Tuckup Canyon & Vulcan's Throne Grand Canyon Backpacking
An Epic Experience

Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Trip Code: GCTC

Duration: 7 Days

Distance: 48 mi/77 km

Fitness: 5
Comfort: 1
Solitude: 5

Origin: St. George, UT

Cost: $1550/person

Trip Description:

Our Tuckup Canyon/Lava Falls backpacking tour is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Far removed fom the bustle of the rims and more developed trails, this adventure provides a true wilderness experience, certain to capture your imagination and lend a true pioneer feeling to your soul.  Incredible narrows, thundering rapids, intense solitude, and a hike that demands skill and expertise in the backcountry are on the menu here.  Just getting to the trailhead for this one is an adventure, as we 4-wheel out to the lonely Toroweap overlook, and start our excursion with a rigorous adventure to famed Lava Falls.  After returning topside, we venture into Tuckup Canyon, one of the most remote and wild parts of Grand Canyon where you will be confronted with thrilling downclimbs and scrambling, extensive narrow slots through polished limestone, arches and bridges, and utter solitude.  Recommended for serious backpackers and backcountry travelers only.

  1. Tuckup Canyon, Grand Canyon
  2. Shaman's Gallery, Grand Canyon
  3. Toroweap Overlook, Grand Canyon
  4. Toroweap Overlook, Grand Canyon
  5. Fossils in Tuckup Canyon , Grand Canyon
  6. Tuckup Canyon Narrows, Grand Canyon
  7. Cottonwood Creek, Grand Canyon
  8. Stairway Canyon narrows. Grand Canyon
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Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

Your Tuckup/Lava Falls backpacking tour excursion begins as we make our way overland to Vulcan's Throne for your first dramatic vista.  The road is rough, an excellent segue into what is a challenging and thrilling Grand Canyon adventure.  After some photos, we will descend the rocky and remote trail with light packs and a water cache.  This exciting trail presents very unique scenery and geology, as these are some of the youngest rocks in the Canyon at roughly 1 million years of age.  Thundering rapids at Lava Falls awaits us, and we may get a peek at some raft parties attempting to navigate this wild rapid.  Upon returning to the rim, we will drive to our campsite at the Tuckup trailhead, and prepare ourselves for the epic journey ahead.
Drive Time: 3 hours
Distance & Elevation: 3 miles, 2240 foot descent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

Now begins our Tuckup-Stairway Canyon loop adventure, as we descend into this remote and wild part of the Grand.  We will enjoy a pleasant and scenic descent through Tuckup's sweeping views into narrows and Shaman's Panel, an elegant pictograph wall said to be the most well-preserved in the Canyon.  Tonight's camp is at the mouth of delightful Cottonwood Canyon.  
Distance & Elevation: 7.8 miles, 160 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

Our third day presents more world-class canyon narrows, a spectacular conglomerate rock natural bridge, a few adventurous downclimbs, and a tremendous hiking experience.  Tonight we will camp at Tuckup Beach on the banks of the Colorado River.
Distance & Elevation: 5.4 miles, 350 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

Today we will parallel the Colorado River as we make our way towards Stairway Canyon.  Hiking near the Colorado can, at time, be a challenge as we will compete with the tamarisk that often lines its shores in the Canyon.  The river present astounding views of the Canyon's metamorphic Inner Gorge, an homage to the forces that built the North American continent.  We will make camp at the mouth of Stairway Canyon.
Distance & Elevation: 8.1 miles, 600 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:

Our fifth day presents some exciting challenges as we pick our way up Staiway Canyon.  We will need our route-finding skills, our scrambling and climbing skills, and the strength of our minds and bodies to conquer this most excellent of scenes in the Grand Canyon.  Upon exiting Stairway, we will camp under the stars near Willow Spring. 
Distance & Elevation: 7.9 miles, 2000 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: 

Day 6 includes more epic scenery, thrilling hiking, and more forgiving terrain as we cruise up through Grand Canyon's layercake towards our final night's camp at Cottonwood Spring, another pleasant flow with a gorgeous riparian area of Cottonwood trees and beautiful Grand Canyon scenes of The Dome and more.
Distance & Elevation: 7 miles, 1000 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunhc, Dinner

Day 7:

Our final day begins with sunrise yoga on the rocks, followed by a lazy morning in camp.  We'll then pack up, and make our way towards the Grand Canyon rim, soaking in the tremendous solitude and epic grandeur.  After we reach our shuttle, we'll celebrate our epic trip like a geologist; with a cold beverage at a local watering hole before we head back to St. George, Utah.
Distance & Elevation: 6 miles, 1000 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch

8-day option:

The 8-day option for the Tuckup Canyon backpacking tour affords you an extra day for fewer backpacking miles, more side canyon exploration, and a generally slower pace.  A group size of at least 4 is required for a custom tour.

*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.

What’s Included:
A professional, degreed, licensed and medically trained geologist/guide
All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your geologist/guide will prepare all trail meals)
All food, including a mix of fresh and pre-made backcountry meals
Roundtrip Transportation from your hotel in St. George to Grand Canyon and all activities/attractions
Entrance fees, camping fees, and backcountry permits

Meals: what to expect
We provide all your meals from a light breakfast on day 1 through lunch the last day. Your geologist/guide will prepare a variety of meals on the trail that will fit the day's activity. Feel free to tell us about your food preferences, as we're more than happy to tailor the menu to your needs/desires. Some specialty diets may require an additional fee.

All meals will consist of one entree, prepared by your geologist/guide.  Fresh options will be limited, as backpacking typically requires liightweight, non-perishable foods.  There will be trail snacks that consist of nuts, fruits, chocolate, and other "gorp" style mixes.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

What’s Not Included:
Transportation to/from St. George, UT
Lodging the night before/after the trip
Clothing, raingear, and footwear
Personal toiletries, sunscreen
Water bottles/hydration bladder
Headlamp or flashlight
Guide gratuity (suggested 10-15% of trip cost)
*Upon booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet

How many people are in the group?
Most backpacking trips in Grand Canyon will accommodate 5 people plus one guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 8 people plus 2 guides.

Are there age restrictions?
Due to the rigorous nature of this hike, nobody under the age of 18 is eligible for this hike.  This is non-negotiable.  Feel free to contact us regarding this policy for more information.

How do I sign up?
In order to confirm a reservation , we require an initial deposit of $250 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.  Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-602-904-2536
Travel Logistics

Where does the trip begin/end?
This trip will begin/end in St. George, UT and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in St. George. You will want to fly into either Las Vegas (2 hour drive) or St. George. Please visit our  Travel Resources  page for information on airports, shuttles/rental cars and recommended hotels.

Where do you meet our guides?
We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 4:30pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the host hotel in St. George. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation.  Most trips will depart between 5am and 6am.

*This meeting is not mandatory, but highly recommended, as we will depart early the next morning. If you are unable to attend, please let us know in advance so that we can make alternate arrangements.

What do we do with our car and extra stuff?
We will provide all transportation to/from trailheads for the duration of the trip. We will pick you up at the host hotel in St. George and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the host hotel can leave their cars at the hotel. These hotels will often store your luggage for you, as well. If not, we are happy to store extra luggage at a secure location for the duration of the trip. If you are staying at a different hotel, you will need to check with them as to whether you can leave your car there.

What time will we get back on the last day?
Expect to be back in St. George by 5pm at the latest on the last day of the trip. Some trips will return earlier but we cannot make any guarantees. In general, it is recommended that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.

Trip Dates

2017 Dates
November: 6-10
December: 7-11

2017 Dates
November: 6-10

December 7-11

More dates to come soon…
Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!
Call 1-602-904-2536 or email us  for details.