Naturalist Journeys, LLC - Small Group Birding and Natural History Tours

Utah Hiking Tour
Active Nature Adventure Tours with Naturalist Journeys
October 5-11, 2013


Lizard - Utah hikingJoin our Utah hiking adventure tour this year to two of Utah’s most spectacular parks, Arches and Canyonlands; both vibrant gems on the Colorado Plateau. Utah hiking adventure tour participants find time in red-rock country with its intense hues of red and orange is deeply satisfying.  

In Arches, our Utah hiking adventure tour participants find a fantasyland of sandstone formations; fins, amphitheaters, arches and balanced rocks in abundance. Many can be seen from the car or on short nature walks, while active groups will be thrilled to get deeper in; to walk over the fins and through the arches – there’s nothing quite like it! The dramatic Windows section of the park holds the largest and most famous arches, with scattered, wind-sculpted pinyon pine and juniper trees. Sunset over red rock arches is sublime.

Longhorn SheepIn Canyonlands National Park, our Utah hiking adventure tour participants learn geology and ecology of  the park’s several sections. The Island in the Sky section is known for its sweeping vistas and wild volcanic formations. Seemingly atop the world, one can walk around an entire crater and take in breathtaking views, 2,000 feet above the Colorado River. Processes of geologic erosion have sculpted rock and dunes and the colorful Needles section of Canyonlands National Park shows this off in detail. Walk between rock spires, fins, and massive canyon walls, and see fairy shrimp and other life in water-filled potholes. The road into Canyonlands gives us outstanding views of the Abajo, or “Blue” Mountains, and a chance to stop at Utah peaksNewspaper Rock, a fantastic rock art site where the Fremont and Anasazi carved figures of animals, birds and abstract or geometric designs into stone, over the last 2,000 years. The La Sal Mountains have lush forests of aspen and pine, with grand views back to the canyon country. Throughout the journey, local experts from the Canyonlands Field Institute, a non-profit group based in Moab, join our Utah hiking adventure tour to interpret the parks and help us enjoy a grand array of hikes.


Sat. Oct. 5 Arrival in Salt Lake City, or Moab, Utah
Our Utah hiking adventure tour begins and ends in Moab, Utah, but we offer a group shuttle to and River flowing through canyon country, Utahfrom the Salt Lake City airport for those that wish to join us there. Flights direct to Moab’s Canyonlands Field Airport (CNY) are offered by Great Lakes Airlines. Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) in Salt Lake City, Utah is serviced by most major airlines. Those arriving in Moab can do so at their leisure, and can plan to meet us at our hotel. Those arriving Salt Lake City should plan to arrive no later than 1:00PM, as we have a four-hour and twenty minute drive over to Moab, traveling through Price. We offer transport from a major airline hub to help you save on flight cost and ease your travel.

Plan to meet in the hotel lobby at 7PM, for dinner tonight – we’ll walk over to one of our favorite local restaurants. Enjoy getting to know your guides and fellow traveling companions as we welcome you to canyon country. We provide an overview of the week ahead, and details on what to bring for tomorrow’s hike.
Accommodations in Moab (D)

Sun., Oct. 6 Arches National Park
Select Trails, Scenic Viewpoints, and a Geologic Introduction to Canyon CountryArchesArches is one of the West’s most impressive national parks, readily located just outside of Moab.  It was made famous by Edward Abbey’s book, Desert Solitaire.  Today, in contrast to Abbey’s time, a modern road takes us into this fantasyland of sandstone fins, balanced rocks, amphitheaters and arches. All are found in abundance, and many are easily accessible on nature trails. 

We take a series of short hikes today to see the highlights of the park as an overview, as we return to Arches another day for a lengthier hike. In the desert shrub vegetation that surrounds the lower reaches of the park we find several species of lizards, Coyotes, Say’s Phoebes, Ash-throated Flycatchers, and Black-throated Sparrows. The dramatic Windows section of the park holds the largest and most famous arches, and amidst Pinyon Pine and Utah Juniper trees we should find Western Scrub Jays, Juniper Titmice, Bushtits, and Bewick’s Wrens. Mostly we find fascinating geology and a fine scenic inspiration as we wander. We return to Moab where you can enjoy some free time to wander downtown, and enjoy dinner at your leisure.
Accommodations in Moab (B,L)

Canyons - UtahMon., Oct. 7 Canyonlands National Park:  Island in the Sky
Canyonlands National Park has several distinct sections, and today we drive up in elevation to Island in the Sky, where fabulous views abound. There is also geologic fascination as the plateau sits high above a thousand feet of sediments and a maze of river carved canyons below. We stop at a number of scenic overlooks en route, including Grand View Point.  It is possible to hike around Upheaval Dome, a great accomplishment for the day!  This feature holds intrigue, as its origin is the subject of debate. This two-mile wide crater is surrounded by raised colorful layers of Kayenta and Wingate sandstone which stand buckled and twisted. The role of a meteor is often suggested, looking into its gray interior. 

Canyonlands National ParkReturn to Moab in the late afternoon, and enjoy dinner with the group at one of our favorite local restaurants, an easy walk from our hotel.
Accommodations in Moab (B,L,D)

Tues., Oct. 8 Canyonlands National Park: Needles District / Newspaper Rock
Today, we visit the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park for a great hike between rock spires and massive canyon walls.  Standing sandstone towers, pinnacles and high desert vegetation characterize this remote land of rugged beauty.  En route to our trailhead, we stop along a mountain stream in the Abajo, or “Blue” Mountains outside of Monticello, to visit Newspaper Rock, a fantastic Abstract and geometric designsrock art site where several cultures including the Fremont and Anasazi have added their signature figures of animals, birds and abstract or geometric designs over the last 2,000 years. Once at Canyonlands, We choose a full day hike here with a picnic lunch; the geologic story reveals itself along the way. This is a grand day of red-rock immersion, one you will long remember!

Return to Moab in the late afternoon, and choose a restaurant tonight for dinner at your leisure.
Accommodations in Moab (B,L)

Utah peaksWed., Oct. 9 Arches:  Devil’s Garden, Landscape Arch and more…
Today, we return to nearby Arches National Park, a place of wonder and ample hiking opportunity. Now that you’ve seen the major scenic highlights, discover a realm behind the scenes, as we venture away from roads and viewpoints. Climb up a sandstone fin, marvel at vistas, and explore an arid land of sculptured pinyon and juniper trees. The Devil’s Garden loop is one of guide Carol Simon’s all-time favorite trails!

Return to Moab in the late-afternoon to enjoy dinner with your hiking companions.
Accommodations in Moab (B,L,D)

AspensThurs., Oct. 10 La Sal Mountains
It is the peak of fall color in the neighboring mountains and today we hike amid aspen splendor.  We’ve gazed at the La Sal Mountains all week, and today we go off to explore!  This small range, a cluster of peaks about 18 miles in length, was an iconic landmark on the historic Spanish Trail. Today it is a part of Manti-La Sal National Forest, with several peaks reaching over 12,000 feet.   

We return to Moab, and enjoy a final dinner together at a local restaurant.
Accommodations in Moab (B,L,D)

Fri., Oct. 11 Return to Salt Lake City
Alas, our journey comes to an end. We have much to remember as we travel back to Salt Lake City.  As it’s a four-hour drive, we ask that you do not book flights ahead of 1:00PM.  We plan to leave Moab at 7:00AM, to arrive at the airport between 11:30 and Noon, which allows us time for a break as needed. (B)

Utah cave   fall foliage Utah

Utah canyons and peaks

Utah hiking

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The cost of the journey is $2490.00, per person based on double occupancy. This cost includes accommodations for 8 nights, meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, and D=dinner), airport transfers, professional guide services, local park and other area entrance fees, and miscellaneous program costs. The cost does not include transportation to or from your home city to Salt Lake City or Moab, or items of a personal nature such as porterage, laundry, telephone calls, or beverages from the bar. Single supplement (as available) is $675.00.  

Please plan to arrive in Salt Lake City, no later than 2PM on Saturday October 5th.   We plan to arrive back at the airport by 11:30 AM on Friday, Oct. 11th, so we recommend that you make flights out after 1PM 

Naturalist Journeys, LLC is an equal opportunity service provider and committed to the goal of ensuring equal opportunity for all in employment and program delivery.

Photo Credits:
Two small scenics of Arches, NPS; Bighorn Sheep, Peg Abbott; all other photos by Carol Simon.


Naturalist Journeys LLC, a top birding and nature tour company, offers specialty small group travel to many of the best nature destinations worldwide. Naturalist Journeys’ expert guides have decades of experience leading guided nature and birding tours as well as travel photography tours, all with a focus on responsible travel and eco-tourism. Naturalist Journeys also offer Utah hiking adventure tours and adventure travel in national parks and wildlife reserves ranging from in-depth Alaska wildlife tours to guided Texas and Florida birding tours. Costa Rica nature and birding tours are among our top-rated as are our Panama nature tours and African wildlife safari tours. Our many repeat clients enjoy dependable and diverse holidays on Galapagos nature tours, Arctic and Antarctica nature cruises, and birding and wildlife tours from Arizona to the Amazon and beyond.