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Canyonlands National Park, UT

Oct 14 - Oct 21, 2018 -- $1325 ★★★, Only 2 Spots Left

In the remote Utah backcountry, lies a magical world of canyons, mesas, and buttes called Canyonlands National Park We will be backpacking the Needles District, one of the finest and most sought out districts of this colorful park. The Needles can be challenging primarily due to dramatic drop-offs and precipices, so if you have a fear of heights, this trip is not for you. However with the challenges come great rewards like ubiquitous red rocks, ancient petroglyphs, colossal sandstone arches, turn-of-the-century ranches, winding canyons, natural bridges and wildlife such as lizards, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and possibly even black bear.

Our trek begins from the high point of the trek, Cathedral Butte, an enormous monolithic presence. It ends near the iconic Chesler Park area of the Needles District. In between, we'll hike along beautiful canyons and incredible mesas with unobstructed views, seeing many iconic (and lesser) arches such as Angel Arch and Druid Arch, not to mention seeing mystical Petroglyphs / graffiti such as All-American Man.

Water will be scarce at times, on some days, we will need to carry about 2 gallons (16 pounds) of water in our packs. Still, the rewards are many. In October, the days are getting shorter which means great sunsets and amazing star-gazing.


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures as high as 90 and as low as 30, with an occasional chance of rainfall and on rare occasion, snowfall. Here is the historical September weather. Be prepared with lots of sun protection and water containers that add up to 8 liters of capacity.

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Miles Gordon


$1325 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Salt Lake City (SLC), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, round-trip ground transportation from Salt Lake City to the National Park, 6 days of trail meals, National Park permits, insurance, backcountry fees and awesome guides.


The trails through Canyonlands National Park can be unbelievably easy and enjoyable to hike, especially within the level, sandy-bottomed canyons or on the flat, rocky, view-laden mesas. It's pure hiking pleasure. However, there will also be sandy patches and slickrock with sometimes dramatic dropoffs and a few places where challenging scrambles (using hands and butt) is necessary.

Important Notes

Canyonlands National Park (as well as Fitpacking) takes Leave No Trace seriously. Toilet paper does not decompose in the Canyonlands desert ecosystem, so it must be packed out. And although we can leave human waste in much of the park, on the final day we will be camped in the Chesler Park area, a very sensitive area that gets an extraordinary amount of use. Because of this, human waste must also be packed out from this location. Sorry! When you see the campsites, you will understand why this is the case.

We are also required to carry bear canisters in the park to protect food from any number of animals ... squirrels to bears.

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fly into Salt Lake City Airport (SLC). The best time to arrive is between around Noon-3PM. However, if you can save a substantial amount on your flight by arriving at say, 11AM or 5PM, then do so.

Take the free airport shuttle to hotel (TBD)

Equipment shakedown

"Before" measurements taken

Trail mix distribution

Go to REI Salt Lake City, 3285 E 3300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84109, (801) 486-2100 for last minute equipment

Go out for dinner (Dinner not included in trip cost)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Early (6AM or earlier) wake-up

Second set of "before" measurements taken

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage. Try to keep this to a small amount of stuff.

Free breakfast at Hotel

Car shuttle 4 hours to Moab

Take Tag-a-Long Ground Shuttle to the Cathedral Butte Trailhead on Route 107, elevation 7050'

Hike 1.8 steep downhill miles to the head of the East Fork of Salt Creek, elevation 6100'

Hike 2.2 miles to Kirk's Cabin, elevation 5900'.

Camp at SC1, elevation 5900'

Miles today: 4.0. Total miles: 4.0

Possible bailout: Route 107

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hike about 8.0 miles to the Angel Arch spur trail, elevation 5500'

Camp at-large in the Salt/Horse zone, elevation 5500'

PLEASE NOTE: There was a fire in this area in 2016 and tonight's planned campsite area is currently closed to at-large camping. It might open by the time our trip happens. If it does not open by then, we may camp at-large near Angel Arch or about a mile North or a mile South of the intersection.

Miles today: 8.0. Total miles: 11.0

Possible bailout: Route 107 a day away

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Day-Hike about 3.4 miles roundtrip to Angel Arch, elevation 5600'

Hike about 5.0 miles to Salt Creek At-Large area, elevation 5300'.

Camp in Salt Creek At-Large area, elevation 5300'.

Miles today: 8.4. Total miles: 19.4

Possible bailout: Salt Creek unmaintained dirt road, a day away

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Hike 3.5 miles to Peekaboo Campsite, elevation 5100'

Hike 2.4 miles to the Lost Canyon Trail elevation 5200'

Hike 3.2 miles on the Lost Canyon Trail to campsite SQ2, elevation 5500'

Miles today: 9.1. Total miles: 28.5

Possible bailout: Squaw Flat

Friday, October 19, 2018

Hike 0.9 miles to the Big Springs Canyon Trail, elevation 5500'

Hike 2.9 miles to Druid Arch Trail, elevation 5600'

Drop packs and Day-Hike 3.2 round-trip miles to Druid Arch, elevation 5740'

Hike 1.0 miles to Chesler Park, elevation 6000'

Hike 1.7 miles to campsite EC1, elevation 5300'

Camp at campsite EC1, elevation 5300'

Miles today: 9.7. Total miles: 38.2

Possible bailout: Squaw Flat

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Hike 0.6 miles to the Chesler Park Trail intersection, elevation 5200'

Hike 3.4 miles to Squaw Flat, elevation 5100'

End of hiking

Miles today: 4.0. Total miles: 42.2

Take Tag-a-Long Ground Shuttle back to Moab

After measurements taken

Dinner and awards Ceremony in Moab. Dinner not included in trip cost.

Shuttle 4 hours back to Salt Lake City

Check back into hotel (TBD)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Free Hotel Breakfast

Take Free Airport Shuttle

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