Capitol Reef Mesa - Llama Trek

Hike Description

The Capitol Reef Mesa overnight trip is a 2-3 day trip and leaves from our llama camp in Torrey, UT at Capitol Reef Resort. This location gives you exclusive access to the western escarpment of the Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef National Park. This is an amazing area with an incredible diverse geological desert landscape. The private access gives your group the ability to explore incredible, scenic areas that rival anywhere else in the area. Let us show you Cooks Mesa, the Amphitheater, Upper Sulphur Creek and the famous PETRFIED FOREST.

Our guides will show you the three rock strata that are most prominent in this area—the brown, red, crumbly Moenkopi formation, the gray and red multicolor Chinle formation, and Windgate Sandstone. The Moenkopi and Chinle formations occurred during the Triassic Period (250 to 200 million years ago) and the Windgate Sandstone occurred during the Jurassic Period (200 to 145 million years ago).

The Moenkopi formation is capped by the cliffs of the cream colored Shinarump member of the Chinle formation, which slows the erosion of the brittle Moenkopi. Interestingly, gypsum veins run through the upper Moenkopi and petrified wood can be found in the gray-red clay of the Chinle formation. It’s quite amazing being able to hike through the different rock strata with a close-up, personal experience. It’s also quite difficult to comprehend walking through the Triassic and Jurassic Periods in less than five miles and 600 feet in elevation gain. This is a trip that will blow your hair back and knock your socks off!

The Capitol Reef Mesa overnight trip is an out back trip allowing us to setup a basecamp atop Cooks Mesa. Day hiking, exploring and relaxing are on the agenda for the next few days. Water is scarce once we leave the river bottom. Fortunate for us, we have llamas to help transport our necessary overnight camping gear, delicious food and plenty of potable water. Few people have camped under the night sky on top of the Mesa. This is a rare and unique opportunity. Bring your camera long as you will have ample opportunity to take lots of photographs.

“You will truly feel one with nature and your life will be forever changed.”
~ Erin Stoddard, CA


  • Journey with us into an amazing petrified forest
  • Discover fossils as we hike in and out of many ancient washes
  • Partake in our top-rated backcountry cuisine
  • Enjoy first rate interpretation of the flora and fauna from our experienced guides
  • Hike off trail to visit scenic overlooks
  • Bask in Utah’s amazing sun rise over the National Park
  • Explore one of the most historic regions in Utah
  • Sleep under the vivid desert sky (one of the worlds few dark skies left) It is truly amazing

  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 350-1450 Feet
  • Quality of Trails: Good trails
  • Physical Requirements: Frequent excercise and good health km
  • Backpack Weight: 10-20 pounds
  • Daily Hiking Distance: 4-6.5 miles
  • Most Elevation Lost: 1450 feet
  • Most Elevation Gain: 1450 feet
  • Additional: We'll be traveling off trails at time. This is so that we can see some of the trip highlights

What’s Included

  • Industry leading guide that is medically trained, energetic, knowledgeable and friendly
  • Well trained llama companions to join us on our adventure
  • First class meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and organic trail snacks
  • Trekking poles to hike with (if desired)
  • Use of technical backpack
  • Industry leading tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pad
  • Bear spray, and bear hanging gear
  • Emergency equipment and first aid kit including a satellite device
  • Our effort to fulfill our mission statement to each guest to make the trip informational, exciting, informative and memorable. This is your trip, we will do our best to make it special.
  • Water filters and purification tablets

What’s Not Included

  • Personal items, rain gear, and clothes
  • Bug spray, sunscreen, toiletries
  • Headlamp, Water bottle
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 15-20% of trip cost)


You can expect the highest quality. The remarkable thing about a pack assisted trip is that allows for a diverse variety of fresh and quality foods that will keep you feeling energized and satisfied during your entire excursion. Meals will contain an assortment of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Many fresh fruits and veggies will be available for snacks and be used during meals. A selection of snacks (protein bars, trail mix, candy bars, etc.) will be provided for your choosing at the beginning of each day to be eaten at your leisure.

If you have specific dietary needs be sure to let us know as we will accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher, non-gluten, pescatarian and other specific diets. Special dietary request may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Industry leading backpacks
  • Kelty Or Sierra Design sleeping bags
  • Big Agnus sleeping pads
  • Kelty or Leki trekking poles
  • Mountain Safety Research cooking stoves
  • GSI Outdoors cookware
  • Bear spray canisters and food-hanging gear
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite device

What Gear To Bring

  • Water bottles or bladder, 2 liters total capacity
  • A lightweight, high quality stuff sac for your clothes and belongings to fit in while in the llama panniers
  • Lightweight, packable camp pillow.
  • Contact lenses and glasses if you wear contact lenses please also bring a pair of glasses - your contacts are likely to become dirty and may be difficult to clean
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm
  • Bug repellent, preferably a product containing at least 25% “DEET” (some people are sensitive to this product)
  • Toiletries, and a small washcloth in stuff sack (bandana can serve as a washcloth)
  • Headlamp, spare batteries (preferably an L.E.D. type that works with AA or AAA batteries)
  • Camera, spare batteries (optional)
  • Notebook or paperback book, (optional)
  • Knee braces, if needed
  • Prescription medicine, please inform your trip leader of any medications you are taking
  • Vitamins, (optional)
  • Fly fishing gear, if you want to fish
  • Money, for tipping your trip leader (optional but appreciated, generally 15-20% of your trip cost based upon the quality of your experience)

What Clothes To Bring

  • Sturdy Hiking boots, mid weight, lug-soled, above the ankle, waterproof and ideally well broken in. Important note: Buy your boots 1/2 size to 1 size larger than your street shoes to allow for feet swelling and thicker socks
  • Lightweight tennis shoes or Crocs®, for camp
  • Hiking socks, one pair for every two days of your trip, plus an extra pair to sleep in. Recommended brands include Bridgedale®, Smartwool®, or similar padded socks (wearing thin liner socks under your hiking socks is highly recommended). No cotton socks!!
  • Gaiters
  • Sunhat or baseball cap and bandana
  • Mosquito head net
  • Warm hat and gloves, sherpa style hat and light-to-mid weight fleece or wool gloves
  • Long underwear, one pair of wicking tops and bottoms that are light-to midweight, example materials include capilene, merino wool, polypropylene, etc.
  • T-shirt or nylon travel shirt
  • Warm top, mid-weight shirt, sweater or pullover, also wicking material such as merino wool, fleece or polypropylene
  • Fleece jacket or insulated coat, warm, lightweight and packable fleece jacket or coat insulated with a synthetic material
  • Nylon pants and shorts, or zip-offs
  • Bathing suit
  • Fleece pants (late June, late August and September trips only)
  • Rainproof jacket and pants - Waterproof/breathable jacket and pants such as Gore-Tex® or coated nylon - with the pants look for side leg zippers or a style that will allow you to remove them without removing your boots

Where do we meet

We will meet you in front of the Capitol Reef Resort Lobby.

2600 E Highway
Torrey, UT 84775
Resort Phone Number: 435-425-3761

Your guide will be there with the llamas waiting for you at a predetermined time.

If you pre-booked in advance your trip your guide will reach out to one week prior to your arrival to confirm your trip and go over any questions you may have. They will also give you a weather update and verify and food allergies you may have. Your guide will request that you meet at 6:00 pm the evening before your trip to go over the trip details and itinerary. For private and custom trips, you have the option to originate your trip in Boulder Utah or Teasdale Utah. If you have any questions or need help with travel resources please just let us know.

Day 1

Departure Location: Capitol Reef Resort, Torrey, UT
Hiking Mileage: 4-6 miles
Elevation Gain: 700 feet

Your llama adventure will leave our llama camp at Capitol Reef Resort. We’ll begin by hiking with your llama through a small subsiding basin with a grand view of the red sandstone cliffs towering above. There are many different washes or dried river beds through the red/brown Moenkopi layer littered with a variety of rocks and minerals. Gypsum, a soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate which is widely mined and used as a fertilizer, can be found in either gypsum veins along with river bed or as small independent crystals on the floor. It’s as unique experience how we’ll twist and wind through washes as we approach the higher elevation.

Over the next several miles gradual ascending the different rock strata, we’ll encounter native Utah juniper groves littered with big black basalt boulders (also know as Fremont River Boulders), deep cut canyons, various desert flowers, plants and shrubs. Since we’ll be on the western edge of the Waterpocket Fold, we’ll have the best view of the Fold with the Henry Mountains lingering in the distance. You’ll truly love this first day, with the views, the landscape and llamas in tow.

Day 2

Hiking Mileage: 3-8 miles
Elevation Gain: ± 300 feet
Elevation Loss: ± 600 feet

On Day 2, after a glorious sunrise and tasty breakfast, we’ll have the option to hike up to Meeks Mesa, explore the rim of the Amphitheater, or become a rock hound looking for unique rocks and minerals. We’ll camp just above the Chinle formation which is a wonderful place to find petrified wood. We will also take a walk through the stunning PETREFIED FOREST. The crisp air, bright blue sky and soft breeze make for a relaxing afternoon on our llama excursion.

Note: 2-Day trips we’ll proceed down the trail back to llama camp at Capitol Reef Resort following lunch.

Day 3

Hiking Mileage: 4-6 miles
Elevation Gain: 0 feet
Elevation Loss: 600 feet

After a hearty breakfast and last-minute views, we’ll retrace our steps down to lower elevation and Upper Sulphur Creek. We will make a very entertaining and scenic loop over to the Giant Red Bluff and see many of the ancient washed and layers of sediment. We estimate to be back at our llama camp around 5:00 pm on Day 3 for a well-deserved night rest at the Capitol Reef Resort.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary park restrictions, campsite availability, weather, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

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