Red Rock Canyons of Utah, USA - 7th to 21st May 2015

This amazing walking holiday takes us into the more remote Canyon Country of Southern Utah. Hiking off the beaten track and along little-known trails where we have the chance to learn about fascinating local history, geology and the story of the Native Americans. We journey through an incredibly diverse landscape formed by weather, time and the mysterious touch of those from an unknown past.

Some of the walks will be on trails famous throughout the southwest while others will be an adventure along trails known only to our guides and few others - visiting old outlaw haunts, long forgotten places and a landscape dominated by silence and distance.

As the long spring days unfold we hike through the National Parks of Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches then onto the massive Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This time of year is the apex of the high desert spring bloom, so expect a daily dazzle of wild flowers.

Arches National Park

Criss-crossing the Rio Colorado at Lake Powell and Moab, the recreational capital of the Western States, we visit the 2 million acre Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument and Cedar Mesa, and travel the remote Burr Trail, a paved road through protected public lands with a blizzard of geologic wonders for a hundred miles.

As if that wasn't enough, we also hike in the Utah State Parks - The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, and enjoy an amazing trek through the Valley of the Gods. The names of these places alone are enough to set the senses tingling.

Highlights include:

  • Bryce Canyon National Park - nowhere on earth will you find anything that compares to these fantastic shapes and colours of layered limestone eroded by water, wind and time
  • Wilderness walking in Bluff with Vaughn Hadenfeldt
  • Natural Bridges National Monument - three massive sandstone bridges carved by water eons ago
  • Canyonlands National Park - amazing, colourful landscape of sedimentary sandstone eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River and its tributaries
  • Arches National Park - preserves over two thousand natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, in addition to a variety of unique geological curiosities and formations
  • Unnamed Places - this is where the guides take you way off the beaten path to explore little known places. We don't mean to tease or be mysterious but when we walk into these wild lands, you will understand why we are reluctant to call attention to them
  • Also – Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Newspaper Rock State Park, Goosenecks of the San Juan River State Park, Cedar Mesa, Valley of the Gods, Comb Ridge, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Negro Bill Canyon ...time permitting, there's more (it's a giant place)

Our guides for this holiday are special people and well known to Langdale Holidays - Bob Helmes based in Bluff and Monique (Mo) Schousta who runs Southwest Adventures based in Santa Fe.

The southeastern corner of Utah has the highest density of Native American prehistoric ruins and rock art in North America. And while we are in Bluff, Vaughn Hadenfeldt will join us, a noted guide and famous prehistoric rock art expert.

The overall grading of the walks on this holiday is Moderate, but you can choose easier or more strenuous walks if you wish. All walks are day treks returning to the comfort of good-quality hotels each afternoon. We travel in comfortable 15-seater air-conditioned mini-buses driven by the guides.

We'll enjoy stays in two small villages, which are quiet, picturesque and well away from the tourist path - a real treat. Most evening meals will be in local restaurants, with breakfast in the hotel and picnic lunches provided for the walking programme.

Day 1 - Thursday 7th May - Travel to Salt Lake City (D)

On arrival in Salt Lake City we will be met by Bob and Mo, our guides for the trip. Transfer to our hotel for something to eat and drink, then to bed.

Overnight at the Hilton, Salt Lake City.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Day 2 - Friday 8th May - Capitol Reef National Park (BLD)

After breakfast we drive south out of urban America and into the red rock canyons of Southern Utah to Capitol Reef National Park where we spend the next two days. Lunch is in picturesque Torrey. Next comes the Visitor Centre at Capitol Reef for a presentation and an afternoon walk down through Grand Wash Canyon, then a short stroll to see prehistoric native "rock art" on the canyon walls. Dinner is at the Sands Hotel where we stay for the next two nights.

Walking easy.

Overnight Red Sands Hotel, Capitol Reef National Park.

Day 3 - Saturday 9th May - Capitol Reef National Park (BLD)

There are many trails to choose from so we will let the weather and group inclinations decide the walks. Hickman Bridge Trail is up and down with views and Capitol George, a deep, twisting, water-carved, sheer-walled canyon are two of the many options.

Walking moderate.

Overnight Red Sands Hotel, Capitol Reef National Park.

Day 4 - Sunday 10th May - Boulder (BLD)

We'll drive south and up over what the locals call Boulder Top at 10,000 ft with extraordinary views of thousands of square miles of the uninhabited canyon country that is defined by the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Dropping down into a high green valley ringed by white domed cliffs to Boulder, population on the shy side of two hundred. The most isolated community in Utah; the road into Boulder was completed in 1947. A short distance past Boulder, along Hells Backbone, it's a five-mile round trip canyon walk to the spectacular Calf Creek Falls. We stay at the beautiful eco-lodge, Boulder Mountain Lodge for the next two nights. Dinner is at the Hells Backbone Grill.

Walking easy/moderate.

Overnight Boulder Mountain Lodge, Boulder.

Bryce Canyon Hoodoos

Day 5 - Monday 11th May - Boulder (BLD)

Off early to Bryce Canyon National Park where we spend the day. Call at the Visitor Centre then a hike from Sunrise to Sunset Point through a dazzle of light, colour, and the fantastic shapes of rock formations called hoodoos. Then more walks to Bryce Point and/or along the escarpment. Everyone gets to walk as much as they like today. Back to Boulder with dinner along the way.

Walking any way you want it...easy, moderate or hard and far.

Overnight Boulder Mountain Lodge, Boulder.

Day 6 - Tuesday 12th May - Bluff (BLD)

A long wonder-filled and truly amazing day travelling through a blizzard of stone, distance and colour from Boulder to Bluff, on the famous Burr Trail. The first part of the way wasn't paved until the 80's. There are no towns between Boulder and Bluff, a distance of over two hundred miles, all federal public lands, one national park, two national monuments, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Lake Powell; Cedar Mesa, Valley of the Gods and Comb Ridge. Arriving late in the small village of Bluff framed by stonewalls and the San Juan River for an outdoor dinner near the Desert Rose Inn, our lodging for the next three nights.

Walking (we'll see...it's a long day).

Overnight Desert Rose Inn, Bluff.

Kissing Stones, Bluff

Day 7 - Wednesday 13th May - Bluff (BLD)

A day walking with Vaughn Hadenfeldt. Noted (and famous) guide, and prehistoric rock art expert. He will choose the walks but I'll lobby for Cedar Point and Comb Ridge. Lodging and dinner back in Bluff.

Walking very interesting and a bit breathy.

Overnight Desert Rose Inn, Bluff.

Day 8 - Thursday 14th May - Bluff (BLD)

In 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt established Natural Bridges National Monument, creating Utah's first National Park system area. Prehistoric ruins, massive stone arches, deep stone canyons, yet an out of the way place. Natural Bridges, far from the crowds, is a jewel. Beautiful walks, quiet and remote - a wonderful day.

Walking moderate/sweaty.

Overnight Desert Rose Inn, Bluff.

Day 9 - Friday 15th May - Moab (BLD)

North to Canyonlands National Park and then Moab, with a short stop at Newspaper Rock State Park and a huge billboard of more Rock Art. Here at Canyonlands you may have to rearrange your list of all-time favourite hikes as this long extraordinary romp into the sandstone wonderland called the Needles is set to a scale of its own measure. About ten miles of heaven. Lodging the next four nights is at Creekside, in the centre of Moab, yet quiet, under towering trees along Mill Creek.

Walking is, well, you should all be in great shape now so let's just call it fun.

Overnight Creekside, Moab.

Day 10 - Saturday 16th May - Moab (BD)

Moab, another canyon rimmed town with the Rio Colorado flowing through, has become the recreational capital of the western United States. It's endless the number of ways people have invented to get sweaty and generally exhaust themselves and think that Moab is the place to do it. We'll hike Negro Bill Canyon this morning. It's an out and back trail through a tree-lined flowing stream and deep red rock canyon to a beautiful arch and back. The afternoon is a hike or free time so you can catch your breath and perhaps take a look back. We'll meet for dinner.

Walking moderate.

Overnight Creekside, Moab.

Natural Bridges National Monument

Day 11 - Sunday 17th May - Moab (BLD)

National Park all day. Two thousand sandstone arches and counting, the spans range from three to 306 feet. Starting with a video presentation at the visitor centre and then we're off to hike and explore all day with a picnic lunch at the end of the road. Yep, dinner and then back to Creekside.

Walking moderate.

Overnight Creekside, Moab.

Day 12 - Monday 18th May - Moab (BLD)

Island in the Sky is another section of Canyonlands NP and the plan is first to go out to Grand View Point with its one hundred mile views then we'll try and circumnavigate Upheaval Dome, a huge mysterious geological anomaly.

It will be sweaty, up and down, spectacular.

Walking by this time is all easy, right?

Overnight Creekside, Moab.

Day 13 - Tuesday 19th May - Salt Lake City (BD)

Morning free to stroll around Moab one last time or a hike for those that want more, then the four hour drive back to Salt Lake City, lodging and a farewell dinner.

Overnight Hilton, Salt Lake City.

Day 14 - Wednesday 20th May - Travel

You have to leave now, tears and hugs as we say farewell to Bob and Monique. Bob hightails it back home to Bluff and Monique to Santa Fe, respectively.

B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner

Flights are with American Airlines and Virgin/Delta.

Please note that the following flight details are the latest known and are subject to confirmation. All times are local.

Flights from other UK airports can be arranged on request.

Outbound Heathrow - Thursday 7th May 2015
Depart Heathrow, UK
Arrive Dallas, USA
AA51 09:30
13:45
Depart Dallas, USA
Arrive Salt Lake City, USA
AA1667 15:35
17:30
Inbound Heathrow - Wednesday 20th May 2015
Depart Salt Lake City, USA
Arrive Dallas, USA
AA1430 08:59
12:43
Depart Dallas, USA
Heathrow, UK
AA50 15:40
06:55 (21 May)
Outbound Manchester - Thursday 7th May 2015
Depart Manchester, UK
Arrive Atlanta, USA
VS109 10:35
14:45
Depart Atlanta, USA
Arrive Salt Lake City, USA
VS4485 15:10
19:19
Inbound Manchester - Wednesday 20th May 2015
Depart Salt Lake City, USA
Arrive Atlanta, USA
VS109 11:15
17:00
Depart Atlanta, USA
Arrive Manchester, UK
VS110 19:10
08:20 (21 May)

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