set up camp for the night and then sit down for a relaxing wilderness dinner prepared by your guide. If we're lucky we'll have the opportunity to see why the International Dark Sky Association granted a gold-tier status to Canyonlands - an honor reserved for the darkest of night skies. Some of our Utah backpacking guests say the stunningly vivid view of the Milky Way is the biggest highlight of their trip!
Day 2
  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 300 feet
The morning begins with a departure from camp via the floor of a wide, beautiful canyon out to a remote and marvelous arch. Elephant Canyon is an endless delight of sandstone rock formations that enchant us as we make our way to the head of the canyon. The final section of the trail is a challenging, adventurous climb, first up a ladder, and then a scramble up a ravine to top us out onto a slickrock saddle. At the saddle, we see Druid Arch's unique, angular and elongated double openings right in front of us! We will marvel at this arch and how it came to be before making our way back to camp for a wonderful dinner, relaxing evening and great night's sleep.
Day 3
  • Hiking Mileage: 4-8 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 500 feet
After breakfast, we will leave camp with what we need for the day and head off on a day hiking journey through Chesler Park. Our adventure today will be an exhilarating one, full of unique rock formations and an exciting narrow canyon formed from a linear fracture in the rock layers. What these geological events leave for us is a stunning pathway through meadows of rock formations, tight, shear rock walls, tunnels opening up to chambers and exciting rock scramble transitions. We will finish the loop back to our campground for another beautiful evening.
Day 4
  • Hiking Mileage: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Shuttle to Moab: 1.5-2 hour drive
After packing up camp and breakfast, we begin our hike out from the canyon floor. The journey begins as we gradually ascend to the top of our canyons for some unforgettable views of the land around us. The hike is challenging and adventurous with some ladders assisting us up rock shelves and multi-colored slickrock traverses. Once back to our trailhead, we will begin our 1.5-2 hour drive back to Moab.



Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary park restrictions, campsite availability, weather, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles and Microspike Crampons if necessary
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Canyonlands hiking guide
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Moab, utah to the Canyonlands trailhead and back
  • Entrance fees and national park permits
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.


Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

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.


Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone


What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are three 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.


What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!


Where Do We Meet?

You will meet your guide and group at a hotel in Moab, Utah at 5:00 PM the evening before your trip begins. Your guide will be in contact apprximately 10 days before your trip begins to coordinate this rendezvous and answer any last-minute questions you have.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.


Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day's pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 4 and 7 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).


Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.


Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.


Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on Canyonlands backpacking trips is 6 guests and 1 guide. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis


Weather in Canyonlands

Canyonlands is an arid, high desert ecosystem characterized by mild winter temperatures, moderate spring and fall weather and temperatures, and hot, dry summers. Average temperatures in Canyonlands are as follows:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
 
 
Month
High
Low
 
Dec-Feb
43°
18°
 
March
55°
27°
 
April
64°
33°
 
May
73°
40°
 
Jun-Aug
88°
55°
 
September
79°
45°
 
October
67°
35°
 
November
53°
25°