Magazine article Sunset

Easy Trekking

Magazine article Sunset

Easy Trekking

Article excerpt

Walk with llamas into southern Utah and Colorado wilderness areas

We're thigh-deep in the icy Escalante River and miles into southern Utah's rugged Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument when we suddenly realize what a breeze this trip has been. The trusty llamas of Red Rock 'n Llamas outfitters are carrying all our gear, we're following seasoned guides, and we're getting probably twice as far into this rugged backcountry in a day as we would have by carrying our own gear. Guided llama trips are the newest way to pack into designated wilderness areas in southern Utah, and they may well be the best way to easily access these sometimes forbidding places.

Llamas are lighter than horses on these fragile, arid lands. They trek quietly on padded feet up the sandy trail, behind our experienced trip leaders. With all the trip worries taken care of (food, gear, guides, and llamas), we've been able to concentrate on the scenery, losing ourselves in the embrace of red rock cliffs tapestried with desert varnish, to learn the names of native plants and animals, and to explore side canyons leading to secret arches, Native American rock art, and shady pools. …

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