Colorado River Traverse

Flagstaff, AZ
5.0 (11 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Remote & Wild Tanner Trail
  • Remote Beach Camps
  • Mighty Colorado River
  • Side Creeks & Canyons
  • Unique Red Canyon
  • Incredibly Exciting Hike
  • Vast Amount of Grand Canyon

Description

The Colorado River Traverse is a demanding and rewarding Grand Canyon hiking adventure in the eastern part of the Park. This is a 5-6 day trekking adventure that follows the Colorado River from the Tanner Trail to the New Hance Trail (or the Grandview Trail on the 6-day itinerary). The Colorado River Traverse is one of our most aggressive itineraries and will take you to remote and wild areas. This trip features fantastic Colorado River beach camping, stunning slot canyons and out-of-this-world views. You’ll spend days having the Canyon all to yourself, eating surprisingly great backcountry cuisine, learning about the history of the Canyon, and soaking up the magic of this extraordinary landscape!

If a wild, remote, adventurous hike in the Grand Canyon is what you’re after, then this trip is for you! Give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) to learn more or book your trip today.


Best to Book 4+ Months Early (read more)

It is strongly recommended to book your Grand Canyon backpacking trip 5 months in advance due to the Park’s permit system. Backpacking permits are issued on the first of the month 4+ months in advance (see deadlines for each month.) Permits for the most popular trips sell out very quickly during the initial lottery, so registering prior to the deadline of the month you’re interested in is highly beneficial. You can also pick any dates, and you’ll receive a 5% early registration discount!

5 Days
$1475 Per Person
6 Days
$1655 Per Person
Pre-permit Registration $1401-$1572  

Pre-permit Registration $1401-$1572

  • 5 Days: $1401
  • 6 Days: $1572

Grand Canyon’s permit process is complicated, but we take care of everything so you don’t have to worry about it! Here’s what you do need to know – Grand Canyon issues backpacking permits through a lottery system 4+ months in advance (deadlines listed below). Permits for popular trips sell out immediately during the initial lottery, so it’s important to register before the process begins. Pre-permit registrants also receive a 5% discount and can pick any dates!

When you register we will ask you for backup dates and itineraries, as they are helpful if your first choice isn’t available. If a permit request is denied, pre-permit registrants have top priority for open spaces on confirmed permits, and very often get spots. Finally, we have good success rates, but your deposit is 100% refundable or transferable if we’re unsuccessful. Still have questions? Call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453)!

PERMIT DEADLINES
Month of Trip
Register Before
Permit Results
January
Sept 1
~Sept 15
February
Oct 1
~Oct 15
March
Nov 1
~Nov 15
April
Dec 1
~Dec 15
May
Jan 1
~Jan 15
June
Feb 1
~Feb 15
July
Mar 1
~Mar 15
August
Apr 1
~Apr 15
September
May 1
~May 15
October
June 1
~June 15
November
July 1
~July 15
December
Aug 1
~Aug 15
Return Guests get a 10% discount on all Trips!
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 4-9 Guests
Trip Length: 5-6 Days
Distance: 29MI / 47KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 5

Scale of 1-5. 1 is least difficult; 5 is most difficult

Most of this trip consists of on-trail hiking and is moderately to strenuously rugged. However, one section of the trip – the Papagos Slide – is approximately 1/4 mile of extremely rugged, loose, steep terrain requiring careful balance, strength and focus. The Papagos Slide pushes this trip into Level 5 difficulty.
Hiking Distances:

Up to 8 mi
Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs
Terrain:

Extremely Rugged
Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

Up to 4k+ ft
Heights Exposure:

Significant

Physical requirements:

  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 35-45 lb backpack for 6-10 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on very steep, loose terrain</li>
  • Potentially hiking in 100+ degree fahrenheit temperatures
  • Hiking with significant heights exposure

SOLITUDE LEVEL 5

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Grand Canyon hike a solitude 4 because it follows primarily remote trails. You can expect to see a couple groups of hikers per day once we’re well inside the Canyon.

WHY WE BASE IN FLAGSTAFF VS. PHOENIX
  • Reduced drive time by 3 hours on first day of hiking
  • Guide support is only an hour away vs. 4-5 hours away in Phoenix.
  • Increased flexibility with unforeseen circumstances
  • Flagstaff is a scenic mountain town with great hiking and restaurants!

GROOME SHUTTLE
Groome Transportation operates an Arizona Shuttle that makes 9 dependable trips daily each direction between Phoenix and Flagstaff. The duration is 2.5-3 hours. They pickup/drop off at Sky Harbor Airport and the Metro Center in Phoenix, and in Flagstaff at the Amtrak Station (near downtown) and the NAU campus.

Note: Groome also offers daily transportation (3 trips in each direction) from Flagstaff to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

CAR RENTAL
Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix has a fantastic car rental facility that is easily accessible and hosts a great variety of companies. We recommend checking Priceline.com as well for especially good deals.

ARIZONA EXECUTIVE TRANSPORT
Arizona Executive Transport offers private, reliable SUV service between Phoenix and Flagstaff. This option is best if you’re traveling in a group of 3 or 4. As Wildland Trekking guests, your one-way cost for up to 4 passengers is only $275. Simply type “Wildland Trekking Company” in the Discount Code Box at the bottom of the online registration page. You can go to http://www.arizonaexecutivellc.com to make your reservations online.

Arizona does not charge sales tax on services, so there is no sales tax for this trip.

All trips in Grand Canyon National Park have a 5% fee required by the National Park Service. This fee is applied when your reservation is made and is passed through directly to the national park.

There are no other taxes or fees associated with this trip. Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) with any questions!

Private Trips

Traveling in perfect company is a wonderful thing! With our private trip offerings you can book a trip exclusively for your group. Whether it’s with family, friends or colleagues, private trips are a fun and enriching way to explore the outdoors.

Private trip pricing is based on a sliding scale, depending on the number of people in your party. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax and national park fees (where applicable) or guide gratuity. Give us a call at 800-715-HIKE to get the ball rolling!

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 2 People: Rate x 2
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.3
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.1
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1

*all rates are per person

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ITINERARY

ITINERARY

Day 1

  • Shuttle to the South Rim: 2-hour drive from Flagstaff
  • Hiking Mileage: 8 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 4650 feet

We begin this Grand Canyon backpacking tour with a journey down the Tanner Trail to a stunning beach campsite on the Colorado River. The trail is long and steep and we’ll rejuvenate by soaking tired feet in the icy waters of the Colorado River. Relax in camp tonight as your guide prepares a hearty meal to the sound of Tanner Canyon Rapids.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 8 miles
  • Elevation Loss/Gain: 1200

We’ll rise early to take advantage of hiking during the cooler morning hours. Today’s hike travels west along the Escalante Route of the Colorado River. Our goal is to reach Escalante Creek beach, a stunning side canyon that empties into the Colorado River. Relaxing by the river is one of the best rewards at the end of another day in Grand Canyon.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 4-7 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 850-1650 feet

Day 3 is often considered the most scenic and adventurous of all – following breakfast we’ll break camp and continue west until we reach Seventyfive Mile Creek; a serpentine slot canyon that pours into the Colorado. Some technical but photo-worthy terrain lies between here and our campsite. Our goal today is Red Canyon beach which may just be the most pristine beach in all of the Grand Canyon.

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 3-4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1000 feet

After a leisurely morning we’ll break camp and start our hike up Red Canyon, where tilting strata provide stunning scenery and an amazing geologic story, as the area was once an island that rose above the waters of an ancient sea. We’ll hike up the dry creek bed of Red Canyon and then switchback through the towering Red Wall – a sheer, 5oo-feet tall, red-tinted limestone barrier. We’ll make camp atop the Red Wall at one of the most spectacular camps in the Canyon. After enjoying a final, celebratory dinner with panoramic views of the Grand Canyon as our backdrop, it will be time to turn in for a good night’s sleep.

Day 5

  • Hiking Mileage: 2-3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
  • Shuttle to Flagstaff: 2 hours

A tasty breakfast will precede our hike out as we leave the Red Wall formations and enter into an old creek bed. After following the creek for awhile we’ll hike and scramble up out of the creek bed to the trailhead and the end of our Grand Canyon backpacking adventure. From there we’ll ride comfortably back to Flagstaff and much deserved – and anticipated – showers.

6-Day Variation

This trip also makes a great 6-day trip by skipping the layover day (on the 5-day itinerary) and continuing to hike west on the Tonto Trail to Hance Creek, instead of heading up the New Hance Trail. We continue past Paige Spring to Horseshoe Mesa, where we’ll have the opportunity to explore an old copper mine and historical area. Then we hike out on the Grandview Trail, named for some of the biggest views in the Grand Canyon; as much as 100 miles on a clear day! This variation adds 6 miles of hiking and little to no changes in elevation from the 5-day itinerary.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.

Trip Dates & Booking

TRIP DATES & BOOKING

Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

Available to Book

AVAILABLE TO BOOK

This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

Going Fast

GOING FAST

This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

Request a Reservation

REQUEST A RESERVATION

This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

Permitted and Confirmed Trip Dates

These trip dates are permitted and confirmed. Click on a date to book!

Pre-Permit Trip Dates

Permits have not yet been issued for these months. It is best to book before the listed deadlines. You can pick any dates (listed or not) and receive a 5% discount! Click on a date or contact us to book. (Permit system details)

March 2022 (Book before November 1, 2021)
April 2022 (Book before December 1, 2021)
September 2022 (Book before May 1, 2022)
October 2022 (Book before June 1, 2022)

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, backcountry sleeping pad and multi-day backpack
  • High quality, synthetic sleeping bag (professionally laundered after every use) – or bring your own.
  • Use of trekking poles and Microspike Crampons if necessary
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Grand Canyon hiking guide
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back
  • Entrance fees and national park permits
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about what to pack.

Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

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.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware synthetic-fill sleeping bags (or bring your own)
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are three 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

Additionally, some guests choose to bring their own sleeping bag. We supply high quality, synthetic fill bags that are professionally laundered after every trip. Synthetic fill is non-allergenic, insulates when damp and stands up well to repeated washings, but is heavier and bulkier than down. If you’re able to bring your own down sleeping bag, there are multiple benefits. If not, we’ve got you covered!

What Clothes to Bring

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with detailed guidance about what clothes to pack (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and our recommended clothing system. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you’re ready to register we’ll email you a link to a registration profile. You’ll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit.

Feel free to call us for more info – we’re here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

Unless we tell you otherwise, you will meet your guide and group at the Little America Hotel in Flagstaff (use this reservation page for a 10-60% discount at Little America) for an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the evening before the trip begins. We’re happy to give you a ride to this meeting if you’re not staying at Little America, but staying at one of our other recommended hotels. Your guide will then pick you up at your hotel the next morning for transport to the trailhead. For Private Grand Canyon Tours your guide will meet you at your hotel in Flagstaff at an agreed upon time.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day’s pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 4 and 7 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).

Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We’ve developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time…etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides’ off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.

Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on Grand Canyon backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 9 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we’ll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in the Grand Canyon

The weather in the Grand Canyon varies tremendously from the rim to the canyon floor, with as much as a 30 degree Fahrenheit difference. For this reason, the Canyon is truly a year-round hiking destination. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). Read below for average high and low temperatures at the South Rim and the Canyon bottom:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)

MonthSouth RimCanyon Bottom
hilowhilow
Dec-Feb41°18°60°38°
March51°25°71°48°
April60°32°82°56°
May70°39°92°63°
Jun-Aug82°

53°108°75°
September76°47°97°69°
October65°36°84°58°

November
52°27°68°46°

Accommodations

Accommodations

Backcountry Sleeping

Tent Camping

Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and synthetic-fill sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

Backcountry Cuisine

Fresh & Delicious

Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

Amazing Campsites

In the Action

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

Trip Reviews

Trip Reviews

  • Average Customer Ratings:

  • 5.0 (11 reviews)
MicahB
5.0

The First, Of Many, Experiences Of A Lifetime I Plan On Sharing With This Group

3 months ago

Okay Okay Okay! Hold on there everyone else saying your guide was the best. I’m sure Beau is great and I actually got to meet JP who was energetic and kind, but they can’t be the best guides. Because I had the best guide and her name is Laine. In all seriousness, it is a testament to the quality of the personnel at this company that you are hiking through one of the great wonders of the entire world and the thing that everyone keeps mentioning is the incomparable quality of the guides. As for the hike itself, it is a truly tremendous place to inhabit. The greatest difficulty it poses is establishing a realistic perspective. Because all you have is the Grand Canyon, the great Colorado river and the endless sky. So good luck putting it into perspective, but it’s definitely worth a shot. Also a big thanks to Josh, JP, Carla and all the people behind the scenes that I did not get to meet.

Olesya L.
5.0

An Unparalleled Experience!

9 months ago

There are so many reasons this trip was perfection—the gorgeous landscape, beautiful weather, a terrific group, some delicious meals (still dreaming about that curry), but perhaps most of all, our guide and fearless leader, Beau. I can’t imagine this trip being as excellent had anyone else been at the helm. Beau was experienced, professional, knowledgeable, and extremely fun to be around. We all loved trying to crack his riddles and logic puzzles, listening to his jokes, and being taught how to play Skulls underneath the starry night sky after an intense day. Beyond that, there were some pretty intense/rough moments on the trail, and Beau always allocated the time and support necessary to get everyone through safely. I always felt confident that I was in good hands. An enormous thank you to the Wildland Trekking team for an unparalleled experience. I’m already looking forward to the next adventure with you!

John G.
5.0

Amazing Experience

10 months ago

I'm not a very experienced hiker and did not have any expectations going into the hike other than that the scenery was going to be beautiful and that I was probably going to hurt a little from the ups and down. Ron was an amazing guide. Excellent knowledge of the geology, flora/fauna, history of the area, and just a great person to hike with. As a beginner, I learned a lot and he was always helpful with providing me information. The food he prepared was awesome (especially the coconut curry) and the sites he picked for camping were spectacular. Can't stress this enough, Ron was an excellent guide. I would honestly do the same exact hike over again.

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