Winter Capitol Reef Backpack

St. George, UT

Trip Highlights

  • Remote Wilderness
  • Desert Oases
  • Arches & Natural Bridges
  • Amazing Slot Canyon Hiking
  • Pristine, Stunning Camps
  • Rejuvenating Desert Solitude

Description

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. Even today it feels a step from the edge of the earth. Our Winter Capitol Reef backpacking trip visits one of the only double arches in the world before traversing to the southern edge of the Park for a unique hike through Halls Creek Narrows – a Slot canyon similar to the famous Zion Narrows… but with virtually no visitors. After our Narrows experience, return to the north and see one of the most unique geological features in the world – a stunning double natural bridge suspended in the cliffs above. Our challenging Capitol Reef backpack concludes at the Burr Trail Road (one of the most scenic byways in America) before making the journey back to St. George.

Read more …
4 Days
$1250 Per Person
Return Guests get a 10% discount on all Trips!
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 4-10 Guests
Trip Length: 4 Days
Distance: 23MI / 37KM

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:
25-35 pounds
Daily Hiking Distances:
4-9 miles
Most Elevation Loss:
900 feet
Most Elevation Gain:
900 feet
Quality of Trails:
Unmaintained and rugged in places
Additional:
This trip follows trails, off-trail terrain, and canyon narrows. Be prepared for a variety of terrain, some rugged.

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 5

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.

This Utah trip originates in St. George, Utah where you’ll meet your guide and group during our pre-trip meeting the night before your trip starts.

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.

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.

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

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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ITINERARY

ITINERARY

Day 1

  • Shuttle to Capitol Reef: 7 hours
  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 900 feet

On this memorable Utah backpacking adventure, 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. We will begin our hike by descending into Grand Gulch heading south. We retrace a historic wagon route dating to 1881 as we hike further south, beyond Halls Creek Overlook. We will enjoy the serene vistas and unique geology as we hike down the serpentine Grand Gulch.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 5.5-9 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 200 feet

Today’s hike takes us to the southernmost boundary of Capitol Reef National Park. We’ll continue to follow the remnants of the old wagon trail supply route pioneered in 1881 by Mormon settler Charles Hall. Today is largely a day hike, at the end of which we’ll return to our previous night’s camp to pack up and move up-drainage to get a jump on the next morning’s miles. By traversing the Narrows in light daypacks, we’ll be better able to explore and enjoy the incredible scenery around us. Comparable in size and similarity to the famed Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park, Capitol Reef’s remote Halls Creek Narrows receives less than 1% of the visitation of its famous cousin. Odds are we’ll have the place pretty-well to ourselves. 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 Narrows 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: 5.5-9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Retracing the historic pioneer wagon route, we will return up Grand Gulch to the North. Early in the day we’ll hike near the impressive, 500-foot Red Slide while following the faint wagon tracks along Halls Creek. We’ll also take time to explore one of the numerous side canyons that branch off from Grand Gulch. At the end of the day, we’ll camp in the vicinity of a stunning geological wonder in preparation for the next morning’s adventure and our return home!

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: ~4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 900 feet
  • Shuttle to St. George: 7 hours

After all the hiking completed by this point, our last day’s hike will be a breeze. We will pack up camp and enroute explore up a serene slot canyon to find one of the most impressive (yet seldom visited) geologic features in the American Southwest. A stunning natural bridge, which 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. Afterward, ascending 800 feet from the Grand Gulch drainage, a remote trailhead surrounded by stunning canyon country is our end point. A mile of hiking brings us to the top of Halls Creek Overlook and we are back at the road we started on and our waiting vehicle. Here we will make the drive back to Saint George over the rolling slick rock domes and canyons.

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

This fantastic winter adventure is offered as a custom option for private groups. Please call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) or email us to get started.

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
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Utah hiking guide
  • 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 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 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, and we are more than happy to pick you up if you are staying at a hotel in St. George but the orientation is taking place elsewhere. 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.

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 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 our Capitol Reef trips is 6 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. 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)
  • 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)
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.

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