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Only 1% out of 6 million people visiting the Grand Canyon venture below the rim. And out of that 1%, only the most fearless ones dare to undertake the Deer Creek and Thunder River loop. This arduous, 29-mile journey isn’t for the faint of heart—it involves steep switchbacks, nimble scrambling, and wildly varying weather conditions. But the gems you’ll come across on this 6-day backpacking journey are well worth it. Picture the archetypal amber-tinted rocks and walls of Grand Canyon, but with a high-powered flow from the Thunder River rushing through surreal Deer Creek narrows, gushing waterfalls, and refreshing pools. If you want to witness the remoteness of the GC with far less people than on other trails, this one’s for you.

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Adventure highlights

  • Backpack through a prized destination kept for the most expert hikers

  • Lush oasis and green pools in the middle of the barren Grand Canyon

  • Camp out under the starry sky in one of the 7 natural wonders of the world

Itinerary

On this 6-day guided hiking tour, you’ll get to journey deep into remote areas of the Grand Canyon—but you’ll have to work for it. To complete the Deer Creek and Thunder River Loop, be prepared for almost 30 miles with more than 12,000 feet of vertical change, all the while coping with dramatic temperature changes and demanding traverses. Don’t get discouraged, though, because here’s our offer: in the middle of red rocks, you’ll find towering waterfalls, cool swimming holes, lush mossy walls, and sinuous creeks. We’ll also add in three nights spent under the starry skies. Up for a challenge? Sign up for this trip—but only if you’re a truly seasoned, energetic hiker.

  • Check into your hotel in Kanab after 5 pm. You’ll then have a trip briefing and a gear check with your guide. Meet your trip buddies over a welcome dinner at 7 pm.
    Meals: Dinner
    Accommodation: Hotel in Kanab

    Kanab city, Utah
  • Meet your guide and your group at 9 am at the Dreamland Safari Tours office at 406 East 300 South, Kanab, Utah 84741. You can leave cars or extra bags there. Get transferred to Indian Hollow and start the backpacking trip! After lunch on the trailhead, continue the descent down to the Esplanade. Establish camp for the night.
    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
    Accommodation: Camp
    Hiking: ~8 miles / ~13 km

    Grand Canyon hiking, camp
  • Day 3 and 4 will be similar—after waking up in the Canyon, have breakfast and pack up your gear. Both days will include 8 to 10 miles of hiking, visiting Deer Creek, Tapeats Creek, Thunder River, and the Colorado River. Campsite selection and precise itinerary are flexible based on permit allocations.
    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
    Accommodation: Camp
    Hiking: ~8-10 miles a day / ~13-16 km a day

    Deer Creek, Grand Canyon
  • This is the last day you’re waking up in the Canyon. After breakfast, hike out to Indian Hollow. In the afternoon, you’ll get picked up and transferred back to Kanab. Check into your hotel and attend the celebratory dinner. After 4 days of challenging hiking, enjoy your well-deserved rest!
    you deserved it!
    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
    Accommodation: Hotel
    Hiking: ~8 miles / ~13 km
    Elevation gain: 1,000 ft / 305 m

    Hiker in Grand Canyon
  • After breakfast, it’s time to leave. If you’d like to spend more time in the area, just ask your guides for recommendations!
    Meals: Breakfast

Get free trip brochure
Download Backpacking Grand Canyon’s Deer Creek & Thunder River Trail Brochure
The brochure contains:
Adventure and location overview, itinerary, available dates, what's included, how to prepare, and much more.
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Meet your guide

Dreamland Safari Tours
5.00
Dreamland Safari Tours
Dreamland Safari Tours have been guiding outdoor enthusiasts along Utah’s most spectacular trails since 2001. Through the last 20 years, Dreamland received customer accolades and grew to become the largest and most comprehensive tour company in the Kanab Area. Paul and Sunny, current owners of Dreamland, are lifelong backcountry adventurers with a long history of exploring the Southwest. They are excited to introduce you to the secrets of the spectacular desert landscapes in Dreamland’s backyard.
5.00 (4 reviews)
Guillaume cds (source: Google Reviews)

Once in a lifetime experience. Mike is the most incredible tour guide you can wish for. Great energy, accommodating spirit, very knowledgeable and super enthusiastic. I highly recommend his services.

Erika Morales (source: Google Reviews)

Nicholas gave a great tour! Was an amazing experience! Definite must do if in area! He’s super knowledgeable of the area and history! The sights were spectacular!

Lynn Ballard (source: Google Reviews)

Sunny and Paul run a professional and customer oriented business and that’s so hard to find these days. They provided an overnight stay for our group that turned a rugged camping event into a lovely experience for us.  Brett cooked dinner and breakfast for us that was amazing!  Anna Belle and Brett drove us to the site safely and comfortably. They were charming, educational (provided great information about the area), and took great care of our group.  We loved the experience and will use them again!

Tina Q (source: Tripadvisor)

Wow! Just wow! Everything I was hoping for and more. The geology was jaw dropping, the trip organization was stellar, and Sunny’s intimate knowledge of the canyon allowed us to see the little secrets that other will miss. But the best part was Sunny’s competency in not only leading the trip, but invoking a camaraderie and chemistry amongst a group of strangers that will inevitably lead to long term friendships. That is is a gift to all of us!

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • Experienced, local, Wilderness First Responder hiking guides with extensive knowledge of the area
      • 6-day Grand Canyon backpacking trip (4 days backpacking, 2 nights in Kanab pre and post trip)
      • Accommodation in Kanab pre and post trip (double occupancy—inquire about single occupancy)
      • Trailhead transport from and to Kanab
      • Lightweight backpacking tents (unless you prefer to bring your own)
      • Team cooking equipment
      • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the trail (possible to accommodate dietary restrictions)
      • Water purification
      • Team first-aid kit
      • Satellite messenger communication in case of emergency
      • Human waste bags 
      • Pre-trip gear & training advice (as desired)
      • Overnight permits for Grand Canyon National Park

    What’s not included:

      • Transportation to and from Kanab
      • Snacks on the trail
      • Alcoholic beverages
      • Guide gratuities
  • The Grand Canyon backpacking tour is suitable for backpackers with prior experience only. You must be in excellent cardio shape and able to carry +35 lbs (+15 kg) for four trail days with 8-12 miles (13 to 19 km) and up to 5,000 ft (1,524 m) of vertical ascent each day.

    If you’re new to hiking, check out our beginner-friendly, day-long hiking tours in the Grand Canyon. If you want to give backpacking a go, check out these multi-day hiking tours in Grand Canyon ideal for intermediate and expert hikers. Another fantastic choice is the beginner-friendly and all-women hiking tour in the GC. If you’re looking for a short hike and a cruise through the Canyon in your comfy SUV, these luxury Grand Canyon tours are a top choice.

  • Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

      • Backpack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 55-60L bag) — available to rent
      • Sleeping bag (rated to 20 degrees or warmer) — available to rent
      • Sleeping pad
      • Personal snacks
      • Hiking poles (optional) — available to rent
      • Personal bowl, cup, and spoon
      • Water bottle or hydration bladder (4L capacity)
      • Hiking attire
      • Lightweight hiking boots or shoes
      • Spare clothes for layering
      • Down jacket
      • Waterproof rain jacket
      • Sunhat
      • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
      • Headlamp or flashlight
      • Sunglasses
      • Camera — optional (but recommended)

    Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.

  • Group sizes and prices:

      • For this Grand Canyon tour, the usual client-to-guide ratio is 4:1. The maximum group size is 9 guests.
      • It takes a minimum of 3 people for this tour to operate. 
      • The cost does not decrease as the group grows. 

    Hiking the Deer Creek & Thunder River can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

    Min. age requirements:

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to join the hike on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

    If your group has hikers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • There are multiple options to reach Kanab, the city where you’ll stay a day prior to and after the backpacking trip. Most people fly into one of these three major airports: Harry Read International Airport (LAS) near Las Vegas, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). From there, the best option would be renting a car—depending on the chosen airport, it will take you anywhere between 3 and 5.5 hours to get to Kanab.

    Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop, the hotel you’re staying at, or a predetermined location.

  • 57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity. 

    We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Arizona and Utah, please refer to Arizona’s COVID-19 information for travelers and Utah’s COVID-19 traveler information.

    Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

  • You can secure one of the set dates with a $500 deposit upon booking. The remaining amount is to be paid 30 days prior to departure, at the latest. Should your guides be unsuccessful in obtaining permits for your trip, you are entitled to a full refund of your deposit minus the booking fees. If the client cancels the booking…

      • 91+ days prior to departure, your deposit is non-refundable, but can be transferred to another tour by your guides within 24 months of your booking date.
      • 61-90 days prior to departure, the client has to pay a cancellation fee of 20% of the full trip price.
      • 31-60 days prior to departure, the client has to pay a cancellation fee of 30% of the full trip price.
      • 8-30 days prior to departure, the client has to pay a cancellation fee of 40% of the full trip price.
      • 30 days to 48 hours prior to departure, the client has to pay a cancellation fee of 70% of the full trip price.
      • Within 48 hours of departure, the client forfeits 100% of the full trip price.
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