Capitol Reef & Escalante Lodge Based Hiking

Trip Description

Capitol Reef and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are two of the most visually striking and exciting hiking destinations in the U.S. This lodge-based hiking tour explores some of the best hiking opportunities that represent each area. We’ll venture into watery canyons, climb to outstanding viewpoints, and get up close and personal with incredible geologic formations. Capitol Reef is centered around the Waterpocket Fold, a nearly 100-mile long warp in the earth’s crust resulting in a stunning landscape featuring narrow canyons, natural arches, sheer cliffs, and jaw-dropping viewpoints. Despite its unmatched scenery, it remains a very lightly visited National Park. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument offers slot canyons, wide expanses of slickrock, and impressive archaeological relics, all accessible via a wide variety of hiking trails. Our veteran guides will lead on a variety of memorable hikes each day, while evening will be spent in a few hand-picked lodges, enjoying meals at local restaurants.


Trip Details

Type: Lodge-Based Hiking

Days: 6 Days

Distance: 35 to 40 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

Origin: St. George, UT

Cost: $2950 (plus Utah sales tax, 6.5%)

Single Supplement: + $400


Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

Depart St. George early for the scenic drive through Southern Utah, bound for the town of Escalante. Our first hike will explore the upper reaches of the Escalante River Canyon. This sinuous gorge features towering cliffs, frequent stream crossings, and a beautiful riparian habitat in the high desert. You’ll learn about the surrounding geology, plant and animal life, and discover a number of pictographs, rock art left by the ancient civilizations that once called this region home. After reaching a spectacular alcove in the canyon wall, we will return the way we came. We will then transfer a short distance to our lodge in Escalante. Dinner will be at a local restaurant. *Hiking footwear appropriate for frequent stream crossings is required.

Drive Time: 3.25 hours

Distance & Elevation: 6.5 miles, minimal descent/ascent

Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

After an early breakfast, we will check out of the lodge and start our journey towards Capitol Reef. But our day’s hiking starts only 30 minutes down the road. Calf Creek is a gorgeous canyon with lush vegetation, cool, clear water and the idyllic Lower Calf Creek Falls. After a visit to the lower falls, we will return to the trailhead and continue on to the town of Torrey, just west of Capitol Reef. If time permits before dinner, we can head off for a short stroll for some terrific views high above Sulphur Creek.

Drive Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Distance & Elevation: 6 to 8 miles, minimal elevation

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

Capitol Reef is best known for its incomparable geology and our first hikes here will give us an excellent vantage point from which to take it all in. Our first trail climbs about 400 feet in elevation and instantly rewards with views of the surrounding landscape before tucking into a narrow canyon carved in the brilliant orange hues of the Wingate sandstone. Rock fins, hoodoos, and “swiss cheese” holes create a fantasy world of geologic wonders. As we pop out of the canyon’s depths, we are awarded with far-reaching views. Our second hike will highlight the depths of an impressive gorge that was once a pioneer road. This easy stroll passes historic inscriptions and ancient petroglyphs carved into the towering cliff walls.

Drive Time: Up to 1 hour

Distance & Elevation: 5 to 6 miles, 500 feet elevation gain/loss

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

A quick drive to our trailhead and we’ll dive into another watery canyon adventure. The narrows of Sulfur Creek wind through some of the oldest exposed rocks in the park. Numerous small waterfalls and shallow pools are encountered as we make our way upstream and we will need to negotiate a few short climbs as we go. It’s an adventurous hike that offers great rewards as we explore this scenic gorge. After our hike, we will begin our journey back westward for our final two nights in the town of Boulder. Enjoy a hot shower at the lodge, followed by an outstanding meal at a terrific local restaurant.

Drive Time: 1.25 hours

Distance & Elevation: 5 miles, minimal elevation

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:

We’re back in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and today we are slickrock bound. We’ll head out on a lesser-known trail that once served as a mail-carrier route between the towns of Boulder and Escalante. Slickrock vistas in every direction are punctuated by several prominent canyons. We will hike across great expanses of Navajo sandstone studded with ponderosa and pinyon pines towards a jaw-dropping vantage point high above a deep and sinuous gorge. We’ll enjoy a delicious picnic lunch featuring epic views before returning the way we came.

Drive Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Distance & Elevation: 10 miles, 1000 feet elevation gain/loss

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6:

On our final day, we will check out of our lodge and head back towards St. George. A stop in Red Canyon State Park offers a final opportunity to get out and stretch our legs in this dramatic landscape. Stunning views and quiet trails are the flavor of the day in Red Canyon, a seldom-visited jewel of Canyon Country, with a resemblance to nearby Bryce Canyon. Your guide will choose one of many great hikes to suit the desires of the group. After lunch, we will finish up the drive back to St. George for farewells.

Drive Time: 4.5 hours

Distance & Elevation: 4 miles, 500-foot ascent/descent

Breakfast, Lunch

*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.


What's Included

  • All lodging (double occupancy) for the duration of the trip.
  • A professional, licensed and medically trained guide
  • Use of day pack & trekking poles
  • All meals from lunch on Day 1 through lunch on the last day + trail snacks
  • Rountrip Transportation from your hotel in St. George, UT
  • Park entrance fees

What's Not Included:

  • Transportation to/from St. George, UT
  • Lodging the night before/after the trip
  • Clothing, raingear, and footwear
  • Personal toiletries, sunscreen
  • Water bottles/hydration bladder
  • Guide gratuity (suggested 10-20% of trip cost)

*Upon booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet

How many people are in the group?

Most trips in Utah will accommodate 6 people plus one guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 9 people plus 2 guides.

Are there age restrictions?

Children under the age of 12 are generally not permitted on regularly scheduled trips. This restriction may be negotiable on private tours. Please contact us with any questions regarding this policy.

How do I sign up?

In order to confirm a reservation, we require an initial non-refundable deposit of $250 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.

Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. You can also pay by personal check or PayPal (PayPal incurs a 1.5% surcharge). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-877-272-5032

Travel Logistics

Where does the trip begin/end?

This trip will begin/end in St. George, UT. You will want to fly into either Las Vegas (2 hour drive) or St. George.

Where do meet our guides?

You will meet your guide at the Best Western Abbey Inn in St. George at 6am the morning your trip departs. The hotel breakfast starts at this time and we will eat together and have a brief orientation. We will go over the itinerary, expected weather (and how this might affect what clothing you bring…or leave behind), food, and answer any last-minute questions. We will also hand out day packs for anyone who needs them.

What do we do with our car and extra stuff?

We will provide all transportation to/from trailheads for the duration of the trip. We can pick you up at your hotel in St. George and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the Best Western Abbey Inn (recommended) can leave their cars here and the hotel will often store your luggage for you, as well, but please confirm this option in advance. If you are staying at a different hotel, you will need to check with them as to whether you can leave your car/luggage there.

What time will we get back on the last day?

Expect to arrive back in St. George by about 5pm on the last day. In general, we tend to discourage trying to book flights on the same day your trip ends.

Trip Dates

2024 Dates 

May: 5-10

October: 13-18


Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!

Call 1-877-272-5032 or email us for details.