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What are the Best Backpacking Trips in Grand Canyon?

Grand Canyon National Park can be a nearly overwhelming place.  What do I do?  Where should I go?  Even for seasoned backpackers, the choices can be endless and exhausting.  The Goat has compiled a list especially for you, outlining backpacking trips in Grand Canyon for all skill and experience levels.  Enjoy!

5.  The Hermit Loop

Time: 3 days, 2 nights

Distance: 18 miles

Difficulty: Undergraduate+ (Check out our difficulty ratings)

The Hermit Loop is a truly classic Grand Canyon backpacking trip that can be easily accomplished over a long weekend.  It is a great hike for those who are looking to take their first backpacking foray into the big ditch, and truly hits all the highlights.  Sweeping vistas, interesting side trips, and excellent canyon history await on a trail forged originally by the “hermit of the Grand Canyon”, Mr. Louis Boucher.  The route was later improved by the Santa Fe Railroad Line in an attempt to bring mining, then tourism, into the area.

4.  Tuckup Canyon via the Stairway to Heaven

Time: 7 days, 6 nights

Distance: 45 miles

Difficulty: PhD+ (check our difficulty ratings)

Get your defibrillator, this one is not for the faint of heart.  Located in one of the most remote parts of Grand Canyon, this long, challenging loop is meant for experienced cannoneers only.  This route takes ambitious hikers down Tuckup Canyon, past Shaman’s Gallery (recognized as one of the most spectacular rock art etchings in the American Southwest), through a traverse along the mighty Colorado River, and then up Stairway Canyon.  Along the way, there are exciting climbing, route-finding, and scrambling challenges, and .  Strap in!

 

3.  Thunder River to Deer Creek

Time: 4 days, 3 nights

Distance: 28 miles

Difficulty: Graduate+ (check our difficulty ratings)

The Thunder River to Deer Creek Loop is perhaps the North Rim’s most fabulous backpacking trip.  Multiple water sources, outstanding scenery, and a truly thunderous river.  Geologically speaking, Thunder River is one of the most unique features in Grand Canyon.  It begins as an underground river (aquifer) up on the Kaibab Plateau.  It flows along various fault lines and crustal weaknesses until it breaks loose at the contact of the permeable Esplanade Group (mostly shales) and the impermeable Redwall Limestone, quite literally thundering onto the rocks below.

2.  Rim-to-Rim via Phantom Ranch

Time: 3 days, 2 nights

Distance: 19 miles

Difficulty: Graduate (check our difficulty ratings)

This is the true Grand Canyon classic backpacking trip.  Starting at the North Rim, your descent begins on the North Kaibab Trail as it winds it way down to the Colorado River.  Along the way hikers are treated to unspoiled views, soaring eagles, and a well-developed trail.  Thru-hikers may  camp at Bright Angel Campground, or stay in the lodge at the famed Phantom Ranch.  From here hikers may choose to ascend either the South Kaibab Trail (shorter, steeper) or the Bright Angel Trail (more miles) and stay the second night on the Esplanade.  After cresting on the South Rim, be sure to gaze upon your North Rim starting point.  This is one of the most popular trips in Grand Canyon, so be sure to make your reservations early!

1.  The Escalante Route

Time: 5 days, 4 nights

Distance: 35 miles

Difficulty: PhD (check our difficulty ratings)

Carved by early Puebloan explorers of Grand Canyon, this long traverse of Grand Canyon from the Tanner Trail to Horseshoe Mesa and Grandview is perhaps one of the finest backpacking trips on the planet.  There is a little bit of everything Grand Canyon here, as hikers will encounter outrageous views of the Great Unconformity, sandy beaches, a class 3 scramble over the famous Papago Wall, and a spectacular slot canyon carved from billion-year-old Shinumo Quartzite.  This route confronts with hikers with the unimaginable scale of Grand Canyon, as it will seem as though you are climbing mountains in a canyon.  Grand!

Going Guided

Hiking and exploring The Wave, or any of our public lands, is a special experience.  Although it is possible to see these places yourself, hiring a guiding outfitter is a great idea.  For instance, guiding services provide logistical support, and plan everything for your best possible trip.  They provide a great safety net on the trail, and are trained in backcountry medicine. Above all, they provide a depth of knowledge of the region that turns a walk into a true adventure.

Canyons and Chefs provides all of the support you need, and pairs that with professional chefs and expert geologist/guides.  Our meals use fresh ingredients and are inspired by local farms, culture, and cuisine. We utilize a mobile professional kitchen as a backbone for cooking over the fire.  Furthermore, we provide top-of-the-line gear and passion for the places we explore. In conclusion, you can these wild places, but going with a guide can create an even more memorable experience.  Don’t be shy, and call us!

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