- Backpack from the South Rim to the canyon floor
- See stunning rock formations at an astonishing scale
- Challenge yourself with 4 days of hiking through unsurpassable terrain
- Get a new perspective on the Grand Canyon looking up from the bottom
- Learn local history and see a surprising diversity of plants and wildlife
The Grand Canyon is truly one of America's greatest natural wonders. Avid backpackers around the world seek out its mystic depths in search of a true personal challenge. Along our way from the South rim to the Colorado River at the Canyon's floor, we see astounding rock formations, springs and waterfalls, and fossils and relics revealing the immense history of the region. We camp at scenic sites with opportunities to rest and cool off in the canyon's waters.
This challenging trip is designed for experienced and fit backpackers. We hike on steep, rocky trails with dramatic elevation gains and losses. A physician's release is required of all participants. Our reward is the time spent below the rim—an experience unlike any other, and a milestone accomplishment for avid backpackers.
Also check out our North Rim backpacking itinerary for more options to explore this national treasure.
- Route Variation - Our specific hiking route and campsites on each departure are dependent on permit availability.
- Day 1 - Welcome to the Grand Canyon! We begin our descent into the canyon.
- Days 2-3 - Continuing our exploration, we move on to our next camp.
- Day 4 - We make our exit hike up to the rim, taking in final views of the Grand Canyon.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Route Variation - Our specific hiking route and campsites on each departure are dependent on permit availability.
REI will include a detailed itinerary in your final departure materials. Regardless of the selected route, be prepared for daily hiking on steep and sometimes exposed trail with mileage of up to 11+ miles and elevation changes of up to 5,000'. Our two most common routes include highlights such as:
- Grandview (April): Exploring Horseshoe Mesa, Last Chance Copper Mine and Hance Rapids, soaking in spectacular views of Vishnu Temple, Wotan’s Throne, Angel’s Gate, and much more.
- Hermit’s Rest (May): Explore Hermit Rapids, the remains of the original Hermit Railroad Camp built by Santa Fe Railroad Company, Lookout Point, and much more.
Day 1 - Welcome to the Grand Canyon! We begin our descent into the canyon.
Meet your guides and the other group members inside Grand Canyon National Park at South Rim Market Plaza in front of the General Store at 8am sharp. We'll use this time for a brief orientation, group gear distribution, and a pack check. Shortly thereafter we caravan to the trailhead where stunning views await. Our legs warm up quickly as we begin our descent along the steep and rocky trail into the canyon. At camp, guides prepare our meal. A canopy of stars rewards us after a long day. Dinner included.
Backpacking: ~8-10 miles; Elevation loss: ~4400 ft.
Days 2-3 - Continuing our exploration, we move on to our next camp.
After a hearty breakfast each morning, we pack up and hike to our next camp. Depending on our route, we'll see spectacular sites like Hance Rapids, the Grand Canyon Supergroup Layers, Redwall Cliffs, Vishnu Temple, and the Colorado River—amazing examples from 1.7 billion years of Earth's geological history. Scenery includes beautiful river views, other-worldly rock formations, and ample star gazing. We end our days at a comfortable camp and recharge with a freshly-prepared dinner. Breakfast and Dinner included
Backpacking: ~5-11 miles; elevation gain/loss varies depending on route.
Day 4 - We make our exit hike up to the rim, taking in final views of the Grand Canyon.
Today we make our exit ascent to the canyon rim. An early start takes advantage of the coolest part of the day as we climb up the rocky trail. Depending on time, we may make a brief side trip for more views of the canyon. At the rim, we take in a final view of this dramatic chasm and say our goodbyes. Finishing time is generally in the late afternoon but can vary greatly based on trail and weather conditions, hiking speed of the entire group and other circumstances beyond our control. As a result, we recommend delaying travel plans until the following day. Breakfast included.
Backpacking: ~8-9 miles; Elevation gain: 3500-4000 ft.
Note: Trip members will need to bring a variety of quick foods for snacks and lunch each day. Granola bars, drink mixes, trail mix, bagels, hard cheeses, salami, jerky, tuna packets (not cans), crackers, packets of nut butter (not jars), apples, etc. are all good choices.
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); transfers to/from trailhead; 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 (PHX), Phoenix, AZ: 230 miles
McCarran International Airport (LAS), Las Vegas, NV: 272 miles
Smaller: Pulliam Airport (FLG), Flagstaff, AZ: 80 miles
This trip is rated Strenuous . Participants will be carrying their own backpacks with weights of 30-45 lbs for up to 11 miles per day. Participants should be prepared to hike over steep, rocky and sometimes exposed terrain, with constant and dramatic elevation gains and/or losses of up to 5,000 feet per day on most days. This is not a beginning backpacking trip. Previous backpacking experience is a prerequisite for participation and a physician's release is required.
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 within the canyon usually range between 70o - 90o F but can sometime climb even higher. Evening temperatures drop into the 60s-70s 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 5,000 vertical feet.
If you are traveling alone we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. A limited number of single accommodations are available, and are assigned only as necessary.General Information
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 – South Rim Gear List
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, enough for 4 liters of water (provided but if you have a favorite feel free to bring your own)
- 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.