Hiker and desert creek in gorgeous canyon of Capitol Reef National ParkDesert creek and sandstone cliffs in backcountry of Capitol Reef National ParkSunset and camp on Capitol Reef Backpacking Trip with Wildland TrekkingGorgeous Utah canyon country landscape in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef Backpacking

St. George, UT
4.9 (22 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Remote Wilderness
  • Sandstone Cliffs
  • Surreal Rock Formations
  • The Clearest Night Sky You've Ever Seen
  • Stunning Slot Canyon & Narrows Hiking
  • A Rare Double Arch
  • Desert Solitude


Scientists have determined that sixty-five million years ago, the same compacting forces that created the Rocky Mountains formed a fold in the earth under southern Utah. Less than a century ago, that tangle of crevices, canyons and chasms became the last-mapped landscape in the lower 48. This is country that hid Mormon moonshiners, polygamist safe houses and Butch Cassidy. It held the last horsepacking town in America. And even today it feels a step from the edge of the earth.

Our Capitol Reef backpacking trip includes a journey through remote canyons, a visit to iconographic but seldom-seen geologic features, and a traverse of the Waterpocket Fold to the south. We will visit one of the only double arches in the world and traverse to the southern edge of the Park for a unique hike through a slot canyon similar to the famous Zion Narrows (but with virtually no visitors other than ourselves.) Our challenging Capitol Reef Backpacking concludes at one of the most scenic byways in America before making the journey back to St. George.

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From USD
$2015 Per Person
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 4-10 Guests
Trip Length: 6 Days
Distance: 32MI / 51KM


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

Everything is off trail on this trip, so prepare for hiking in soft sand, wading in water, and walking over uneven terrain. Hiking distances are moderate, and there’s easy-moderate amounts of elevation gain. Be prepared to carry 4 liters of water at times, which will increase pack weight.

Hiking Distances:

4-10 mi

Backpack Weight:

45+ lbs


Significantly Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

800 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 45+ lb backpack for 6-8 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on significantly rugged terrain, including sand, water, bouldery areas and more
* 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 hike a solitude 5. You can expect to see a couple other groups of hikers over the duration of your trip.

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 trips and Capitol Reef 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

  • Shuttle to Capitol Reef: 6 hours
  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 800 feet

On this amazing Utah backpacking tour, our early-morning drive to Capitol Reef begins with an ascent into the high desert country of the Colorado Plateau, in the heart of which lies the tremendous topography of the Waterpocket Fold – our semi-private playground for the next six days. After passing by popular Bryce National Park and through the pioneer towns of Escalante and Boulder, UT, we’ll turn onto a scenic Utah road that takes us into Capitol Reef. The views of the surrounding canyon country, their incredible isolation and Lake Powell beyond are our reward for our long morning’s drive. Our first day’s hike is a great warm-up that starts at a beautiful overlook, where we can take in the vastness of the landscapes before dropping down into it. We’ll descend into the canyons of Capitol Reef, learning about the geology and history as we go. At the end of the day we’ll set up camp near a creek, enjoy our first backcountry dinner and prepare for the next morning’s adventure in the narrows!

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 200 feet

Comparable in size and similarity to the famed Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park, Capitol Reef’s remote narrows receives less than 1% of the visitation of its famous cousin. Odds are we’ll have the place pretty-well to ourselves. Today is a day hike, at the end of which we’ll return to our first night’s camp. By traversing the narrows with light daypacks, we’ll be better able to explore and enjoy the incredible scenery around us. Wildland will provide the use of Neoprene socks for warmth while hiking through water – a seasonal necessity in the chilly narrows. Depending on the time of year, the water in the canyon can be deep enough to swim. For this reason, there is no guarantee today’s hike will be completed as a full loop. If the guide deems conditions unsafe we will turn around, and return to camp.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 4-6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Today’s hike takes us along the southernmost boundary of Capitol Reef National Park. We’ll follow the remnants of an old wagon trail supply route pioneered in 1881 by Mormon settler Charles Hall. We’ll pass an impressive, red-colored, 500-foot “slide” while following the faint wagon tracks along a desert creek. We’ll also take time to explore one of the numerous side canyons that branch off from the main drainage. We’ll set up camp at the junction of the creek and another prominent canyon. We’ll settle into our remote campsite and enjoy some down time before reconvening for a delicious dinner prepared by your guide(s).

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 10 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Here we’ll begin our hike north, retracing a historic wagon route further up canyon, beyond a scenic overlook. While today’s hike is long, the forgiving terrain will make it easy to take in the scenery. We will enjoy the serene vistas and unique geology as we hike up the serpentine canyon. We will also find one of the most impressive (yet seldom visited) geologic features in the American Southwest: stunning natural bridge. It is a spectacular, 120-foot-wide double arch – one arch perched atop another – and one of just a hand full of such rock formations in the world.

Day 5

  • Hiking Mileage: 8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet

As we ascend out of the canyons, notable sites include a cave with inscriptions from early settlers and cattle rustlers of the 19th century, and impressive alcoves that cut overhangs above the canyon walls. We’ll visit one of the more notable geological sites in Capitol Reef National Park, which is an iron-infused crop of red rock mushroom plumes carries delightful contrast to the white slickrock below. We’ll wander among and photograph these tranquil geologic wonders before continuing to tonight’s camp.

Day 6

  • Shuttle to St. George: 6 hours
  • Hiking Mileage: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet

With walls that never cease to impress, we’ll ascend out of the lower canyon to the trailhead. The canyon we ascend today is a labyrinth of rock piles, sheer canyon walls, and overhanging amphitheaters. Because the stream bed meanders dizzyingly between steep walls, the canyon earned its name for having enough turns to “twist a mule.” Once back to the trailhead, we will relax into the van and enjoy a final, scenic drive through Utah back to St. George.

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, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • 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.
  • Comprehensive, roundtrip transportation from your hotel in St. George and back
  • All necessary entrance fees and permits
  • 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 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 rendezvous with the guide and group in St. George, Utah for an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the evening before the trip begins. Alternatively, you may choose to forfeit the pre-trip meeting and meet us in the town of Escalante, UT on the first morning of our trip. This can be more convenient if you are traveling overland from points North or East, but not recommended if you are a novice backpacker.

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.

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

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 (www.stgshuttle.com) 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 drop you off at your hotel on the final day normally before 7 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)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and 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 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 (22 reviews)
Kenny K

All was Great

1 month ago

I did the classic capital reef back packing trip,all was great,good group of hikers,Rachel our guide was awesome,very attentive,positive,can’t say enough,I would definitely recommend going with wildland trekking

Todd T

Best vacation of my life

2 months ago

I had probably the best vacation of my life on this trip. I saw amazing scenery, our guide - Beau -was incredible, everything was perfectly planned and executed. Our guide ensured we were well fed, had plenty of water, saw amazing scenery and just that everything was perfect- down to the toilet paper!! I couldn't have asked for anything more or better.

Bo R

Invigorating, but not too strenuous.

5 months ago

This was my 4th hike with Wildland and as with all of the others, I was not disappointed. Our guide, Beau, was top notch. From the moment I first met him at the host hotel, I felt complete confidence he knew the terrain and could handle himself in any situation. We couldn't have asked for better weather, and Beau's meal selections and preparations were admirable. As always, the route was invigorating, but not too strenuous, and we saw some incredible landscapes. These hikes are indelibly marked in my memory and I will always remember the great times and comradery with my fellow hikers.

See All Guest Reviews!

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