800-715-HIKE 9-4 Every Day     Wildland Wires Sign Up!     Wild. Blog Trek & Travel
Photo: Francisco Blanco

Premier Grand Canyon Hiking Company

Wildland Trekking Phone Number

Wonders of the Grand Canyon

Highlights

  • Camp on a spectacular sandstone terrace called The Esplanade
  • Hike to the base of Thunder River - a dramatic river/waterfall
  • Hike the amazing, water-sculpted Tapeats Canyon
  • Traverse an amazing portion the Colorado River
  • See Deer Creek Spring and Deer Creek Falls - 2 spectacular waterfalls!
  • Return to the Esplanade for one more reflective night before hiking out


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.

Please note: Due to Grand Canyon's permit system, it's beneficial to register 5 months or more in advance, and you'll receive a 5% discount for doing so. Click here to read more about permits.


 

Photos of this Trip

Photos: Francisco Blanco and Russ Nordstrand

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Shuttle to the North Rim: 3.5-4.5 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: 3.5-4.5-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 park restrictions, campsite availability, weather, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

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 origin 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
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.


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
  • Satellite phone


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

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. 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.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? Simply click here and complete the form 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 48 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

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.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, 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 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.


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 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)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • 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)
         
 
Month
South Rim
Canyon Bottom
 
 
hi
low
hi
low
 
 
Dec-Feb
41°
18°
60°
38°
 
 
March
51°
25°
71°
48°
 
 
April
60°
32°
82°
56°
 
 
May
70°
39°
92°
63°
 
 
Jun-Aug
82°
53°
108°
75°
 
 
September
76°
47°
97°
69°
 
 
October
65°
36°
84°
58°
 
 
November
52°
27°
68°
46°