Grand Canyon Backpacking
To experience the sheer magnitude and quiet vastness of the Grand Canyon, one must travel by foot through the backcountry. Far below the rim and free from the crowds, our quiet, small-group journey deep into the heart of the canyon takes us on exceptional loops from high atop the rim at to the dramatic contour of the canyon walls, all the way to the Colorado River. We will spend the spring time months exploring the South Rim via Grandview and Tonto trails. In the Fall, we will venture to one of the more remote and pristine wilderness areas on the North Rim, the magical Thunder River area. We'll travel back over a billion years through geological time on these challenging adventures designed for experienced and fit backpackers. This is not a beginning backpack trip, and a physician's release is required of all participants. We will hike on maintained but steep and rocky trails over challenging terrain with big elevation gains and losses each day. Participants will carry 30-45 lbs of gear, including about 10 lbs of group gear (comprised mainly of food, tents and cooking equipment) on their backs throughout the trip. Time spent in the wilderness below the rim of the Grand Canyon is an experience unlike any other, and a self-supported, participatory journey on foot from the rim to the river and back constitutes a milestone accomplishment for a backpacker.
South Rim: Grandview Itinerary:
Day 1 Meet your guides and the other group members at 8am SHARP in front of the Canyon Village Marketplace General Store at Market Plaza.
Day 2 Today we day hike from our remote campsite along the Escalante Route, offering dramatic views of the inner gorge and it’s deep side canyons, all feeding into the Colorado.
Day 3 Today we break camp and traverse the renowned Tonto Trail for more spectacular views as we wind our way to Cottonwood Creek to establish our next backcountry campsite.
Day 4 Our exit hike today leads to the rim from Cottonwood Camp, ascending the Grandview Trail with its sweeping ridgeline views to arrive at Grandview Point where our adventure ends.
South Rim: Hermit's Rest Itinerary:
Day 1 Welcome to the Grand Canyon where our backpacking adventure begins with short trip west along the rim to Hermit’s Rest, where we descend into the canyon on the Hermit Trail.
Day 2 Today we break camp and continue on our way through the canyon’s wilderness as we hike the Tonto Trail to our next secluded backcountry campsite at Monument Creek.
Day 3 On the first leg of our exit hike, we retrace our steps along the Tonto Trail to Hermit Creek, where we’ll establish our final backcountry campsite.
Day 4 Our epic exit hike today ascends the Hermit Trail over 5,300’ vertical feet to return us to Hermits Rest where our adventure ends.
North Rim Itinerary:
Day 1 We'll study the spectacular geology of the Grand Canyon on our way down the "50 switchbacks" and over the Esplanade to our campsite overlooking the inner canyon.
Day 2 Today we'll hike along and swim in the remarkable waterways of this semi-arid desert environment before setting up camp along the banks of the mighty Colorado.
Day 3 The adventure continues as we continue to explore the majesty of the inner canyon with its traces of civilizations past, ancient fossils and lush springs and waterfalls.
Day 4 As we embark on the challenging climb out to the trailhead take time to reflect on the amazing journey we've had in this unique and awe-inspiring landscape.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control. This trip is operated rain or shine.
Contact REI Adventures prior to purchasing your airline tickets to confirm the trip has the minimum number of participants required to operate.
Professional instruction and guiding; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; 2-person tents; group cooking gear; group first aid kit, water filter; campsite and backcountry permit fees.
Transportation from your hometown to group meeting point; park entrance fees ($25 per private vehicle or present your National Parks pass); insurance of any kind; 3 lunches; snacks and energy food; energy drinks; alcoholic beverages (please do not bring); soft drinks; guide gratuities and items of a personal nature.
Major: Phoenix Sky Harbor, Phoenix, 230 miles, 4 hours
Smaller: Pulliam Airport, Flagstaff, AZ, 80 miles, 1.5 hours
Major: Las Vegas International Airport, 209 miles, 3.75 hours
Smaller: Page, AZ, 74 miles, 1.5 hours or
St. George, UT, 95 miles, 2 hours
This trip is rated Strenuous . Participants will be carrying their own backpacks with weights of 30-45 lbs over steep and rocky terrain with constant and dramatic elevation gain and/or loss exceeding 3,700 feet per day on most days of this trip. Day hiking with 30-45 lbs in the pack you intend to hike with on the trip and making sure your hiking boots are broken in before your trip is key. This is not a beginning backpacking trip. Previous experience is highly recommended and a physician’s release is required prior to participating in this course.
Bring your own variety of quick foods to be eaten as lunch and grazed on constantly throughout the day each day. Energy bars, trail mix, bagels, salami, and salty snacks are all good choices. Staying adequately hydrated requires a mix of water and electrolyte replacement. You will need to be able to carry a minimum of 4 liters of water.
Daytime temperatures usually range between 60o - 90o F but can sometime climb even higher. Evening temperatures drop into the 40s - 50s or even lower. While rain in general is rare, there is always the possibility of rain, so adequate raingear is important, even in this arid landscape. The Grand Canyon is a very unique environment, and it is important to note that the temperature on the rim of the Grand Canyon is significantly colder than at the bottom of the canyon, due to a difference in elevation of over 4,000 vertical feet.
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Weekend Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and detailed pre-trip information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Grand Canyon Backpacking
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.
Daytime temperatures usually range between 60° - 90° F but can sometimes climb even higher. Evening temperatures drop into the 40s - 50s or even lower. While rain in general is rare, there is always the possibility of precipitation, so adequate raingear is important to have along.
- Cooking gear
- Stoves and fuel
- Water filter
- Group first aid kit
- Backpack (60-70 liter capacity)
- Hiking footwear (comfortable and well broken-in; heavy waterproof boots not recommended)
- Four to five 1-quart water bottles or hydration system equivalent (bring at least one 1-quart bottle even if using a hydration system)
- Headlamp with fresh batteries
- Bowl or cup (not both)
- Eating utensil (only one)
- Clothing (No more than 2 of anything. Bring a lightweight long sleeve COTTON shirt for sun protection/moisture retention. Cotton retains moisture and keeps you comfortable in hot, arid climates)
- Sunscreen (travel size)
- Sleeping bag (rated around 20-35º for April and late Sept/Oct trips; 40º+ for all other trips
- Electrolytes (minimum mix to make 4 liters)
- TP system: zip loc baggie with toilet paper (not a full roll), wet wipes, and 1 Ziploc gallon baggie to carry out used TP
- personal items (meds/vitamins/etc)
- pack cover (or garbage bag)
- rain jacket (lightweight, waterproof and breathable)
- Lunch food & snacks (a wide variety of dense, high-calorie, salty, sugary, fatty foods that you enjoy eating)
- Sleeping pad
- Wide-brimmed hat
- Lip balm
- Hiking poles
- Camp shoes (lightweight sandals or flip-flops)
- Toothbrush & toothpaste (travel size or share)
- 1 luxury item (book, iPod, cards, journal, pillow)
- Lightweight fleece jacket or wool sweater
- Mid- or lightweight thermal top & bottom
- Down jacket or vest (optional)
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.