a conversation with the earth guidebooks + guided hiking

Posts categorized “Go Far”.

Hiking Utah Burr Trail

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As I write this, I’m overlooking Utah’s Burr Trail—a two-lane stretch of blacktop snaking between Boulder, Utah, and Capitol Reef National Park. Shortly after departing Boulder, the road itself is the only manmade thing in sight, except for a few road signs. Step off the pavement in any direction, and you’re entering high-desert wilderness.

The Burr Trail runs through the northeast corner of Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument, which is the slickrock-hiking capitol of Planet Earth. So if you’re a hiker, and you’re reading this as a result of Googling the phrase “hiking burr trail utah,” you’re smart. You’ve zeroed in on much more than the best hiking near the Burr Trail. You’ve pinpointed what I consider the most spectacular and fascinating hiking anywhere.

Most of this five-star hiking, however, is difficult or impossible for visitors to experience on their own, because it’s undocumented, unpublicized, largely unknown. Sure, you’ll find a few of the best Burr Trail Utah hikes in the guidebook my wife and I wrote. It’s titled “Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country.” But the vast majority of the premier hiking here is not described in guidebooks or indicated on maps. That’s because there are very few actual trails in Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument. The best hiking is on cross-country routes too complex for most hikers to decrypt without a local guide.

Intrigued? With our help, “hiking burr trail utah” could rank among the most vividly memorable experiences of your life. We’re Craig and Kathy Copeland, and Adam Harmon. We’re the Utah Slickrock Guides. We invite you to get in touch with us, even on short notice. Tell us your interests, preferences, and goals. Describe your experience and ability. Knowing all that, we can spice your Utah Burr Trail drive with a big, bold, mundane-existence-shredding accomplishment on foot.

Want to hike only a few hours? All day? Every day for a week?

Let’s do it. Our routes vary from four to eight hours. We can dial the physical challenge up or down, as you wish. Compared to hiking a trail, you’ll find cross-country hiking with us is way more flexible and exciting. We prefer hiking on slickrock to other terrain. And the area near Boulder and Escalante Utah is the best slickrock hiking.

Surrounding Utah’s Burr Trail is a remote, serene, sunny wilderness fissured with chasms, crusted with slickrock, studded with domes, reefs, buttes and pinnacles, and infused with the mystery of an ancient culture. Come explore it with us.

“Do big things, or little things will do you.” 

—Utah Slickrock Guides

Join us—in person, or in print:


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Even when the weather’s hot in south-central Utah, with daytime highs above 80°F (27°C), Utah Slickrock Guides can lead you on marvelous hikes in canyon country near Boulder and Escalante. That’s because several of our routes lead to and through the creeks that bless our high-desert wilderness. We call them “water walks,” because you’ll actually be walking in the water. With soaring canyon walls and towering cottonwood trees providing occasional shade, our water walks are cool—even when it’s hot.

If we start hiking by 7:30 am, we should be in the water by 10:00 am—so we can start cooling off before the heat becomes restrictive. On our full-day water walks, we’ll stay in or near the water, and within easy reach of deep shade, until the sun’s intensity abates in late afternoon. Only then will we begin hiking out of the canyon.

Our eight-hour water-walk routes include Secret Knowledge of Water, Boulder Baptism, and Water Master. Our five-hour water-walk routes include Where Dinosaurs Drink, and variants of Secret Knowledge of Water and Escalante Alchemy.

If you’re familiar with the legendary canyons in southern Utah, you’ll know of Death Hollow. With us guiding, you can experience this intimidating and enchanting canyon in a day. You don’t need to carry a heavy backpack. It’s 9 hours of hiking, so you’ll need to be fit. In addition to four hours of walking in the creek, for about two hours we’ll swim and lounge in sensuous, crystal-clear pools. You’ll be with the best guide possible. Adam has explored Death Hollow over 40 times.

Intrigued? You’ll find more details at www.hikingcamping.com, under Guided Hiking. You can also send your questions to us: nomads@ hikingcamping.com. Or, if you’re in our area, and you’re keen to hike soon, you’re welcome to phone us, even on short notice: (435) 335-7544.

Our minimum guiding fee for a full day into these remote canyons is USD$400 for one or two people. For three people, it’s USD$550; $700 for four. To get these prices that are 20% OFF our regular rates, sign up by July 31. That’s a great price for a world-class canyon experience in one of the wildest, most rugged areas in the world.

Have fun previewing our Water Hikes:

(1) Boulder Baptism
(2) Secret Knowledge of Water
(3) Water Master
(4) Where Dinosaurs Drink

Utah Slickrock Guides – Adam, Skye & Craig

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Canadian Rockies Guide Books

Vacation time is like cash. It’s easily misspent. But if you’re coming to hike in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, there’s a sure way to invest your precious time for the greatest possible return. Get the Canadian Rockies guide book “Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, the Opinionated Hiking Guide.” It’s your guarantee that you’ll hike only the most scenically rewarding trails.

Our Canadian Rockies guide book is for hikers who don’t have forever. It rates 145 hikes “Premier,” “Outstanding,” “Worthwhile,” or “Don’t Do.” Essentially, it puts all these trails on trial, then provides you with insightful verdicts for each one. The authors’ opinionated descriptions illuminate the highlights of every trip, allowing you to quickly visualize the experience before you commit to it. As a result, it’s quick and easy for you to choose the right trail for your interests, ability and mood.

Guidebooks are not a commodity. Some are bad. A few are good. This one is great. The authors have devoted themselves to hiking the Canadian Rockies year after year after year. And every few years, they re-invented their already unique book, making it a more complete and efficient resource, rewriting and reformatting it to be more inspiring and beautiful, and filling it with the most current and accurate details. The all-new 7th edition of “Don’t Waste Your Time In The Canadian Rockies” is now ultralight gear. It’s the first hiking guidebook actually designed for adventure, not just the armchair.

For 25 years, hikers have relied on the discerning opinions and insightful facts provided by the Copeland’s Canadian Rockies guide book to make the most of their vacation time. You should, too.

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Canyons, Arches, and Slickrock


When hikers think of Utah canyon country, they think of canyons, arches, and slickrock. All these features are common on the Colorado Plateau, which spreads outward from “the four corners”—where the Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico borders intersect. Many hikers, however, are unaware just how prolific these classic “canyon country” features are.

The Colorado Plateau is a vast plate fractured into thousands of canyons. Countless small to medium sized canyons are remote, rarely seen, and remain unnamed. Others are widely known and frequently visited. And, of course, there’s the mother of them all: The Grand Canyon.

Likewise, there are thousands of natural arches on the Colorado Plateau. Many are famous, like those enshrined in Arches National Park. But there are countless others throughout the plateau. Small to medium in size, many are remote, rarely seen, and remain unnamed.

Slickrock, too, is prevalent in great swaths throughout the Colorado Plateau. In ancient times—perhaps 180 million years ago—today’s slickrock domes, reefs, and buttes were sand dunes. Covered and uncovered numerous times, the sand was gradually compressed into stone. Slickrock = sandstone.

Hiking beneath the sheer, desert-varnished walls of a deep canyon is exciting. Coming upon a natural arch soaring above the skyline is a joy. But hiking across a vast expanse of slickrock is a rush.

When hiking slickrock, you’re free. You’re not confined to following a trail. You can follow your bliss. The rock itself is sculpted by the master known as “Erosion” into an infinite variety of sensuous, multi-colored shapes, so it’s always visually engaging, and sometimes astoundingly beautiful. Many associate the phrase “red-rock country” with southern Utah, but the slickrock color-palette extends far beyond red. Rust, mauve, orange, yellow, vanilla, pink, buff, brown, chocolate, coral, mustard, golden, watermelon… You’ll see all these and more.  Contrary to its name, slickrock is not slippery. It has a gritty surface that affords excellent traction even when wet. On slickrock, hikers suddenly have the gecko-like power to safely walk up and down very steep inclines. It’s a gravity-defying thrill. And slickrock, because it’s rock, is largely free of vegetation. So slickrock hiking is usually scenic and often allows 360° views.

Utah Slickrock Guides are based in the village of Boulder, Utah, on the north edge of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Boulder is “slickrock central.” To put it simply: Boulder, Utah is to slickrock hiking what Moab, Utah is to slickrock mountain-biking. Because that fact is little known, solitude is still readily available when hiking near Boulder. Moab mountain biking, however, is so famous that solitude tends to be hard to find.

If you want to experience slickrock hiking at its wild, lonely, spectacular best, get in touch with Utah Slickrock Guides. A day—or better yet, a week of dayhiking—with us could well rank among your most memorable hiking experiences ever.

Together, we’ll appreciate the wavey undulations, quilted cracks, and corrugated textures of our local slickrock. We’ll find slender balconies (only a couple boots wide) allowing us to stay high, and traverse the shoulders of huge, slickrock formations. Reading the rippling sandstone, we’ll find ramps granting us safe passage down into chasms and ravines, then up gorges and over passes.

Driving Highway 12, between the southern Utah towns of Escalante and Boulder, you’ll see slickrock flowing to the horizons. But there are only a couple, actual trails in this entire region. For a true, slickrock adventure, join us: Utah Slickrock Guides. Explore the extraordinary, unpublicized routes we’ve decrypted in the vast, canyon-country labyrinth near Escalante and Boulder, Utah. The ones we call “Boulder Jazz Festival,” “Witchcraft Caldron,” “Escalante Alchemy,” “Whirling Dervish Reef,” and “Never-Speak-of-It Gulch” are primarily on slickrock. But all our routes traverse a lot of wondrous, swirling sandstone.

For details about our guided-hiking service, visit www.hikingcamping.com, and click on “guided hiking.” We invite you to get in touch with us, even on short notice: <nomads@hikingcamping.com>, or (435) 335-7544.

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Hike with us in canyon country.

Join Us on Water-Master, spring, summer, or fall. Our 8-hour route traverses the slickrock walls of a perennial creek canyon until we can step into the flow. We’ll hike upstream: often in the water, sometimes beside it. We’ll pierce the sensuous narrows and savor  the canyon’s tranquility. This route took several determined attempts to piece together. For details, click on “guided hiking” above.


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Hiking and camping in the wilderness can be dangerous. Experience and preparation reduce risk but will never eliminate it.

Information published in a book or on a website—regardless how authoritative—is not a substitute for common sense or sound judgment. Your safety is your responsibility. The unique details of your specific situation and the decisions you make at that time will determine the outcome.

When hiking, threats to your wellbeing are unpredictable; you must always be aware. In the backcountry, risk is subjective; you must gauge it for yourself. Away from civilization, small mistakes can have severe consequences; you must vigilantly prevent injury and avoid becoming disoriented.

Never hike alone. Before setting out, check the weather forecast and current trail conditions; adjust your plans accordingly. Always carry a map and compass, a first-aid kit, extra clothing, a personal locator beacon, plus enough food and water to survive an emergency.

If you doubt your ability to negotiate rough terrain, respond to wild animals, or handle sudden, extreme weather changes, hike only in a group led by a competent, licensed guide.

The authors and the publisher disclaim liability for any loss or injury incurred by anyone using information published on this website or in the books presented on this website.