Canyonlands Classic

Trip Highlights

  • Remote Canyons
  • Arches & Towers
  • Desert Oases
  • Famous Chesler Park
  • Stunning Night Skies & Starscapes
  • Slickrock Traverses
  • Unforgettable Joint Canyon

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!


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

4 Days
$1265 Per Person
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: 4 Days
Distance: 20+MI / 32+KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 4

Our difficulty ratings are based on a scale of 1-5, tours with a rating of 1 being least difficult, tours with a rating of 5 being most difficult

Backpack Weight:
30-40 pounds
Daily Hiking Distances:
4-8 miles
Most Elevation Loss:
500 feet
Most Elevation Gain:
500 feet
Quality of Trails:
Lightly maintained to not maintained, generally rugged
Additional:
This hike is often off trail and includes cairned slick rock routes that are steep at times and require agility. With intermittent exposure; slick rock cliff walking; vertical ladders; use of hands to get up and down tight crevices; and pack passing scenarios through tight slots, this trip is generally rugged and technical, which is why we give it a Level 4 Difficulty rating.

Participants should:

  1. be active and healthy
  2. regularly exercise vigorously
  3. be comfortable hiking, biking, running, or swimming for several hours without many breaks

SOLITUDE LEVEL 3

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.

Learn More about our Rating System

This Utah trip originates in Moab, Utah where you’ll meet your guide and group. Moab has a small airport (Canyonlands Field Airport) served primarily by United. Some major cities including Salt Lake City and Los Angeles have direct flights to Moab. From the Canyonlands Field Airport you can take a taxi into town or some hotels offer a complimentary airport shuttle.

Private Trips

Traveling in perfect company is a wonderful thing! With our private trip offerings you can book a trip exclusively for your group. Whether it’s with family, friends or colleagues, private trips are a fun and enriching way to explore the outdoors.

Private trip pricing is based on a sliding scale, depending on the number of people in your party. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax and national park fees (where applicable) or guide gratuity. Give us a call at 800-715-HIKE to get the ball rolling!

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 2 People: Rate x 2
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.3
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.1
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1

*all rates are per person

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We’re here to help. If you have any questions, call 800-715-HIKE or contact us online.
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Itinerary

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 access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.

Trip Dates & Booking

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

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

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

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, 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 (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.

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
  • Emergency communication device(s)

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

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. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

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.

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°

Accommodations

Accommodations

Backcountry Sleeping

TENT CAMPING

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

FRESH & DELICIOUS

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

IN THE ACTION

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:

  • 4.8 (6 reviews)
David M.
5.0

A Terrific Experience!

4 months ago

Canyonlands' terrain was more compelling than expected. And I thought Ron Bubb, the guide on my Bass trip, had spoiled me for other guides, but our guide on this trip Stephen was excellent, too. The other people on the trip were very compatible. Overall, it was a terrific experience!

Jean M.
5.0

First backpacking experience far better than I imagined!

1 year ago

This was my first backpacking experience and it was far better than I imagined! Our guide Montana was kind, patient and knowledgeable in the geography, history ,plant life and wildlife of Canyonlands. If that weren’t already enough, she prepared unexpectedly delicious gourmet meals. I had a wonderful time and will definitely take another trip. I would rate the experience 5 stars and recommend Wildland trekking and Montana unreservedly

Lauren G.
5.0

Really Fantastic Time

1 year ago

I really had a fantastic time with Montana and thought that she awesome! She made it feel like hiking with a friend and was obviously experienced in backpacking. I am a more independent type personality and don’t like being babied and I feel like she could sense that. She was there to answer all my questions and give backpacking advice without being overbearing. The food was really great and way above my expectations for camping! I booked this trip as part of a larger solo road trip and it ended up being the highlight of my journey. Our little group of four (guide and 2 others I had never met) had a blast and I hope to plan another trip with Montana someday. Thank you!!

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