Overnight Backpacking in the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Backpacking Trips

“We are over three quarters of a mile in the depths of the earth, and the great river shrinks into insignificance as it dashes its angry waves against the walls and cliffs that rise to the world above; the waves are but puny ripples, and we but pygmys, running up and down the sands or lost among the boulders.”

-John Wesley Powell

Below is a list of common trails in Grand Canyon National Park. The trail system within Grand Canyon is enough to keep even the most dedicated busy for a couple of years. Pygmy Guides is proud to be offering guided hikes on all trails listed below. Itinerary possibilities are endless. Best to give a call and discuss details of each use area prior to planning your trip.

Pygmy Guides is now offering Packrafting Adventures such as “The original Rim to Rim” North Bass to South Bass(see trail details below). If you want to do a Rim to Rim hike and avoid the crowds, this is it. For experienced and/or fit hikers only.

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#1 Bright Angel Loop

Pygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides.This is the classic Grand Canyon loop hike and a great backpack for first time canyon hikers. Using the South Kaibab Trail, a route built by the park service for its expansive views, we will walk through the geologic past making our way to the mighty Colorado River and Bright Angel Campground. Adjacent to the Bright Angel Creek, this is a great base to fish, hike, explore, and relax while taking in the splendor of the inner gorge Pygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides.. Making our ascent out of the canyon, we will hike through Devil’s Corkscrew and along Garden Creek through some beautiful sandstone narrows before we reach Indian Gardens. Here in this desert oasis of ancient cottonwoods, we will set out to observe ancient ruins or take a hike to Plateau Point, one of the most amazing views in the inner canyon. After Indian Gardens, we will hike up Jacob’s Ladder, past stunning vistas, and ancient pictographs (rock art) to the end of our journey. Call now and book this Grand Canyon classic.

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Trip distance: 17 mi/27 km
Elevation change: 4380 ft/1335 m
Number of days: 3-5
Time of Year: All Year Round
Difficulty: 5 on a pygmy scale of 1 to 10

#2 Indian Gardens

Pygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides.This is the easiest backpacking trip in the park and a great way for newcomers to ease into hiking the Grand Canyon. Walking in the footsteps of ancestral puebloens, we will follow the Bright Angel Trail along the Bright Angel Fault as they once did. During the hike we will stop to admire some striking pictographs, rock art, and stunning canyon features such as Brahma Temple and Cheops Pyramid, before we arrive at Indian Gardens. Here in this desert oasis of ancient cottonwood trees, we will make our base camp for the next few days. With our heavy packs behind us in the campground, we will set out to view ancient ruins, local flora and fauna, and Plateau Point one of the most amazing views in the inner canyon. We’ll make our way along Garden Creek thorough beautiful Tapeats Narrows, down Devil’s Corkscrew, andPygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides. onward to the mighty Colorado River. Families, new canyon hikers, and those who just want to take it easy on their vacation will all have a great experience without missing any of the highlights.

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Trip distance: 9 mi/14.5 km (plus day hikes)
Elevation change: 3060 ft/933 m (plus day hikes)
Number of days: 2-3
Time of year: all year round
Difficulty: 4 on a pygmy scale of 1 to 10

#3 Horseshoe Mesa

Pygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides.This is one of Pygmy Guides favorite hikes. Expansive views, limestone caves, perennial streams on either side, this aptly named trail surely does have grand views. Originally used by the native peoples of the canyon, the Grandview Trail as we know it today was built as access to the Last Chance mine when copper was discovered on the mesa in 1890. Much of thePygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides. old mining operation, as well as many prehistoric sites remain on the Mesa to this day. Once on the Mesa we’ll explore Cave of the Domes, a trip highlight, and the only cave in the park open to visitation. After exploring the Mesa, we can keep this as our base camp or move on to one of the beautiful perennial streams at Cottonwood or Hance Canyon. Along with fascinating geology, an abundance of human history and grand views, the flexibility and solitude this hike offers are just 2 reasons why Pygmy guides and experienced canyon hikers come here again and again.

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Trip distance: 6 mi/9.6 km
Elevation change: 2600 ft/793 m
Number of days: 2-5
Time of year: all year round
Difficulty: 6 on a pygmy scale of 1 to 10

#4 Rim to Rim

Pygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides.Another Grand Canyon classic, this backpack attracts thousands of hikers a year from around the globe. In the alpine like environment of the North Rim, we will take in the grandeur of its expansive meadows and vibrant wildflowers, before beginning our descent down the North Kaibab Trail. We will stop at Roaring Springs, the source of the Bright Angel Creek, before continuing on to Cottonwood Campground. We will continue to follow the North Kaibab, stopping to admire Ribbon Falls, hiking through a box canyon, or maybe doing a little fly fishing before our arrival at Bright Angel Campground. This is a great place to take a swim, fish, inspect ancient ruins, or just relax. After leaving Bright Angel we will use a suspension bridge to cross the Colorado River, followed by a steep climb up Devils Pygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides.Corkscrew to Garden Creek, and on through some beautiful sandstone narrows before reaching Indian Gardens Campground. Here in this desert oasis we will take time to hike to Plateau Point, one of he most amazing inner canyon views. After Indian Gardens, we will hike up Jacob’s Ladder, past stunning vistas, and ancient pictographs (rock art) to the end of our journey. This classic is difficult to get permits for, so call now for your rim to rim adventure.

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Trip distance: 24 mi/38.4 km (plus day hikes)
Elevation change: 5800 ft/1783 km
Number of days: 4-6 (4 days as described)
Time of year: mid May to mid November
Difficulty: 6 on a pygmy scale of 1 to 10 Ribbon Falls

#5 New Hance Loop

Pygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides.If you’re looking for an extreme backpacking trip, this is the one for you. We will start on the Grandview Trail, taking in its expansive canyon views. Originally used by native peoples of the canyon, the Grandview as we know it today was built as access to the Last Chance Mine when copper was discovered on the Mesa in 1890. After setting up camp on the Mesa, we will set out to explore Cave of the Domes, the only cave in the Grand Canyon National Park open to visitation. After a beautiful sunset and a good nights rest, we will move on to our second camp at Hance Creek. This cool perennial stream offers time for contemplation with massive Redwall cliffs set up as your backdrop. From here, day 3 will bring us out of Hance Canyon for a traverse along the Tonto Platform to the Colorado River for our third camp at Hance Rapids. Hance is one of the most technical rapids in the canyon and a great vantage point to watch river runnersPygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides. struggle to keep their boats upright. Day 4 will be the start of our ascent to the South Rim. On our way up the canyon, we will observe the deep red Hakatai Shale that gave the canyon its name, and discuss the legacy of John Hance one of the Grand Canyon’s first guides, who constructed the New Hance Trail to bring visitors to the canyon floor. After a good day’s hike, we will spend our last night on the top of the Redwall, getting plenty of rest before our climb up the steepest part of the trail, and the end of our hike. This is a true canyon journey for experienced hikers, and one of the best loops the Grand Canyon has to offer.

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Trip distance: 23 m/35.3 km (plus day hikes)
Elevation change: 4382 ft/1336 m
Number of days: 5-6 days (5 days as described)
Time of year: September through May
Difficulty: 8 on a Pygmy Scale of 1 to 10

#6 Deer Creek/Thunder River

Pygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides.If you want to see waterfalls, hike across the redrocks, explore slot canyons, and go fishing too, this is the adventure you are looking for. This hike is a difficult route, but for the experienced backpacker, it is well worth the effort. Our trip will start on the Bill Hall Trail where we will make a steep descent through limestone and sandstone formations. Once through, we will stop in the magnificent red slickrock of the Esplanade Sandstone. There is no need to go to Sedona once you’ve seen the Grand Canyon’s red rock country. After traversing the slickrock, we’ll make another steep descent into Surprise Valley before we head west to Deer Creek. Upon arrival at Deer Creek, this desert oasis will reveal itself, as the cool clear water of Deer Spring gushes from the side of the canyon creating Eden in this harsh dry land. We will explore Deer Creek narrows and Deer Creek Falls, 2 true gems of the canyon. From here, we’ll parallel the Colorado beforePygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides. reaching Tapeats River and moving on to experience the magnificent beauty of Thunder River as it gushes from Thunder Cave. This truly is one of the most breath taking hikes in the world.

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Trip distance: 30 mi/48 km
Elevation change: 5250 ft/1601 m
Number of days: 5-7 Days (5 days as described)
Time of year: March through November
Difficulty: 8 on a pygmy scale of 1 to 10

#7 Havasu Falls

Pygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides.Havasu Falls is without question one of the most amazing places on earth. “Havasupai” means “people of the blue green water”, and this natural wonder is the sacred home of many of the Havasupai people. This hike begins at Hualapai Hilltop, making a 10 mile descent through Hualapai and Havasu Canyon, pass Supai Village and on to the campground. From here, we access world renown Mooney and Havasu Falls. These spectacular turquoise waterfalls drop into cool travertine pools making some of the world’s best swimming holes. Come on this adventure with Pygmy Guides and experience why this utopia in the desert attracts thousands of people a year from around the globe. Because these backpacking trips are made on tribal land, there are also options for helicopter or horse transport, as well as packPygmy Guides – Contact Pygmy Guides located in Flagstaff, Arizona for beautiful Grand Canyon hiking and backpacking tours lead by experienced guides. mules to carry your gear. Of course Pygmy Guides will be there to take care of all of your needs and ensure an amazing experience at this very special place.

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Trip distance: 20 mi/32 km
Elevation change: 2200 ft/640 m
Number of days: 3-5
Time of year: all year round
Difficulty: 6 on a pygmy scale of 1 to 10

Click Here for more info on Havasu Falls


Overnight Backpack FAQS

Prices of Overnight Backpacks

Gratuity (8-15% suggested) and 7% AZ sales tax not included.

2 days: $540 per person
3 days: $755 per person
4 days: $950 per person
Each additional day $195 per person
Rim to Rim add $100 per person
Discounts for groups of 4 or more

Booking an Overnight Backpack
Overnight backpacks can be booked from 2 days to 1 year in advance. However backpacking permits are limited and sometimes very difficult to obtain, we highly advise making reservations 5 months or more in advance. Although we can almost always make last minute reservations, there is no guarantee, so the earlier the better.

Cancellation Policy for Overnight Backpacks
A 50 percent deposit is due upon booking.
Overnight backpacks must be paid in full 30 days prior to your trip.
If you must cancel, 50 percent of all deposits will be refunded.

Can I Join an Existing Trip?
Anyone can join an existing trip if there are openings.
You can also request a private trip, however extra fees may apply (call to inquire about private trips).

Contact Information

Call Toll Free: 877-2PYGMYS (877-279-4697) or 928-707-0215

E-mail: pygmyguides@pygmyguides.com

Snail Mail: Pygmy Guides, PO Box 3175; Flagstaff, AZ 86003

Custom Trips
Give us a call, and we’ll build a trip to suit your needs.
Our guides have experience hiking throughout the Grand Canyon so let us know where you want to go if you can’t find the trip on our site.

Group Size
The maximum group size for overnight backpacks is 11 people including guides.
There is no minimum group size.
Havasu Falls has no limit.

Guides
All of our guides possess a vast knowledge of all aspects of the Grand Canyon. We take pride in sending our clients out with guides who have the ability to deal with any situation that may occur. Whether it’s a question on canyon geology, or wrapping a sprained ankle, our guides are there to take care of your needs and ensure a pleasant and safe canyon experience. We will call you before your trip to make sure you have everything you need and answer any question you may have.

Physical Fitness
Moderate physical fitness is needed for our backpack trips. Our more challenging trips will require not only a higher lever of fitness but also some level of Grand Canyon or desert backpacking experience. Please let us know of any health problems or concerns before your trip.

Special Needs
If you or your group have special needs, we will be glad to accommodate you.
Please call and let us know what we can do to heighten your Grand Canyon experience and make your dream trip possible.

Transportation
We are based in Flagstaff, AZ and can pick up at any hotel in the area. Hotel recommendation depends on which trip you have chosen.”

What’s Included
All necessary gear, food, permits, guide, etc…
You will be responsible for your own clothing, shoes, toothbrush, hat, camera, etc… Click here for client checklist.
Click Here to see gear.

When to Go
Backpacking trips are available all year round. Please refer to the trip you are interested in to inquire about availability.

Backpack Like a Pygmy!