Horseshoe Mesa

Flagstaff, AZ
4.9 (19 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Astounding Views
  • Cave of the Domes
  • Desert Oases
  • Mining History & Ruins
  • Moderate Distances
  • Great Family Trip
  • Dramatic Night Skies

Description

If you’re interested in experiencing the wilder side of the Grand Canyon and only have a couple of days or a long weekend to fit it in, this backpacking tour is for you! We hike one of the most spectacular trails in the Canyon to a mesa that extends into the Canyon like the deck of a battleship. We camp on the mesa, with sweeping views in all directions, and hike to caves, oases, and spectacular viewpoints that you’ll never forget!

Starting down the famous Grandview Trail, you will be astonished at the beautiful views of this unique and breathtaking part of the Canyon. This route descends a hiking trail built by one of the Grand Canyon’s most famous miners, Pete Berry, in the late 1800s. His amazing, well-built trail winds its way for three miles down unlikely slopes and cliffs before ending at Horseshoe Mesa and the ancient Last Chance Mine.

Once at the mesa, we’ll set up camp and explore the Cave of the Domes, then hike to the edge of the Mesa which extends into the Canyon like the deck of a battleship. The second day features a stunning hike down to Cottonwood Creek, a year-round water source and an incredible desert oasis to explore. The third day sees us hiking back to the South Rim and the Grandview Trailhead. Give us a call to learn more!


Need to Know: Grand Canyon Permits

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!

3 Days
$1035 Per Person
Pre-Permit Registration $955  

Pre-Permit Registration $955

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: 3 Days
Distance: 14MI / 23KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 3

Our difficulty ratings are based on a scale of 1-5, tours with a rating of 1 being least difficult, tours with a rating of 5 being most difficult

Backpack Weight:
25-35 pounds
Daily Hiking Distances:
3-7 miles
Most Elevation Loss:
2500 feet
Most Elevation Gain:
2500 feet
Quality of Trails:
Lightly maintained and rugged
Additional:
The trails are steep and rugged, particularly on our day hike off of Horseshoe Mesa.

Participants should:

  1. be active and healthy
  2. exercise several times per week
  3. be comfortable hiking 6-8 miles per day in hilly or mountainous terrain with a 25-pound backpack

SOLITUDE LEVEL 3

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Grand Canyon hike a solitude 3 because the beginning of the Grandview Trail can be busy, but as we make our way deeper into the Canyon we will see fewer and fewer people. There are multiple groups allowed on Horseshoe Mesa, but the campsites are spread out.

Learn More about our Rating System
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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We’re here to help. If you have any questions, call 800-715-HIKE or contact us online.
PDF Trip Itinerary Packet Book online
Or fill out a Reservation Request
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ITINERARY

ITINERARY

Day 1

  • Shuttle to the South Rim: 2-hour drive from Flagstaff
  • Hiking Mileage: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 2,500 feet

This Grand Canyon backpacking trip begins with a hike down the Grandview Trail to our destination for two nights, Horseshoe Mesa. We hike along a historic Indian route rebuilt by Pete Berry for his Last Chance copper mine. Pete Berry and partners staked the Last Chance claim in 1890 and worked the mine on and off until 1916. The legacy of Grand Canyon mining is abundant here as we explore the remains of the Last Chance mine. Mine shafts and relics are everywhere, as are the walls of Pete Barry’s cabin, and the area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: up to 7 miles day hiking
  • Elevation Loss/Gain: 1000+ feet

The second day will be a layover day to hike and explore Horseshoe Mesa. Your guide will hike the group out to the edge of the mesa to appreciate the incredible views into the Inner Gorge of the Grand Canyon, where the Colorado River flows a whopping 2,500 feet below us (that’s nearly double the height of the Sears Tower)! We’ll also hike to Miner’s Spring, where we’ll enjoy more mining ruins and a lush oasis in the Grand Canyon desert. The hike to the spring descends an exciting series of exposed switchbacks with incredible views.

For those interested, we’ll also have an opportunity to explore Cave of the Domes. This is the only cave in Grand Canyon National Park open to the public and is found just off the west side of the mesa. It contains signatures of early pioneers to the Grand Canyon including those of the Kolb brothers; a pair of adventurous photographers who are among the first to show the Grand Canyon to the world. Past Cave of the domes we’ll have the option of continuing to Cottonwood Creek, where more exciting hiking exists descending a beautiful canyon to a desert oasis.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet
  • Shuttle to Flagstaff: 2-hour drive from the South Rim

A casual morning and delicious breakfast will precede our hike back to the South Rim on the Grandview Trail. Those interested will also have the opportunity to explore some of the previously mentioned features that may not have been seen the day before. We’ll top off at the Grandview Trailhead and say fond farewells to the Grand Canyon before driving back to Flagstaff.

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)

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, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • 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 sleeping bags
  • 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.

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)
  • 5 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:

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 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:

  • 4.9 (19 reviews)
Kelly H.
5.0

Amazing Trip!!!

1 year ago

Amazing trip!! Had no idea what to expect but it was awesome and Michael was very knowledgeable and helped me through my fear of heights.

Marcia V.
4.0

Very Beautiful, Great Guide, Issue with Gear

1 year ago

The guide was really great - patient and very calm, also a great cook. I wasn't expecting such good food on the trail! My main complaint would be equipment related. The zipper on my tent wasn't really working which led to lost sleep when I had to get up in the middle of the night. But aside from that I loved being in a less visited part of the park - it was as always very beautiful in the canyon.

Thomas B.
5.0

Brian Nelson is an excellent guide!

2 years ago

Brian Nelson is an excellent guide. I'm a 59 year-old man in good shape. This was my first experience in the Grand Canyon and hiking such a rigorous trail. He set a reasonable pace. The meals he prepared were fabulous. Horseshoe Mesa and the trip to the Cave of the Domes was remarkable. I felt safe and confident the entire trip. Brian was organized and just all-around a great man. My buddy Chris and I had a awesome time! Definitely will book another trip! Thank you Brian!

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