Escalante River Backpacking Trip

From $895 See Rates

Grand Staircase-EscalanteUtah
Tour Length
3 days, 2 nights
Backcountry Camping
Guide Type

Southern Utah’s Escalante River winds through a magical canyon country deep in the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument. Backpack along the banks of the river, camp beneath natural sandstone arches, and wiggle through slot canyons as you explore the last mapped place in the continental United States. Spend 3 days and 2 nights camping beneath the stars, trekking through the lazily flowing river (perfect for the backpacker who truly enjoys getting their feet wet!), and marveling at the native tribal ruins and pictographs sprinkled left and right. Get to know some of Southern Utah’s intricate canyon hideaways including Death Hollow and the Escalante Natural Arch, and you’ll never want to leave.

What's Included

Tour Price Includes

  • Backcountry camping permit
  • Meals starting lunch Day 1 through lunch Day 3
  • AOA-provided transfer from meet location to trailhead and back at conclusion of trip
  • Water and snacks
  • Kitchen and group gear (cooking utensils, stove, fuel, water filter, food storage where needed, dish washing necessities)
  • Personal mess kit (bowl, mug, fork, spoon)
  • Professional Wilderness First Responder certified guide(s)

Permit & Land Use Fees Include

  • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument commercial fees

Not Included ​​​​​​​

  • Personal insurance and expenses
  • Pre- or post-trip lodging
  • Transportation to and from the meet location
  • Breakfast Day 1, dinner Day 3
  • Sleeping bag (available to rent from AOA)
  • Sleeping pad (available to rent from AOA)
  • Backpacking pack (available to rent from AOA)
  • Backpacking tent (available to rent from AOA)
  • Trekking poles (complimentary upon request)
  • Gratuities to AOA Guides

Upgrades + Additions

Gear Rental

  • 1-person backpacking tent ($25 per)
  • 2-person backpacking tent ($35 per)
  • 55 to 65 liter backpack with removable daypack option fitted to individual ($30 per)
  • Sleeping bag ($25 per)
  • Inflatable sleeping pad ($25 per, sleeping pads add insulation and are required on AOA trips)
  • Trekking poles (complimentary upon request)

Transportation Package – $100

  • Meets in Las Vegas or St. George
  • Las Vegas meet: Lobby of the Homewood Suites in South Las Vegas at 6:00am. Drop-off: 6:30-7:30pm same place. (CLICK HERE for map). All times in PST (Nevada).
  • St. George meet: Outside terminal building at St. George Regional Airport (SGU) at 9:00am. Drop-off: 5:30-6:30pm same place. All times in MDT (Utah).
  • Water and snacks during transfer

Other Additions

  • Purchase: 3-liter Camelbak reservoir/bladder ($35 per)
Optional upgrades, additions, and rentals subject to tax (8.05%).


2019 Rates

  • TOUR PRICE $ 895 pp* 895 pp
  • +Permits & Land Fees $ 27 pp** 27 pp

*Subject to 8.05% Utah Sales Tax.
**Subject to change and will be based on actual costs at time of departure.

*Subject to 8.05% Utah Sales Tax.
**Subject to change and will be based on actual costs at time of departure.

Do you have five minutes to save $25? Use the promo code 25for5 at checkout and get $25 per person off your trip price when you take 5 minutes to complete your guest profile and sign your waiver! Profiles and waivers are due no later than 1 week after booking to cash in on this promotion!

See our Promos & Discounts page for a list of multi-day trip promotions that may apply!



Select Month

August 31-September 2
September 6-September 8
September 14-September 16
September 20-September 22
September 28-September 30
October 5-October 7
October 11-October 13
October 19-October 21

Your trip begins today at 1:00pm at Excursions of Escalante in Escalante, UT. Enjoy a homemade ice cream sandwich or espresso while your guide briefs everyone on the trip and helps everyone get fitted for a backpack. We then load into the AOA vehicle for a short drive to the trailhead and an opportunity to begin getting to know one another. Beginning at an elevation of 5,840 feet, we make our way into the portal of the canyon where the Escalante River enters the soaring sandstone walls at the sharp flexure of the Escalante Monocline. The town is just a mile away, but we might as well have stepped back in time and fallen in stride with the explorers of yesterday. We track the sandy bench trails that follow the serpentine course of this crazy crooked creek, wading occasionally for a cool down. Our destination is the Escalante’s confluence with the clear-flowing tributary of Death Hollow. We’ll camp along the sandy river bank with the sheer cliffs of the canyon looming nearby.


4-6 miles on trail and through river


Breakfast on your own, lunch and dinner included


Backcountry camping

Hikers next to Escalante River on backpacking trip

Carrying only our daypacks, we venture deep into the labyrinths of Death Hollow where the cascading creek, swimming holes, and grottos of fern and moss create an otherworldly atmosphere. Narrower than the canyon of the Escalante, Death Hollow is filled with vibrant contrasts in color, vegetation and light. Depending on the water level of the river, we may hike to a colossal waterfall (though water’s not always falling) hidden deep in the recesses of Mamie Canyon. Be prepared for water fun as we snake in and out of the river making our way up the canyon. Some rock scrambling may be involved, but the destination is sure to be worthwhile. Or you can opt to bask on the banks of the playful swimming holes or boulders lying under the innumerable shady alcoves in this area. We return to camp for another great meal and evening under the stars.


2-6 miles on trail and through river


All meals included


Backcountry camping

Hikers next to Escalante River on backpacking trip

Wake up early to the quietness our hideaway offers, and savor a few moments over a steaming cup of coffee. After breaking camp, we once again tag along the meanderings of the Escalante downstream. Fantastic manifestations of human and geological history await us towards the end of the trail. We enjoy these impressive treasures in relative solitude, relishing not having to compete with numerous tourists. A single short stretch leads us to the Escalante Natural Arch towering over a large well-preserved Anasazi granary. Beyond here, tucked in a side canyon at 130 feet high and 100 feet across, we encounter the largest natural bridge in the Grand Staircase. All too soon we begin to see day hikers and hear the sound of Highway 12 Scenic Byway. After a stop at a local coffee shop for a well-deserved reward, we shuttle back to the town of Escalante where we bid our farewells.


6-8 miles on trail and through river


Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own


On your own

Note about itinerary changes: We do our best to operate each trip as closely as possible to the published itinerary, however there are sometimes forces outside of our control that could require us to make adjustments to the operations of a trip. These include but are not limited to weather, natural disasters, road closures, park closures, campsite availability, emergency guest illness or injury.

Nitty Gritty

AOA’s adventures might challenge you, but we don’t want them to surprise you, these Nitty Gritty details can help you decide if this the right trip for you.

Comforts of Home

Cell service: While backpacking along the Escalante River, you will not have cell phone service and should expect to be unreachable by phone. There is no electricity available. Bring a portable battery to charge your phone for photos.

Bathrooms/Showers: During this trip we will not have access to showers or bathrooms. We will use a WAG Bag system to pack out our waste and ensure we Leave No Trace.

Minimum Age: 14
Max Group Size: 10

Hiking & Terrain

This backpacking trip requires that you carry all you need and a portion of the group gear on your back. Expect to carry about 35-50lbs in your backpack. We will be hiking in and out of the Escalante River over uneven terrain with varying water levels and may need to contend with currents in the flowing river and numerous water crossings. Your feet will be unavoidably wet, and sand will get in your shoes. Trekking poles are very helpful on this trip and gaiters are a must.

Trip Ratings

Challenge 3.5 | Comfort 1 | Solitude 5 | Participation 5