Escalante Canyon Outfitters
Explore the red rock canyons of Southern Utah any time of the year
 
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Escalante Canyon Outfitters
P.O. Box 1330
Boulder, Utah 84716


 

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“Grant’s enthusiasm for the country was nothing less than infectious. It was a rare treat to spend time with someone who loves a place so much. Everything was so well organized . . ”
—Terri W., October 1997

"The food was just wonderful. Tina should open a restaurant and get rich.

Hot showers in the evening, no one is going to believe without the picture of the bucket!

Everyone worked hard and did their part to make the trip very enjoyable.
I want to express my most heart felt gratitude to Tina for the way she took care of me on this trip. Her concern and kindness will be remembered always."
—Terry N., October 2010

   
 

Back in the 1970s, Grant was working as a uranium miner at the far end of the Burr Trail between the Little Rockies and Waterpocket Fold when he first stumbled on the Escalante Canyons and Boulder, Utah. Back then Boulder was a small ranching community of less than 100 people. Grant was 20 when he moved to town and hired on locally. For $10 a day and a place to live he moved sprinkler pipe. A rancher gave him work tending cows in the calving season. He collected seeds in the desert for reclamation and stabilized ruins in Grand Gulch and other places but mainly he explored the Escalante Canyons.

He spent those first 15 years hiking and riding his horse, sometimes with friends, sometimes solo, connecting places and trails up and down the river. Back then the old ranchers who wintered in the desert with their stock told stories of years in the canyons and had wonderfully vague trail descriptions: "where that one green tree leans against the canyon wall, head up between the two red boulders..."

Grant's experiences in southern Utah are rich and varied & if you've ever been on a trip you heard some of these tales; he's a great story teller.

 

Grant Exploring
Grant exploring.

 

In the middle 1980s Grant and two others formed Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA). Wilderness advocacy was a natural path for Grant given his love of the canyons. He brought to the table endless knowledge of the land.

horse shadow
Long Legged Horses
Around that same time Grant met Sue Fearon in Springdale, Utah. Sue had recently graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in outdoor recreation and was working as a ranger for the National Park Service. It didn't take Sue long to move to their place just outside of Boulder. Together Grant and Sue worked a variety of jobs, farmed their land and spent all their spare time in the canyons.

In the saddle
Grant's perspective.

 

In the late 80s Grant and Sue were spending Thanksgiving down on the Escalante River when they began to shape Grant's goal of exploring the canyons and sharing it with others.

They bought some gear, did a few practice runs on friends and launched Escalante Canyon Outfitters in 1991 with a small string of horses, Grant as head guide and Sue as cook and guide.

Grant
Grant

 

Many years later, Grant is still in the field from March to October leading all company trips and he wouldn't have it any other way.

Grant's enthusiasm for the country and the people who hike with him has never waned.

 

Sue has help in the kitchen
Sue has help in the kitchen.

 

With the birth of Grant and Sue's daughter, Claire, Sue retired from the field in 1996. She runs the office and keeps the wheels turning in the background for ECO. Occasionally, Sue and Claire join a summer trip with other families.

For many years, Sue has worked for the Canyonlands Conservation District and supports the work of the Boulder Community Foundation Boulder Community Alliance.

 

Sue and Claire
Sue & Claire on a summer trip.


Claire on a spring 2012 trip.

 

 

Our guiding force and company philosophy is pretty simple: the more comfortable you feel in the wilderness the better you're able to enjoy these beautiful red rock canyons.
The concept of comfort in the wilderness means many things to us at ECO. Comfort is a hot shower when the river is cold. Comfort is knowing that your trip leader, Grant, has made the Escalante his life study. Comfort is a welcoming crew at home in the back country. Comfort is having all the minute details of a wilderness trip worked out long before you arrive.

Over the years that philosophy has not changed but the world around us has. Exploring the wilderness, the untrammeled earth where we are visitors, is more important than ever. The Escalante Canyons are a wilderness for us to visit, to explore, to soak up, an opportunity to step into silence and beauty.

guides in kitchen
Grant, Doug & Erika in the camp kitchen.
 


Home for Grant, Sue and Claire is about 7 miles outside of Boulder, Utah surrounded by the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Seven miles is about the same distance to the closest school, store, power line and neighbor.

These days you read about green companies and businesses, reducing the carbon footprint, offsetting environmental impact. Here at ECO this is very close to home. Not only are we conscientious back country guides but we strive for low impact in our everyday lives.

horses
The pack string at home.

 

Growing food for ECO, our family and for the community is a big part of our commitment to a sustainable local food chain. We have farmed organically for over 20 years.

If you've been on an ECO trip during the growing season you have, no doubt, eaten from our family farm. We grow many varieties of cucumbers, corn, potatoes, herbs, peaches, nectarines, melons, carrots, scallions, eggplant, zucchini and more but Sue's passion is heirloom tomatoes and sweet red italian peppers.

This year Sue and Claire joined other producers from Boulder at the weekly farmers/community market held every Saturday morning at the Burr Trail Grill.

peppers

garden
Seasonally, the source of trip produce.
 

In 2007 we moved the company office to our home outside of Boulder and into the rock house that Grant created out of a dome of Navajo sandstone.

The rock house is Grant's on-going art project and a demonstration in sustainable architecture. Started in 1995, the interior space, over 5,000 square feet, is now carved. Slowly it is being finished room by room. The interior of the rock, an amazing thermal mass, is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The Escalante Canyon Outfitters' office, a beautiful and spacious work space, was the first room to be completed in the rock house.

rock house
View of the Rock House

 

Renewable energy, a small hydro turbine installed on our irrigation system, supplies all of our electricity.

Communication from the office is via satellite for the internet and cellular for the phone.

office
ECO Office

office
ECO Office

 

One place, one focus, one specialty. We don't offer a multitude of activities spread across the globe. We just offer one thing and we do it very well; we explore the Escalante Canyons of southern Utah.

muddy feet

 

Jill Trombley, originally from Wyoming and now firmly rooted in Boulder, joined ECO in 2008 and amazed everyone with her hard work, good cheer and innate understanding of running a back country kitchen. In just a few short years Jill has mastered the art of the double diamond hitch on some too tall horses & made a study of the plants of the canyons.


Jill making orange french toast for breakfast.


Elizabeth at lunch.

Elizabeth Julian joined the ECO team in 2012 with 9 years of working in the wilderness in one form or another. Our clients describe Elizabeth as astoundingly patient and supportive & we've noticed that she doesn't miss a beat. Elizabeth guides, runs the camp kitchen & is going to learn the horse packing end this summer. Elizabeth & her husband have been circling Boulder since 2006 & settled here in 2008.

 

Rebecca Martin joined us in 2001 with 13 years as a backcountry guide, often teaching natural and cultural history, route finding and cooking up a storm along the way. She is currently writing up some of her backcountry experiences and menus.

Rebecca
Rebecca

Doug Campbell, a skier in the winter and 3 season desert rat, joined the company in the early days. If you've been on an ECO trip with Doug you've seen that he knows his way around the canyons and, more than likely, he's made you laugh.

Doug
Doug

 

Grant checking the load.

Jill & Elizabeth
 

 


Jill leading a pack string.


As guide, packer or cook, Jill is very flexible.

Doug on George
Doug taking a load out on George meets up with the hikers.


Grant