Our most active hiking trips
And why even expert hikers use a guide
We share incredible, backcountry landscapes with folks who might not ever experience them on their own. It’s what we love most and do best. This typically involves driving a high clearance 4X4 through deep sand and rugged terrain, but some of our tours are more hiking focused and may not even require four-wheel drive. You could drive straight to the trailhead in a passenger car and start walking. And yet, even expert hikers still hire us. Here’s why:
- Route finding through unmarked backcountry terrain is a skill not everyone has the opportunity to develop. We’ll do the hard work and even teach you tricks for navigating on your own adventures.
- Satellite communication and medical training in case something goes wrong
- Naturalist guides who can help you understand and appreciate what you’re seeing
- Travel advice. Ask your guide about hikes you can do on your own, parks to visit, restaurants to eat in, etc.
- Efficiency. Vacations are short, expensive and hard earned. We’ll help you make the absolute most of the limited time that you have in this area.
- Photo tips. We’ve found some really amazing angles.
- Safety and good company for single travelers who don’t want to hike alone
- Maximum enjoyment. Whether you just want a break from driving or didn’t want to spend your hike route finding, let the guide do the hard part while you just soak it in. Enjoy the view!
These are our favorite hiking-intensive tours where our skills shine:
The Amazing Sandstone Teepees
This is my No. 1 favorite trip to guide. It involves a 10-12 mile trek over sand dunes and across uneven sandstone slabs. (I can understand why that’s not fun for everybody.) I once guided a couple who had hiked all the best brand name places: Machu Picchu, Half Dome, Angel’s Landing. They said our Amazing Sandstone Teepees tour was the best hike of their lives and I could see they genuinely meant it.
The trek starts at the Wire Pass trailhead, which is only 8 miles down the unpaved House Rock Valley Road. Driving conditions are sometimes atrocious even for experienced off-roaders but the road is usually drivable for families in minivans. We start by traversing the incredibly tall and narrow Wire Pass slot canyon where you get your money’s worth in the two miles. Then we scramble out of the canyon and begin our cross country trek through a fantasyland of gorgeous sandstone formations. It requires confidence to take off across the open desert where there are no trails or markers, especially when you have to be careful to skirt the boundary of North Coyote Buttes, the famous, permit-only wilderness area that contains the Wave. We walk right past ancient rock writings, through the awe-inspiring Teepee Valley and skilled scramblers might get the chance to stand under Naria Arch, a rare and stunning photo opp that even many locals can’t find. All this and we’re only halfway to the Teepees. The goal of our trip is two groups of massive petrified sand dunes that rise from the landscape. Stunning colors and elegant shapes delight the most seasoned photographers. We are less than one mile, as the crow flies, from the iconic Wave and these teepees bear an obvious resemblance, except there are no crowds. In fact, I have never encountered another person while hiking here.
Route finding to this rare locale will feel daunting to all but the most practiced, off trail hikers. And an experienced guide who knows the way can make the trip as short and efficient as possible. We have put a lot of wear and tear on our boots finding hidden features and really cool photo opps we can’t wait to show you. We also know where the desert bighorn sheep hang out and can tell you all about the local wildlife and plantlife. The magnificent teepees are even more impressive when you know the story behind how they formed, the long, mind blowing geologic process of an ancient Jurassic desert turned into stunning stone.
When you exert this hard and get this far from the car, it’s also good to have satellite communication in case of emergency, and some amount of medical training. Your guide brings both. Last summer, I led this trek on a sunny day when temperatures hit 98 degrees F. My training as a Wilderness First Responder gave me confidence to keep an eye on everyone to be sure they weren’t developing heat illness. All reasons to hire a guide for this hike of a lifetime.
Our Grand Staircase Hiker’s Dream tour visits a stunning sandstone dome that rises from the Grand Staircase. It’s stained in colorful swirls and stripes as if it was a giant marble. One guest who has done every day tour Dreamland offers declared the view at the top of Yellow Rock to be the best vantage point of any of our trips, even trumping the Toroweap overlook of the Grand Canyon and mighty Colorado River. Yes, that’s subjective, but his opinion confirms this trip is worth checking out.
The hike begins with a drive up the Cottonwood Road where your naturalist guide will tell you fascinating geologic stories about a landscape that is millions of years in the making, and is otherworldly in appearance.
This is another drive that can be done in a regular car in dry conditions, and let’s face it, even though the trailhead is unmarked, anyone who knows how to read a map or use AllTrails can probably find it.
Route finding on foot is also essential for this trip, especially when it comes to finding your way back. A steep cliff stands between your parking spot and the base of Yellow Rock and there is only one way down. The trek up and down Yellow Rock is only 3 miles roundtrip, but the short distance doesn’t make it easy. We will gain 1,000 feet in elevation and traverse a very steep trail with loose footing. Your guide will offer advice on technique and will supply you with top-notch LEKI trekking poles which are essential for the descent.
As time allows, we can help you explore more of the ridge surrounding Yellow Rock or plan a second hike in the afternoon. We often visit a forest of funky hoodoos on the way home to Kanab, though your knowledgeable guide will have lots of ideas depending on your interests and energy level.
Guide’s Choice Tour
Maybe you work a lot and you just don’t have time to plan out your trips. Perhaps you’ve done most of our other tours and yet, you sense, there are still plenty of epic places we could show you. (You’re right!) Or maybe you just like surprises, or good company. Sign up for a Guide’s Choice trip and saddle up for an adventure tailored just for you. We call it Guide’s Choice, but really it’s Guests Choice, we’ll take you where you want to go, even secret spots you might not find on our website. As a guide, this is where I feel I offer the most value. I have a lot of time invested into exploring the Southwest and have learned to understand what people want. I can match that with weather, road conditions, and lighting for photos. People remember these experiences for years to come and for me it’s incredibly rewarding.
Dreamland Safari Tours has added several incredible backpacking trips to our schedule. Let us handle the planning, permits, and shuttle driving to and from remote trailheads.
My first trek across the Grand Canyon nearly 20 years ago was practically life changing. (Yes, I used a guide.) And we can’t wait to let our skills shine and make a trip like this happen for you.
For new backpackers, we offer training schedules, gear lists, gear loans and rentals and lots of encouragement.
Some of our trips are better suited to experienced backpackers as they require a high degree of fitness over really difficult terrain in remote locations. This is where going alone is simply not a good idea. (Check out or Deer Creek/Thunder RIver Grand Canyon trip)
Others require intricate knowledge of weather or flash flood risk. We privately consult a meteorologist before our Buckskin backpack, for instance, and know as much as can be known about floods in that canyon. It’s all part of creating safe and epic desert experiences. We hope it’s as fun for you as it is for us.