Boulder Mail Trail Backpacking Trip

Death Hollow and Escalante River Traverse

St. George, UT
4.9 (37 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Breathtaking Canyons
  • Cascades & Desert Oases
  • Iconic Views
  • Desert Solitude
  • Natural Bridges & Slickrock
  • Escalante River
  • Guides Choice Trip


This wilderness route, which follows the famous Boulder Mail Trail, is a rewarding adventure across a sea of slickrock formations, high plateau Ponderosa Forests and deep shady canyons with spring-fed creeks. It is a trip not to be missed and will be one you’ll think back on again and again!

The Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument is one of the most beautiful regions in Utah with its unique, undulating terrain and brilliant sandstone features. The route takes us across a stunning plateau that was historically used to transport mail and supplies between the towns of Boulder and Escalante. It crosses three major canyon systems and many smaller tributaries that feed into Death Hollow and eventually into the Escalante River.

Each canyon along the Boulder Mail trail has a unique and interesting character. Sand Creek is a high elevation drainage that seems lost in time with the massive feature of Slickrock Saddle rising high above in the distance. Death Hollow is a deep, wet canyon full of water and a lush riparian environment. Mamie Creek is a large drainage of Navajo Sandstone featuring one of the most interesting Natural Bridges in the state of Utah as well as deep water pockets and excellent swimming holes!

Read more …
4 Days From USD
$1575 Per Person
5 Days From USD
$1810 Per Person
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 1-10 Guests
Trip Length: 4-5 Days
Distance: 15+MI / 24+KM


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

The 4-day version of this trip is Level 3, and the 5-day version is Level 4. On both itineraries, much of our route is “off-trail” following cairns along sandstone slick rock with steep climbs up and down hill, or wading in a river among slippery rocks. There is a short, but significant height exposure on the way down to the Death Hollow River. Depending on the season, you may need to carry 4 liters of water on some of the hiking days. The 5-day version has longer days of hiking, on equally rugged terrain, which is what makes it Level 4 Difficulty.

Hiking Distances:

4-7 mi

Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs


Significantly Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

900-1400 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 significantly rugged terrain, including hiking in water, steep inclines and rocky areas
  • Hiking through one section with significant 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 Utah backpacking trip a solitude Level 4. You can expect to see a couple of other groups 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 St. George, 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 St. George, Utah base (Utah, Joshua Tree and Death Valley trips), the sales tax will be applied automatically to your payments. Feel free to call us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) 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

  • Drive from St. George: 3.5 hours
  • Hiking Mileage: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 600 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 800 feet

On this guided Utah backpacking adventure will depart Saint George, Utah early this morning for the remote town of Escalante which is truly the heart of Utah’s Canyon Country. After reaching Escalante we will drive up to the Boulder-Mail Trailhead and have lunch while preparing for our cross country hike. The overland route from Boulder to Escalante features a sea of endless slick rock sandstone, deep twisting side canyons, spring-fed creeks, and towering Ponderosa Pines typical of Utah’s high canyons. Our hike today leads us to a primitive camp overlooking Death Hollow – easily one of the most impressive canyons in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The camp features a beautiful sandstone amphitheater and large natural water pockets teeming with Utah’s unique aquatic life forms such as Fairy Shrimp. Huge panoramic views, a hearty dinner, and endless desert star gazing are the order of the evening!

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 3.5 miles (+ optional side hikes)
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 1,250 feet

Today we will wake up with the rising sun, pack our gear and prepare for the descent into Death Hollow. Death Hollow is large, deep and full of water – it gets its name from mules falling into the canyon as they attempted the mail route from Boulder to Escalante. As we descend deeper into Death Hollow we’ll be trekking through ankle-deep water. This canyon is filled with huge Ponderosa Pines and natural springs pouring out of the ancient Navajo Sandstone walls. Our destination this evening is Mamie Creek – a large tributary of Death Hollow which we will reach later in the evening to setup camp against a massive rock wall overlooking the canyon.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 3-5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 900 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 350 feet

This morning we’ll leave our camp setup while we explore downstream to see one of the most unique and interesting features in the region – the Mamie Creek Natural Bridge. The bridge is situated above a massive valley where Mamie Creek pours into Death Hollow. Today is all about exploration – and because we’ll be hiking most of our miles today with light day packs, today is also all about fun! After exploring the bridge we’ll head back upstream to our campsite, where we’ll pack up and continue on just a couple of miles down trail to Antone Flat.

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 300 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 1150 feet
  • Drive to St. George: 3 hours

Today we will pack up early for the trek across Antone Flats – which features a kaleidoscope of intricate Navajo slickrock formations, canyons and high altitude Ponderosa forests. The hike ends with a massive view into the Escalante River Valley and a steep descent off of the high plateau we’ve been traversing – the old mail route from Boulder to Escalante that bypasses the nearly impassable Escalante River Canyon! We rendezvous with our vehicle around lunchtime and then depart for St. George, which we should reach around 5pm in the evening!

5-Day Variation

The 5-day variation of this trip is 27.5 total miles and adds a 12-mile traverse of the Escalante River (not all in one day!), which runs through a breathtaking, signature Utah canyon. We push further on Day 2, so we can spend two full days along the Escalante River.

D1: 4.5 mi. Camp before descent into Death Hollow (same as 4-day itinerary).
D2: 7 mi. Camp at Antone Flats.
D3: 6.5 mi. Camp in upper Escalante River Canyon.
D4: 7.0 mi. Camp in lower Escalante River Canyon.
D4: 2.5 mi. Camp in lower Escalante River Canyon.

Important: this trip is operated as either a 4-day or 5-day itinerary, and is confirmed as such in advance. Variation of trip length does not mean guests can choose to leave a trip or early or extend it a day.

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

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, backcountry sleeping pad and multi-day backpack
  • High quality, synthetic sleeping bag (professionally laundered after every use) – or bring your own.
  • Use of trekking poles
  • 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 St. George, Utah to the trailhead and back
  • National park entrance fees
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite communication device

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 synthetic-fill sleeping bags (or bring your own)
  • 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 rendezvous with the guide and group in St. George, Utah for an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the evening before the trip begins. Your guide will be in contact approximately 2 weeks before your trip starts to specify the orientation location. The guide will then pick you up at your hotel the next morning for transport to the trailhead. For Private Utah Tours your guide can meet you at your hotel in St. George or Cedar City, Utah at an agreed upon time.

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

Travel to St. George, Utah

This Utah trip originates in St. George, Utah where you’ll meet your guide and group. St. George has a small airport served by Delta Connection and United Express. From the St. George Airport one can take a taxi into town or some hotels offer a complimentary airport shuttle. The more popular method of travel though is to fly into Las Vegas, NV and take a shuttle ( to St. George. This is often your cheapest option. It is a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas to St. George on good roads.

Pre and Post-trip On Request Lodging

We secure limited amounts of pre and post trip lodging in St. George, Utah as an optional add-on for guests of this trip. This lodging is on request, and is available on a first come, first serve basis. If interested, please reach out directly to our team to check availability.

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 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will try our best to drop you off at your hotel on the final day no later than 7 PM.

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 Southern Utah

Weather in Southern Utah
Southern Utah is a high desert. The weather is very moderate: occasional dustings of snow in the winter that melt rapidly, and summer temperatures in the low 90s (°F) that often cool down with thunderstorms. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). The ideal time to be in the Canyon Country is Spring and Fall. Read below for average high and low temperatures in Utah’s Canyon Country:

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 synthetic-fill 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:

  • 4.9 (37 reviews)
Mike S

Outstanding experience!

1 month ago

Outstanding experience! Tremendous credit to our guide, Liz, who was fantastic

Pamela S

Absolutely Loved It

2 months ago

This was my first backpacking trip and I absolutely loved it. Our guide was amazing at guiding us and showing us how yo set up tents and the backpacks. He was very helpful and made sure everyone has what they need. The trip was very well organized.

Kevin K

I am truly grateful for their services.

2 months ago

I've done 4 hikes with Wildland and this one exceeded my expectations more than any previous hike. The geology and flora changes throughout the hike such that you are getting a different experience seemingly everyday. All campsites were good, though, the sand was annoying until I dried off for the last 2 sites. Wildland does such an excellent job of making sure everything goes off without a hitch. I am truly grateful for their services.

See All Guest Reviews!

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