Arrive into Phoenix by 5pm and transfer independently to our hotel (Holiday Inn Express–Old Town Scottsdale). We'll meet our guides and the other trip members in the hotel lobby at 5:30pm before heading to a nearby restaurant for dinner and a group orientation. Our guides will give a rundown of the trip itinerary, gear check, and packing tips, plus answer any questions you have. Over a tasty dinner and drinks we will begin getting to know each other in eager anticipation of our adventure. Hotel and dinner included.
Today we shuttle from Phoenix to Grand Canyon North Rim with some interesting stops along the way. We break at Cameron Indian Trading Post, which was established in 1916. It is now a famous showplace for fine Native American art and Southwest art. After crossing the Colorado River near Lees Ferry (the launch point for rafting the Grand Canyon), we stop for lunch at the base of the Vermilion Cliffs. Days end will find us settling into comfortable accommodations at Grand Canyon's North Rim. All meals included.
Hiking: 0–2 miles; Terrain: Mostly flat, well-maintained trail along the rim.
After breakfast today we will stretch our legs and learn the Canyon's natural history on a moderate hike and scenic drive. The best views of the Grand Canyon are from its rim, 8,000' above sea level. From the trailhead, we follow the Cape Final Trail through beautiful Ponderosa Pine forest and arrive at the canyon’s edge with magnificent views into Marble Canyon, Mount Hayden and beyond. Following our rim hike, we will shuttle out to the remote peninsula of land leading to Cape Royal, which offers yet another fantastic vantage point. The remainder of the day will be spent packing our daypacks for two nights at Phantom Ranch and preparing for the challenge awaiting us in the morning. All meals included.
Hiking: 4.2 miles; Terrain: Maintained trail; minimal elevation gain/loss.
An early wake-up call signals the start of our big hike! Today's descent is 14 miles and 5,700' into the grandest of canyons through nearly every biological life zone in North America. As we drop from the alpine to the desert, each step takes us thousands of years back in geologic time through ancient oceans, deserts, lakes, and swamps. With mind-blowing vistas, 100' waterfalls, green spring-fed oases, plus fascinating trail design and workmanship, the North Kaibab Trail is a national treasure. At trails end we find Phantom Ranch nestled on the banks of Bright Angel Creek just before its confluence with the mighty Colorado River. Phantom Ranch, a former hunting camp founded in 1903, is our home for the next two nights. All meals included.
Hiking: 14 miles; Terrain: Maintained rocky and occasionally steep trail descends from 8,241' at the trailhead to approximately 2,500' at Phantom Ranch for a total elevation loss of nearly 6,000'.
A day in the very bottom of Grand Canyon is all yours with the canyon walls blocking out the rest of the world affording a feeling of tremendous peace and tranquility. Today we have the option to hike the beautiful Clear Creek Trail and River Trail. Many participants choose to use this day for relaxation, cheering on the river rafters, socializing with other adventurers, or stretching out in the shade with a book and a cold beer. Photography and bird watching opportunities abound in this lush green riparian habitat fenced in by sheer walls of red rock. Your guides will be available all day to share with you the secrets of one of the world's most special places. All meals included.
Hiking: 3–5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: up to 1,000'.
The rising sun finds us preparing to conquer the canyon. Our exit is the classic trek on Bright Angel Trail. After crossing the Colorado River the trail snakes its way up out of the inner gorge to the shady oasis of Indian Gardens. Here we will refuel and refill with water before tackling the steep ascent up Jacob’s Ladder through the Redwall layer. This hike is a tremendous challenge, so welcome the advice of your guides as they will provide you with helpful hints, strategies, techniques, and their insider knowledge of the keys to a successful ascent. With proper preparation, hydration, and diet the entire group will soon be high-fiving and hugging on the rim. We walk just a few more steps to our lodge perched right on the rim of the canyon. Tonight we celebrate our shared accomplishments at a lodge near the canyon's rim before retiring to our rooms for some well deserved rest. All meals included.
Hiking: 10 miles; Terrain: Maintained trail with a 4,300' elevation ascent.
A final hike and a stop in Grand Canyon Village ends our adventure.For those who can't get enough of the canyon, the fantastic Rim Trail awaits. We can hike one way along the rim. This is a great way to stretch your legs and get a birds-eye view of the route you traversed in the days prior. Other interesting cultural sites include Hopi House and the many interpretive centers. Following this relaxing morning, we drive to Phoenix, AZ arriving by approximately 4pm. Please do not schedule a departing flight prior to 6:30pm. Transfer to the Phoenix airport is on your own. Lunch included. Breakfast is on your own.
Hiking: 0–3 miles optional; Terrain: Maintained trails with minimal elevation gain/loss.