Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch Weekend - 3 Day

Trip Length3 Days
Group Size3–9
Activity level
Starting from
$2,599 for REI Members
$2,839 for non-members
DeparturesFeb 2024-Nov 2024

Bask in the vast and timeless beauty of the Grand Canyon on an exhilarating 3-day hiking adventure into the heart of this magnificent national park.

Challenge yourself on an unforgettable hiking trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back, covering 17 miles in just two days! Our short but incredibly sweet journey down to the mighty Colorado River includes hikes on two of the park’s most scenic corridor trails and includes one night at canyon bottom at historic Phantom Ranch.

Beginning on the canyon’s South Rim, we descend almost 4,500 feet along the spectacular South Kaibab Trail, enjoying classic Grand Canyon views the entire way down. Our overnight at Phantom Ranch provides an opportunity to relax and recharge our muscles before our long ascent back up Bright Angel Trail the following day. During our hikes, our guides will share their deep knowledge of this geological wonderland and offer encouragement to keep you motivated along the way. Although the hiking can be demanding at times, this trip provides a fantastic opportunity for very fit hikers to enjoy a truly immersive experience in the Grand Canyon wilderness.

As we leave the rim and travel further down into the canyon, we trade crowds of tourists for inquisitive lizards in the tranquility of this desert wilderness.

Trip Highlights

  • Challenge yourself on an epic hiking adventure in Grand Canyon National Park
  • From the South Rim, hike down (and back up) some the park’s most scenic trails
  • Exceptional guides enlighten you on the canyon’s geological and natural history
  • Spend a night at canyon bottom in historic Phantom Ranch
  • Roundtrip transportation from Phoenix included


This trip is rated Vigorous (4). Trip members will carry their large daypack weighing 15-25 pounds for 7 miles (4,780' elevation loss) down to Phantom Ranch and 10 miles (4,300' elevation gain) back up to the 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. The main thing that we stress is that your training 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.

Important Note: The departures affected by the reroute (see Day 3 on the itinerary) up South Kaibab must note that it will be more challenging due to steeper terrain and no access to water resulting in the need for guests to carry all their water needed for the hike out. 7 miles; 4,780’ elevation gain.

  • Hiking

What's Included

One night in a hotel (double occupancy/same gender), one night in mixed gender cabin(s) at Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon; guide leadership; round trip van transportation from Phoenix; meals as noted in the daily itinerary, snacks, and park fees.


South Rim area hotel, 1 night (double occupancy/same gender); Phantom Ranch shared mixed gender shared cabin(s), 1 night

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch Weekend - 3 Day
Day 1

Catch your first unforgettable views of the Grand Canyon.

Our trip begins this morning in Phoenix, Arizona. We rendezvous with our guides at our host hotel, and after introductions and a brief orientation we drive north through the Sonoran Desert towards Grand Canyon National Park. We enter the park from the east and stop for lunch at 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. Continuing to our hotel near the South Rim, we check in and have some free time to stretch our legs on a walk along the Rim Trail, enjoying panoramic views of this awe-inspiring natural wonder. At dinner this evening, we feel the excitement rising as our guides enlighten us on what to expect during tomorrow’s adventure down to Phantom Ranch. Overnight tonight at a South Rim hotel. Lunch and dinner included.

Hiking: Up to 3 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +100' / -100'; Van transfer: 4 hours

Day 2

The grand descent! Hike down to Phantom Ranch on the South Kaibab Trail.

We gather for a 7am breakfast in the El Tovar dining room before slinging on our daypacks and tightening our laces in preparation for our big hike. We begin our journey into the inner canyon on the most direct—and one of the most scenic—routes to the Colorado River. The hand-built South Kaibab Trail follows open ridgelines that provide jaw-dropping 360-degree views throughout the seven-mile descent. Hiking down along a series of switchbacks, we eventually reach the aptly named Ooh-Aah Point before continuing on to Cedar Ridge, a flat plateau where we may encounter a mule train en route to the bottom of the canyon. At Skeleton Point, we peer down and catch a glimpse of the mighty Colorado, perpetually carving its way through the canyon as it has for millions of years. The last part of our hike leads us along the big river itself, then over a suspension bridge as we approach Phantom Ranch, serenely nestled on the banks of Bright Angel Creek. Tonight, we enjoy a hot meal at the Phantom Ranch Canteen before stepping outside to gaze up at an inky canopy speckled with countless twinkling stars. Overnight tonight in mixed gender cabins at Phantom Ranch. All meals included.

Hiking: 7 miles, Elevation loss: -4,780'

Day 3

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

Rising before the sun this morning, we eat a hearty breakfast in the canteen before beginning our 10-mile hike back to the South Rim. Our exit route follows Bright Angel, a classic Grand Canyon corridor trail. Unlike the South Kaibab Trail which follows a ridgeline, Bright Angel follows a natural fault, making it less exposed but equally awe-inspiring. After bidding an early farewell to Phantom, we cross the Colorado River and follow the trail as it snakes its way up to the shady oasis of Havasupai Gardens, our halfway point. After a short rest, we tackle the final steep ascent up Jacob’s Ladder through the canyon’s Redwall layer. While always a tremendous challenge, our guide is nearby sharing helpful tips and stories to keep you energized along the way. Reaching the South Rim by early afternoon, we celebrate our epic accomplishment and gaze into the depths of the canyon one last time, enjoying a newfound appreciation for its hidden treasures that only a small percentage of visitors ever get to see. Loading into our van, we begin our drive back to Phoenix, planning to arrive at our host hotel (stay not included) late this evening. All meals included.

Hiking: 10 miles, Elevation gain: +4,300'; Van transfer: 4.5 hours

Important Note: The Transcanyon Waterline Construction Project in the Grand Canyon is underway. Dates falling between 12/1/2023 - 4/14/2024 and 12/2/2024 - 3/14/2025 will require a reroute, exiting the canyon via the South Kaibab trail (7 miles; 4,780’ elevation gain) rather than our original exit trail via the Bright Angel.

Itinerary map for Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch Weekend - 3 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.

Already booked this trip? Sign into your online traveler profile for a more detailed list of what you'll need.

REI members can shop for gently used gear online or at most REI stores. Members can also trade in pre-loved used gear online or at any REI store in exchange for REI gift card credit. Check out Re/Supply at REI to learn more.

Provided by REI

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.