Hiking the Grand Staircase National Parks

Destination: North Rim Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce National Parks

| Activities: Hiking

The Grand Staircase refers to an immense sequence of sedimentary rock layers that stretch from Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, through Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. The rock that is at the bottom of Bryce forms the top of Zion and the bottom rock of Zion is the top layer of the Grand Canyon. We've picked three National Parks along the Grand Staircase to hike: Zion, Bryce and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Parks are all spectacular and all very different from the others. The Grand Canyon is vast: it is 10 miles from one side to the other and a mile deep. Bryce is known for amazing hoodoos, the brightly colored spires of varied shapes; and Zion, with the tallest layer of redwall limestone of any canyon, is both majestic and a much more intimate canyon that fully deserves its name. We have chosen some of the classic trails in each park, designed to give you an experience and understanding that can only be gained by hiking in them. Max group size 10.


  • Hiking through two billion years of geologic time as we descent 3000 feet into the Grand Canyon
  • Seeing Bryce Canyon's hoodoos as you hike through them
  • Experiencing the peace of Zion Canyon from the floor of the canyon and the rim
  • Learning about the diverse and fascinating geology of the area
  • Gazing upward at more stars than you ever knew existed

Departures and Prices

October 05 to October 12, 2024
$3850.00 - Limited Availability
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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights of double occupancy accommodation
  • All meals as listed from dinner on day 1 through lunch on the last day
  • Transportation during the trip, starting and ending in St. George, Utah
  • National Park entry fees
  • Gear rental for the Narrows

Not included: Travel to and from St. George from your home, alcoholic beverages, snacks, guide gratuities and travel insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is rated 4 because, except for the first day and last day, each day's hike is between 4 and 8 hours and with substantial elevation gain and loss. This trip is a great choice for any healthy woman in good physical condition who loves hiking and wants to do lots of it. If you have significant fear of heights, please call the office before you register. Prior to the beginning of the trip, participants should be engaged in aerobic conditioning for at least 40-50 minutes 4-5 times a week. Additional endurance exercise (e.g. going for a 2 hour hike once a week) and/or strength training is usually required.Rating: 1 2 3 [4] 5.

This trip combines hiking with an immersion into the unique geology of this fascinating area - there is no better way to understand the different geologic processes that formed each Park than to explore them on foot. Some of the hikes are quite challenging in terms of length and elevation gain, and it is an excellent trip for fit intermediate and experienced hikers who like hikes of intermediate or longer length.

We will be staying in double-rooms in the lodges OR similar right in or very near the National Parks every night, which gives us the opportunity to become intimately acquainted with each. Each room has an ensuite bathroom and two beds, sometimes two queens and sometimes a queen and single.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Our trip starts today at the St. George, Utah airport (SGU). Plan on flying in by 3:30PM to meet the group by 4PM. It's a small but bustling airport. Nestled in a vast expanse of red rock scenery, St. George is listed as one of the best places to live in the United States and on the list of Fortune 500’s "Great Places to Retire In." We'll start getting to know each other and have a trip orientation in the evening before sharing our first dinner. Bedtime is likely to be early tonight! (D)
After an early breakfast, we'll load up and drive to a nearby hidden gem. Our first hike of the trip is at Snow Canyon State Park, a 7,400-acre scenic park quietly tucked amid lava flows and soaring sandstone cliffs in a strikingly colorful and fragile desert environment. We will see a little bit of everything the park has to offer on a loop connecting the following trails: Butterfly, Lava Flow, West Canyon, Red Sands, Whiptail, and Petrified Dunes. (4.8 miles, 639 feet elevation gain) Amidst a backdrop of red rocks and sage brush, we’ll have a picnic lunch here before continuing on to Zion. Tonight we'll eat dinner in the open dining area at the Lodge where we can watch the sun slip away beneath the horizon and the stars come out to play. (B, L, D)

Overnight Zion Lodge.
This morning, we'll pick up the gear we need for the Narrows in the charming town of Springdale. We'll then head to the park for our wade up the Narrows. This is the name given to a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon that is 16 miles long and up to 2,000 feet deep. Our destination is Orderville Canyon, about 2 hours upriver and site of some of the most spectacular scenery in the Narrows. However, it is an out and back hike so turning around earlier is also an option, depending on the weather and our energy. If the weather or the conditions don't permit a hike into the Narrows, the guides will take you on one of the other phenomenal hikes in Zion. (B, L, D)

Overnight: Zion Lodge.
Today our choice of hikes starts on the trail to Scout's Lookout. This paved trail switchbacks up on a wide trail for about 2 miles. For those who have no fear of heights and want a mental challenge, we offer **Angels Landing, one of the classic hikes in Zion. From Scouts Lookout, the trail follows a narrow ridge (there are chains there for support) out to a fantastic overlook high above Zion Canyon. For many, however, this will be far enough, and you can either wait (the view is amazing) or hike along the West Rim Trail. In either case you can make your final decision once you've actually seen the trail. Hiking up to Angels Landing is about .5 miles out and back. If your legs are demanding a bit of a rest today, walking along the Virgin River is always a good choice.

Whichever you choose, we'll regroup for our drive to Bryce Canyon. This is a very scenic drive of about 2 hours. We'll pass Checkerboard Mesa and go through the Zion Tunnel, an engineering marvel from the days when cars were smaller. We'll arrive in time to settle in and, since our rooms are only 5 minutes from the Rim, we can get our first look at this unique landscape. Tonight we'll enjoy a delicious dinner at the wonderful old Lodge there.

Overnight Bryce Canyon Lodge (B, L, D)
**Angel’s Landing is now permit-only, and you must apply on the NPS website prior to starting the trip: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/angels-landing-hiking-permits.htm.
Our hike today, the Fairyland Loop, will leave you breathless - both by the brightly colored rock spires that have been carved into a myriad of fascinating shapes by erosional forces, and from the altitude. Bryce is at the top of the Grand Staircase, and the rim of the canyon is around 8,000 feet.

The loop will help us understand the concept that Bryce Canyon is not truly a canyon. This 8-mile trail, which follows a loop around a major formation with constantly changing views, provides an excellent opportunity to see hoodoos from the bottom up. The trail starts with a fairly flat 2.5 miles before plunging down into the hoodoos of Fairyland Canyon. The scenery is spectacular: along the way we get a great view of the Chinese Wall, hike past Sinking Ship Mesa, and take a short spur to Tower Bridge. With much less traffic here than other trails in the park, it may be one of the park's best kept secrets.

Or you can choose the equally spectacular Peekaboo Loop. This 6-mile hike includes the Navajo Trail, Peekaboo Loop, and the Queens Garden Trail. The Navajo Trail descends into the canyon in a series of dramatic switchbacks, winding under hoodoos, and down to a trail junction at the bottom. From here it's a short distance to the Peekaboo Loop, an undulating 3-mile trail that gets its name from the "windows" along it. Returning to the junction with the Queen's Garden Trail, we'll follow it along the foot of the escarpment for about a mile.

This evening we can gaze at the sunset over some of the most amazing geology you will ever see. Bryce is also known for having one of the most glorious nighttime skies of anyplace in the U.S. and if stargazing appeals to you, this is the perfect place to do it. 

Overnight Bryce Canyon Lodge (B, L, D)
Today we say good-bye to the top of the Grand Staircase and drive to the top of the bottom of the staircase. The 4-hour drive will take us to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. At 8,000 feet, it is 1,000 feet higher than the south rim. Its distance from metropolitan areas results in 10 times fewer visitors than its southern counterpart.

We start our visit here with a hike on the Widforss Trail, a relatively flat trail that follows the rim of the Transept. There are numbered stops and a brochure that are a great introduction to some of the natural and human history of the Grand Canyon. 5 miles total. Overnight: Jacob's Lake Inn (B, L, D)
We will hike down into the Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. The North Kaibab Trail is the least visited but most difficult of the three maintained trails at Grand Canyon National Park. If we hiked all the way to the Colorado River (which we do not because it is 14 miles one way), we would pass through every ecosystem to be found between Canada and Mexico. Initially we hike through fir trees and aspen. Next we descend through the Redwall Limestone where the trail is blasted directly into the cliff.

We will stop at Roaring Springs, where water gushes directly out of the canyon walls to form Bright Angel Creek. After a long drink and a chance to bathe our feet, we retrace our steps up the 4.7 miles and 3,000 feet we came down. Some women prefer going up steep trails, some prefer going down; both will get their wish today.

Overnight: Jacob's Lake Inn (B, L, D)
Oh no! Can this be our last day? Yes, so we will not waste it! We start with the very short hike out to Bright Angel Point. Afterwards we'll drive the scenic 3-mile Cape Royal road to Point Imperial, which at 8,803 feet is the highest point on either rim. Our last hike is a half-mile nature trail that goes by Angels Window, an eroded opening that frames a view of the Colorado River, the perfect way to end our time here. (B, L)

It's about a 3-hour drive back to St. George. We'll have you at the airport by 3:30PM and you can fly out any time after 5PM


(36 reviews)
4.4 Food
4.4 Lodging
4.6 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Most Recent

Donna L.
7 months ago

Well planned and this group blended very well together, including the guides, always special when that happens.

Elizabeth A.
8 months ago

This was my first time to these National Parks. Our two guides were great and made the experience really enjoyable. I would have never considered walking in The Narrows had it not been for this trip. That was an amazing experience. And walking among the hoodoos in Bryce was otherworldly. Although I opted not to hike into the canton, the views along the north rim of the Grand Canyon were fabulous.

Janet B.
8 months ago

I did things I wouldn't have done on my own - walking the Narrows for one. Great organization by our guides. Accommodations were comfortable and everything was coordinated well.

Beth K.
8 months ago

1.) Hiking to three "bucket list" national parks with great leadership and guidance, 2.) staying in the parks, especially those sweet Bryce cabins with fireplaces, 3.) not cooking, 4.) Night skies, 5.) the pivot to fantastic Showdowns restaurant in Tropic, Utah, 5.) hiking all the way down to bridge at North Rim. Even if the exit was much less elegant. Puff Puff Puff. Pause. Puff Puff Puff, Pause. 6.) And completing the entire trip despite the Covid challenges. Thank you Linda.

Betsy W.
8 months ago

Wonderful guides and participants! Variety of hikes was amazing - something for everyone.

Robin S.
1 year ago

Hiking the Narrows and Angels Landing in Zion.

Joyce W.
1 year ago

I loved the overview of the entire Grand Staircase. I had not heard that term before (even i n my 70 years and love of national parks!) so was delighted with that approach, Zion Bryce and GC all linked in this way. Going to the overview on the last day - that might have been lovely the first day to set up the concept. But anyway - a completely new way to think about those geological wonders was great!

Gail S.
1 year ago

Completely different terrain than I have hiked! As always, the women (including guides) make every AGC trip special and this was no exception.

Bobbie K.
1 year ago

Angels landing

Claudia R.
1 year ago

Guides, hikes, accommodations

Nan G.
2 years ago

Sights and compatible company.

Lynn S.
2 years ago

Deborah T.
2 years ago

Hiking NPs in Utah, specifically Zion Narrows and Angels Landing. The guides and other women on the trip were great!

Sharon S.
2 years ago

the women and the hiking

Cindy I.
2 years ago

The guides, the parks.

Mary R.
2 years ago

The beautiful scenery in each of the National Parks was stupendous, especially with the fall colors in full display.

Janet S.
2 years ago

The women who were on the trip and the spectacular scenery in the National Parks were the best parts of the trip.

Neta N.
4 years ago

Margo S.
4 years ago

The scenery was amazing and challenging! Our guides were GREAT and their meals ....my favorite of the entire trip!

Josefine K.
4 years ago

My highlights - breathtaking scenery, charming accommodations, good companionship and great guides.

Patty B.
4 years ago

Jennifer M.
4 years ago

Loved the angel’s landing hike especially, but all were great

Louise H.
4 years ago

The Grand Staircase trip exceeded my expectations. The guides were great - very organized, enthusiastic and conscious of everyone’s needs (allergies, blisters, etc. that needed tending, abilities), and the views on the trip were amazing. Staying right in the parks was very convenient and it was nice to have early starts each morning to avoid some of the crowds. It would have been nice to go right to the bottom of the Grand Canyon but then we would have missed seeing something else.

Margo S.
4 years ago

Great guides, nice traveling companions, beautiful scenery... everything was you could think of!

Mary J.
4 years ago

Pleasant companions great leaders hiking

Patty B.
4 years ago

Neta N.
4 years ago

The scenery was amazing, the guides were outstanding and the other participants were such fun!

Elisabeth M.
4 years ago

Anne and Gina were amazing guides! I felt informed of what was going on each day and the meals they prepared were awesome. The women on this trip were so easy to get along with which just added to the overall amazing time I had on the trip.

Michelle K.
4 years ago

Jane S.
5 years ago

For me, hiking with a group of women for a few hours at a time is not about sharing life stories with new friends. In fact, when I hike I do not talk much. Instead, I take my thoughts to the trail, ponder new ideas or what I want in life, observe the geology around me, or allow my mind to endlessly wander in every direction as I listen to the subtle sounds of nature, the rhythmic plodding of my boots, and clinking of hiking sticks around me. I am happy. Most of these women I will never see again. But it is our shared love of nature and challenge that brings us together on the trail. Hiking with them keeps me humble. My legs will burn, my lungs will struggle to breath, and the sun and climb will warm my body to near exhaustion, but I like the sense of accomplishment. I feel gratitude to my strong body for getting me there. I feel gratitude to the people who had the foresight to preserve these national parks. I feel gratitude for the sunshine warming my body or the gentle breeze and sh

Barbara S.
5 years ago

Highlights - maybe obvious, but I am still in awe of the beauty of these parks. I was pleasantly surprised how well everyone got along. A great bunch of women.

Mary S.
5 years ago

Our guides (Deb and Anne) were both great. Very knowledgeable and accommodating. Amazing group of 12 women on the trip.

Carol S.
5 years ago

Seeing and hiking in these three parks and meeting all the fabulous women! We laughed a lot! A really good group and Great Guides!

Angela T.
5 years ago

the trip was a wonderful way to hike and explore the beauty of the Grand Staircase all while meeting fabulous women and guides! I don't think that the trip was necessarily a 4 out of 5, and I was surprised that all of the hikes were tailored to the slowest hiker. I would like to see more opportunity to split the group and hike just a little faster, if so desired.

Becky A.
5 years ago

Highlights were seeing Bryce and hiking there. I really enjoyed that day as I did not feel rushed to complete the hike in a specific time and was able to take lots of pictures. Where it failed to meet my expectations was the pace of a few of the hikes, having to complete them in a specific time to meet the schedule. I would suggest for the longest hike in the Grand Canyon, to start at least an hour earlier and not feel so rushed would have been more desirable to me. As it was, Saturday hike was a big disappointment to me. The trail and the views were amazing. The silence and solitude are meant to be enjoyed - which I could not do for the rush to make it to Roaring Springs by a specific time.

Susan G.
5 years ago

  1. Where do we eat?

    Breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Before you start the day, the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch or occasionally lunch will be picnic style.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.