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


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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5 Days
Return Guests get a 10% discount on all Trips!
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 4-12 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 30-40 lb backpack.
Hiking Distances:

Up to ~8 mi
Backpack Weight:

30-40 lbs

Moderately Rugged
Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

Up to 1000 ft
Heights Exposure:


Physical requirements:

  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 30-40 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


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.

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.

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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  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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!


  • 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


Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

Available to Book


This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

Going Fast


This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

Request a Reservation


This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

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

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

Trip Details


  • 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!


  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
  • 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.


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.


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 trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)


We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter waterbottles per person, either a headlamp or flashlight per person, and a lightweight waterproof stuff sac for your clothes and belongings. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important.

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!


When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with detailed guidance about what clothes to pack (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and our recommended clothing system. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required.

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics


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!


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.


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).


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 877-405-5188 for more information.


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.


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.


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 877-405-5188 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


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 (8 reviews)
Joseph P.

Exceptional Hike

6 months ago

The Ancient Canyonlands Traverse is an exceptional hike with spectacular scenery and many interesting archeological sites. Wildland Trekking runs a great trip.

Leslie M.

Great Experience

6 months ago

Great experience in a unique Canyonlands trail with archaeology and nteresting terrain. Seeing hail in April was memorable. Well guided trip. Will be back

Martin M.

Outstanding time on Ancient Canyonlands backpacking trip - March/April 2021.

6 months ago

Our superb guide, Beau DeMello, led a motley crew of 2 Mississipians, a Floridian, a Montanan and a Scotsman from Utah on a fantastic 5 day trip along Salt Creek from Cathedral Butte to the Squaw Flat trailhead in Canyonlands. Unfamiliarity amongst us soon gave way to fun familiarity and group camaraderie as we got to know one another over the 5 days. There were so many highlights that it is hard to remember them all but some included: The spectacular scenery of Canyonlands such as Angel Arch and Paul Bunyan's Potty; Beau's cooking in which he turned a bunch of dehydrated ingredients into haute camping cuisine (I mean he made us Brazil's national dish, feijoada, one night!); Hilarious conversations about life experiences, of which each of us had quite a few and Beau had many to share; Beau's advice and guidance on backcountry camping - "ounces make pounds, and pounds make pain!"; and finally, since all such trips require a measure of adaptability, Beau's ability to adapt to changing circumstances (missing camp site, hardly any water in the backcountry, blistered feet needing bandaging etc) meant that we always felt safe and incredibly well looked after throughout. It should be noted that, despite the description of the trail, the final day's hike was the MOST spectacular as we climbed up ladders and over rocks and cliffs to get the most spectacular views of Canyonlands. Would I recommend this trip? Hell yeah - it was awesome. Would I recommend Beau DeMello as a guide? - In a heartbeat!

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