Rim to River Hikes

The benches above the canyons allow for more direct travel over mellow terrain, but very little water.

The benches above the canyons allow for more direct travel over mellow terrain, but very little water.

Travelers in the area have always found that overland routes across the slickrock and through the pinyon and juniper forest provided much easier travel.  The canyons however provided a critical resource – water.  Over the ages, travelers scrambled down the more feasible slopes of the canyons and eventually pecked or blasted more easily traveled routes from the rim to the river.

Dropping down into the Escalante River on one of the routes blazed by tenacious cowboys of the old west era.

Dropping down into the Escalante River on one of the routes blazed by tenacious cowboys of the old west era.

The ancestral people pecked with stone small foot holds that were used to scale walls that in some cases seem to be nearly vertical.  It must have taken amazing dexterity to go up or down these foot holds, however, the thought of carrying something along these tenuous routes is mind boggling.  The more recent inhabitants – the cowboys, having the benefit of high powered explosives and the need to move livestock down into the canyons, created more substantial routes, some of which could handle horses and a wagon or even a car.

The modern road that finally made Boulder accessible by car.

A modern road eventually made Boulder more accessible by car.

In the 1930’s the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) came to the area and built actual roads through the desert and canyons to connect the towns of Boulder and Escalante.  The CCC also worked building trails on Boulder Mountain for the forest service.  These roads changed the way transportation occurred in the area and the old trails became less and less used.  Today many of the old routes still exist, though rather tentatively in spots.

These water holes just below the rim, but still possibly an hour away from the river, may have slaked the thirst of parched cowboys bringing cattle down to the river.

These water holes just below the rim, but still possibly an hour away from the river, may have slaked the thirst of parched cowboys bringing cattle down to the river.

Hiking the Rim to River routes gives us a glimpse into the lives of the both the native and the more recent cowboy ancestors of this beautiful landscape.  The Rim to River hikes also provide an appreciation for both landscapes – the desert above and the riparian below.

Taking time to enjoy a sunrise along an old and well defined cowboy stock trail into the Escalante River.

Taking time to enjoy a sunrise along an old and well defined cowboy stock trail into the Escalante River.

The Rim to River Hikes are moderately strenuous.  The hikes that follow livestock routes rarely involve scrambling.  Some Rim to River Hikes follow less defined routes that may require a small amount of scrambling.  several of the Rim to River routes are point to point, meaning we start at the rim and descend to the river with the endpoint being at the river. A vehicle shuttle must be arranged for these routes.  Other Rim to River routes allow for a round trip, in which case we typically start low, hike to the rim and then descend back to the river and starting point.  Most Rim to River Hikes have simple water crossings while in the riparian areas.

These hikes are are well suited for late spring and fall hikes.  We start early during the middle of the summer so that we are hiking in the riparian areas during the heat of the day.   We will design a hike that meets your interests and your desired level of hiking.  Whichever old routes we follow from the rim to the river, the views will be amazing and the hike memorable.

Let’s Hike, Explore, and Discover!

Information on dates, rates and reservations is available on our Hike Reservations page.

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