backpacking Grand Canyon

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 …

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A backpacker at a waterfall on the Deer Creek Trail in the Grand Canyon.

Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop

By Michael Lanza

The heat presses in from all sides as we hike down the Bill Hall Trail off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The overhead sun feels as if it has expanded to a supernova threatening to engulf the planet. The rocks radiate waves of heat up at us; I wonder if they might actually reach egg-frying temperature today. Even the air seems to be rising to a boil like a vast kettle on a stove. We hike cautiously over broken stones that slide underfoot, leaning out onto our trekking poles for the two- and three-foot ledge drops on this path—which appears better suited to bighorn sheep than to bipedal primates hauling backpacks weighed down with gear, food, and a surplus of a rare element out here: water.

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Tonto East Trail, Grand Canyon

Ask Me: Where Should Our Family Backpack in the Grand Canyon?

Dear Michael,

My wife and I take our kids to Ketchum, Idaho, every summer and became fans of your site by finding your great recommendations and tips for the White Cloud Mountains. We are now planning a trip with our kids to the Grand Canyon. Our kids are 13 and 14 and are accustomed to multi-day backcountry hikes in the White Clouds and Sawtooths, with 2000+-foot elevation gains. We were seriously considering your suggested four-day trip east to west from Grandview Point to the South Kaibab Trail, but I just noticed that you have also recommended that to someone else in your Ask Me section in response to a request for a “big dayhike.” We don’t want to kill ourselves with an unreasonable pace, but I don’t want to allocate four days for a trip that my kids could reasonably do in two or three. Do you have any advice for what might be the best way to do this, or whether there is an alternate route you would suggest?

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A young girl backpacking on Horseshoe Mesa in Grand Canyon National Park.

A Matter of Perspective: A Father-Daughter Hike in the Grand Canyon

By Michael Lanza The New Hance Trail starts out hard, and then gets really tough. The rugged footpath drops off the South Rim into the Grand Canyon like a ball rolling off a table—4,422 vertical feet in 6.5 miles from the rim to the Colorado River. Most of that relief comes in the first five miles, as the trail wiggles …

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Tonto East Trail, Grand Canyon

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the Grand Canyon, Grandview Point to the South Kaibab Trailhead

By Michael Lanza

Are you ready to step up to the next level of adventure? The 29-mile, four-day hike from Grandview Point to the South Kaibab Trailhead is a classic, and not as popular as other Big Ditch backpacking trips. It features infinite views of deep chasms and soaring towers from arguably to two most scenic trails on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim—the Grandview and South Kaibab trails—and a traverse of the gentler Tonto Plateau, with mind-blowing panoramas stretching from the canyon rims to the Colorado River.

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