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Canyonlands National Park

Sunday, April 28, 2024 - Sunday, May 5, 2024 -- $1750 ★★★

In the remote Utah backcountry, lies a magical world of colorful canyons, mesas, and buttes called Canyonlands National Park We will be backpacking in the Islands in the Sky District, a red-rock wonderland that's a favorite of mountain bikers (we probably won't encounter too many) that also holds some surprises for backpackers. Canyonlands can be challenging due to lack of surface water as well as occasionally unnerving climbs and precipices, so if you have a crippling fear of heights, this trip is probably not for you. However with great challenges come great rewards like continual unobstructed view of ubiquitous red rocks as well as occasional ancient petroglyphs,sandstone arches, turn-of-the-century ranches, winding canyons, natural bridges and elusive wildlife such as lizards, mule deer and possibly even bighorn sheep.

Our trek begins in Salt Lake City where we shuttle to a Campground in Helper, UT halfway to Canyonlands. When we reach the park, we will split our backpacking trip into 3 sections due to the lack of surface water available. Along the way, we'll see Moses & Zeus, Murphy Point, the mighty Green River and eventually Dead Horse State park.

There is no surface water so we will need to have enough capacity to carry as much as 8-10 liters (16-20 pounds) of water in our packs. We will need it. In April/May, the temperatures are moderate and might even get cold at night. We hope you enjoy the longer days with great sunsets and amazing star-gazing opportunities if you are able to stay up past dark.

Topographical Map of Proposed Route

See CalTopo map


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 70s and 80s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s and 50s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures as high as 90 and as low as 30, with an unlikely but non-zero chance of rain or possibly even snow. Here is the historical April weather. Be prepared with lots of sun protection and water containers that add up to 8-10 liters of capacity.

Probable Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Julie Quibodeaux
Any Other Guide(s) TBD


The trails through Canyonlands National Park are often gentle, enjoyable and dare we say easy to hike, especially when inside the level, sandy-bottomed canyons or on the flat, rocky, view-laden mesas. However, getting from the mesas to the canyons or vice-versa can be a terrifying challenge for some. A few of these transitions consist of extremely steep slickrock with sometimes dramatic, near vertical dropoffs. Some of these transitions may contain rock scrambles that require the use of your hands and butt to navigate, all while carrying a full pack. If you have a fear of heights , this is probably not the trip for you.


$1750 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 1 hotel night. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Salt Lake City (SLC), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities.

Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 1 night in a campground, round-trip ground transportation from the airport, 6 days of trail meals, National Park permits, backcountry fees and awesome guides.

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.


Canyonlands National Park (as well as Fitpacking) takes Leave No Trace seriously. Toilet paper does not decompose in the Canyonlands desert ecosystem, so it must be packed out. Furthermore, we cannot leave human waste in much of the park and it must be packed out of some areas. Our itinerary strategically passes 3 backcountry outhouses, but we will are still required to carry wag bags (sorry), which may be emptied into these outhouses if you have not timed your digestive tract to use these privies naturally when we pass them.

Canyonlands National Park requires all participants to veiw this video before entering the backcountry

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Fly into Salt Lake City (SLC). The best time to arrive is between around 9AM-Noon but but we can make later times work if we can leave the area by 3PM or so.

We will assemble at: TBD, To Be Determined

Although you will have already had your online equipment shakedown, we will still do a mini-shakedown at camp.

"Before" body compostion measurements taken

Make Your Own Trail Mix Bar

REI Salt Lake City, 3285 E 3300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84109, (801) 486-2100 for last minute equipment

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage. Try to keep this to a small amount of stuff.

At around 3PM, shuttle to campsite: TBD, To Be Determined Site(s) TBD

Shuttling will take about 2 hours

Guides prepare dinner in camp. On some trips with longer shuttle times, we may opt to go out for an opening dinner at a local restaurant. (Cost of restaurant dinner not included in trip price)

Camp at TBD, To Be Determined Site(s) TBD

Monday, April 29, 2024

Second set of "before" body composition measurements taken

Break camp and shuttle to Canyonlands National Park, Islands in the Sky District.

Guides pick up backcountry permit and everyone fills water vessels.

Shuttle to the Upheaval Dome trailhead picking up 8-10 liters of water along the way, elevation 5690'

Hike 3.4 miles on the Syncline Loop Trail to Syncline Campsite, elevation 4286'.

Camp at Syncline Campsite, elevation 4286'.

Miles today: 3.4. Total miles: 3.4

Possible bailout: Upheaval Dome Trailhead

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Day-Hike 3.2 round-trip miles on the Upheaval Crater Spur Trail to the crater, elevation 4540'.

Break camp and Hike 3.9 miles down the Upheaval Canyon Trail to White Rim Road, elevation 3950'

Hike 0.6 on White Rim Road to Labyrinth Campsite where there is an outhouse, elevation 4000'.

To economize on water, we may use silty water from the Green River instead of the potable water we're carrying. If we make pasta, most of the (boiled) silty water will be drained off and we be able to extend the life of our drinking water.

Camp at Labyrinth A, elevation 4000'

Miles today: 7.7. Total miles: 11.1

Possible bailout: White Rim Road

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Hike 5.0 miles on Taylor Canyon Road to Taylor Campsite, elevation 4240'.

There is an outhouse at Taylor Campsite, elevation 4240'

Hike 5.7 miles to the Alcove Spring Trailhead, elevation 5690'

Guide(s) drop packs and road walk about 1.3 miles to shuttle vehicle(s)

Shuttle to Dead Horse State Park Campground, elevation 5990'

Front country camp in Dead Horse State Park Campground, elevation 5990'. Site(s) TBD

Miles today: 10.7. Total miles: 21.8

Possible bailout: Dead Horse State Park

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Shuttle to Murphy Point Trailhead, elevation 6250'

Start hiking at Murphy Point Trailhead, elevation 6250'. Carry 8-10 liters of water

Hike 0.4 miles to a trail intersection, elevation 6200'

Hike about 3.9 downhill miles on the Murphy Wash Trail to White Rim Road, elevation 4810'

Hike about 1.2 miles on the White Rim Road to Murphy Camp, elevation 5275'

Camp at Murphy Camp, site TBD

There is no water here

Miles today: 5.5. Total miles: 27.3

Possible bailout: Grand View Point Park Rd

Friday, May 3, 2024

Hike about 0.1 miles on the White Rim Road to Murphy Trail, elevation 5270'

Hike about 3.9 miles on the Murphy Hogback Trail to the Murphy Point Trail, elevation 6200'

Hike 1.1 miles on the Murphy Point Trail to Murphy Point, elevation 6120'

Hike about 1.7 miles on the Murphy Point Trail back to the Trailhead, elevation 6250'

Shuttle to Dead Horse State Park Campground, elevation 5990'

Front country camp in Dead Horse State Park Campground, elevation 5990'. Site(s) TBD

Miles today: 6.8. Total miles: 34.1

Possible bailout: CR-143

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Day-hike a 3.5 mile loop to Dead Horse Point, elevation 5740'

End of hiking

Possible bailout: Grand View Point Park Rd

Break camp and pack up shuttle vehicle(s)

Miles today: 3.5. Total miles: 37.6

Shuttle back to local hotel: TBD, To Be Determined

Gather your off-trail items from storage

After body composition measurements taken

Dinner and awards ceremony at a local restaurant (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

Stay in our local hotel (included in trip cost)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Either take the free airport shuttle or if there is none, we will pay for a shared cab / Uber

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