Boulder Mail Trail

Trip Description

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream featuring endless sandstone canyons, waterfalls, natural arches, hanging gardens and ancient Native American ruins. The Boulder Mail Trail traverses the Death Hollow Wilderness, a one-of-a-kind slickrock playground featuring incredible scenery and expansive views. This is an overland route that was originally used in the early 1900s to deliver U.S. mail between the remote towns of Escalante and Boulder. Now seldom visited, this wild and unique wilderness offers outstanding opportunities for quiet and solitude. You will hike across great expanses of Navajo sandstone studded with ponderosa and pinyon pines, cross several canyons including Death Hollow and Sand Creek and camp in world-class scenery. After crossing the Death Hollow Wilderness, the hike continues with a 14-mile trek through a stunning section of the Escalante River gorge complete with natural arches, cliff dwellings and ancient rock art. This outstanding Utah backpacking tour is a perfect trip for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path backpacking adventure in a truly magical landscape.

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Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Days: 5 Days

Distance: 34 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate +

Origin: St. George, UT

Cost: $1500 (plus Utah sales tax, 6.5%)


Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

Depart St. George early for your scenic drive through southern Utah. Upon arriving in the Escalante area, we will finalize our packing and meet our shuttle driver who will transport us to our starting point near the town of Boulder. After final preparations, we will begin our hike to Death Hollow. The stunted pine forests quickly give way to a seemingly endless slickrock wilderness ahead as we begin our short descent to the bed of Sand Creek. When then continue across more open slickrock to a spectacular overlook above Death Hollow. Watch your footing as we make the exciting descent to the floor of the canyon. We will make camp beneath the towering pines along the banks of Death Hollow’s perennial stream.
Drive Time: 4 hours
Distance & Elevation: 6 miles, 700 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

Today’s hike will be highlighted by Mamie Natural Bridge and the epic views across Antone Flats. After the challenging climb out of Death Hollow, you will be treated to more incredible views while we traverse the slickrock on our way to Mamie Canyon. We will drop our backpacks and make the short walk down to Mamie Natural Bridge for lunch. Next, we will return to our backpacks and make our way towards Antone Flats for our second night’s camp. Enjoy the beautiful sunset over the Death Hollow Wilderness as your guides prepares a delicious dinner.
Distance & Elevation: 8 miles, 1000 foot ascent/500 descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

After a tasty breakfast, we pack up camp and head out across the rest of Antone Flats and up to a high ridge overlooking Pine Creek and the town of Escalante. Back to west, you are rewarded with views across the entire Death Hollow Wilderness and Boulder Mountain to the north. We begin the scenic descent towards Pine Creek and its confluence with the Escalante River, where we will head east into the sandstone gorge below. Watch as the walls grow higher with each sinuous bend in the canyon. We will camp this evening beneath a giant, natural sandstone alcove.
Distance & Elevation: 8 miles, 700 descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

Enjoy your morning coffee as the sunrise glows golden upon the towering cliffs around you. Another breakfast and it’s on downstream. The Escalante River (more like a small stream) creates a lush canyon oasis, complete with cottonwood trees and swimming holes. As we continue down the canyon, we’ll see ancient Native American cliff dwellings, rock art, and beautiful streaks of desert varnish on the canyon walls. As we reach the confluence with the mouth of Death Hollow, we will drop our packs and enjoy a side hike into its lower reaches. Then it’s on to our final night’s camp near a natural sandstone arch on the canyon rim.
Distance & Elevation: 8 to 10 miles, 200 descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:

Our final day of hiking will take us the last few miles to our endpoint near Calf Creek. Enjoy views from beneath Escalante Natural Bridge and a stop at the Hundred Hand Panel, a remarkable rock art site. After a rewarding lunch back at the trailhead and a quick pit stop in the town of Escalante, we’ll make the drive back to St. George, arriving by 5pm.
Distance & Elevation: 4 miles, minimal descent
Breakfast, Lunch
Drive Time: 4 hours

4-Day Option: This shorter itinerary offers an easier, more relaxed pace and will include a layover day at Death Hollow for a full day to explore this beautiful, watery canyon with just day packs. Day 4 will end at the junction of Pine Creek and the Escalante River.

*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 St. George, UT to trailhead
  • Entrance fees and backcountry permits

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
  • 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?

Most backpacking trips in Utah will accommodate 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 St. George, UT and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in St. George. You will want to fly into either Las Vegas (2 hour drive) or St. George.

Where do meet our guides?

We will meet for at 6:00am the morning of your trip’s departure at the Best Western Abbey Inn in St. George. It is best to plan on staying at this hotel the evening prior to your trip’s departure.

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 St. George and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the Best Western Abbey Inn (recommended) can leave their cars at the hotel. 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 be back in St. George 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

2023 Dates

September: 18-22, 25-29

October: 4-8

2024 Dates

April: 17-21, 24-28, 29-2

May: 6-10, 13-17

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

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

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