Grand Gulch Archaeology Backpacking

Trip Description

Take a step back in time on a remarkable journey through the spectacular canyons of Grand Gulch in Bears Ears National Monument, southeastern Utah. This backpacking trip surveys the central portion of Grand Gulch, an outdoor museum of the Anasazi culture. It contains an astonishing number of cliff dwellings, granaries and rock art left behind by the ancient ancestral puebloans. Hiking through Grand Gulch, as the ancient Anasazi and Fremont Indian’s once did a thousand years ago, is the best way to experience the many unique archaeological sites and the stunning natural beauty of these sandstone canyons. You will witness first-hand some of the most well-preserved ruins in the country and learn about the mysterious culture that once thrived in the region. This hike is a true gem in the Southwest and largely unknown. Experience fantastic solitude not found in the more well-known Utah canyons and walk away with a new-found fascination for the ancient indigenous people who once called this home. This Utah hiking tour is one you won’t soon forget.


Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Days: 4 Days

Distance: 25 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate +

Origin: Flagstaff, AZ

Cost: $1525 (plus Utah sale tax, 6.5%)


Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

Depart Flagstaff early for a very scenic drive through the Painted Desert, Monument Valley and up the Moqui Dugway, an exciting gravel path carved out of sheer canyon walls. After final packing at the trailhead, we begin our gradual descent into the slickrock maze via Kane Gulch. The wide open upper reaches of the canyon gradually narrow and the sandstone walls eventually tower overhead. Soon enough, the first signs of ancient life appear high on the canyon walls. We will stop to visit a number of these sites and your guide will instruct the group on proper etiquette for discovering these irreplaceable relics. After enjoying these intriguing sites, we will eventually make camp near the junction with a small tributary canyon offering further exploration, but we’ll save that for tomorrow. Enjoy a delicious dinner as the sun sets and the stars fill the night sky.
6 miles
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

After an early breakfast, we are off for a full day of exploring side canyons and hidden secrets. Todie Canyon offers impressive canyon scenery as well as a few ruins worth investigating. After a morning of exploring, we return to camp for lunch, pack up, and head further into the depths of Grand Gulch. This stretch of canyon is one of the richest concentrations of archaeological sites in the entire Southwest. We will make frequent stops to explore these relics and learn more about the ancestral Puebloan culture. Many wonderful campsites present themselves along the way so the group can decide to make camp at any time.
6 miles + optional side hikes
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

More fun awaits on Day 3! Highlights include Split Level Ruin, Coyote Canyon, and Sheiks Canyon. As the canyon deepens, the views become progressively more impressive with every turn. We eventually reach the junction with Bullet Canyon and our route out of Grand Gulch. Camp is found near the junction and the afternoon can be spent exploring the lower reaches of the Gulch.
7 miles + optional side hikes
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

We begin our final climb and bid farewell to this incredible outdoor museum, but not before we visit two of the most remarkable ruins yet! Some secrets are worth keeping so we won’t spoil the surprise. After exploring these final sites, we make the exciting hike out of Bullet Canyon, arriving at our endpoint around lunchtime. Bid a fond farewell to this explorer’s paradise and start planning your next adventure! Plan to arrive back in Flagstaff by 5pm.
5 miles (8km)
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

  • A professional, licensed and medically trained guide
  • All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
  • All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your guide will prepare all meals)
  • All meals from a light breakfast on Day 1 through lunch on the last day + trail snacks
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Flagstaff, AZ to trailhead.
  • Entrance fees and backcountry permits

What's Not Included:

  • Transportation to/from Flagstaff, AZ
  • Lodging the night before/after the trip
  • Clothing, raingear, and footwear
  • Personal toiletries, sunscreen
  • Water bottles/hydration bladder
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • 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?

Backpacking trips in Grand Gulch will accommodate up to 5 people plus one guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 10 people plus 2 guides.

Are there age restrictions?

Children under the age of 13 are generally not permitted on backpacking 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 Flagstaff, AZ and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Flagstaff. You will want to fly into either Phoenix (2 hour drive) or Flagstaff.

Where do meet our guides?

We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 4:00pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the Little America Hotel in Flagstaff. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation.

Most trips will depart between 4:30am and 6:30am. *This meeting is not mandatory, but highly recommended, as we will depart early the next morning. If you are unable to attend, please let us know in advance so that we can make alternate arrangements.

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 will pick you up at your hotel in Flagstaff and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the Little America Hotel (recommended) can leave their cars at the hotel. The hotels will often store your luggage for you, as well. If not, we are happy to store extra luggage at our warehouse for the duration of the trip. If you are staying at a different hotel, you will need to check with them as to whether you can leave your car there.

What time will we get back on the last day?

Expect to be back in Flagstaff by 5pm at the latest on the last day of the trip. Many trips will return earlier but we cannot make any guarantees. In general, it is recommended that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.

Trip Dates

2024 Dates

April: 22-25

May: 2-5

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

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

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