Have a little bit of backpacking experience but don’t have the time or expertise to plan your own trip? Take a self-guided backpacking tour into the heart of Grand Canyon, and immerse yourself in one of the natural wonders of the world with us! At 277 miles long, 6000 ft deep, and up to 18 miles wide the scale is simply stunning. Most visitors to the Grand Canyon never get beyond the rim, and that’s a shame. To truly experience the grandeur of the Grand Canyon you need to hike down into it. Furthermore, to hike clear across this geologic marvel is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trek for even the most well-traveled outdoor enthusiast. Rubicon’s founder Matt Brown has been organizing backpacking trips in Grand Canyon for twenty years, and we consider this the company’s specialty. We’ll take care of the logistical considerations such as permitting and route planning to set you up on a route we know you will love. Our veteran guides can give you great advice on equipment, clothing, and packing; or, we can completely outfit you with all the necessary gear you will need like tents, sleeping bags and pads, backpacks, etc. Our detailed route descriptions and maps are packed with information making it easy to navigate the trails on your own as though you had your own trusted private guide right there with you!
You’ll spend your first night in Arizona at Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. Here you can enjoy an afternoon walk and expansive views along the rim before settling in to your comfortable park hotel. In the morning you’ll depart on your journey by shuttle through northern Arizona’s wild and surprisingly varied landscape to the pine-forested North Rim. Perhaps after a short afternoon hike, you’ll spend the evening at the North Rim Lodge having dinner and good night’s rest in preparation for the descent that begins the following day. You will then spend 4 days and 3 nights hiking down the hidden gem that is the North Kaibab Trail, across the Colorado River, and up the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim.
Our hikes are timed so you can finish around 4 pm, giving you time to relax, or perhaps do a bit of exploring around camp. The Grand Canyon is particularly well suited to fall, winter, and spring hikes. Colder weather at the rim (it often snows in winter) is ideal for hiking, and warmer temperatures near the bottom are comfortable without the overwhelming heat the region experiences in the summer. Temperatures at the bottom of the Canyon are typically 25-30 degrees warmer than at the rim, so we can enjoy cool days for hiking and comfortable evenings at camp.
Grand Canyon Village, South Rim – To get to our Grand Canyon Rim to Rim tour, you can fly into Phoenix or Prescott Arizona where you can rent a car and drive through vast pine and juniper forests to the South Rim. If you’re renting gear from us, you’ll stop in Prescott on the way where our staff will help you pack up and be ready to hit the trail. Then continue north to the park where you’ll have time for a brief sunset hike along the rim trail, and settle in to your comfortable lodge.
North Rim Lodge—You’ll start today with an 8:00 AM shuttle that will deliver you to the North Rim of the canyon early in the afternoon. The canyon’s North Rim is visited by just a fraction of those who see the South Rim each year, which makes this part of the park feel more secluded. Here, you can enjoy an afternoon hike on the rim and make any last minute preparations before having dinner and spending the night at the rustic North Rim Lodge.
Cottonwood Camp – Today your journey begins at the North Kaibab Trailhead at over 8,200′ above sea level. This trail starts down through dense pine forests and soon leads to the Supai Tunnel two miles below the North Rim. You’ll descend past Roaring Springs eventually reaching Cottonwood Campground about 7 miles from the top. At 4,080′ in elevation this camp, as the name suggests, is nestled back from the trail amongst large stands of cottonwood trees, making it a great place to spend the night.
Bright Angel Camp – After breakfast in the morning, you’ll continue on the North Kaibab Trail, dropping 1600 feet of elevation and another 7 miles on the way to Bright Angel Camp. This trail follows the cursive Bright Angel Creek past Ribbon Falls, eventually reaching this tributary’s end at the Colorado River. There is plenty to explore near camp here before heading over to the infamous Phantom Ranch nearby for a cool beverage and dinner. This place feels like a remote oasis and is set right on the banks of Bright Angel Creek–although most of our clients have little trouble sleeping after two days of backpacking in Grand Canyon, the stars overhead and the quiet rush of the creek usually removes all doubt of a relaxing night at this camp.
Indian Gardens Camp — Continuing on this morning, cross over the Colorado River and ascend on the Bright Angel Trail through two-billion-year-old granite and schist formations. Today’s hike will take you about half-way out of Grand Canyon to Indian Garden Campground, which you should reach your destination shortly after lunch. Indian Garden is another beautiful campground set in a lush riparian corridor with huge cottonwoods all around. You can take an afternoon detour out to Plateau Point, an easy 1.5 mile walk from camp to one of the best viewpoints in of the inner canyon.
South Rim, Departure – Today, after breakfast you’ll make your final push up the Bright Angel trail, hiking 3000 feet and about 4.5 miles up to return to Grand Canyon Village. After climbing layer upon layer of vividly colored sandstone, limestone, and shale you should reach the rim around noon time. Topping back out of the canyon after such a journey is a truly unique and rewarding experience understood only by those who have ventured to the bottom on foot! Head back down to Prescott to drop rented gear to us, or spend the final afternoon relaxing in the park before departing for your post trip destinations.