Our trip begins in Las Vegas (Henderson), Nevada. We rendezvous with our guides at 7am in our host hotel, and after introductions and a brief orientation, we head east along historic Route 66 towards Grand Canyon National Park. Kicking off our explorations on the canyon?s South Rim, we enjoy our first unforgettable views of this awe-inspiring natural wonder from Mather Point. Stretching our legs, we walk along the scenic Rim Trail before visiting the nearby Yavapi Geological Museum to learn about the powerful forces that carved this giant chasm over millennia. In late afternoon, we take a short transfer to Mather Campground, our forested home for the next two nights. After pitching our comfy, oversized tents, we settle in for our first guide-prepared dinner as the dusky colors of sunset paint the vast Southwestern sky. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 2?4 miles on the Rim Trail, minimal elevation change. Van transfer: 4.5 hours
We get a jump on the day with an early breakfast, allowing us more hiking time on Bright Angel Trail, one of the Grand Canyon?s legendary corridor trails. We set out with the goal of hiking 2,000?3,000 feet down below the rim, descending through the canyon?s geological layers and taking in the breathtaking scenery. If conditions are perfect, we hike down as far as Indian Garden, an impressive 4.6 miles and 3,040 vertical feet into the canyon. Our guides ultimately determine our turnaround point, but regardless of how far we descend, this hike promises to stay forever etched into our memories. In the Grand Canyon, ?down is optional, but up is mandatory,? so after our picnic lunch we begin the ascent back to the rim. Though today?s hike can be challenging, the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when we reach the rim is palpable! Back at camp this afternoon, we relax with our hiking companions and guides, feasting on another delicious dinner before climbing into our tents for a good night?s sleep. All meals included.
Hiking: 6?10 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +3,000' / -3,000'
We get an early start to catch the golden sunrise over the Grand Canyon before fueling up with a hot and hearty breakfast. Setting out on a rim-to-rim road trip, our first stop is Grandview Point where our hike down the Grandview Trail begins. This vigorous hike rewards our efforts with a sense of solitude and stunning vistas of the inner formations of the canyon. We hike just over a mile to the Coconino Saddle, losing 1,600 vertical feet before retracing our steps back up to the rim. Next, we visit the iconic Desert View Watchtower, a 70-foot-tall stone tower perched on the canyon?s edge. Designed by Mary Colter in 1932, Desert View contains a wealth of murals depicting various Hopi traditions and stories. We climb to the top of the watchtower for panoramic canyon views and enjoy lunch on the grounds nearby. Farther up the road, we cross Navajo Bridge near Lee?s Ferry and get up-close views of the mighty Colorado River flowing beneath us. Arriving at the North Rim this afternoon, we set up camp and take a short sunset walk to Bright Angel Point, a breathtakingly beautiful end to our day?s adventure. All meals included.
Hiking: 4 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,600? / -1,600'
Providing the only maintained trail access to the bottom of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim, the North Kaibab Trail is our hiking route of choice this morning. Although we won?t make it to the canyon bottom, we descend 2,600 feet down the gorgeous North Kaibab to Redwall Bridge for great views of the San Francisco Peaks, showcasing over 10,000 feet of vertical scenery. Portions of this hike are challenging but the incredible panoramas makes every step worthwhile. Returning to the rim, we then head to Cape Royal to take in Angel?s Window, a stunning natural arch. Dinner tonight will be at the rustic North Rim Lodge where we celebrate new friendships and reflect on the week?s fun-filled adventures. All meals included.
Hiking: 7 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +2,600? / -2,600'
After a relaxing breakfast, we break down camp, bid farewell to the Grand Canyon and begin the drive back to Vegas. Before returning to civilization, our final invigorating hike winds through Water Canyon, a lush oasis in the desert. This lovely narrow canyon near Colorado City features a trail that parallels a permanent stream dotted with beautiful waterfalls, clear pools and slot-like passageways?a very different experience than the hiking we enjoyed on previous days. Our final hike complete, we board the van for the last leg of our journey, passing by Hoover Dam and arriving back at our host hotel between 6pm?7pm this evening. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 4 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +800? / -800'; Van transfer: 4.5 hours