Canyons of Utah: Grand Staircase-Escalante

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, hidden amongst the remote southern Utah wilderness, is one of the state’s most marvelous exhibitions of wild canyon lands. It is a diamond-in-the-rough type of place, perfect for photographers and explorers alike who are looking for sights equal in amazement to the more acclaimed National Parks, but without crowds of people. In fact, this region is so “out there” that it was one of the last areas in the lower 48 states to be mapped.

The National Monument, dedicated in 1996, protects 1.7 million acres of rocky moon-like landscape. The greater Grand Staircase region was given the name “Grand Staircase” by geologist Clarence Dutton, stemming from his observation that the sedimentary layers of the rock here have eroded, in a series of five “steps,” between Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, topping out at the Aquarius Plateau. This erosion has revealed an array of shaped rock and colorful mudstone, shale, sandstones and limestone layers that are truly hard to believe exist. The Escalante River and its tributaries are responsible for carving through these layers of sedimentary rock a 2,000 square-mile network of deep and often narrow canyons here.

Join Backcountry Journeys as we’ll hike to the must-see highlights of this high desert and carved canyon landscape. Here we’ll find, and photograph, haunting rock formations, deep and narrow slot canyons, waterfalls, arches, cottonwood-lined streams; enormous alcoves and towering natural bridges.

At the end of each day we’ll relax in luxury, reviewing our day’s images at our charming and modern southwestern lodge.

Our guides have been hiking and photographing in southern Utah for years, and we have designed this itinerary to be perhaps our most hiker-intensive as we set out to explore the beauty that hides here. We’ll get to the right places, at the right moments, for ideal lighting conditions and photographic opportunities.

Please note: This is a “hiker” photo trip and is best suited for photographers who like to get out and hike! We also offer several Utah “standard” trips that require little to no hiking. Not sure which one suits you? Give us a call at 928-478-1521 or fill out the contact form below!


  • Arguably Utah’s wildest & most scenic locale
  • Beautiful desert hiking – your choice spring or fall!
  • Narrow, colorful slot canyons
  • Stunning Navajo slickrock sandstone formations
  • Unique desert waterfalls
  • Incredible astrophotography
  • Excellent lodging & fantastic meals included
  • Small Groups
  • Lead by a professional wildlife photographer

Grand Staircase-Escalante

6 Days

Trip Price: from $3495 double occupancy

+$550 single supplement

Deposit: $1000

Fitness Level: Moderate – “Several hikes on canyon trails between 4-7 miles

Meals: Most meals included (see itinerary)

Lodging: 6 nights lodging

Fly In/Out: Saint George, Utah

Hours: Mon-Fri 8am to 4pm Mountain Time


*trip difficulty ratings

Trip Details

Physical Requirements
All participants must be in good physical condition and have the ability to hike with a daypack.

Group Size
We keep groups small to maximize your one on one time with the guide / instructor.

The first night is in Saint George & then we spend four nights at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Most meals are included during the trip dates and are eaten at our lodges.

Expect warm pleasant days and chilly nights. The weather is generally very dry and stable in Southern Utah however it can change on a moments notice. Remember some of the best photographs are made before, during and immediately after a storm cycle. There is no such thing as bad weather just poor layering and gear choices – please plan accordingly! For more info on what to bring please email or call us.

Price Includes
Most meals, ground transportation, accommodation during the trip dates, professional photography instruction, medically certified wilderness guide.

Price Does Not Include
Airfare, alcoholic beverages, accommodations before or after the trip dates, guide & staff gratuities

Travel Details
Departure city is Saint George, Utah

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