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Women at Work: Shanti Hodges , Hiking guide and glamp camp owner

Tell us about Land Beyond Zion.

I started guiding in 2019 in the Zion area. At first I was leading retreats, but then when COVID hit, I realized that wouldn’t be an option for a few years, so I transitioned into private guiding. Obviously like most outdoor activities, hiking was something everyone wanted to do. It was accessible, with a low entry price point. We were so busy for that first year. That continued on and brought me through today.

Shanti and Pearl | Land Beyond Zion

My company focuses on telling the story of this region. The geological history is important, and there’s a fascinating anthropological history too. The rock walls throughout Southern Utah and Northern Arizona are covered in petroglyphs, so I have made it a mission to find those, and learn about them, to better understand what life was like before the white settlers came here. Sharing these stories really enhances people's perspective on Zion National Park and the surrounding landscape.

Taking people out on the trails where we’re the only group there is so cool. Often some people go into Zion, and get overwhelmed by the popularity of the park. To take someone to a quiet cliff with panoramic views, and help them connect with silence and nature is so rewarding. It makes me happier and healthier. People often tell me they can't remember the last time they sat still and heard nothing but the wind in the trees and the occasional bird.


In 2021 I bought a piece of land near Colorado City, AZ on the Utah-Arizona border. It's about 40 minutes to Zion's front entrance, and under 2 hours to Bryce and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I love this area because it's surrounded by mesas to the north, and big empty desert to the south. I turned a raw piece of land into a glamp camp that caters to vanlifers, campers, RVs and those who want to have a more rural experience. I have "unique" lodging there and have the whole property listed on HIPCAMP and AIRBNB.

How did you originally get introduced to Dovetail?

A friend of mine was wearing these amazing pants and she looked so good. She lived full time on the road, so her gear had to be tough. I bought a pair, and I LOVED THEM. I wore them literally every day. Not only did I love the way they fit, but I also loved what I saw in the company's marketing and overall scene. I felt like the pants were part of a community of strong women working and I wanted to fit in with the club! Just kidding. Really, they helped me feel feminine and cool while I was doing dirty work building out my glamp camp. I also bought a pair to guide in because I am on a lot of rough navajo sandstone and literally slide on my butt all the time as I come down rock faces on hikes. They work and they hold up.

What feedback or wear testing did you participate in?

After I bought a few pairs, Dovetail sent me 2 to try. I loved them, and ended up giving one pair to Pearl, who works for me, so she had tougher pants. She cleans and works around my property, so she needed something she could move well in. We do a lot of bending, lifting, moving things, painting, hammering, all of that at camp. What I really like is how the pants are stretchy, so I can bend over and squat without feeling like they’re pinching me. The stretchy waistband reminds me of maternity pants, which is awesome because I never feel like I have fat rolls poking out when I’m in awkward positions.

Tell us something surprising about you.

I was more or less a desk jockey until my early 40s. I started guiding Angel's Landing (considered one of the most dangerous hikes in America) at 50, which is always a thrill. I hike this 5.5 mile trail a few times a month in the busy season. I think I am probably the oldest guide up there at 51. While getting my guide business going, I also started building out my glamp camp. Prior to that, I had never picked up a drill, saw or, really, any tool for that matter. All of a sudden, I had to learn how to plumb sinks, cut angles with a miter saw, change a flat tire in a guide rig, and basically be a Jill of All Trades overnight. For those who knew me, it’s probably not surprising because I’ve always had the "I can do it" attitude, but when I meet people, and tell them my story, they are often like, "WOW!"

How do you encourage other women to start doing what you do?

Having a guide business that caters to women, BIPOC and LGBTQ helps open up space around the Zion area. I feel like a lot of the marketing for tourism here is geared toward traditional families and travelers. I try to show a lot of women hiking and building things so that most can see themselves at Land Beyond Zion or on a guided trip. I try to emphasize on social media that I am queer-friendly and an ally. I believe in over-the-top advertising, so it discourages folks who might be "offended" by my support to book with me.

What does workwear designed by, with and for women mean to you?

It means that no matter how your body is shaped, Dovetail has something that will work on you. I went from a size 14 in 2021 to a size 6 in 2023. This rapid change meant one of the pants I loved, that was spot-on for me, no longer worked with my body. Another pair became the perfect fit. I was able to pass off the Dovetail that no longer fit to other women around me, because there is so much life left in them! I love that you can wear a pair of Dovetails every day for a month and they still look amazing no matter how many washes. They just feel solid.

Are there any any organizations or non-profits that you think we should know about?

I founded a hike group called Hike it Baby 10 years ago. We are now called We Are Outgrown. It's a non-profit for families who hike with little kids. It was ultimately part of the path that led me to becoming a guide. I was out hosting hike events all the time for 4 years prior to moving to Utah. When children see strong parents out hiking and adventuring, it helps us raise people who value the outdoors.

If you are coming to Southern Utah and want help planning your trip, please reach out to me. I do consultations and offer self-guided itineraries so that everyone can have the opportunity to enjoy Southern Utah like an insider. Opening outdoors space to all, whether it's a glamping experience, sleeping under the stars, or hiking something iconic like Angel's Landing, is so important to me.


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www.landbeyondzion.com

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