Photo Gallery: Backpacking in the Grand Canyon
By Michael Lanza
A twisting gorge 277 miles long and averaging about 10 miles wide and a mile deep. A national park spanning more than 1.2 million acres. More than 100 named rapids on the Colorado River. The Vishnu Schist comprising the canyon’s inner gorge is some of the oldest exposed rock on Earth, some two billion years old, or about half the age of the planet. Statistics, however impressive, barely begin to describe the experience of hiking down into the Grand Canyon. But pictures help, as I think you’ll see in this gallery of photos from my backpacking trips there.
Few places boggle the brain so tenaciously as the Grand Canyon. Its vastness overwhelms you, and yet you can never see more than a fraction of it. Hike for days and you will observe the strange phenomenon of rock monoliths and temples thousands of feet tall expanding like a dirigible inflating until they dominate your field of view, and then shrinking as you walk away until they disappear into the larger landscape. The unforgiving heat and aridity seems ill-suited to any life, but beautiful wildflowers bloom in the open desert, and lush gardens of greenery blossom in narrow, shady side chasms with perennial streams.
In the words of John Wesley Powell: “You cannot see the Grand Canyon in one view, as if it were a changeless spectacle from which a curtain might be lifted, but to see it, you have to toil from month to month through its labyrinths.”
Hike stronger and smarter. See my stories “Training For a Big Hike or Mountain Climb”
and “10 Tricks For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier.”
You may not have months free to toil through the Grand Canyon’s labyrinths, but a few days or a week can give you a pretty good sampler of the place. And if you’re thinking about a backpacking trip next spring—an ideal time to visit—you should be looking into a backcountry permit right now. If you want to backpack anytime in April, for example, the first date to apply for a permit is Dec. 1—and all available permits for popular trails and campsites get claimed very quickly.
View my gallery of photos below from several backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon—and some long dayhikes that are normally done as backpacking trips—and find links to my stories about all of those trips below the gallery.
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See all of my stories about Grand Canyon National Park, including: hiking rim to rim via the South Kaibab and North Kaibab trails (the canyon’s most-popular hike); Grandview Point to the South Kaibab Trailhead; Hermits Rest to the Bright Angel Trailhead; the variety of multi-day hikes afforded by linking up the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails; the New Hance Trail to Grandview Point; and my trip on the remote and rugged Royal Arch Loop.
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