Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch Weekend – 4 Day

Trip Length4 Days
Group Size4–9
Activity level
Starting from
$3,099 for REI Members
$3,409 for non-members
DeparturesDec 2023-May 2024

A renowned adventure for very good reason, this getaway takes us through two billion years of geological history over the course of four extraordinary days.

Travelers have long been lured by what lies deep inside the Grand Canyon. This trip takes us right into the heart of adventure on a hike down to the spectacular Colorado River. Stunning landscapes and intriguing formations await those who take the journey.

We spend our first night just steps away from incredible views of the canyon, nestled comfortably in contemporary canyon lodging. Then, carrying only our daypacks, we descend the awe-inspiring South Kaibab Trail to the long bridge spanning the Colorado River. We emerge to find ourselves at idyllic and historic Phantom Ranch. We spend two nights and a full layover day here; plenty of time to immerse ourselves in the splendor of the area. Intricate paths on the canyon’s depths remain largely unexplored and are ours to roam. Relax along the riverbanks before winding back to the canyon rim via the scenic Bright Angel Trail.

Our exceptional, experienced guides lead the way and teach us about the canyon’s natural and human history, unique geology and flora & fauna.

Trip Highlights

  • Discover the Grand Canyon's incomparable geology from top to bottom
  • Spend two nights at the legendary Phantom Ranch, deep within the canyon
  • Explore the canyon floor and Colorado River with only daypacks


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 4 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), two nights 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), 2 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch Weekend – 4 Day
Day 1

Travel to the Grand Canyon for a welcome and warm-up hike.

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 Maswik Lodge, 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.

Day 2

Descend via the South Kaibab Trail to arrive at Phantom Ranch.

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.

Day 3

Enjoy a full day exploring on the Clear Creek and the River Trails.

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.

Day 4

Climb to the rim via the Bright Angel Trail and return to Phoenix.

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.

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 – 4 Day

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation. This gear list is provided to help you in choosing your equipment and clothing for this trip. Try to bring only what is necessary.

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.