Golden Cathedral

United States
5.0 (7 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Sinuous Canyons
  • Amazing Golden Cathedral
  • Lush Desert Oases
  • Amazing Native American History
  • Pristine, Majestic Camps
  • Stunningly Clear Night Skies


We’ll head into the heart of the Escalante Canyons, within the boundary of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, to an unforgettable view. From a remote trailhead we have a short, but steep, off trail descent down in to the canyons of the Escalante River. View scapes narrow as we descend in to the sinuous world of sandstone walls. We will establish a basecamp along the river, putting us in the perfect place to hike and explore the maze of canyons in search of beautiful views, fascinating geology and lush desert oases. Our main goal is the Golden Cathedral, a canyon phenomenon beyond the description of words. If you can stay longer to make this a 4 day tour, you will see other secrets of the area to make your time here even more memorable.

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From USD
$1665 Per Person
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 1-10 Guests
Trip Length: 4 Days
Distance: 10-16MI / 16-26KM


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

This trip has low mileage days with a layover day and ample time to explore side canyons. It is between Level 2 and 3, tending slightly toward Level 2.

Hiking Distances:

3-4 mi

Backpack Weight:

25-35 lbs


Lightly Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

1100 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 25-35 lb backpack for 4-8 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on lightly rugged terrain
  • Crossing creeks, which may require wading
* 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 a solitude 3. You can expect to see a couple of 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 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

  • Shuttle to Trailhead: 5.5 hours
  • Hiking Distance: 3 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 1100 feet
At the trailhead we will prepare ourselves and get our backpacks fitted. From there we will drop down to the Egypt Bench and hike across a world of amazing Utah slickrock, sand and juniper trees toward the maze of canyons that will be our home for the next 3-4 days. Soon after dropping into the canyons we will reach the lush corridor of the Escalante River where our camp is not far away. We’ll get camp set up and settle in for a relaxing evening and hearty dinner in some of the most beautiful country you’ve ever seen.

Day 2

  • Hiking Distance: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: minimal
  • Elevation Loss: minimal
Day two will start with hot tea or coffee and a big, fresh breakfast prepared by your guides. We will soak up the peace and serenity of this amazing place as we enjoy breakfast. Our hike today takes us to the namesake of the trip – Golden Cathedral! We’ll continue along the Escalante River and then turn up a major side canyon. This side canyon is where we find what we’re looking for.
One of the Grand Staircase-Escalante area’s most amazing features, Golden Cathedral is a massive, dome-shaped pour-off from the upper canyon, where over many millenia rain water and show melt have eroded three large pothole arches into the overhanging sandstone. The sandstone is red with black streaks from the water, giving it an almost marbled look. During certain times of day, the sun’s rays shine down through the arches in large, golden columns.

Day 3

  • Hiking Distance: 3-5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: minimal
  • Elevation Loss: minimal
While our goal on Day 3 focuses on seeing the Golden Cathedral, which is a crown jewel of the area, there are many other amazing sites and landscapes worthy of exploration, including side canyons, rock formations and beautiful desert oases. Today we introduce maximum flexibility into the itinerary to cater the trip to the group’s desires. If sleeping in and exploring for 3-4 hours sounds good, we can do that. Or if getting an early start and venturing far from camp into the wild depths of the Grand Staircase is appealing, we can go that route. Either way, today is a chance to deepen your appreciation of the area and fully immerse yourself in the wilderness of Utah’s amazing Canyon Country.

Day 4

  • Hiking Distance: 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1100 feet
  • Shuttle to St. George: 5.5 hours
Another relaxing morning and feast of a breakfast will be followed by packing up camp and heading back to the trailhead the way we came. We will leave the sound of the river and return to the uplands. Back at the vehicles, we’ll stretch our tired muscles before relaxing for the scenic shuttle 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, 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 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 or Mountain Hardware 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
  • Mountain Safety Research cooking stoves
  • Mountain Safety Research 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

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 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.

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 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 (7 reviews)
Jeff H

Wonderful Time

1 year ago

Wildland always runs a great trip; and this was no exception. A wonderful time in Utah canyon country.

Gail N

We have great memories!

2 years ago

I wasn't sure of what to expect of the trip to the Golden Cathedral, but our trip of 4 plus our guide was a perfect size to hike, eat, visit and play Uno under the stars! Our guide was truly a Saint! Beau D. was supportive, encouraging, fun, a great cook and provided us healthy new meals, and most informative of the trek. I enjoyed our hike and our group, but most of all our guide made our Utah trip the best ever! Thank you, thank you! We have great memories However, when the paperwork is provided to each of the paying customers to prepare 12 weeks in advance for the hike, please don't short yourselves. It was most helpful that our group was active and willing to hike the inclines and declines in the heat.

Megan I

Absolutely Exceptional

2 years ago

I went into this trip with no expectations as I have never done this type of hike or even back packed at all. Our guide was absolutely exceptional. He never stopped working. I could see that he loved what he does and he was always ready to answer my many many questions. Because we as backpackers are at the mercy of Mother Nature, we met many challenges but we overcame them all with the coaching and knowledge from our group leader, Beau. He shared lots of knowledge and good stories. I hope to continue my love of adventure and take many more trips with all of my lessons learned in mind. This was a trip of a lifetime and I will always cherish the memories made, lessons learned, and friendships made.

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