Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch Rim-to-Rim Hiking – 5 Day

Trip Length5 Days
Group Size3-7
Activity level
Starting from
$3,999 for REI Members
$4,399 for non-members
DeparturesMay 2024-Sep 2024

Strike out on an unforgettable rim-to-rim hike through the Grand Canyon, descending serpentine trails to the Colorado River before rising through the canyon’s spectacular geological layers to trail’s end.

A rim-to-rim hike in Grand Canyon National Park is an adventure of a lifetime, providing an intimate and unparalleled opportunity to explore this magnificent natural wonder in a way few visitors ever experience. Beginning on the North Rim, we follow our experienced guides down the 14-mile-long North Kaibab Trail to the canyon’s inner sanctum, enjoying awe-inspiring views the entire way. At canyon bottom, the Colorado River and historic Phantom Ranch await. Our overnight at Phantom allows us to relax and soak in the lush riparian world created by the Colorado and its tributaries before beginning the 4,300-foot climb up Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim. Upon reaching the rim, we relish the feeling of accomplishment gained from having crossed the Grand Canyon on foot, and spend a final evening celebrating with our hiking companions and newfound friends at a South Rim hotel.

Our rim-to-rim hike along this classic route is 24 miles of trail magic and breathtaking scenery packed into 48 hours. A fantastic and memorable desert escape suitable for very fit, very active hikers looking for an exceptionally rewarding challenge!

Our rim-to-rim hike along this classic route is 24 miles of trail magic and breathtaking scenery–a fantastic desert escape suitable for very fit, very active hikers.

Trip Highlights

  • Follow exceptional guides on an epic rim-to-rim hike through the Grand Canyon
  • Hike down to the Colorado River along the spectacularly scenic North Kaibab Trail
  • Learn about the powerful geological forces that carved this remarkable desert landscape
  • Spend one night at canyon bottom in historic Phantom Ranch
  • Designed for very fit hikers looking for an adventure that’s both challenging and rewarding


This trip is rated Strenuous [5]. Trip members will carry their large daypack weighing 15-25 pounds 14 miles (6,000' elevation loss) from the North Rim down to Phantom Ranch and 10 miles (4,300' elevation gain) up to the South Rim of the canyon, maintaining a 2+ mile per hour pace which allows the distance to be completed safely and within the allotted timeline. There are some steep sections and exposed overlooks on the various trails we hike. Due to the likelihood of extreme heat at Phantom Ranch during departures from mid-May to mid-September, hiking into the Grand Canyon requires an extra level of care, so our descent to Phantom Ranch can typically begin with an alpine start (as early as 1am) to avoid hiking under the intense midday sun. Although waking at such an early hour can be challenging, it will quickly become apparent that a Grand Canyon trail sunrise is a more than ample reward. The main thing that we stress is that training for a strenuous hiking trip MUST include hiking. The most difficult hikes are mandatory to complete the itinerary.

Both the descent and ascent to/from Phantom Ranch is challenging to even very fit hikers. We recommend a conditioning regimen beginning at least 2–3 months prior to departure which includes hiking with a daypack and strength training combined with other forms of cardiovascular exercise. We ask you to review your personal health and preparation plan with your medical physician prior to traveling.

  • Hiking

What's Included

Two nights camping near Grand Canyon North Rim, one night in mixed gender cabin(s) at Phantom Ranch in Grand Canyon, one night in hotel (double occupancy/same gender), near Grand Canyon South Rim; guide leadership, round trip van transportation from Phoenix; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; park and camping fees. Trip operations are conducted under a Kaibab National Forest Special Use Permit.


Camping (double occupancy tents/same gender), 2 nights; Phantom Ranch shared mixed gender shared cabin(s),1 night; South Rim hotel (double occupancy/same gender), 1 night.

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch Rim-to-Rim Hiking – 5 Day
Day 1

Ride to the North Rim and catch your first views of the Grand Canyon

Our trip begins early this morning in Scottsdale, Arizona. We rendezvous with our guides at our host hotel and, following a brief orientation, drive north through the Sonoran Desert, past Lee’s Ferry (the launch point for Grand Canyon rafting trips), and towards the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Arriving in mid-afternoon, we set up camp at our campground near the North Rim and stretch our legs on a short hike along the Transept Trail before enjoying our first dinner together at the North Rim Lodge. Overnight for the next two nights at a campground 30 minutes from the North Rim. Lunch and dinner included.

Hiking: 1–2 miles, Elevation gain/loss: minimal; Van transfer: 7 hours, with multiple rest stops along the way

Day 2

Take a warm-up hike through ponderosa forest to the canyon rim

After an early start and hearty breakfast at the North Rim Lodge, we set out on a morning hike along a mostly forested trail to Cape Final, a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the Grand Canyon. From Cape Final, we can make out some of the canyon’s iconic formations, including Vishnu Temple and Jupiter Temple, and distant views of the Vermillion Cliffs and Navajo Mountain. Although the hike is a mellow one, it's a chance to begin acclimatizing to the North Rim’s 8,000-foot elevation and its arid desert climate. After returning to the trailhead, we take a short van ride to Cape Royal, another fabulous North Rim viewpoint, where we eat lunch and discuss our plans for tomorrow’s big adventure. Back in camp by mid-afternoon, we have the rest of the day relax and prepare for our very early wake-up call and the hike down to Phantom Ranch. All meals included.

Hiking: 5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +425'/-425'

Day 3

Into the canyon we go! Hike down the North Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch

We rise before dawn and get ready for a challenging trek into the heart of the Grand Canyon. Dropping 5,900 feet in 14 miles, today’s hike down the North Kaibab Trail descends from the alpine to the desert, each step taking us thousands of years back in geologic time through ancient oceans, deserts, lakes and swamps. With mind-blowing vistas, 100-foot tall waterfalls, green spring-fed oases and astonishing trail design and workmanship, the North Kaibab Trail is truly a national treasure. The end of our epic hike brings us to Phantom Ranch, nestled on the banks of Bright Angel Creek, not far from its confluence with the Colorado River. Phantom Ranch was founded in 1903 as a hunting camp and named by Mary Jane Colter after nearby Phantom Creek. We sleep in mixed gender cabins at Phantom tonight. All meals included.

Hiking: 14 miles, Elevation loss: -5,900'

Important note: There is a likelihood of high to extreme heat at any time, most likely from mid-May to mid-September. Hiking into the Grand Canyon when there is a heat advisory requires an extra level of care. Mitigation strategies include an alpine start (as early as 1am) to avoid hiking during the midday heat. Although waking at such an early hour can be challenging, it will quickly become apparent that a Grand Canyon trail sunrise is a more than ample reward. It’s a sunrise you will never forget! Our guides will keep you fully informed of each day’s schedule once your trip begins.

Day 4

Conquer the canyon! Hike back to the South Rim via Bright Angel Trail

Up before the sun once again, we have breakfast at Phantom Ranch before setting our sights on the South Rim. Our rim-to-rim adventure culminates with a 4,300-foot ascent up Bright Angel Trail, an iconic Grand Canyon hike! After crossing the Colorado River, the trail snakes its way up and out of the inner gorge to Havasupai Gardens, a welcome oasis and rest stop. Here, we refuel and refill with water before tackling the steep hike up Jacob’s Ladder through the Redwall layer. While always a tremendous challenge, our guides provide interpretation and encouragement to keep us engaged and energized throughout the climb. With proper preparation, hydration, and timing, we push through the final uphill section of trail and are soon high-fiving on the South Rim. We will celebrate our grand accomplishment and head to our nearby hotel for a celebratory dinner with our hiking companions and newfound friends. All meals included.

Hiking: 10 miles, Elevation gain: +4,300'

Day 5

Squeeze in a final hike or explore Grand Canyon Village before returning to Scottsdale

For those interested in packing in a few additional hiking miles before our departure this morning, our guides will be waiting after breakfast to lead a short hike along the Rim Trail. While the elevation gain is minimal, the trail provides outstanding bird’s-eye views of the canyon and offers some perspective on the fantastic route we hiked during the previous two days. Those interested in relaxing and learning more about the natural history of the Grand Canyon (or doing some last-minute souvenir shopping) can spend the morning hours in Grand Canyon Village at the village’s museums and shops. We regroup at 11am and begin the drive back to Scottsdale, stopping for lunch in Flagstaff en route. We anticipate arriving in Scottsdale by 4pm. Lunch included; breakfast on your own.

Optional Hiking: Up to 3 miles, Elevation gain/loss: minimal; Van transfer: 4.5 hours

Itinerary map for Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch Rim-to-Rim Hiking – 5 Day

Gear List

This gear list has been created to help you choose the best equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. The weather and other conditions at the time of your arrival will dictate what clothing and equipment you will be required to use each day and what (if anything) can be left behind. It may be a necessary precaution that you bring certain items on the list, even if it is uncertain whether or not they will be needed.

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What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Trip specifics may change over time. Reviews reflect the version of the trip that was active at the time the reviewer took it. Please review the itinerary as described above and call our team for any additional details.