Wonders of the Grand Canyon

Flagstaff, AZ
5.0 (40 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Dramatic Creeks & Waterfalls
  • Canyon Solitude
  • Mighty Colorado River
  • Spectacular Sandstone Terrace
  • Water-sculpted Tapeats Canyon
  • Remote, Rugged Route
  • Stunning Views

Description

This tour is truly a journey into the wonder and magic of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s the most memorable and rewarding loop hike in the Grand Canyon and features excellent streamside camps, thundering waterfalls, an enormous landslide that changed the course of the Colorado River, an enchanting slickrock narrows section, and a layover day to relax and absorb the magic of the place. The hike beautifully illustrates some of the most distinctive and scenic characteristics of the western Grand Canyon, and continues to be an all-time North Rim favorite.

We’ll begin by hiking down to the Esplanade, a fantastic camp perched above the deeper layers of the Grand Canyon. From there we’ll hike past Thunder River (appropriately named as it literally erupts from the side of a mountain) and follow Tapeats Creek to the Colorado River. After traversing part of the Colorado River we’ll head back up Deer Creek, make camp, and explore its beautiful terraces, narrows, and the magnificent Deer Creek waterfall. The following two days will be spent returning to the North Rim.


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!

Read more …
From
$1950 Per Person
Pre-permit Registration $1852  

Pre-permit Registration $1852

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 (must book directly with us to get the discount)!

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: 6 Days
Distance: 28MI / 45KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 5

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

SUMMARY OF DIFFICULTY
This trip features moderate hiking distances on extremely rugged, unmaintained trails. There are steep, loose, narrow and extremely exposed sections that can be challenging for some guests, especially if you have a fear of heights. If you’re in very good shape and want to challenge yourself on a demanding, phenomenally scenic and adventurous route, this one is a good choice.

Hiking Distances:

Up to 6 mi

Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs

Terrain:

Extremely Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

3000 ft

Heights Exposure:

Extreme

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 8-10 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on steep, loose, extremely rugged terrain
  • Hiking in 105+ degree farenheit ambient temps may be required in the warmer months (May-Sept). Learn more about desert heat.
  • Hiking with extreme heights exposure in places
* 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 it enters the Canyon at a remote spot and much of the trip we won’t see many other groups, we are likely to run into rafting groups as we near the Colorado River.

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.

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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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 North Rim: ~5 hour drive
  • Hiking Mileage: 4.0 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 2,200 feet

We begin this classic Grand Canyon backpacking tour off the North Rim and hike downhill to a broad slickrock terrace known as the Esplanade. We spend our first night at the edge of the Esplanade where we have expansive views into the inner Grand Canyon.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 6.0 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 3,200 feet

This day begins with a descent to Surprise Valley. Here we turn west and begin a steep, steady descent across debris from an enormous landslide that changed the course of the Colorado River. We’ll pass Deer Spring, a waterfall that flows out of a cliff wall and the source for Deer Creek, before descending another 1,000 feet to the Deer Creek Valley where we’ll make camp. Deer Creek is one of the most beautiful spots in the canyon. We’ll have the opportunity to explore the enchanting Deer Creek Narrows and hike to Deer Creek Falls, where the creek flows out of a narrow Tapeats Sandstone canyon and forms a large waterfall next to the Colorado River.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 5.2 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 450 feet

We’ll get up and start working our way upstream along the Colorado River to the dramatic Tapeats Rapid. From here we’ll follow Tapeats Creek upstream where potential stream crossings and some exposure make for exciting hiking as the trail alternates between flat, sandy stretches next to the creek and short, steep climbs over the Hakatai Shale. Eventually we’ll reach the Upper Tapeats camp at the junction of Tapeats Creek and Thunder River, a beautiful spot located in a cottonwood riparian zone adjacent to the creek. Once camp is set up we’ll explore upstream along the white waters of Thunder River to Thunder Spring, a waterfall that erupts from large fissures at the Muav Limestone, Bright Angel Shale contact.

Day 4

This is a layover day (if a 6-day trip) to absorb the tremendous scale of this area. Willing members of the group will join the guide on a spectacular day hike upstream and off trail along Tapeats Creek. It is a remote and beautiful canyon that will be the highlight of the trip for many. Once back in camp we can swim, read, explore, or do nothing at all!

Day 5

  • Hiking Mileage: 6.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet

Today’s hike takes us past Thunder Spring again and back to Surprise Valley. From here we’ll head up through the Redwall to our Esplanade camp from the first night.

Day 6

  • Hiking Mileage: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,200 feet
  • Shuttle: ~5-hour drive

On our final day we’ll retrace our route from day one, which means crossing the Esplanade and climbing through the Canyon’s uppermost rock formations to gain the trailhead and civilization once again. Having just experienced five or six days below the rim you’ll certainly have a different perspective on this place than you did on the first day!

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) 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, 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 origin 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
  • A Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and dependents to a discount of 10% off any Wildland hiking trip after your first one (must book directly with us to receive the discount)!

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)

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!

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 6 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 no later than 7 PM.

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.

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)
  • 10 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 (40 reviews)
Mary G
5.0

Incredibly rewarding!

22 days ago

This trip is challenging and incredibly rewarding! I had an incredible time and I adored my guide, Jessie Haffener, and the awesome back country meals she whipped up for us! The views are stunning, and well earned. I want to emphasize just how challenging this trip is. There's a lot of elevation gain and loss, scrambling, and exposed cliffs. I highly recommend this trip and Wildland Trekking, and I absolutely recommend training. Happy hiking!

Kevin G
5.0

First class organization.

23 days ago

This is an epic trip. I’ve been on three other trips into the GC and this one was the most amazing. Mr Sam Galoob was, by far, the most knowledgeable guide out of all. His authentic approach to the outdoors and passion for the wilderness was infectious. First class organization. See y’all soon.

Margaux S
5.0

Breathtaking

2 months ago

This trek was the experience of a lifetime! the scenery of the Grand Canyon and the adventure itself have made is trip the best of my life! Our guide, Laine , was perfect and did a fantastic job!! I will remember this week forever!

See All Guest Reviews!

Go to our reviews page

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