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Grand Canyon Hiking Guides
Grand Canyon Guided Treks
Grand Canyon Backpacking
Grand Canyon National Park Hiking Tour
Grand Canyon Guided Backpacking
Grand Canyon Backpacking Tour
Grand Canyon Hiking Guides
Grand Canyon Hiking Vacation

Horseshoe Mesa

Highlights

  •   Remoteness after only a 3-mile hike in
  •   Quintessential Grand Canyon views
  •   19th century prospector relics
  •   Only cave open to visitors
  •   Day hike to enchanting desert oases
  •   Incredible views into the Inner Gorge

Description

If you're interested in experiencing the wilder side of the Grand Canyon and only have a couple days or a long weekend to fit it in, this backpacking tour is for you! We hike one of the most spectacular trails in the Canyon to a mesa that extends into the Canyon like the deck of a battleship. We camp on the mesa, with sweeping views in all directions, and hike to caves, oases, and spectacular viewpoints that you'll never forget!

Starting down the famous Grandview Trail, you will be astonished at the beautiful views of this unique and breathtaking part of the Canyon. This route descends a hiking trail built by one of the Grand Canyon's most famous miners, Pete Berry, in the late 1800s. His amazing, well-built trail winds its way for three miles down unlikely slopes and cliffs before ending at Horseshoe Mesa and the ancient Last Chance Mine.

Once at the mesa, we'll set up camp and explore the Cave of the Domes, then hike to the edge of the Mesa which extends into the Canyon like the deck of a battleship. The second day features a stunning hike down to Cottonwood Creek, a year round water source and an incredible desert oasis to explore. The third day sees us hiking back to the South Rim and the Grandview Trailhead. Give us a call to learn more!

It's extremely beneficial to register 5+ months in advance for your Grand Canyon backpacking trip! Grand Canyon issues permits for backpacking trips (and our Mule-assisted Classic trip) 5 months in advance, and once the initial process is complete there are very few, if any, permits remaining.

What You Need To Know
  • Permits are issued through a lottery system.
  • To apply for permits, we must have registered guests.
  • It's best to register before the 1st of the month 4 months in advance (see table of dates).
  • You'll receive a 5% discount for registering early, and can pick any dates!
  • We strongly recommend having backup dates and/or itineraries if possible.
  • Your deposit ($500) is fully transferrable or refundable.
You can read more about Grand Canyon's permit system, or get started and request a reservation today!

We're Here to Help!
 
Backpacking Trip
Difficulty:
Solitude:
Flagstaff, AZ
3 days
14mi / 23km
$990 Per Person
$940 Early Reg

Taxes & Fees

Travel from Phoenix to Flagstaff

  See Trip Dates


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
  • Going Fast
  • Contact Us


Available Permitted Dates


Pre-Permit Dates
September
October
November


 
Don't see your dates?
Call us and add any pre-permit dates you want!
800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Itinerary

Day 1
  • Shuttle to the South Rim: 2-hour drive from Flagstaff
  • Hiking Mileage: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 2,500 feet

This Grand Canyon backpacking trip begins with a hike down the Grandview Trail to our destination for two nights, Horseshoe Mesa. We hike along a historic Indian route rebuilt by Pete Berry for his Last Chance copper mine. Pete Berry and partners staked the Last Chance claim in 1890 and worked the mine on and off until 1916. The legacy of Grand Canyon mining is abundant here as we explore the remains of the Last Chance mine. Mine shafts and relics are everywhere, as are the walls of Pete Barry's cabin, and the area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Day 2
  • Hiking Mileage: up to 7 miles day hiking
  • Elevation Loss/Gain: 1000+ feet

The second day will be a layover day to hike and explore Horseshoe Mesa. Your guide will hike the group out to the edge of the mesa to appreciate the incredible views into the Inner Gorge of the Grand Canyon, where the Colorado River flows a whopping 2,500 feet below us (that’s nearly double the height of the Sears Tower)! We’ll also hike to Miner’s Spring, where we’ll enjoy more mining ruins and a lush oasis in the Grand Canyon desert. The hike to the spring descends an exciting series of exposed switchbacks with incredible views.

For those interested, we’ll also have an opportunity to explore Cave of the Domes. This is the only cave in Grand Canyon National Park open to the public and is found just off the west side of the mesa. It contains signatures of early pioneers to the Grand Canyon including those of the Kolb brothers; a pair of adventurous photographers who are among the first to show the Grand Canyon to the world. Past Cave of the domes we’ll have the option of continuing to Cottonwood Creek, where more exciting hiking exists descending a beautiful canyon to a desert oasis.

Day 3
  • Hiking Mileage: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet
  • Shuttle to Flagstaff: 2-hour drive from the South Rim

A casual morning and delicious breakfast will precede our hike back to the South Rim on the Grandview Trail. Those interested will also have the opportunity to explore some of the previously mentioned features that may not have been seen the day before. We'll top off at the Grandview Trailhead and say fond farewells to the Grand Canyon before driving back to Flagstaff.




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.

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 your hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona 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? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green 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 ($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.


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.


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 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 5 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)
     
 
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°
 

Camping on Backpacking Trips

backpacking tent

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 sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

backpacking meals

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.

backpacking campsites

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.

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