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Mount an Expedition into a Secret Canyon
Don’t hate John Wesley Powell and the Southwest’s other explorers just because they got here first. Far better to impersonate them. Rafting company Wild Rivers Expeditions and hiking outfitter Far Out Expeditions have teamed up to offer an 11-day trip in August to Slickhorn Canyon that’s worthy of exploration’s annals ($2,840; faroutexpeditions.com). The 20-mile-long chasm lined with unreconstructed ancestral Puebloan dwellings in southeastern Utah can be reached only by boat (provided by Wild Rivers). Vaughn Hadenfeldt, a certified canyon junkie who has 25 years’ experience guiding and surveying with archaeological expeditions, is your ground support. Push off in a raft from just outside of Bluff, Utah, and travel 67 miles along the San Juan River over five days. You’ll float past petroglyphs accessible only by river, hike to inscriptions etched by Mormon pioneers, and marvel at millions of years of geology rising into the cobalt sky, not to mention the Class III rapids and an avian bounty, including herons and hawks. Then follow Hadenfeldt on a six-day ramble through Slickhorn. You’ll scramble up side canyons, explore unexcavated ruins, and camp amid cottonwoods and willows while your expedition leader takes care of the rest.

Next: Paddle Cataract with a Pulitzer Prize Winner

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