Discovering Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument is like hiking through an outdoor natural history museum. The Grand Gulch canyon system is full of Native American ruins that are thousands of years old. You will have a first-hand view of petroglyphs, pictographs, and ancient kivas! Visit high plateaus, view multi-colored sandstone cliffs, and hike through narrow twisting canyons. This is the perfect time of year to visit the canyons, with comfortable daytime temperatures and cool nights. With 4 days and 3 nights on the trail, plus a welcome dinner and overnight stay in historic Durango, CO, this is a truly unique backpacking experience. Discover for yourself why Bears Ears was recently designated a National Monument.
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Day 1 Arrival to Durango, CO. Get checked in to your hotel and the afternoon is free for you to explore downtown Durango. Meet your guides for orientation and the gear distribution, followed by a welcome dinner at one of our favorite local breweries.
Day 2 As a group, we’ll drive from Durango to Southeast Utah, approximately 3.5hrs. Upon arrival we will learn more about the canyon system and how to limit our impact on this sensitive environment. After lunch, we will shuttle vehicles and hit the trail. Along the way, we’ll stop and explore 2 significant ruins. Today’s hike is approximately 6 miles.
Day 3 There will be plenty of time to explore the ancient dwellings that cling to these canyon walls. Peer through the windows and see the remnants of those who came before you. Many times, you can spot shards of pottery and even corn cobs that are over a thousands years old! Today’s hike is roughly 7.5 miles long.
Day 4 Today’s hike is about 6 miles, and we’ll take a side trip to a lunch site that has a natural spring, awesome petroglyphs and pictographs. We’ll finish today’s hike early enough to set up camp and drop our heavy packs, then fully explore a couple of very interesting ruins before dinner. We will camp near Jailhouse Ruin, named so because of the wooden bars that criss-cross the windows.
Day 5 We will get an early start and plan to exit the canyon by 11am. We will drive down the scenic “Moki Dugway” and travel back to Durango, arriving mid-afternoon. Depart Durango, CO.
Note: Itinerary is subject to change depending on weather, trail and course conditions, travel, health and wellbeing of the trip participants, and interests of the group.
✓ Backpack – 30-50 liters, capable of 30-40 lb load.
✓ Large duffel bag
✓ Sleeping bag – lightweight, easily packable (rated to 20 degrees).
✓ Sleeping pad.
✓ Tents are supplied.
✓ Casual clothing – lightweight, comfortable items for travel.
✓ Airline tickets (if necessary).
✓ Travel pillow.
✓ Sun hat with brim
✓ Ski hat
✓ Gloves – midweight windstopper.
✓ Gloves – warm and waterproof.
✓ Hiking shorts.
✓ Pants-zip-offs are great
✓ Long sleeve shirts.
✓ Long underwear.
✓ Fleece jacket or wool sweater.
✓ Fleece pants.
✓ Down jacket (optional).
✓ Waterproof/breathable jacket and pants.
✓ Hiking boots – waterproof with good ankle support.
✓ Tennis shoes or sandals.
✓ Hiking socks.
✓ Sock liners
✓ Camp sock
✓ Water bottles (2-3) and/or a Hydration reservoir (2-3 liters)
✓ Plastic bowl, cups, spoon and fork.
✓ Water purification tablets or filter.
✓ Matches or lighter.
✓ Trekking poles
✓ Small multi-tool or pocket knife.
✓ Headlamp or flashlight.
✓ Camera, film, tripod (optional).
✓ Extra batteries for headlamp, camera, etc.
✓ Book notebook, journal, pencil or pen.
✓ Bandanas or Buff.
✓ Pack cover.
✓ Personal first-aid kit and medication.
✓ Trail snacks
✓ Several large Ziploc plastic bags
✓ Toilet paper (will use Ziploc bags for used paper while on trail).
✓ Medium to Large pack towel.
✓ Toothbrush and toothpaste.
✓ Handi-wipes (moist towelettes for cleaning).
✓ Hand sanitizer
✓ Personal toiletry items.
✓ Sun block and lip balm.
4 days/3 nights backpacking in Grand Gulch canyon system
Hotel in downtown Durango (1 night, double occupancy)
All meals mentioned in the itinerary, plus trail snacks
All permit, land use, and guide fees
Transfers to and from Durango airport, if necessary
Transfers to and from Cedar Mesa recreation area
Marmot 3 season tents
Group cookware, stoves/fuel, and water filtration systems provided
Minimum 3 pre-departure information conference calls with head guide
Transportation to and from Durango, Colorado
Personal gear and clothing
Personal Extras such as souvenirs, massage, etc.
Alcoholic beverages, additional meals or snacks beyond what is provided
While in town, we will eat at wonderful restaurants in Durango. On the trail, your guides will prepare delicious meals each day! Traditional trail snacks are also provided, but you are welcome to bring some of your favorites, if you prefer. We know that well-fed hikers are happy hikers and we aim to please! Special dietary considerations can usually be accommodated.
We stay at a hotel in historic downtown Durango the first night. The next 3 nights will be spent sleeping under the stars in roomy, 3-person tents.
Some of the activities that you may choose to participate in while in Utah are strenuous. They should not be undertaken if you have any health conditions which may put you at risk. You are strongly advised to consult your physician for a thorough medical check-up and clearance before attempting our Utah hiking. If you are over 50 years old, talk to your doctor about doing a ‘stress EKG’. Should you require any medication whatsoever, you must provide your own and be able to administer it yourself.
FROM OUR TRAVELERS
“Thanks for being the best guide ever. Your encouragement, concern, and professionalism has made this trip a truly wonderful experience. I wish you all he very best in all that you do and hope to see you soon. “
“I hope this weekend goes as well as last week. You, Joe and Billy were excellent hosts and instructors. I had a wonderful time. Thanks again for all your patient coaching and kind words. “
“Thank you for offering such an amazing life experience. From the beginning with Joe and Mike’s emails, to the store’s support on outfitting, to the actual trip, it was an overall very positive experience. I highly recommend this trip to those with a passion for wanting the challenge of this mountain.”