Private Guiding

Private Guided Backpacking

Custom Programs in the San Juans

Backpacking and Backcountry Overnight Trips -

We can arrange a number of trips depending on the time frame, age, and experience of your group. We require that we maintain a maximum 4 persons per 1 San Juan Mountain Guide for non-technical or climbs of low technical requirements, and a maximum 2:1 ratio for climbs of a technical nature.  We can arrange trips and programs for individuals (1:1) – or for groups as large as 12.

Our guides and trip leaders are the most highly experienced professionals in the area, and can lead you and your group on a backcountry adventure you won’t soon forget!

Contact our office today or submit a trip inquiry to start planning your trip today!

Trip Inquiry

Itinerary Options

Multiple program options and itineraries exist for guided backpacking in the San Juans.  We specialize in organizing unique itineraries and routes throughout the range – including the incomparable Weminuche Wilderness.  Whether you would like to organize custom dates for one of our regular program options – such as the Best of the Weminuche Trip – or you would like us to create a trip for you that is specific to you or your groups needs/desires, we have the experience and access to put it together!!

Just a quick word to say thanks for all you did to make my past several days truly rewarding. – D. Mrozek

Private Backpacking Pricing

1 Mountain Day (MD):
$395 for 1:1
$150 for each add’l person

A Mountain Day (MD) is characterized by backpacking trips in the San Juan Mountain Range that do not require technical climbing (ropes, harness, etc.) of any kind.

2Porter Fee (optional):
$250 per porter

Let a porter help to carry your gear into the mountains to aid in your ability to maintain energy throughout the trip. This is a popular add on to our trips in Chicago and Vestal Basins.

* For train access trips there may be an additional $90 fee per guide and/or porters.

3 Add-ons
(Let us take care of all the details!)

  • Trip Food (Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner): $35 per person per day
  • Climbing and/or Group Rental Equipment: Cost varies according to needs.
  • Train Tickets (for trips requiring train access): $90 per person

Backpacking Equipment List

  • Backpack: Internal frame, 50-80 liters. Guides’ pick: Osprey Aether 60
  • Sleeping bag: Down or synthetic bag rated between 15-30 degrees with compression stuff sack. Guides’ pick: Neutrino Endurance 400
  • Sleeping pad: Guides’ pick: Thermarest NeoAir
  • Bowl, spoon, cup: Plastic/lexan
  • Pocket knife: 2-3 inch blade, simple, light
  • Small thermos: Optional, but nice to have
  • Water bottles: 2 liters combined capacity; bottles or bladder. Guides’ pick: Nalgene or Osprey
  • Water purification system: We recommend simple iodine tablets, but pumps are acceptable. Guides’ pick: Potable Aqua

Clothing and Personal Equipment

  • Hiking boots: Sturdy, waterproof, comfortable boots. Please contact us with questions or further recommendations.
  • Socks: 2-3 pair of medium weight wool or synthetic blend socks.
  • Base layers: Synthetic t-shirt and synthetic underwear
  • Soft shell pants: warm enough for cool mornings and nights, yet light enough for warm days. Guides’ pick: OR Ferrosi
  • Soft shell jacket: light weight. Guides’ pick: OR Ferrosi
  • Insulated vest: down or synthetic. Guides’ pick: OR Transcendent
  • Hard shell jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation. Guides’ Pick: OR Helium
  • Hats: one with brim, one for warmth
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and lip balm: water/sweat-proof
  • Headlamp: with extra batteries. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Spot
  • Toiletries: Toilet paper, baggie for used TP, toothbrush/paste, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.
  • Personal first-aid kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well
  • Stuff sacks: for convenient packing
  • Camera
  • Lunch food: Everything you eat between breakfast and dinner. May include: bagels, dried meats, cheese, trail mix, candy bars, peanut butter, etc…

Training & Follow Up Programs

As always, being in excellent physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great trip.

1Before Your Trip

In order to successfully carry a 35 lb. pack up to 7 miles a day, endurance is key. Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling are great to build heart and lung endurance. Taking day hikes with your loaded backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains.

2Follow Up Programs

If and when I decide to tackle the big mountains I will call you guys for sure. I was very impressed with the guides and the service on my last class. Thanks again! – Chris N.

Durango, Colorado: Getting Here

Durango is located in the SW corner of Colorado, at the intersection of the sandstone towers of the desert, and the jagged, San Juan Mountains. A mecca for climbing, hiking, cycling, and foodies; make sure you plan to spend some time in town before and after your SJMG trip.


View Larger Map

Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Durango – La Plata County Airport. Multiple airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, Phoenix, or Dallas. The airport is a 20 minute drive from our office. Many hotels offer a free shuttle pickup. Buckhorn Limousine offers a shuttle as well.

Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Durango. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.

  • Denver, CO: 6 hours
  • Albuquerque, NM: 3 hours

Hotels: Durango has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suite you best for this trip! Below are just a few options catering to different lodging styles and preferences.

Additional Information

  • Cost Includes:
  • Guides/trip leaders
  • Group camping and cooking equipment
  • Incredible mountain scenery

  • Not Included:

  • Hotel costs before, during, or after the trips
  • 5% land use surcharge, trip cancellation insurance
  • Personal camping equipment
  • Trip food unless specified
  • Guide gratuity

  • Registration and Cancellation:
  • Advance Registration is required for this program.  You have the option to either call our office and register via phone, fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email, or utilize our secure Online Reservation System.  All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.

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