The Cockscomb & Yellow Rock Utah BackPacking

  1. The Box of the Paria River, Utah
  2. The Cockscomb and Yellow Rock, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
  3. Paria Ghost Town, Utah
  4. The Cockscomb, Utah
  5. Yellow Rock, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  6. Yellow Rock Valley, Utah
  7. Hackberry Canyon, Utah
  8. Hiking in Hackberry Canyon, Utah
An Epic Utah Experience
Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Trip Code: UTCY

Duration: 4 Days

Distance: 26 mi/41 km

Fitness: 3
Comfort: 1
Solitude: 4

Origin: Flagstaff, Arizona

Cost: $1150/person

Trip Description:

Southern Utah contains some of the finest wilderness, hiking, backpacking, and geology in the American Southwest.  The Cockscomb and Yellow Rock are two of of its most excellent features, and our Cockscomb and Yellow Rock Backpacking tour tackles them both in an epic loop that is sure to excite, astound, and last forever in your memory.  Located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Yellow Rock forms a towering sandstone dome that glints gold in the sunlight, while The Cockscomb's jagged edges and dramatic erosional features are reminiscent of the Waterpocket Fold, Capitol Reef National Park's famous monocline.  These two features together form a unique and outstanding landscape in the Paria River Valley that simply adds up to one of the finest backpacking adventures in all of Utah. 

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Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

The Cockscomb and Yellow Rock Backpacking tour begins with an incredibly scenic drive from Flagstaff through the Painted Desert, skirting the Vermillion Cliffs before entering Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  We will follow Cottonwood Creek Road for a few miles, then make final preperations and begin our hike.  We will climb onto the jagged and dramatic cliffs of The Cockscomb, gazing out across this vast, stark, and utterly spectacular landscape.  Following The Cockscomb, we will head north, weaving in and out, enjoying the dramatic scenery.  We will camp in the vicinity of Castle Mountain, the highest peak in the area at over 5,000 feet.  Your geologist/guide will set up camp and prepare a delicious dinner while you kick back and stargaze.
Drive Time: 3.5 hours
Distance & Elevation: 8 miles, 500 foot ascent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

Today’s adventure begins with a thrilling climb of Castle Mountain for epic views of the surrounding area.  On a clear day, we can see north to the Table Cliffs, and south all the way to Marble Canyon.  After descending Castle Mountain, we will head west into the depths of Hackberry Canyon to explore this excellent gorge, along with some side canyons.  We will make camp in the vicinity of Little Death Valley, one of the two Death Valley's that we scoped from Castle Mountain.
Distance & Elevation:  7 miles, 600 foot ascent

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

Our third day offers a uniquely "Old West" hiking adventure.  We start out towards spectacular Yellow Rock and its surrounding valley.  After some exploration and photos we continue moving west to the Rock Garden and skirt the soaring cliffs bounding the lazy Paria River below.  After hiking and exploring we will come across the Paria (or Pahreah) ghost town, made famous as the backdrop of many Hollywood Westerns, inlcuding The Outlaw Josey Wales starring Clint Eastwood.  This colorful and charming ghost town offers limitless exploration opportunities, as well as some great camp sites below the rainbow-colored cliffs.
Distance & Elevation: 5 miles, 500 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

Our final day on the trail is relatively short and straightforward, but no less spectacular.  We will head through "The Box", forming as the cliffs surrounding the Paria River narrow and tower above us.  After exiting The Box, we will turn southwest to gain one more summit and outstanding view of the area, then head back to our car, stopping to celebrate like a geologist; with a cold beverage at a local watering hole before heading back to Flagstaff.
Distance & Elevation: 5 miles, 600 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch

*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.

What’s Included:
A professional, degreed, licensed and medically trained geologist/guide
All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your geologist/guide will prepare all trail meals)
All food, including a mix of fresh and pre-made backcountry meals
Roundtrip Transportation from your hotel in Flagstaff to Grand Staircase National Monument and all activities/attractions
Entrance fees, camping fees, and backcountry permits

Meals: what to expect
We provide all your meals from a light breakfast on day 1 through lunch the last day. Your geologist/guide will prepare a variety of meals on the trail that will fit the day's activity. Feel free to tell us about your food preferences, as we're more than happy to tailor the menu to your needs/desires. Some specialty diets may require an additional fee.

All meals will consist of one entree, prepared by your geologist/guide.  Fresh options will be limited, as backpacking typically requires lightweight, non-perishable foods.  There will be trail snacks that consist of nuts, fruits, chocolate, and other "gorp" style mixes.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee

What’s Not Included:
Transportation to/from Flagstaff, Arizona
Lodging the night before/after the trip
Clothing, raingear, and footwear
Personal toiletries, sunscreen
Water bottles/hydration bladder
Headlamp or flashlight
Guide gratuity (suggested 10-15% of trip cost)
*Upon booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet

How many people are in the group?
Most backpacking trips in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will accommodate 5 people plus one geologist/guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 8 people plus 2 guides.

Are there age restrictions?
Children under 12 are generally not permitted on any of Blue Marble's scheduled trips.  This can be negotiable on private tours, please contact us to discuss this policy

How do I sign up?
In order to confirm a reservation , we require an initial deposit of $500 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.  Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-602-904-2536
Travel Logistics

Where does the trip begin/end?
This trip will begin/end in Flagstaff, Arizona and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Flagstaff. You will want to fly into either Phoenix (2 hour drive) or Flagstaff. Please visit our  Travel Resources  page for information on airports, shuttles/rental cars and recommended hotels.

Where do you meet our guides?
We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 4:30pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the host hotel in Flagstaff. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation.  Most trips will depart between 5am and 6am.

*This meeting is not mandatory, but highly recommended, as we will depart early the next morning. If you are unable to attend, please let us know in advance so that we can make alternate arrangements.

What do we do with our car and extra stuff?
We will provide all transportation to/from trailheads for the duration of the trip. We will pick you up at the host hotel in Flagstaff and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the host hotel can leave their cars at the hotel. These hotels will often store your luggage for you, as well. If not, we are happy to store extra luggage at a secure location for the duration of the trip. If you are staying at a different hotel, you will need to check with them as to whether you can leave your car there

What time will we get back on the last day?
Expect to be back in Flagstaff by 6pm at the latest on the last day of the trip. Some trips will return earlier but we cannot make any guarantees. In general, it is recommended that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.

Trip Dates

2017 Dates
March: 9-12
April: 19-22
October: 3-7
November: 5-8

2018 Dates
March: 9-12
April: 19-22
October: 3-7
November: 5-8

More dates to come soon…
Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!
Call 1-602-904-2536 or email us  for details.