backpacking Grand Canyon

A backpacker hiking the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

By Michael Lanza What makes for a great backpacking trip? Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. While there’s definitely something inspirational about a big walk in the wild, some of the finest trips in the country can be done in a few days and half of the hikes on this list …

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A backpacker hiking down the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon.

7 Epic Grand Canyon Backpacking Trips You Must Do

By Michael Lanza

This is, in a way, a story about addiction. Or a love affair. Or both. Those metaphors best describe how the Grand Canyon constantly lures me back when I’m thinking about spring and fall hiking and backpacking trips.

It is that rare kind of natural environment that exists on a scale of its own, like Alaska or the Himalaya. There’s something soul-stirring and hypnotic about its infinite vistas, the deceptive immensity of the canyon walls and stone towers, and the way the foreground and background continually expand and shrink as you ascend and descend elevation gradients of a vertical mile or more—all of which validates enduring the wilting heat and trails that sometimes seem better suited to bighorn sheep than to bipedal primates.

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A hiker on the Tonto Trail by Monument Creek in the Grand Canyon.

One Extraordinary Day: A 25-Mile Dayhike in the Grand Canyon

By Michael Lanza

There’s not another hiker in sight as my friend David Ports and I start down the Hermit Trail on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, even though it’s nearly 8 a.m., hardly an early hour to hit the trail. And that’s just the first conspicuously unusual circumstance at the outset of our hike. The second obvious oddity this morning is that it’s overcast—a welcome sight here—and actually chilly enough that we’re wearing the light jackets we brought.

But most unusual aspect of this hike is that we’re only carrying light daypacks—and cruising along almost effortlessly—for a walk of nearly 25 miles, with some 4,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. That’s because we’ll do it all today.

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A backpacker above Royal Arch Canyon on the Grand Canyon's Royal Arch Loop.

Not Quite Impassable: Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop

By Michael Lanza Hiking just ahead of my three companions in Royal Arch Canyon, a remote chasm off the South Rim the Grand Canyon, I stop before a dead end: a 15-foot pour-off dropping away in front of me and towering cliffs to either side. It looks impassable. After a moment of scanning the walls more closely, though, I notice …

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A backpacker on the Tonto Trail above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

The Best Backpacking Trip in the Grand Canyon

By Michael Lanza

All three of us have hiked this footpath before, and even still, our first steps down the Grand Canyon’s South Kaibab Trail leave us with hanging jaws. It’s early morning under clear skies, with the low-angle sunlight bringing the vastness of this chasm into sharp clarity—every inconceivably towering monolith, bottomless abyss, and sheer precipice—and we’re sputtering silly superlatives about the vista unfurling before us.

This is, after all, the world’s grandest canyon. It does that to people, even hardened veteran backpackers like us.

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