Canyonlands Classic

Trip Highlights

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


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

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From USD
$1560 Per Person
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 2-6 Guests
Trip Length: 4 Days
Distance: 20+MI / 32+KM


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

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.

Hiking Distances:

4-8 mi

Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs


Significantly Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

500 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 sometimes steep, variable, uneven terrain
  • Ascending ladders
  • 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: 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. 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 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 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 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 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:

  • 5.0 (20 reviews)
David T

Great experience.

29 days ago

This was a challenging hike unlike any I'd done before. Beautiful formations, fun company, and a wonderful guide who got us through it all with humor, help when needed, and great food. No way I would have taken this on by myself, but great experience being guided through by Traci.

Michael L

One of the best backpacking trips that I have taken with WLT

30 days ago

This Canyonlands Classic is one of the best backpacking trips that I have taken with WLT (my 13th) especially with Traci as our leader. She did a great job in guiding us through the maze of needles, stream beds, over slick rock and through slots; in addition to cooking us very tasty meals and all the time with a wonderful attitude.

Ethan W

I'm glad I used Wildland Trekking

30 days ago

This was my first time backpacking and I'm glad I used Wildland Trekking. Our guide Traci was amazing, she was incredibly helpful and the meals were amazing. Blueberry pancakes and chicken pad thai were my favorites from the trip. The views were amazing and it was a once in a lifetime experience. I would recommend using Wildland to new and experienced backpackers, and I will be using them again in the future.

See All Guest Reviews!

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