Winter Rim to Rim to Rim

Flagstaff, AZ
5.0 (59 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Cross Grand Canyon Twice
  • Solitude on Most Famous Trails
  • Phantom Ranch & the Colorado River
  • Amazingly Varying Climatic Zones
  • Desert Oses
  • Phenomenal Geologic History

Description

Our Winter Rim to Rim to Rim hiking tour is a rare opportunity to hike the Grand Canyon’s most famous trails, see both rims in winter, and experience the amazingly diverse micro-climates in the Canyon, all while having it nearly all to yourself. We begin and end on the South Rim, crossing the Colorado River near Phantom Ranch, and continue up to a high camp where we day hike to the North Rim. And we see desert oases, geological phenomena, Native American ruins, box canyons and more en route!

This trip takes us down the South Kaibab Trail, which has arguably the best views in the Grand Canyon, up the North Kaibab Trail to the North Rim and back to the South Rim via the spectacular Bright Angel Trail. The first day we’ll hike to Bright Angel Campground and the Colorado River, where we’ll enjoy moderate desert temperatures at the bottom of the Canyon. From there we’ll take 3 days to reach the North Rim and return to Bright Angel Campground. Our route out of the Canyon includes a final night at Havasupai Garden Campground. The final day we finish our hike to the South Rim, completing our Rim to Rim to Rim!

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 of the Bright Angel Trail, this trip will be modified between December 1, 2023 and April 14, 2024. December through February, we will spend a layover day at Bright Angel Campground on Day 5, and then hike out the South Kaibab Trail on Day 6. In March and April, it is the same itinerary without the layover day. 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. 

Read more …
5 Days
$1985 Per Person
6 Days
$2235 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: 2-9 Guests
Trip Length: 6 Days
Distance: 44MI / 71KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 4

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

SUMMARY OF DIFFICULTY
This trip has two components that determine the difficulty: 1) hiking with full backpacks on good, maintained trails with moderate distances and elevation changes; and 2) a 14-mile roundtrip day hike to the North Rim with light packs and 4200 feet of elevation gain/loss. The trails can also be icy or snowy in places, which increases the ruggedness.

Hiking Distances:

Up to 14 mi

Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs

Terrain:

Moderately Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

4200 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 35-45 lb backpack for 6-8 hours
  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 10-15 lb backpack for 10-14 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on variable, uneven, possibly snowy/icy  terrain
  • Hiking with moderate heights exposure
* For an official and complete list of physical requirements, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria.

SOLITUDE LEVEL 4

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Grand Canyon hike a solitude 4 because while we’ll be hiking the most popular trails in the Park, winter is a very slow time in the Canyon, particularly on the North Kaibab Trail.

MINIMUM OF 2 GUESTS

If a trip does not reach the minimum number of guests, you may choose to transfer to another trip date or another trip, be refunded your payments in full, or you may have the choice to pay a supplemental fee to run the trip with fewer guests. We make the final determination for these trips 4-6 weeks before the departure date, and notify guests of changes and options immediately.

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 Grand Canyon backpacking trip begins on the South Kaibab Trail, a deservedly popular hiking trail that offers spectacular views both up and down the Grand Canyon. It’s 7.5 miles of well-maintained hiking to the Bright Angel Campground, our destination and camp for the first night. This camp is one of the most charming in Grand Canyon National 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.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 7.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet

On day two we’ll break camp and hike another 7 miles up to Cottonwood Campground. En route we traverse the amazing Bright Angel Box Canyon. With sheer granite and schist walls rising hundreds of feet above us, we hike along the crystal clear, spring-fed desert oasis of Bright Angel Creek. Cottonwood Campground will be our staging point for the next day’s hike to the North Rim.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 13.6 round-trip day hike miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,161 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 4,161 feet

After a hearty early breakfast we’ll begin our hike toward the North Rim. (If the weather isn’t favorable for the hike to the North Rim, we’ll instead hike to Upper Ribbon Falls, which offers an exciting hike to a breathtaking waterfall.) The hike to the North Rim is a fantastic one for the natural history buff as we ascend through a semi-arid High Sonoran desert environment at mid-canyon to a dense mixed conifer forest on the rim. We’ll be rewarded with increasingly brilliant views as we hike upwards. Once to the top we’ll enjoy the view, have a snack and hike the same route back to camp.

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 7.2 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 1,600 feet

This day is done in reverse of day 2 back to Bright Angel Campground.

Day 5

  • Hiking Mileage: 4.5 miles + 3-mile day hike
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet

Out of camp we’ll hike on the Bright Angel Trail along the Colorado and arrive at Pipe Creek. From here we’ll hike up Pipe Creek past its junction with Garden Creek to Havasupai Garden – a spring site that watered seasonal Havasupai garden plots for centuries. From here it’s a short final hike to our camp for the night – Havasupai Garden Campground – another enchanting Grand Canyon camp with shade and water.

Day 6

  • 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 ascent 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 trip and reflect on the beauty of this place and our accomplishment in achieving something that few have had the privilege of experiencing.

Modified Itinerary: 12/1/2023 - 4/14/2024

Due to a temporary closure of the Bright Angel Trail, this trip will be modified between December 1, 2023 and April 14, 2024. Days 1-4 are unchanged.

December – February (6-day trip)

On Day 5, we will spend an extra night at Bright Angel Campground to rest and enjoy the bottom of the Canyon before a 1-day hike out on the South Kaibab Trail on Day 6 (7.5 miles, 4800 feet elevation gain). You can expect the same views, time at the Colorado River, desert oases, and chance to hike across the Grand Canyon twice! This modified itinerary remains level 4 difficulty.

March and April (5-day trip)

On Day 5, we will hike out on the South Kaibab Trail (7.5 miles, 4800 feet elevation gain). You can expect the same views, time at the Colorado River, desert oases, and chance to hike across the Grand Canyon twice! This modified itinerary remains level 4 difficulty.

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.

* Important: Blue trip dates for this tour are often still bookable, but we must add you to the permit before confirming. Please reach out to us, so we can inquire with Grand Canyon National Park about permit capacity.

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
  • 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
  • Grand Canyon National Park entrance fees and wilderness 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, Kelty, 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)
  • Microspike Crampons

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)
  • 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:

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 (59 reviews)
Robert W
5.0

Wonderful

9 months ago

Our guide, Karla K., was wonderful and professional. The weather forced a major change in our itinerary; but Karla made sure we had a blast just the same. I'd definitely enjoy trekking with her, and Wildland, again.

Gary G
5.0

Exceptional

9 months ago

Best backpacking experience I have ever had! The views were spectacular. All the gear supplied was exceptional. The guide James did an excellent job of handling all our needs.

David C
5.0

Excellent Choice

9 months ago

Wildland was an excellent choice. Took care of everything. Good food and gear. Very safe trip. Answered all questions. No complaints. Will recommend.

See All Guest Reviews!

Go to our reviews page

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