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Grand Canyon North Rim Backpacking Tours

Itinerary
Guide(s)
Laurie Baggarly, Tolman Losey, TSX
Trip options

Booking for a group?
Reserve spots for 5 or more people, and get $37 off for each

Choose cancellation flexibility option

Things come up, and sometimes plans need to be changed. Check out our cancellation flexibility options.
57hours flexibility options
Deposits

When booking a trip, you can either pay for it in full or reserve your spot with a 30% deposit. The remaining 70% of the trip price is to be paid 90 days prior to departure, at the latest.

Cancellations

After 48 hours, booking fees are non-refundable in all cases. You can choose one of 57hours’ flexibility options:

Basic
  • In case of cancellation within 48 hours after booking, the amount paid is fully refundable.
  • For cancellations 60 or more days before the trip, you are eligible for a 70% refund of the trip price.
  • For cancellations 0-59 days before the trip, there is no refund.
  • Booking fees are non-refundable after 48 hours grace period.
Flexible
  • In case of cancellation within 48 hours after booking, the amount paid is fully refundable.
  • For cancellations 60 or more days before the trip, you are eligible for a full refund of the trip price.
  • For cancellations 30-59 days before the trip, you are eligible for a 50% refund of the trip price.
  • For cancellations 0-29 days before the trip, there is no refund.
  • Booking fees are non-refundable after 48 hours grace period.
Super Flexible
  • In case of cancellation within 48 hours after booking, the amount paid is fully refundable.
  • For cancellations 30 or more days before the trip, you are eligible for a full refund of the trip price.
  • For cancellations 0-29 days before the trip, you are eligible for a 50% refund of the trip price.
  • Booking fees are non-refundable after 48 hours grace period.
Itinerary
People
1 Person
Date(s)
--
Duration
6 day
Guide(s)
Laurie Baggarly, Tolman Losey, TSX
Reserve deposit (30%) $0
Second Payment Amount: $0
  • Explore the remote and difficult-to-access Thunder River areas of the Grand Canyon's North Rim on an epic 6-day trek. Discover breathtaking waterfalls, hidden swimming holes, and rugged terrain while camping beneath the starlit sky. Led by experienced guides, this all-inclusive adventure provides gear, meals, and transportation, making it accessible to adventurers of all levels. Discover the wonders of the Grand Canyon like never before on this unforgettable backpacking journey.

    • On the evening before your trek start date, we’ll convene meet at 6pm for a one-hour group orientation and pack check in the main lobby of Little America Hotel in Flagstaff, AZ. Backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags will be provided to those who requested them. We’ll also get to know each other and the our team, preview the trail, and discuss safety before getting a good night’s sleep.

      Aerial view of Flagstaff, AZ and surrounding areas, during sunset.
    • We’ll gather in the lobby of the Little America Hotel, Flagstaff at 5:00am, load gear and water, then head out to the North Rim. Our 5-hour drive will include a short visit to the Navajo Bridge, overlooking the Colorado River near Lee’s Ferry. We will continue on to the Thunder River Trailhead, where our hike begins at 6,400 feet (1,950 meters). After an afternoon hike down to the Esplanade, a bench of beautiful slickrock, we’ll set up our dry camp for our first night under the stars.

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
      Distance: 5 miles (8 km)
      Elevation: -850 ft (-260 m)

      Hikers navigating difficult terrain on their way to Esplanade, Grand Canyon North Rim.
    • On day two we’ll have an early start to beat the heat! We will descend into Surprise Valley and travel east towards Thunder River, one of the shortest and steepest rivers in the world. We will pass a series of waterfalls that virtually appear out of nowhere as they emerge from channels concealed within the Tapeats sandstone. Then it’s off to camp at Lower Tapeats, with our first opportunity to swim in the Colorado River.

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
      Distance: 9 miles (14.5 km)
      Elevation: -3,450 ft (-1,050 m)

      Thunder River waterfall, Grand Canyon.
    • Day three will feature shorter mileage but rugged terrain. We will spend most of this day traveling through a boulder garden along the Colorado River. As we near its end, Deer Creek with its enchanting Patio and narrows will come into view. This camp is a true oasis in the desert.

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
      Distance: 5.5 miles (8.9 km)
      Elevation: +150 ft (+45 m)

      Backpackers hiking near the Lower Tapeats, next to a river, Grand Canyon.
    • Spend time relaxing and enjoying the Grand Canyon at your own pace. Explore the hidden swimming holes, waterfalls, and side canyons of Deer Creek and the Colorado River.

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

      Backpacker swimming in the Colorado River while on a Grand Canyon North Rim backpacking tour.
    • Our trek transitions to working back toward the North Rim with a climb that includes incredible views of the Colorado River. We’ll camp with an expansive sunset and night sky on the vast and open Esplanade. Camping out under the stars is highly encouraged! A hearty dinner with good company will prepare us for our final climb out of the Grand Canyon.

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
      Distance: 7 miles (11.3 km)
      Elevation: +3,200 ft (+975 m)

      Backpackers in the canyon of the Deer Creek, Grand Canyon.
    • Our last hiking day of this trek will feel familiar as we retrace our steps along the Thunder River Trail and up to the North Rim. After completing our hike, we’ll have a short drive to a hearty lunch stop and then continue on to Flagstaff.

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
      Distance: 5 miles (8 km)
      Elevation: +850 ft (+260 m)

      Backpackers hiking in the Grand Canyon while on a backpacking trip.
    • What you get on this adventure:

        • An experienced, local backpacking guides with extensive knowledge of the area
        • 6-day, 5-night Grand Canyon North Rim backpacking adventure, either in the
        • Jumpup Canyon areas or the Thunder River areas — depending on the itinerary chosen
        • Personal backpacking equipment upon request (backpack, sleeping bag and stuff sack, sleeping pad, tent with a rain fly, hiking poles, instep crampons)
        • Group backpacking gear and equipment (cleaning pad and soap, cooking utensils, first aid kit, fuel, large cooking pots, lighters and matches, small shovel, stoves, water carriers, water filters and purification tablets, wire mesh food storage bags)
        • All meals and snacks while in the backcountry
        • Roundtrip transportation between Flagstaff, AZ meeting point and your trailhead

      What’s not included:

        • Transportation to Flagstaff, AZ
        • Accommodation before (Day 0) and after the trek
        • Guide gratuities
        • Travel and medical insurance — recommended
    • While a basic level of physical fitness and some hiking experience are required, participants range from grade-schoolers to grandparents, and mothers to marines. The key is your commitment to succeed. You should be able to handle daily hikes ranging from 5-10 miles (8-16 km) with elevation changes between 1,000-4,000 feet (300-1,200 m). The objective is to hike around 32 miles (50 km) in 6 days, but often in quite challenging terrain. A fully-loaded pack will weigh between 30-40 lbs (14-18 kg), or 20-25 lbs (9-11 kg) for youth. If that seems fine with you, you’re good to go. If, on the other hand, you think you’re not up to the challenge, you can always prepare in the months leading up to the trip.

    • Absolutely! Beginners with a solid level of fitness are welcome on these Grand Canyon North Rim backpacking trips. All major gear is provided at no extra cost, and all logistics, permits, and group gear are handled. If you have the will, the way will be shown to you, ensuring a positive and supportive experience.

    • Preparation is key to enjoying these Grand Canyon North Rim adventures. Start by building a basic level of physical fitness, focusing on endurance and strength to handle a fully-loaded pack weighing 30-40 lbs (14-18 kg). Practice hiking, preferably in hilly terrain, with a pack, gradually increasing the weight and distance. Join with confidence, knowing full support, scheduled breaks, and guidance are provided to ensure a successful and memorable trek.

    • Personal backcountry equipment will be provided by your guide upon request. If you want to bring your own, you’ll need:

        • External or internal frame pack with belt (60-70L capacity)
        • Sleeping bag and stuff sack
        • Sleeping pad
        • Tent with a rain fly
        • Hiking poles
        • Instep crampons (as conditions warrant)

      Here’s a list of the clothing items you need to bring:

        • Short-sleeve shirts (wear 1 and pack 1)
        • Long-sleeve shirt
        • Warm jacket (fleece or puffy)
        • Underwear (wear 1, pack 2)
        • Hiking pants/leggings
        • Long underwear/thermal top
        • Long underwear bottoms
        • Beanie/knit cap/toque
        • Glove/mitts
        • Bandana
        • Cap or hat with a brim
        • Lightweight rain jacket
        • Swimwear

      Here’s a list of footwear items you need to bring:

        • Lightweight socks (pack 1, wear 1)
        • Comfortable hiking shoes
        • Lightweight camp shoes
        • Moleskin (1 package, wrapper removed)

      Here’s a list of personal items you need to bring:

        • Plastic bowl
        • Plastic cup
        • Spoon or spork
        • Sunglasses, sunscreen, and chapstick
        • Toothbrush and toothpaste
        • Toilet paper and small hand sanitizer
        • Water bottles or hydration bladder (at least 3L capacity in total)
        • Ziplock bags (for used toilet paper)
        • Hairbrush — optional
        • Camera or smartphone (for pictures) — optional
        • Hiking shorts — optional
        • Menstrual products — if applicable
        • Pajamas — optional
        • Personal first aid kit — optional
        • Pocket knife — optional
        • Sports bra — optional

      Group backpacking equipment (as indicated under What’s included?) will be provided by the guide. Make sure to bring clothing appropriate for the season/forecast and for unexpected weather conditions. Your list may be different for different seasons. You’ll be able to discuss your packing list with the guide prior to departure.

    • Campsites during the Grand Canyon North Rim backpacking tours are best described as scenic! That said, you won’t have to worry about camping logistics. If you request a backpack, sleeping bag, or tent, it will be provided and waiting for you at the trailhead — you just have to bring clothing and personal items in a duffel bag. If you’re bringing your own gear, please bring it to the gear check on Day 0 for final arrangements. All group gear, including cooking utensils, first aid kits, stoves, water filters, and more, is covered.

      For main meals, your guides will prepare delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Cooking is a social activity, and your participation and curiosity are always welcome. Dietary preferences/restrictions can usually be accommodated, so please note any specific concerns during booking. There will be hot water and Starbucks Via coffee available each morning, along with a selection of caffeinated and herbal teas, hot chocolate, and spiced cider. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker (more than 2 cups a day), consider bringing extra packets from home.

      Regarding snacks, each hiker will receive a personalized snack bag at the trailhead with energy bars, trail mix, and dried fruit. Feel free to bring a few of your favorite snacks from home, but don’t go overboard.

    • Group sizes and pricing

        • For these group adventures, the usual client-to-guide ratio is 9:2.

      Backpacking in the North Rim areas of the Grand Canyon can be arranged for private 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.

    • To get to Flagstaff, the starting point of these adventures, most people fly into Flagstaff Pulliam Airport. Alternatively, you can fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and take a shuttle to Flagstaff.

      Participants are expected to meet their guide at 6pm at the lobby of the Little America Hotel in Flagstaff, followed by group orientation and a gear check. We suggest securing a lodging reservation in Flagstaff, AZ as soon as your trek dates are confirmed.

      Since your guide will be hosting a pre-trek orientation at the Little America Hotel and will depart from there on the morning the tour starts, staying there may be a good option (prices range from $125 to $175). The nearby hotels on Lucky Lane are also a popular option and within walking distance (prices typically $75-$105). If you plan on staying somewhere else, just let your guide know where you end up and they’ll do their best to accommodate you.

    • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance.

      With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more. Travel insurance covers canceled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans.

      We also expect you to respect local regulations and take measures to protect yourselves, your guides, and the communities you’re traveling to.

      If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

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