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Canyonlands National Park, UT

SOLD OUT! (Put me on the waiting list)

Sep 14 - Sep 21, 2019 -- $1275 ★★★★

In the remote Utah backcountry, lies a magical world of canyons, mesas, and buttes called Canyonlands National Park We will be backpacking the Needles District, one of the finest and most sought out districts of this colorful park. The Needles can be challenging primarily due to dramatic drop-offs and precipices, so if you have a fear of heights, this trip is not for you. However with the challenges come great rewards like ubiquitous red rocks, ancient petroglyphs, colossal sandstone arches, turn-of-the-century ranches, winding canyons, natural bridges and wildlife such as lizards, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and possibly even black bear.

Our trek begins at the Needles Campground. We quickly enter beautiful Big Springs Canyon and then ascend incredible slickrock mesas with unobstructed views, seeing the iconic Druid Arch as well as lesser and unnamed arches. We will also see mystical Petroglyphs / graffiti.

Water could be scarce at times so we will need to have enough capacity to carry about 4 liters (16 pounds) of water in our packs. We will know the water situation better as the trip approaches. However the rewards are many. In September the temperature moderates and the days get shorter which means great sunsets and amazing star-gazing.


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

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Nicole Wyld


$1275 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. 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 2 hotel nights, round-trip ground transportation from Salt Lake City to the National Park, 6 days of trail meals, National Park permits, insurance, backcountry fees and awesome guides.


The trails through Canyonlands National Park can be gentle and enjoyable to hike, especially within the level, sandy-bottomed canyons or on the flat, rocky, view-laden mesas. However, there will also be sandy patches and in many areas slickrock with sometimes dramatic dropoffs. A few places have challenging scrambles the require the use of your hands and butt.

Important Notes

This is our planned itinerary. We must Fax in (I know, right?) backcountry requests exactly 4 months before our trip begins so we won't know if this is our exact itinerary until mid-May. If we don't get our first choices, we do expect our itinerary to be similar to what's shown here using nearby campsites instead.

Canyonlands National Park (as well as Fatpacking) takes Leave No Trace seriously. Toilet paper does not decompose in the Canyonlands desert ecosystem, so it must be packed out. And although we can leave human waste in much of the park, on the final two days we will be camped in the Chesler Park area, a very sensitive area that gets an extraordinary amount of use. Because of this, human waste must also be packed out from this location. Sorry! When you see the campsites, you will understand why this is the case.

We are also required to carry bear canisters in the park to protect food from any number of animals ... squirrels to ravens to bears.

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Fly into Salt Lake City Airport (SLC). The best time to arrive is between around Noon-3PM. However, if you can save a substantial amount on your flight by arriving at say, 11AM or 5PM, then do so.

Take the free airport shuttle to Comfort Suites Airport, 171 N 2100 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, 801-715-8688

Equipment shakedown

"Before" measurements taken

Trail mix distribution

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

Go out for group dinner (Dinner not included in trip cost)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Early (6AM or earlier) wake-up. This will be a long day with a lot of things to do.

Second set of "before" measurements taken

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.

Free breakfast at Hotel

Car shuttle 4 hours to Moab, stopping in Helper, UT along the way

Stop at Gearheads for wag bags and possibly water

Have a picnic lunch somewhere in town

Shuttle 1 more hour to the Needles District of the park

Take a 10 minute stop at Newspaper Rock, covered with Petroglyphs

Pick up backcountry permit and bear canisters at Park HQ

Drive to Squaw Flat Loop B

Begin hiking, elevation 5100'

Hike 1.6 miles to Big Springs Canyon Trail, elevation 5150'

Hike 1.0 miles to campsite BS2, elevation 5200'.

Camp at BS2, elevation 5200'

Miles today: 2.6. Total miles: 2.6

Possible bailout: Squaw Flat

Monday, September 16, 2019

Hike 1.5 miles to an awesome rocky saddle, elevation 5600'

Turn right at the trail intersection and go through an extremely tight passageway, ferrying packs to get through it.

Hike 2.1 miles to the Elephant Canyon Trail, passing another amazing rocky saddle along the way, elevation 5600'

It's possible that we will need to fill up with 8 liters with water here

Hike 0.9 miles to the Chesler Park Trail, elevation 5300'

Hike 2.9 miles to Devil's Kitchen, elevation 5300'

Hike 0.4 miles to campsite DP1 (Devil's Pocket), elevation 5300'

Camp at campsite DP1 (Devil's Pocket), elevation 5300'

Miles today: 7.8. Total miles: 10.4

Possible bailout: Elephant Hill Rd.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Day-Hiking only today, primarily flat

Day-Hike 1.8 miles to Cyclone Canyon -- a Graben (depression) on the Plateau, elevation 4850'

Day-Hike 3.1 miles to the Confluence Overlook, elevation 5000'.

Day-Hike 1.3 miles to Devil's Lane, elevation 5000'.

Day-Hike 5.1 miles back to Devil's Pocket, elevation 5300'.

Camp at campsite DP1 (Devil's Pocket), elevation 5300'

Miles today: 11.3. Total miles: 21.7

Possible bailout: Park Road (far away)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Hike 4.1 miles on the Chesler Park Loop Trail to campsite CP5, elevation 5600'

Camp at campsite CP5, elevation 5600'

Option: Day-Hike 3.0 round-trip miles on the Joint Trail to Chester Canyon

Miles today: 4.1 or 7.1. Total miles: 28.8 or 31.8

Possible bailout: No good options

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Hike 1.5 miles to Druid Arch Trail, elevation 5600'

Drop packs and Day-Hike 3.6 round-trip miles to Druid Arch, elevation 5740'

Hike 1.6 miles to campsite EC1, elevation 5300'

Camp at campsite EC1, elevation 5300'

Miles today: 6.7. Total miles: 35.5 or 38.5

Possible bailout: Squaw Flat

Friday, September 20, 2019

Hike 0.6 miles to the Chesler Park Trail intersection, elevation 5200'

Hike 4.1 miles to Squaw Flat, elevation 5100'

End of hiking

Miles today: 4.7. Total miles: 40.2 or 43.2

Shuttle 4 hours back to Salt Lake City

After measurements taken

Check into a different hotel Crystal Inn Hotel & Suites Salt Lake City - Down Town, 230 W 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, 801-328-4466

Dinner and awards Ceremony. Dinner not 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.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Free Hotel Breakfast

Take Free Airport Shuttle

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