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Photo: Grace Vinbury

Premier Rim to Rim Hiking Company

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Winter Rim to Rim to Rim

Highlights

  • Have the most famous trails in the Canyon to yourself
  • Hike across the Grand Canyon twice
  • Camp near Phantom Ranch and the Colorado River
  • Visit the waterfall oasis of Ribbon Falls
  • Experience the amazingly varying climatic zones of the Canyon
  • Have the option of spending 1 or 2 nights at Phantom Ranch
  • Finish on the most popular trail in the Park, Bright Angel


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 the winter, have much of it all to yourself, and experience the amazingly diverse climates that exist in the Canyon.

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. There are two variations for finishing the trip - as a 5-day trip with pack mules carrying the gear out the last day (10 miles, 4500 feet elevation gain), or as a 6-day trip with a final night at Indian Garden. Please check with our Adventure Consultants when planning your trip to make sure you get the variation you prefer.

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

Trip 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. While hiking we’ll make a detour to a fantastic waterfall - Ribbon Falls. 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
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 Indian 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 - Indian 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.


Variations

5-day Backpacking ($1300): On Day 5 we'll depart from Bright Angel Campground and hike all the way to the South Rim, which is 9.3 miles and 4500 feet of elevation gain. This option includes pack mules to carry our gear out from the bottom of the Canyon.

5-day with 1 night at Phantom Ranch ($1445): At the end of Day 4 we'll check into Phantom Ranch and celebrate our final evening in the Canyon in style with showers, warm beds and Phantom Ranch lodge meals. On Day 5 we'll depart from Phantom Ranch and hike all the way to the South Rim, which is 9.3 miles and 4500 feet of elevation gain. This option includes pack mules to carry our gear out from the bottom of the Canyon.

6-day with 2 nights at Phantom Ranch ($1750): At the end of Day 4 we'll check into Phantom Ranch for 2 nights, which gives us a layover day at Phantom Ranch to do more hiking and exploration or just relax. During our time at Phantom Ranch we'll enjoy showers, warm beds and Phantom Ranch Lodge meals. On Day 5 we'll depart from Phantom Ranch and hike all the way to the South Rim, which is 9.3 miles and 4500 feet of elevation gain. This option includes pack mules to carry our gear out from the bottom of the Canyon.


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
  • 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 your hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back
  • Entrance fees and national park permits
  • Pack mules to carry the gear out on the final day as described in the itinerary (included on select trips only)
  • Phantom Ranch lodging and meals as described in the Itinerary (included on select trips only)
  • 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
  • Microspike Crampons


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 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 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°