If you’re seeking a truly adventurous backpacking trip in Grand Canyon, this trip is for you. Beginning at the Grandview Point Trailhead, hike 12 miles into the canyon, away from the hustle and bustle of Grand Canyon’s busy South Rim and a world away from modern civilization. As we hike down the Grandview Trail, we will have the option to visit the only cave open to the public in the entire park! Over the course of the trip, we will hike along the mostly flat Tonto Trail from Grandview trail to South Kaibab, perfectly perched midway into the canyon’s depths so we can enjoy both towering cliffs above us and views of the Colorado River below. This trip is designed for experienced backpackers or those with an adventurous spirit looking to challenge themselves and step outside the ordinary.
Duration: 5 days/4nights
Departs: Old Town Scottsdale
Includes: Round-trip transportation from Scottsdale, all permits & entry fees, skilled guide(s), all meals (lunch day 1 thru lunch day 3), kitchen & group gear (cooking utensils, stove, fuel, water filter, food storage, dish washing necessities), personal mess-kit (bowl, mug, fork, spoon).
Not-Included: Personal insurance and expenses; Pre- or post-trip lodging; Airfare to and from Scottsdale, AZ; Airport transfers; Breakfast Day 1, dinner Day 3; Sleeping bag, Sleeping pad, Backpack, Tent (rentals available); Trekking poles (complimentary upon request).
Cost: $1195/person + $32/person permit fees*
Price is based on shared occupancy. Solo occupancy upgrade available for an additional $25/person +tax; A $500.00 per person deposit is required to hold your reservation on any trip. The balance is due 60 days prior to your trip departure date. *Subject to change and will be based on actual costs at time of departure.
Over five days you will explore the carved out landscape of Grand Canyon, punctuated by pine trees and old mines shafts – the exploratory ventures of gold-thirsty pioneers. With your guides beside you to share stories, answer questions, and introduce you to the diverse wildlife in this part of the canyon, allow yourself to be captivated by the grandeur of your surrounds. This guided backpacking trip, though not so very far away from the rim, leads you into a world apart, a place rich in canyon history, surprisingly isolated, full of wild beauty.
After meeting in Scottsdale and transferring to Grand Canyon National Park, your guide will help you with a basic pack fitting, packing demonstration, and give a quick overview of the itinerary. We hike 3 miles down to Horseshoe Mesa, losing 2,600 feet while passing by the Coconino Saddle and down endless steps made of stone and wood. Horseshoe Mesa allows us a brief respite (and a restroom – the last for the next 4 days!) as we explore the remnants of an old mining camp. We have the opportunity, if time permits, to explore the Cave of the Domes as well, the only cave in Grand Canyon open to public exploration. After lunch we will continue another 1.4 miles on the North Fork to its intersection with the longest trail in the Grand Canyon: Tonto Trail. Here we take in the majestic cliffs and vast expanse of sky around us before trekking the remaining 1.5 miles to Cottonwood Camp over mostly flat terrain.
After a hearty breakfast we break camp and continue our route along the casual rolling hills of the Tonto Trail. The Tonto Platform on which we hike is a flat plateau formed within the canyon and stretching it’s entire length, providing a “gut” in the middle of the otherwise vertical canyon cliffs. This amazing formation and the 95-mile trail (the longest in the canyon) built along it allows us this serene, secluded route through one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. We may see one other group of intrepid hikers as we move west, making our way out to a viewpoint over Grapevine Rapids on the Colorado River 2,000 feet below. After just 5.5 miles, we make camp at beautiful Grapevine Creek.
Our winding, twisting journey along the Tonto Trail continues along the “fingers” of the canyon, reaching out from the South Rim toward the Colorado River. We’ll see Eighty-five Mile Rapid from above, and pass several springs where miners and early explorers ventured to find water in this dry desert canyon. To our left lies the amazing colors and sheer cliffs of the South Rim, painted countless shades of red and white in stripes and patterns that seem almost man-made. To our right we hear the waters of the Colorado River, whose muddy waters carved every detail of this unforgettable land. At this elevation, low desert plants such as Ocotillo and Utah Agave mix with the grasses and shrubs of higher elevations to make an intricate playground of medicinal and edible plants familiar to both the Native Americans who once roamed here and canyon wildlife who still do.
After packing up camp today, we make a final trip to the Lone Tree spring to fill up on water; our next camp will likely have none to offer. Cremation Canyon, named for the cremation site at the head of the canyon utilized by ancient Native American tribes for ceremonial burials, is a backpacker’s dream escape. Just a few miles off the main thoroughfare of South Kaibab, we find ourselves incredibly close to civilization while still enjoying the unbelievable remoteness only the Grand Canyon can offer. From our camp we can glimpse the winding route of the South Kaibab Trail, as well as Cheops Pyramid, one of the white-crowned towers within the canyon. Tonight we conserve water by enjoying a dry dinner and our final night under the stars of the Milky Way. Those wanting more mileage today can venture down to the Colorado River with the guide to see the Black Bridge and an Anasazi ruin, an additional 6 miles.
After breakfast, we pack up our camp for the final time and say goodbye to the Tonto Trail. After a short trek to an area called The Tipoff, where we find a beautiful NPS-provided restroom, we begin our challenging ascent. The South Kaibab Trail is not for the faint of heart. It rises 3,000 feet above us, negotiating the sheer walls of the Redwall Limestone and Coconino Sandstone via engineered switchbacks, and traversing an exposed ridgeline affording some of the most jaw-dropping views in the entire park. South Kaibab Trail, together with North Kaibab Trail, was the first trans-canyon route ever constructed. The word Kaibab in the Paiute language means, “Mountain lying down”. Doubtless we will disagree with this moniker as we ascend its seemingly unending switchbacks. After 5.5 miles, we arrive at the rim and are welcomed by the crisp smell of ponderosa pine and feeling of accomplishment you can only gain by thru-hiking the Grand Canyon.
April 29- May 3
October 29- November 1
November 29- December 3
Skill level: Advanced
Notes: RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. All Grand Canyon tours are group tours; minimum 2 guests. Please inquire for available dates. Private backpacking tours are available for an additional fee.
All cancellations must be made in writing via email or fax. Cancellation fees abide by the following schedule:
-91 or more days prior: Full refund for all trips
-61 to 90 days prior: Forfeit of deposit (30%)
-31 to 60 days prior: 50% of trip cost
-0 to 30 days prior: 100% of trip cost (no refund)