Arch in Canyonlands National Park

Ancient Canyonlands Traverse

Trip Highlights

  • Soaring Canyon Walls
  • Hike in Ancient Footsteps
  • Stunning Arches
  • Breathtaking Night Skies
  • Red Rock Desert Oasis
  • Amazing Native American History
  • Delicious Backcountry Cuisine


Important: This trip is currently suspended due to an archeological survey being conducted by Canyonlands National Park. Apologies for the inconvenience! Two trips that offer similar experiences are the Canyonlands Classic and Capitol Reef Backpacking Tour.

This Canyonlands backpacking trip explores an unlikely, lush oasis surrounded by vast Utah desert and towering red rock scenery. (The red rocks we see on this trip are a unique anomaly of the desert of Southern Utah.) The portion of Canyonlands National Park that we hike into is a wonderland of canyons, spires, alcoves, natural arches, and spring-fed creeks. Our journey traverses the canyon of one of the only perrennial streams in Canyonlands, winding through a microecosystem of riparian vegetation, desert plants and hanging gardens, with a backdrop of swirling red, white and black Cedar Mesa Sandstone canyon walls. It’s stunning!

Need to Know: Waste Regulation

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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From USD
$1800 Per Person
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 2-6 Guests
Trip Length: 5 Days
Distance: 33MI / 53KM


Scale of 1-5. 1 is least difficult; 5 is most difficult

This trip has an off-trail feel and is often in sandy soils. It includes low level creek crossings and some hiking through foliage. Distances are moderately strenuous, but elevation gains are easy-moderate. Expect to hike with a 35-45 lb backpack.

Hiking Distances:

Up to 4-9 mi

Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs


Moderately Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

300 ft

Heights Exposure:


Please Note: Terrain, Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure ratings reflect the section or day of the trip with the maximum difficulty of each. Much of the trip is at easier levels. See the trip itinerary for more detailed information. Backpack Weight ratings are estimates that account for Wildland-provided gear, guest clothing, personal items and a share of group food. By packing light it’s often possible to stay on the lower end of the weight range. Pack weights also decrease during the trip.


  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 35-45 lb backpack for 6-8 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on variable, uneven or sandy terrain
  • Shallow creek crossings
  • Hiking with occasional, moderate heights exposure
* For an official and complete list of physical requirements, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria.


1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Canyonlands hike a solitude 3. You can expect to see a couple other groups of hikers per day.

Utah is the only state we are based in that charges sales tax to outfitters and guides. The sales tax is based on the Moab, UT municipality rates, which are adjusted occasionally but are in the 6-7% range. For all of our hiking and backpacking tours that originate from our Moab, Utah base, the sales tax will be applied automatically to your payments. Feel free to call us at 877-965-4917 with any questions!

Private Trips

Travel in perfect company by booking a private trip exclusively for your group!

Our sliding scale for private trips is based on the final number of guests in your group. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax, national park fees or guide gratuity. The final rate is based on the actual number of guests on the trip and may adjust based on cancellations or additions.

Please Note: you can also enjoy a private trip at our normal scheduled rates by filling any empty tour to capacity. However, if group members drop from the tour those spots will automatically become available on our website for instant booking. By purchasing a private trip at the rates listed below, your trip will remain exclusive to your group regardless of cancellations. 

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 2 People: Rate x 2.5
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.75
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.25
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1.15

*all rates are per person

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Day 1

  • Shuttle to the Trailhead: 4-5 hours
  • Hiking Mileage: 4.3 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 1000 feet

We begin this exceptional Utah backpacking trip with pickup in Moab and a drive out to the Needles District Visitor Center where we will begin our shuttle to the trailhead. We will bid our farewells to civilization as we head down a historic road that once led to winter grazing land for local ranchers. Once at the trailhead, we will begin a steep descent into the canyon. At the canyon floor the trail brings us through lush riparian vegetation to the mouth of one fork of the creek we’ll follow for the next 5 days. We’ll pass by a 128 year old cabin (in surprisingly good shape) that was once inhabited by a rancher who ran cattle in this area. We will settle into camp, have our first backcountry dinner, stare up at one of the most vivid display of stars you’ve ever seen, then turn in for a peaceful night’s rest.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 4.8-8.1 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 200-300 feet

After a tasty breakfast we will break camp and continue our trek deeper into the canyon. We will almost immediately be greeted by several sandstone arches on our way to the largest collection of cliff dwellings in Canyonlands National Park. This epic ruin is followed by one of the most beautiful natural arches in the park.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 5.8-8.8 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 200-300 feet

Today we continue along the canyon floor past more canyon country wonders and surprises along the way. The canyon trail narrows and our route encloses us in a towering corridor of sandstone. The creek is flowing continuously now and there are numerous crossings. Once we reach tonight’s camp, which is nestled under cottonwood trees, we have the option to take a 3-mile roundtrip hike to the unforgettable Angel Arch. At Angel Arch we can relax and watch the evening light begin to dance across the rocks. Angel Arch is incredibly special as it is one of the most remote arches in all of Canyonlands and is an absolute privilege to see! Eventually we’ll make our way back to camp for a wonderful dinner and relaxing evening.

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 8.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200-300 feet

After a big breakfast and breaking camp, we will almost immediately be rewarded with a view of Crescent Arch as well as many more small arches along the begining of today’s hike. The canyon will eventually come to a fin-like formation that protrudes out into the canyon. We hike around and through a window on the fin to our next highlight, Peekaboo Springs. Here we will soak up our last night in the remote canyon wilderness and enjoy a celebratory dinner!

Day 5

  • Hiking Mileage: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: minimal
  • Shuttle to Moab: 2 hours

After a casual morning and breaking camp for the last time, we wrap up our journey with a relaxing, shorter hike along forest roads, allowing us to reflect on the natural wonders and ancient stories that we lived for the last 5 days. Out of the canyon and back to our vehicle, we will enjoy a comfortable drive back into Moab for our fond farewells and much deserved showers.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes. Normal terms and conditions apply to trips with itinerary changes.

Trip Dates & Booking


Important: This trip is currently suspended due to an archeological survey being conducted by Canyonlands National Park.

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

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
  • Trained hiking guide(s) with years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. See Guide Bios.
  • 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 communication device (InReach Explorer or satellite phone)

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (see recommendations)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about what to pack.

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, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

Guest Packing List

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with a detailed packing list specific to this trip (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, a recommended clothing system, a headlamp or flashlight, a hydration system (water bottles and/or bladder) and other items specific to each trip.

Additionally, some guests choose to bring their own sleeping bag. We supply high quality, synthetic fill bags that are professionally laundered after every trip. Synthetic fill is non-allergenic, insulates when damp and stands up well to repeated washings, but is heavier and bulkier than down. If you’re able to bring your own down sleeping bag, there are multiple benefits. If not, we’ve got you covered!

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics

How Do I Register?

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red 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.

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.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Travel to Moab, Utah

This Utah trip originates in Moab, UT. Moab has a small airport, Canyonlands Field Airport, that offers daily flights from Denver. Grand Junction Airport has direct services from 5 major airlines and is a 1.5 hour drive from Moab. Denver and Salt Lake City are a 4-5 hour drive to Moab but have larger airport services. Moab Express offers private shuttles to Moab from Salt Lake City and from Grand Junction, CO.

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 Precautions

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. Guides adhere to standardized risk management protocols in case of any potential or actual incident, and all tours carry an emergency communication device and comprehensive first-aid kit. Additionally we have a “24/7” system through which guides or guests can reach Wildland support personnel at any time.

If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Essential Eligibility Criteria (“EEC”) have been specifically identified to help you understand the skills and abilities necessary to participate on each Wildland trip, and they apply uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability.

Once you identify a trip in which you may be interested, please carefully review the EEC and itinerary details. If after reviewing the EEC that apply to your desired trip, you determine you need an accommodation in order to meet the EEC, please contact us prior to registering to discuss your requested accommodation.

The EEC exist for your own safety and the safety and enjoyment of all participants. If you are unable to meet the EEC for the trip, with or without an accommodation, you are not eligible for that trip. If you register and arrive for a trip for which you do not meet the EEC, you will be disqualified from participation on the trip and will be dismissed or evacuated from the trip without a refund.

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.

Age Restrictions

Age restrictions on this trip 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)



Backcountry Sleeping


Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

Backcountry Cuisine


Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

Amazing Campsites


Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

Trip Reviews

Trip Reviews

  • Average Customer Ratings:

  • 5.0 (13 reviews)
Theresa D

Life Changing Experience

1 year ago

This was my first time on a back packing trip and it completely exceeded my expectations. This experience was outstanding from the minute we met our guide Beau and the other guests in our group. At our pre-hike meeting, Beau walked the group through everything and helped to relieve some of my anxiety. We met our porter, Billy, the next morning and we realized quickly that he was going to be a great addition. Beau helped me gain confidence throughout the week and he shared so much of his knowledge about the area as well as hiking in general. Billy was an excellent support to Beau and we all benefitted from his energy and enthusiasm. Beau and Billy together were a dream team. We bonded really well as a group and this is due to their leadership. They are both kind, funny, interesting, engaging and just wonderful human beings. They took as much pride in our success as we all did. I feel so grateful to them both as well as the other members of our team. This was a life changing experience for me and really opened my mind to future adventures. Wild Land Trekking is very lucky to have both of these young men on the staff. Thank you to all for a fabulous trip.

Leslie H

Strikingly Diverse

1 year ago

The Ancient Canyonlands Traverse hike is a great way to explore the area by seeing firsthand the hard to get to structures/pictographs left by ancient peoples. The terrain is strikingly diverse going from water streams in canyons to open flatscapes across this high desert. There are few other hikers so the solitude & pristine/intact landscapes offer a unique experience of a respected wilderness.

Kathy V

I would do it all again.

2 years ago

Wildland Trekking provided access to a remote part of Canyonlands National Park I would never have been able to hike alone. Our guide kept us safe, fed, and on the right path. She was incredible! This canyon was beautiful and full of life despite it being a desert. We hiked in rain (and hail) and slept in a different beautiful campsite each night. We saw ancient petroglyphs and pictographs. We got up early every morning so that we'd beat the heat of hiking during the hottest part of the day. And I wouldn't change a thing. It was awe-inspiring and brought peace to my soul. I would do it all again.

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