Arches and Canyonlands Multisport Adventure

About the Experience

The iconic parks of the American Southwest speak directly to women drawn to the dramatic desert landscape. The red sandstone spires, hoodoos and impossibly balanced boulders and formations of Arches and Canyonlands National Park create an enormous and often unbelievable open-air gallery.

We’ll explore the parks in the most intimate ways–rappelling into carved canyons, rafting the mighty Colorado and hiking a network of trails that lead to some of the most famed arches and pinnacles.

This Wild Women road trip is designed for adrenaline-junkies, geology nerds and those who ask for “more desert” instead of dessert (but you can certainly have your cake and eat it too on this trip). 

We’ll experience the natural oddities of Island in the Sky and the Needles district, known for its peculiar potholes, petroglyphs and slickrock. In no time you’ll know your mesas from your buttes and your butt from your legs after a day of canyoneering!

This itinerary is jam-packed with activity and challenge with well-deserved pampering at day’s end! We’ll do this Wild Women Southwest road trip in total style and stay in yurts for a ‘soft cowgirl’ kind of experience.

Ready to rappel into this one? This trip is a brand new addition to our signature trips line-up–are you ready to rock and roll with us?

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Arches and Canyonlands Multisport Adventure

About the Experience

The iconic parks of the American Southwest speak directly to women drawn to the dramatic desert landscape. The red sandstone spires, hoodoos and impossibly balanced boulders and formations of Arches and Canyonlands National Park create an enormous and often unbelievable open-air gallery.

We’ll explore the parks in the most intimate ways–rappelling into carved canyons, rafting the mighty Colorado and hiking a network of trails that lead to some of the most famed arches and pinnacles.

This Wild Women road trip is designed for adrenaline-junkies, geology nerds and those who ask for “more desert” instead of dessert (but you can certainly have your cake and eat it too on this trip). 

We’ll experience the natural oddities of Island in the Sky and the Needles district, known for its peculiar potholes, petroglyphs and slickrock. In no time you’ll know your mesas from your buttes and your butt from your legs after a day of canyoneering!

This itinerary is jam-packed with activity and challenge with well-deserved pampering at day’s end! We’ll do this Wild Women Southwest road trip in total style and stay in yurts for a ‘soft cowgirl’ kind of experience.

Ready to rappel into this one? This trip is a brand new addition to our signature trips line-up–are you ready to rock and roll with us?

DAY 1: HELLO MOAB

Plan to arrive in Salt Lake City (SLC) by late morning. Choose a flight that will arrive by 11am MST. From here, we’ll meet our energetic guide and have lunch at a local brewery and swap stories over a pint.

We’ll have a 4-hour drive to Moab in eastern Utah. What’s on your slickrock southwest road trip playlist? 

Moab is the gateway city to the massive red rock arches, mesas and buttes that have been sliced and sluiced by the serpentine Green and Colorado river’s force. Arches and Canyonlands are Moab’s iconic national parks and a dynamic geographic magnet for hikers, spaghetti western fans and geology nerds.

In the evening, we’ll gather for a welcome dinner in one of the small resort town you-gotta-eat-here restaurants. Back at the hotel, our only to-do is chilling out and having a rock solid sleep! 

 

Geology Cheat Sheet

Slickrock: Wind-polished stone.

Mesa: An isolated flat-topped natural elevation with steep slopes.

Butte: Similar to a mesa (isolated and flat-topped) but narrower than a mesa.

DAY 2: EXPLORING ARCHES

Arches National Park boasts more than 2,000 natural stone arches with formations and textures that seem inspired by an insomniac sculptor (from 65 million years ago, of course). Rock fins, monoliths, impossibly balanced boulders and surreal pinnacles poke at the indigo sky.

We’ll rise with the sun and spend the day exploring the eroded sandstone layers and strike off on either a strenuous or leisurely hike (depending on the group’s interest and pace) to marvel at some of the most stunning rock features. In 2008, the famed Wall Arch collapsed serving as a reminder that this precious landscape is impermanent. Today will be a crash course on arch formation, the park’s history and indigenous people.

Be on high alert for kangaroo rats, ravens, bighorn sheep and lizards skittling about. The plant life is abundant here too–we’ll learn all about living soil too–and picnic on top of it midday!

After our immersive time in the desert we’ll drive to our yurts in Dead Horse Point State Park which is located just minutes from Canyonlands. After settling into our cool yurts we’ll enjoy a savoury dinner prepared by our top chef guides and absorb the sunset overlooking the canyons. 

 

Geology Cheat Sheet

Monolith: A huge, single upright block of stone.

Pinnacle: An individual, isolated column of rock shaped like a vertical shaft or spire.

 

DAY 3: ISLAND IN THE SKY

We’ll wake up early this morning and make a beeline for the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. This sheer-walled mesa is the calling card of the northern part of Canyonlands. The carved canyons below are the work of the Colorado and Green river at full force and are 1,000 feet below the rim in some places. Rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze and the mighty snaking rivers themselves.

We’ll explore the park on foot–several short trails run along the mesa top with minimal elevation change. Trails in this district include playful names like Upheaval Dome, Whale Rock, Gooseneck Overlook and Moses and Zeus. 

It’s one big, startling panorama and the scenic drive along the rim is one where the neck rotation of an owl would be helpful! Tonight’s entertainment includes a mesmerizing sunset followed by a star-studded show in the sky above our yurts! 

 

DAY 4: RAFTING THE COLORADO

Arches National Park is irresistible and the to-do and see list is endless. We’ll head back for a second day in the park and spend the morning exploring a few more namesake arches before having lunch at a local restaurant in town. In the early afternoon we’ll be on the move in a different way–we’ll take a big bite out of adventure and raft the Colorado River! This stretch of mesmerizing red-rock canyon offers mild to moderate whitewater (class I & II). We’ll spend 4 hours floating on the mighty Colorado, pulling over en route for a sandy beach stretch and dip. 

The Colorado River expands through seven states and on this section near Moab we’ll skirt the border of Arches National Park and take in a non-stop reel of red cliffs and canyons. This is red rock country!

In the early evening, we’ll have time to poke around the town of Moab. There are several microbreweries, galleries and indie shops on the two block stretch between 100 South and 100 North. Favourites include the modern art shop Moab Made, Back of Beyond Bookstore and Crave Moab for antique-inspired home decor. 

 

DAY 5: CANYONEERING MOAB

We’ll experience Moab from a new perspective today via canyoneering or ‘canyoning’ (as the cool kids say). It’s an intimate way of navigating a gorge or canyon using techniques like abseiling, climbing, scrambling, swimming, wading, sliding and jumping. Anything goes! We’ll double-knot our trail runners (or hiking shoes) and slip into our harnesses for a full day of high octane adventure.

Our expert guide will lead us through remote areas and wild canyons. Today will be spent hiking, rappelling, down-climbing and stemming–a totally authentic Moab adventure! Expect to get wet–there will be a few wading passages or  sections of full-on swimming. You can expect to rappel at least four times on this beginner-friendly activity. Note: You will be required to do some maneuvering through the slot canyons and climbing over rock formations. The longest rappel is 34 m (110 ft).

Tonight will be all about relaxing, sunsetting (it’s a fine art!), perhaps a sunset hike even!

 

Canyoning Cheat Sheet

Stemming: A technique used to travel up or down a slot canyon to navigate over wet sections. You place your left foot and left hand on one canyon wall and your right foot and right hand on the other wall. Kind of like a vertical version of Twister!

Abseiling: Also known as rappelling. It’s a controlled descent off a cliff or rock face using a fixed rope.

Down-climbing: A descent is made using a fixed rope gripped with one or both hands with a hand-over-hand movement (without using your feet).

 

DAY 6: THE NEEDLES

The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park is very remote and features an impressive natural gallery of hoodoos, slickrock, and petroglyphs. We’ll spend the day exploring the network of trails (over 96 km/60 miles of interconnecting trails exist here!) and otherworldly sandstone spires of this quieter district of the park. This area is known for its petroglyphs remarkably pecked into walls, a historic cowboy camp, ancestral Puebloan-era structures and pothole communities that pepper the slickrock. It’s also home to Paul Bunyan’s Potty (a large pothole arch).

Depending on the group’s pace, skill and comfort level we can check out some of the backcountry arches and descend deeper into the slot canyons or visit the historic native sites.

In the afternoon, with our amazement meter topped up, we’ll return to Moab and gather for our farewell dinner and a pampered night at our hotel.

 

Geology Cheat Sheet

Hoodoos: A tall, thin spire of rock.

Slickrock: Smooth, wind-polished rock.

Petroglyphs: Prehistoric rock carvings created with stone chisels or hammerstones. (Not to be confused with pictographs which are rock paintings.)

 

DAY 7: DEPARTURE

After our last breakfast together in town, our guides will transfer us back to Salt Lake City for 2pm (sigh) for our departure flights . When booking your flight, it’s recommended that you choose a departure after 4pm (MST). Don’t forget to take in those last lovely visuals  of the slot canyons and arches from cruising altitude!

 

The Skinny on the Hikes

The hikes on this itinerary are designated as easy to moderate to difficult. More difficult hikes may be offered as optional extras for those who are comfortable with the challenge, but are never mandatory!

The majority of the hikes will be less than 10km (6 miles) with a maximum elevation change of 305m (1,000 feet). Depending on the group’s comfort and activity level, we can tailor the itinerary to include hikes that are up to 16km (10 miles) long with 457m (1,500 feet) elevation change. Note: The average elevation in Moab and the surrounding area is 1,524m (5,000 feet)

The hikes will be on established trails with no technical aspects. There will be plenty of time for breaks and to absorb the views. Keep in mind that most of the trails are exposed with no tree/shade coverage. While your guides coordinate start times to escape the extreme heat and desert temperatures begin to drop in the fall. Sunscreen and proper headwear and clothing is extra important.

The trails traverse over slick rock, through hoodoos, arches, buttes, amongst the dark red and lush green desert landscape. If a longer trail option is chosen, the elevation gain will be spread out gradually avoiding intensely steep sections.

 

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