Hiking Escalante with a Guide
When folks start researching hiking Escalante they invariably run into words like “isolated” and “technical” and “navigational challenges.” It can be more than a little off-putting. On the other hand, if you enjoy backpacking, places with beguiling names like Neon Canyon, Crack in the Wall and Golden Cathedral are practically calling your name from the Utah desert.
What is a would-be adventurer to do? The best way to tackle the vast 1.9 million acres of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument (of which you can fit both the states of Rhode Island and Delaware into) is with an experienced guide. Do you really want to find out the hard way if your vehicle is actually a “high clearance” vehicle? Are you sure you want to ford that river, in this spot, without knowing how deep the water is and how swift the current is flowing? Are you going to spend all your time in that narrow slot canyon fretting about what’s up ahead?
Not only will a guided tour alleviate these concerns while hiking Escalante but a guide will also:
- Keep you from getting lost (first things first, and there aren’t many cell phone towers planted in the slick-rock)
- Keep you from overreaching your capabilities as a backpacker, in the sometimes harsh desert environment
- Tend to all logistics including transportation, permits, and itineraries
- Take you to those out-of-the-way gems only the locals know, and that guidebooks often “forget to mention”
- Enhance the Escalante experience by providing a back story for the wonders you encounter
Getting to the Escalante’s lonesome canyons and rugged cliffs is already sounding a lot less daunting, isn’t it? Guides will also make sure you have appropriate gear before heading out into the desert. Then, you can toss in the advantage of having your food and night time arrangements taken care of on a multi-day backpacking guided tour, replacing your apprehension with anticipation.
Experiencing the wild desertscapes and surreal colors of the Southwest properly requires undivided attention, and no one needs a distracted mind out on the trail. Leaving a guide to sweat the details of a backpacking trip frees the imagination to soak in what you came to Escalante for in the first place.
In fact, do not be surprised if you become spoiled by hiking Escalante on a guided tour. It is not only first-time backpackers who take advantage of guides. After trying it once, many folks start up a bucket list, often including: Paria Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs, Kanab Creek, Buckskin Gulch…