Mind-bending rock features


Sweeping high plateau views


Ruins, Petroglyphs


Landscape Photographer's paradise


Cliffs, Mesas, buttes, towers, hoodoos


Wilderness Basecamp





25-30 mi/43-52 km




Flagstaff, Arizona



The Graduate geologist adventurer will be capable of hiking 4 – 10 miles daily. Trails are generally maintained and have 5000 feet or less of change in elevation. Your backpack will weigh 30-45 lbs. Graduate time traveling hikers should be in good health, and exercise regularly. Previous backpacking experience is advised.

Witness the southwest’s premier display of the power of water, wind, and time

The Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness is a playground for the adventure geologist, and the Vermillion Cliffs Loop Backpacking tour celebrates it all.  Home to some of the most spectacular, varied, and photographed places in the southwest, this loop of the Vermillion Cliffs’ greatest features is not to be missed.  Starting in the northern part of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, we will visit Water Pockets with sweeping views to the famous Wave and Grand Canyon in the distace, down to Coyote Buttes where we will see twisted and wild rock formations, into White Pockets, which many say is the ultimate photography spot in the American Southwest, and into the heart of Vermillion Cliffs.  From our deep wilderness basecamp, we will have the fabulous opportunity to hike and explore this outstanding wilderness, which houses some of the most fascinating and phenomenal geology, scenic vistas, and remote solitude in the American Southwest.



Hikers should have the ability to hike on and off marked trails, to scramble over obstacles and/or barriers with frequent changes in elevation for up to 14 miles per day, carrying medium sized packs of gear. All hikes are one-way, except in case of emergency, and are traveled at a steady walking pace with breaks.


A real back-packing trip, comfort is what you carry with you. There are no showers or electricity on the trail and restrooms are primitive. Backpackers can expect to sleep on a sleeping pad outdoors or in a small tent. Food consists of single-entrée meals, some food are freeze-dried or dehydrated with a few fresh food selections. Meals are prepared by your guide and served “group-style” out of pots and usually eaten out of personal meal-kits while sitting on the ground.


Hikers will visit the remote frontier. Guides will take you to the hard-to-reach and hard-to-find attractions that remain completely untouched by the crowds. Groups will see few, if any, other hikers through the trip. Overnighting is private and secluded.

Trip Dates

Don’t see your dates?
Custom dates may be available!

Call 1-602-904-2536 or contact us for details.

2019 Trip Dates

2020 Trip Dates

Mar 12-16

Apr 16-20

Trip Itinerary


The Vermillion Cliffs Loop Backpacking tour starts at the Wire Pass Trailhead near the Arizona/Utah border. After final preparations, we will make our way into the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, quickly being exposed to just why this is one of the finest wilderness areas in the United States.  We’ll make a traverse up the Vermillion Cliffs escarpment toward the Water Pockets, a photogenic and geologically interesting array of erosional features, then make a quick foray into Buckskin Gulch, one of the premier slot canyons on the Colorado Plateau.  We’ll continue down this through epic landscape toward the Coyote Buttes area, famous for its incredible rock formations.  After more exploration, we’ll make our basecamp, and you can kick back while your geologist/guide sets up and prepares a tasty dinner.
Time in the car: 2.5 hours
Elevation & Distance: 7 miles, 160 foot descent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAYS 2 & 3

Our second and third days are all about exploring, hiking, and wandering from our basecamp in this utterly spectacular landscape of outrageous rock features, sweeping views, and high desert solitude.  We’ll visit White Pocket, Big Brain, see petroglyphs and ruins, The Teepees, The Corn Cob, the Cowbay Hat, and countless other geologic features that we’ll spend our days naming.  We’ll also have limitless opportunities for rock scrambling and fabulous photography.
Elevation & Distance: 6-8 miles each day, 200-500 feet of elevation gain/loss each day
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Our final day begins with sunrise yoga on the rocks before more hiking and exploring the wonderful Vermillion Cliffs.  After we’ve had our fill of canyons, wild rocks, epic views, and contemplative solitude, we’ll pack up our basecamp and finish our loop, coming in from the south side of Wire Pass to  meet our shuttle.  On our way back to Flagstaff, we’ll stop to celebrate like a geologist; with a cold beverage at a local watering hole.
Elevation & Distance: 7-9 miles, 600 feet elevation gain/loss
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Time in the car: 2.5 hours

Give me some details!

What is included in the Trip Rate?:

  • Your geologist/guide with all professional, medical, and backcountry certifications
  • Gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trek poles
  • Kitchen: bowls, cups, utensils, backcountry kitchen
  • Food: Full meals and trail snacks
  • Transportation: Roundtrip from the host hotel to all activities/attractions
  • Fees: Permits, Entrance Fees, Camping Fees, all necessary trip fees

What is the Food Situation?:

 Blue Marble takes care of all meals on your tour.  Starting with breakfast on your first day through lunch the final day, your geologist/guide will prepare a variety of chef-inspired meals on the trail and in camp.  All dietary needs are accommodated, so please get in touch with us to give us details of your requirements. There may be times where special needs necessitate a small rate increase.

Meals with include one main dish, which is prepared by your geologist/guide. Fresh options may be limited, as backpacking typically requires lightweight, non-perishable foods. Trail snacks will include meats, cheeses, nuts, chocolate, and other filling, delicious, and varying backcountry food.

Is there anything that i need to provide myself?:

  • Transportation to and from the host city/hotel
  • Lodging prior to and following your trip
  • Gear such as clothes, rainwear, and boots/shoes
  • Personal items such as toiletries and sunscreen
  • BMAG does not provide water bottles or Camelback-Style bladders
  • Personal lighting such as headlamps or flashlights
  • We suggest gratuities for your guide, typically 10-15% of the total trip cost

*Booked guests will receive a detailed information packet

What kind of group size can i expect?

Standard backpacking tours will accommodate 6 people plus one geologist/guide.  The maximum group size is 10 guests and 2 guides.

Can I bring small children?

Children under 12 are generally not permitted on any of Blue Marble’s scheduled trips due to insurance liabilities. This can be negotiable on private tours, please contact us to discuss this policy

I want to book a trip, how can i do that?

Tour bookings can be completed through our online booking platform or through our office.  A 50% deposit is required, and the full trip rate will be due 90 days prior to trip departure.  Bookings within the 90-day window require payment in full.  Trip rates are payable through our online booking platform or 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 5pm Arizona time. 1-602-904-2536, or contact us for more information.

Tell me more!


Where do tours start and finish?

This trip will begin/end in Kanab, Utah and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Kanab. You will want to fly into St. George or Las Vegas. 

Can I meet the guide before the trip?

A pre-trip briefing is held at the host hotel the evening before trip departure.  Any questions will be answered, and you will have the opportunity to discuss anything you wish with your geologist/guide. Most trips will depart between 6am and 9am the following morning.

ummm, what should i do with all my luggage and whatnot?

BMAG provides all transport throughout the trip.  Our guests staying at the host hotel may choose to leave their car at the hotel. Our designated host hotels will typically store your luggage if necessary.  In the event that this cannot be arranged, BMAG is more than happy to store luggage and personal belongings in a private and secure location during your tour.

how should i plan my travel after the trip?

In general, most trips can expect to be back to the host hotel by 6pm on the final day of the trip. Some trips may return earlier.  BMAG typically recommends that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Each trip has its own particular set of circumstances and logistics, so please  contact us with any specific questions you may have.

Ready for an Adventure?

Join Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism on geology-themed hiking and backpacking adventures! Find the perfect Grand Canyon hiking tour, Utah Canyon Country Tour, Vermillion Cliffs Backpacking or hiking.

Explore Further, Be Wild, See Through Time.