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Our trip begins today in Phoenix, Arizona. We meet our guides and the other trip members in the morning to begin our transfer to the Grand Canyon South Rim with a stop (and optional pickup) in Flagstaff, Arizona. We travel through the Sonoran Desert, filled with towering saguaro cactus, gradually climbing thousands of feet onto a high plateau covered in vast pine forests capped off by the San Francisco Peaks. Along the way our guides offer insight into the geological and natural history of this unique landscape. Soon we arrive at the Grand Canyon, where we'll enjoy lunch before our afternoon hike along the Rim trail. Tonight we enjoy the sunset and dinner in Grand Canyon Village. We will get a rundown of the trip itinerary, gear check, and pack our daypacks for tomorrow’s big hike. Meals included: lunch, dinner.
Hiking: 3 miles; Terrain: Maintained trail with 100' elevation gain/loss total.
Note on Lodging: Our lodging this evening will be at either Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge, or one of the equivalent hotels at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. More specific details will be provided on the Final Bulletin you receive closer to your trip date.
Get ready to burn off that big breakfast! Today's descent is 7 miles and 4,780 feet into the grandest of canyons. Our route takes us down a ridgeline affording jaw-dropping 360 degree views of the labyrinth of amphitheaters, temples and buttes. The trail begins with a series of switchbacks to breathtaking Ooh Aah Point before we resume our descent another 1,200 feet, traveling back 40 million years in the geologic record to Cedar Ridge. From here we traverse the Tonto platform before dropping into the inner gorge. The last part of our hike takes us along the Colorado River and over a suspension bridge where we'll find Phantom Ranch at trail's end. Nestled on the banks of Bright Angel Creek just before its confluence with the mighty Colorado River, this former settlement and hunting camp is a "bucket list" destination for many. The current camp was designed by famous architect, Mary E. J. Colter, and was completed in 1922. Reservations can be a challenge to come by on your own (often sold out a year in advance), but relax in the knowledge that this piece of history will be our home for the next two nights. Overnight tonight and tomorrow night in mixed gender cabins at Phantom Ranch. All meals included.
Hiking: 7 miles, Elevation loss: -4,780'; Terrain: A well maintained but rocky and occasionally steep trail descends from 7,200 feet at the trailhead to approximately 2,500 feet at the Colorado River.
A day in the very bottom of Grand Canyon is all yours, with the canyon walls blocking out the rest of the world and affording a feeling of tremendous peace and tranquility. Today we have the option to hike the spectacular Clear Creek Trail and River Trail. Beautiful panoramas await you as you climb this trail sometimes referred to as one of the canyon's "best kept" secrets. If you'd like to take it easy and rest up for tomorrow's ascent, you may choose to use this day for relaxation, cheering on the rafters, socializing with other adventurers, or stretching out in the shade with a book and a cold beer. Photographic and bird watching opportunities abound in this lush green riparian habitat fenced in by sheer walls of 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 optional; Elevation gain/loss: up to 1,000 feet.
The rising sun finds us preparing to conquer the canyon. Our exit is via the classic Bright Angel Trail. After crossing the Colorado River, we'll follow the trail as it snakes its way up out of the inner gorge to the shady oasis of Havasupai Gardens. Here we will refuel and refill with water before tackling the steep ascent up Jacob's Ladder through the Redwall layer. While always a tremendous challenge your guides 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'll take a brief pause to celebrate our shared accomplishments before hopping in the van to make the return trip to Phoenix. We'll stop in Flagstaff for a light farewell meal, returning to Phoenix later this evening. All meals included.
Hiking: 10 miles; Terrain: Maintained trail with a 4,300' ascent.