Grand Canyon Backpacking – South Rim

Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 4-9

Starting from


for REI Members

$999 for non-members


Sep 2019-Oct 2020

A challenging 4-day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon’s South Rim brings extraordinary views and exceptional feelings of personal accomplishment.

The Grand Canyon—with its rugged trails and unforgettable scenery—is truly one of America's greatest natural wonders. Avid backpackers around the world seek out its mystic depths in search of a true personal challenge. This strenuous trip is designed for experienced and fit backpackers. We hike on steep, rocky trails with dramatic elevation gains and losses. Our reward is the time spent below the rim—an experience unlike any other, and a milestone accomplishment for avid backpackers.

Along our way from the South rim to the Colorado River at the Canyon's floor, we see astounding rock formations, springs and waterfalls, and fossils and relics revealing the immense history of the region. During rest stops, we take in awe-inspiring views and cool off in the canyon’s waters. Camp beneath starry skies, enjoying delicious meals and good stories with new friends. An early start means cooler temperatures we make our ascent to the canyon rim. Enjoy dramatic views of the wide chasm as we revel in our accomplishments.

Also check out our North Rim backpacking itinerary for more options to explore this national treasure.

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Trip highlights

  • Backpack from the South Rim to the canyon floor
  • See stunning rock formations at an astonishing scale
  • Challenge yourself with four days of hiking through unsurpassable terrain
  • Get a new perspective on the Grand Canyon looking up from the bottom
  • Learn local history and see a surprising diversity of plants and wildlife


This trip is rated Strenuous [5]. Participants will be carrying backpacks with weights of 30-45 lbs for up to 11 miles per day. Participants should be prepared to hike over steep, rocky and sometimes exposed terrain, with constant and dramatic elevation gains and/or losses of up to 5,000 feet per day on most days. We strongly recommend practicing with 30-45 lbs in the pack you intend to use for the trip and making sure your hiking boots are broken in before departure. This is not a beginning backpacking trip. Previous backpacking experience is a prerequisite for participation and a physician's release is required.

  • Backpacking

What's Included

Professional instruction and guiding; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; 2-person tents; group cooking gear; group first aid kit, water filter; campsite and backcountry permit fees.


Backcountry camping, 3 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Route Variation

Our specific hiking route and campsites on each departure are dependent on permit availability.

REI will include a detailed itinerary in your final departure materials. Our two most common routes include highlights such as:

Day 1

Welcome to the Grand Canyon! We begin our descent into the canyon.

Meet your guides and the other group members inside Grand Canyon National Park at South Rim Market Plaza in front of the General Store at 8am sharp. We'll use this time for a brief orientation, group gear distribution, and a pack check. Shortly thereafter we'll transfer to the trailhead where stunning views await. Our legs warm up quickly as we begin our descent along the steep and rocky trail into the canyon. At camp, guides prepare our meal. A canopy of stars rewards us after a long day. Dinner included.

Backpacking: 8-10 miles; Elevation loss: 4,400'

Days 2-3

Continuing our exploration, we move on to our next camp.

After a hearty breakfast each morning, we pack up and hike to our next camp. Depending on our route, we'll see spectacular sites like Hance Rapids, the Grand Canyon Supergroup Layers, Redwall Cliffs, Vishnu Temple, and the Colorado River—amazing examples from 1.7 billion years of Earth's geological history. Scenery includes beautiful river views, other-worldly rock formations, and ample stargazing. We end our days at a comfortable camp and recharge with a freshly-prepared dinner. Breakfast and Dinner included

Backpacking: 5-11 miles; elevation gain/loss varies depending on route.

Day 4

We make our exit hike up to the rim, taking in final views of the Grand Canyon.

Today we make our exit ascent to the canyon rim. An early start takes advantage of the coolest part of the day as we climb up the rocky trail. Depending on time, we may make a brief side trip for more views of the canyon. At the rim, we take in a final view of this dramatic chasm and say our goodbyes. Finishing time is generally in the late afternoon but can vary greatly based on trail and weather conditions, hiking speed of the entire group and other circumstances beyond our control. As a result, we recommend postponing travel plans until the following day. Breakfast included.

Backpacking: 8-9 miles; Elevation gain: 3,500-4,000'

Note: Trip members will need to bring a variety of quick foods for snacks and lunch each day. Granola bars, drink mixes, trail mix, bagels, hard cheeses, salami, jerky, tuna packets (not cans), crackers, packets of nut butter (not jars), apples, etc. are all good choices.

Grand Canyon Backpacking – South Rim Departures

  • Prices are per person, based on double occupancy
  • All 2019 dates are tentative based on permit availability.
  • Don't see the trip you're looking for?
    Book a private departure
  • Prices are per person, based on double occupancy
  • All 2019 dates are tentative based on permit availability.
  • Don't see the trip you're looking for?
    Book a private departure

Gear list

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.

What to pack

Packed by REI

  • All Group Cooking Gear
  • Group First Aid Kit
  • Stoves and Fuel
  • Tent(s)
  • Water Filter

Packed by you (Required)


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Travel Documents

  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)

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.

Meet your guides

Marci L.

Marci grew up hiking, exploring and backpacking the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Utah. She enjoys adventure travel and exploring new places, which goes hand in hand with her desire to guide groups into the Grand Canyon year after year.

Meet your guides

Todd W.

This REI Top Guide award winner has been guiding REI members into the Grand Canyon since 2008 and has completed over 100 canyon backpacking trips. Todd loves learning about people's varied backgrounds while sharing his knowledge and love of the Grand Canyon.

Adventure Expert


I trained for this trip like crazy and it was so incredibly worth it. I gained a very real personal connection to the canyon hiking down past eons of history and through rock formations that are totally out of this world.

Blue Dog

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is Amazing!

Loved, loved, loved, the guides. Todd and Neil were so much fun - I have never met two people with more life experiences than these two. Very inspirational on so many levels. And, all-around good people. If you are wo...

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