Grand Canyon Classic

Flagstaff, AZ
5.0 (96 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Famous, Iconic Trails
  • Mighty Colorado River
  • Phantom Ranch & the Colorado River
  • Desert Oases
  • Phenomenal Geologic History
  • Scenic Loop Hike

Description

Please Note: From December 14, 2024 to May 9, 2025 this trip is unavailable due to trail closures. For alternative options, check out the Hermit Loop and Grandview Loop backpacking adventures.

Do you want the full experience of the Grand Canyon but only have a long weekend or 3 days to fit it in? This classic Grand Canyon hiking tour is great for families, individuals, and small groups interested in a backpacking trip to the Canyon bottom and who are limited by time. The Grand Canyon Classic boasts some of the best views in the Grand Canyon and follows the most moderate routes down and back up.

Spectacular vistas will await your arrival on the South Rim, where you’ll hike down the famous South Kaibab Trail. Spending one night at Bright Angel Campground, we then hike to Havasupai Gardens (a spring that watered ancient garden plots for centuries). The third day we hike out the classic Bright Angel Trail back to the South Rim. Natural and cultural history abound on this trip, and it features purely quintessential Canyon views.

Important: 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!

Please Note: Due to a temporary trail closure, this trip will be modified between December 1, 2023 and April 14, 2024. It will be operated as an out-and-back on the South Kaibab Trail, with two nights at Bright Angel Campground. You can still expect the same breathtaking views, time at the Colorado River, fascinating geology and amazing camping! The differences are noted in the day-by-day itinerary below. During this time frame this trip is a Level 4 Difficulty.

Read more …
3 Days From USD
$1505 Per Person
4 Days From USD
$1645 Per Person
Permit Deadlines  

Permit Deadlines

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.

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
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 1-9 Guests
Trip Length: 3-4 Days
Distance: 17MI / 27KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 3

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

SUMMARY OF DIFFICULTY
This trip follows very well maintained, frequently traveled trails. It has significant elevation gains and losses, and there are tall steps from logs across the trail that increase difficulty. This trip may require hiking in 105+ degree fahrenheit temperatures (May-Sept). Like all Grand Canyon trips, it has heights exposure, but we are generally able to walk several feet away from  cliff edges.

Hiking Distances:

Up to 7 mi

Backpack Weight:

25-35 lbs

Terrain:

Lightly Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

3000 ft

Heights Exposure:

Moderate

Please Note: Terrain, Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure ratings reflect the section or day of the trip with the maximum difficulty of each. Much of the trip is at easier levels. See the trip itinerary for more detailed information. Backpack Weight ratings are estimates that account for Wildland-provided gear, guest clothing, personal items and a share of group food. By packing light it’s often possible to stay on the lower end of the weight range. Pack weights also decrease during the trip.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS OF THIS TRIP

  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 25-35 lb backpack for 6-8 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on variable, uneven terrain
  • Negotiating tall steps (trekking poles help)
  • Hiking in 105+ degree farenheit ambient temps may be required in the warmer months (May-Sept). Learn more about desert heat.
  • Hiking with moderate heights exposure
* For an official and complete list of physical requirements, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria.

SOLITUDE LEVEL 2

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Grand Canyon hike a solitude 2 because it follows two of the most popular trails in the Canyon (South Kaibab and Bright Angel). You can expect as much as an hour of solitude at a time once we’re several miles into the Canyon.

Private Trips

Travel in perfect company by booking a private trip exclusively for your group!

Our sliding scale for private trips is based on the final number of guests in your group. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax, national park fees or guide gratuity. The final rate is based on the actual number of guests on the trip and may adjust based on cancellations or additions.

Please Note: you can also enjoy a private trip at our normal scheduled rates by filling any empty tour to capacity. However, if group members drop from the tour those spots will automatically become available on our website for instant booking. By purchasing a private trip at the rates listed below, your trip will remain exclusive to your group regardless of cancellations. 

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 2 People: Rate x 2.5
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.75
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.25
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1.15

*all rates are per person

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ITINERARY

ITINERARY

Day 1

  • Shuttle to the South Rim: 1.5-hour drive from Flagstaff
  • Hiking Mileage: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 4,800 feet

This multi-day Grand Canyon backpacking trip begins on the South Kaibab Trail, a deservedly popular trail that offers spectacular views both up and down the Canyon. It’s 7.5 miles of well-maintained hiking trail to the Bright Angel Campground, our destination and camp for the first night. This camp is one of the most charming in the Park as it’s situated at the bottom of the Grand Canyon near the Colorado River and adjacent to Bright Angel Creek. Campsites are shaded by tall, spreading cottonwoods, piped drinking water is available, and nearby Phantom Ranch offers a snack bar and ranger-led evening interpretive programs.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet

After a hearty breakfast we’ll pack up and make an early departure to take advantage of the cool hiking hours of the morning. Hiking on the Bright Angel Trail along the Colorado, then climbing 1,000 feet, we’ll arrive at Garden Creek. From here we’ll hike along the creek upstream past its junction with Pipe Creek to Havasupai Garden – a spring site that watered seasonal Havasupai garden plots for centuries. From here it’s a short distance to our camp for the night – Havasupai Garden Campground – another enchanting camp with shade and water.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
  • Shuttle to Flagstaff: 1.5-hour drive from the South Rim

A casual morning and delicious breakfast will precede a beautiful hike out as we continue our trip back to the rim via the Bright Angel Trail. It’s a 4.8 mile hike from camp to the South Rim, where we’ll look back over our route and reflect on the beauty of the Grand Canyon and our accomplishment in achieving something that few have had the privilege of experiencing.

4-day Variation

On the 4-day variation we enjoy layover day at Bright Angel Campground on day 2 of the trip. This will offer us the opportunity to explore the area, soak up the magic of the Inner Gorge and the Colorado River, rest and relax. Options for hiking today include an exploration of a steep side canyon that pours into Bright Angel Creek, and a hike up the North Side of the River to a high plateau overlooking the entire south side of the Canyon.

Important: this trip is operated as either a 3-day or 4-day itinerary, and is confirmed as such in advance. Variation of trip length does not mean guests can choose to leave a trip or early or extend it a day.

Modified Itinerary: 12/1/23 - 4/14/2024

Due to a temporary trail closure, this trip will be operated as an out-and-back hike on the South Kaibab Trail between December 1, 2023 and April 14, 2024. We will descend the South Kaibab Trail (same as normal Day 1). Then we will spend two nights at Bright Angel Campground, enjoying a wonderful day hike on Day 2 to a high plateau over the Colorado River, or to a charming desert oasis. On Day 3, we will ascend the South Kaibab Trail back to the South Rim (7.5 miles, 4800 feet elevation gain). This change increases the difficulty of this trip to a Level 4 during this time.

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. Normal terms and conditions apply to trips with itinerary changes.

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). Click on a date or contact us to book. (Permit system details)

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
  • Trained hiking guide(s) with years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. See Guide Bios.
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back
  • Entrance fees and national park permits (read about Grand Canyon’s permit system)
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and communication device (InReach Explorer or satellite phone)
  • Mandatory 5% national park fee that passes through directly to Grand Canyon

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (see recommendations)
  • 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, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware synthetic-fill sleeping bags (or bring your own)
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

Guest Packing List

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with a detailed packing list specific to this trip (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, a recommended clothing system, a headlamp or flashlight, a hydration system (water bottles and/or bladder) and other items specific to each trip.

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!

Grand Canyon Conservancy

By traveling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, the Grand Canyon Conservancy. Donations help them protect Grand Canyon National Park and support trail restoration, conservation of native plants and wildlife, and educational programs. Learn more about this partnership!

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.
.

Travel to Flagstaff

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.

Pre and Post-Trip On Request Lodging

We secure limited amounts of pre and post trip lodging in Flagstaff, Arizona as an optional add-on for guests of this trip. This lodging is on request, and is available on a first come, first serve basis. If interested, please reach out directly to our team to check availability.

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 Precautions

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. Guides adhere to standardized risk management protocols in case of any potential or actual incident, and all tours carry an emergency communication device and comprehensive first-aid kit. Additionally we have a “24/7” system through which guides or guests can reach Wildland support personnel at any time.

If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Essential Eligibility Criteria (“EEC”) have been specifically identified to help you understand the skills and abilities necessary to participate on each Wildland trip, and they apply uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability.

Once you identify a trip in which you may be interested, please carefully review the EEC and itinerary details. If after reviewing the EEC that apply to your desired trip, you determine you need an accommodation in order to meet the EEC, please contact us prior to registering to discuss your requested accommodation.

The EEC exist for your own safety and the safety and enjoyment of all participants. If you are unable to meet the EEC for the trip, with or without an accommodation, you are not eligible for that trip. If you register and arrive for a trip for which you do not meet the EEC, you will be disqualified from participation on the trip and will be dismissed or evacuated from the trip without a refund.

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.

Age Restrictions

Age restrictions on this trip are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 8 and older to join private tours, with final approval and 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°
November52°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.

NOTE: These exact accommodations are not guaranteed. In some instances alternative accommodations of similar quality and location may be used. (test)

Trip Reviews

Trip Reviews

  • Average Customer Ratings:

  • 5.0 (96 reviews)
Fred R
5.0

First Class

2 months ago

This was a first class backpacking adventure. I would highly recommend Wildland Trekking to anyone who wants to go on a backpacking trip. Big THUMBS UP to our guide, Chris Miller!! I'm looking forward for more adventures with Wildland Trekking. Until we meet again. Thank you!

Doug T
5.0

Great Trip

3 months ago

Carlos does a great job. His enthusiasm is a tremendous asset.

Rachel L
5.0

UNFORGETTABLE

6 months ago

Everything about this trip was SUPERB! Carlos was incredibly knowledgeable about EVERYTHING regarding the canyon and his hospitality throughout the trip was excellent. I have told SO many people about this trip and this company and I can’t WAIT to book the next adventure! Thank you for the incredible communication and service, from start to finish, this exceeding all my expectations! My husband and I booked this trip to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and needless to say, this was an UNFORGETTABLE trip!

See All Guest Reviews!

Go to our reviews page

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