The canyons and desert in the GrandStaircase-Escalante National Monument and the forests on Boulder Mountain in the Dixie National Forest offer some truly spectacular hiking. Within the canyons, the desert and on the mountain we have a multitude of quiet spots that we love to visit and share with our guests.
The wind and rain working on the high desert have produced gigantic slickrock bowls, with hidden potholes of water, and gorged out deep canyons creating lush riparian zones of the Escalante River.
Hiking Experiences with Locals
Desert DAWN Guides live locally in Boulder, Utah. Twenty plus years of exploration of the canyon system of the Escalante River and of the high mountain plateau of Boulder Mountain have allowed us to discover the serene places that are away from the crowds.
Much of the richness of an experience comes from the backstories of the area, from the current happenings to pioneer history to evidence of ancestral cultures to the abundance of natural history in the area. We not only know the common stories but also the obscure stories of the areas long span of inhabitants that provide a deeper understanding of the intricacies of past and present cultures. We not only know the names of the plants but also the many uses of them that were critical for survival on this challenging landscape. We not only know of the animals that walk the land but also the identifying signs that show their passage, for most animals are tucked away during the day.
The Desert DAWN list of hikes includes over one hundred hikes. With this large of an array we are capable of helping you find the richest experience possible for your visit to the spectacular landscape surrounding Boulder, Utah.
The Escalante Canyons and Boulder Mountain provide hiking within several landscape categories. Within each category are numerous hikes from which to choose, which will have vistas as well as cultural and natural history to explore.
Let us use our decades of experience on this land to help you find the ideal hiking experience. Many factors go into planning a hike, primarily are the weather, your physical abilities and your interests. Whenever possible we meet with you the evening before to discuss these various factors and together we chose the absolute best hike for our day together.
Rather than list numerous specific hikes, our approach is to present hiking categories to determine your general area of interest. We then narrow the options within each category based on the various factors that need to be considered before each hike.
The following hike categories describe the various types of terrain for our area.
Slot Canyon Hikes
Slot canyons are exciting niches tucked away in the slickrock.
Eons of erosional forces have carved slender passageways out of the massive slick rock formations .
These places provide a spectacular playground to explore and enjoy.
Slot Canyon Hikes – Slot Canyon Heaven/The Big Boy/Candyland/Zebra and Tunnel, the Rest of the Story/Copper Tone/Peek-a-boo and Spooky, the Rest of the Story/The Cheese Grater
The Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument is notorious for it’s massive slickrock bowls and impressive slickrock hoodoos.
The swirling patterns within the slickrock reveal the history of the ancient dunes.
These hikes visit some of the more spectacular slickrock vistas in the Monument.
Slickrock Hikes – Knife’s Edge/Bees Knees/Cow Trail Mystery/The BOSS/Hoodoo Island/The Oldest Trail/The Mixed Bag/Peregrine Loop/Tip of the Iceberg/Ye Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole/Pioneer Dugway/Ponderosa Canyon/Sands of Time/Devil’s Garden
Desert Hikes (not necessarily Slickrock hikes but definitely away from the water) – The Water Stairway/Chinle Colors/ Log Hopper/Rancher’s Picnic Grounds/The Teamster/The Great Divide/The Rolling Stones/The Sand Slide/Rim Walker/Sand Dune Alley
Riparian Canyon Hikes
The riparian canyons are the life of the desert where the water flows. They create the ecosystems that support a vast majority of the plants and animals of the desert.
Petroglyphs, pecked in stone, leave a lasting story and show the riparian canyons gave life to our predecessors as well.
The riparian canyon hikes provide wonderful opportunities to discover the diversity of desert life.
And, when the temperatures sore, the waterways are a great place to keep cool.
Riparian Canyon Hikes – The Easy Way/The Elks’ Way/Ancient Passageway/Home Run/Water Under the Bridge/Tropical Desert Forest/Lower Calf Creek Falls, the Rest of the Story/The Echo Spot/ The Refresher/Rock Art Journey/The Bench/Top to Bottom/The Oasis/Cleaved Slickrock/The Drink/Father Escalante
The Escalante Canyons were virtually impassible until ancient natives, cowboys or pioneers eked out a few trails or “roads” from the canyon rim to rivers and creeks below.
These few routes into the canyons provide spectacular scenery and a glimpse into the true grit of the people that needed access to the plentiful water below.
The transition between the two eco systems displays the stark contrast of life in the desert – on the rim life must be tenacious in the canyon life flourishes.
Rim-to River Hikes – The Cut Off/Cowboy Steps to Water/The Butter Churn/The Signpost/Hands of Time/Above the Rest/You Call This a Road?
Mixed Bag Hikes (plenty of Rim-to River with a whole bunch more!!) – The Crossroads/Dog Gone It/Old Sandy/Everything and the Kitchen Sink/The Ramp/Top of the World
Boulder Mountain Hikes
These mountain hikes provide a wonderful opportunity to beat the heat in the middle of summer. Boulder Mountain is a spectacular flat topped mountain that is a rainwater harvester for the Boulder region. The water percolates through the mountain and resurfaces as springs scattered throughout the mountain and desert. The hikes provide spectacular vistas and scenery just about any time of the year – winter and early spring snowshoeing, summer strolls through the wonderfully scented forests and meadows, and the glorious fall colors.
Boulder Mountain Hikes – Boulder Mountain has infinite possibilities for hikes. The Ponderosas and the Sub alpine ecosystems on Boulder Mountain provide amazing diversity to discover with secluded little ponds and gentle flowing streams. In the fall, the the aspens create a calming golden hue on the mountain.
Hikes From Your Doorstep
When you stay at one of the picturesque rooms of the Kiva Koffeehouse and Kiva Kottage or another rare Vacation Rental By Owner location within the cottonwoods on the Escalante River, several Desert DAWN hikes are available to start right from your doorstep. Call us and we will meet you at your door.
The Rest of the Story
The Escalante Canyons have definitely been discovered. Many places that have become popular, via social media, in the last few years are now heavily used. We still enjoy these popular locations, by knowing the off-peak times and the nearby features that are rarely visited. Whether you are interested in the popular locations or the tucked away gems, Desert DAWN guides can help you find the most enjoyment from any location within the Escalante Canyons.
The Rest of the Story Hikes – Lower Calf Creek Falls/Upper Calf Creek Falls/ Escalante Natural Arch/Peek-a-boo and Spooky/Zebra and Tunnel/Devils Garden
Which hike to choose?
We feel that part of our role as your guide is to match you and your group to the hike based on our knowledge of the hundreds of hikes that are available. Let us know your ability level, the Hike Category that interest you – Slot Canyons, Slickrock, Rim to River, Riparian Canyon or Boulder Mountain – or any of the Popular Hikes of the area that interest you and we will arrange an appropriate hike based on the weather patterns we can expect when you visit (some locations are simply not safe for hiking under certain weather conditions). Whenever possible, we prefer to meet you the night before and discuss hike options and refine the plan for the hike. Frequently there are a few hikes that will meet your criteria and we will discuss the benefits and challenges of each before choosing a hike.
Dates and Rates
Dates. Day hikes are available throughout the year. Most visitors come to our area in the spring, summer and the fall, though winter hiking can be pretty amazing. Learn more about the Four Seasons of Hiking Near Boulder, Utah.
Rates. The day tour rates are based on the length of the tour and the difficulty of the tour (more challenging routes are hiked with two or more guides), with shorter tours starting at $280 per day, the longer tours starting at $440 per day and the more challenging routes start at $650 per day. The base rate for tours covers up to four participants. The tour rate includes local taxes (8.10%). Desert DAWN guides are career guides and we strive to pay a professional rate, thus guide gratuity is optional.
Large Groups. We can accommodate hikes with large groups. The group size limit for most areas with in the region of the Escalante River is 12, however some areas within the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument and the Dixie National Forest (Boulder Mountain) allow significantly larger groups. Group rates are available for groups larger than four hikers. Please contact us regarding these hiking opportunities.
Reserve Your Hike Dates
Reserving a hike date is easy. Please provide a name, email, phone number and the dates you wish to hike. We will respond, typically within 48 hours, to confirm the date and discuss the category of hike that you would enjoy. April through October are the busiest months, so advance planning will help us accommodate your request for hiking dates.
Make Your Day Hike Reservation