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
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
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
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: 4 days, 3 nights
Distance: 19 miles
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! For those who want an alternate, consider the Rim-to-River and Back hike.
1. The Escalante Route
Time: 5 days, 4 nights
Distance: 35 miles
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!
Hiking and exploring Grand Canyon, or any of the National Parks, is a special experience. Although it is possible to see these places yourself, hiring a guide 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.
Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism provides all of the support you need, and pairs that with expert geologist/guides. Our backcountry meals use fresh ingredients, and are planned by a professional chef. Furthermore, we provide top-of-the-line gear and passion for the places we explore. In conclusion, you can visit National Parks, but going with a guide can create and even more memorable experience. Don’t be shy, and call us!
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For adventure hiking vacations in a geologic time machine, see our epic tours in Grand Canyon, Utah, and Arizona!
For geological musings read The Goat’s geology blog.