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Grand Canyon National Park Grandview, AZ

Apr 16 - Apr 23, 2022 -- $1425 ★★★★

About The Trip

What can we possibly tell you about Grand Canyon National Park, that would persuade you to visit? Would it help to know that it's considered one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World? Or that the geologic features reveal 40% of the Earth's history? Or that the Grand Canyon is home to some of the cleanest air in the United States? Or that it's well over a mile deep, giving rise to superlative, unobstructed views?

You already know that the Grand Canyon is a life list destination that words are insufficient to fully describe. You owe it to yourself to visit this truly amazing wonder.

Get ready to backpack in the Grand Canyon! We'll begin on the Grandview Trailhead with a grueling, quad-busting, knee-jarring 3700' downhill hike over 4.5 long, steep miles. This will be a truly challenging day. From there, the distances and elevations become somewhat more moderate as we join the Tonto Trail on our way into the Canyon. We then head uphill once again towards South Kaibab to Indian Garden. The final day will be long and grueling once again as we will ascend almost 3700' with a full pack over 4.8 miles. This is truly a challenge but one that's unbelievably rewarding.


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking, especially in the Grand Canyon. April is really one of the best times to visit, weather-wise as it's generally not too cold on the rim and not too hot in the canyon. Be prepared for freezing weather or even snow on the rim, but also be prepared for 100 degrees in the canyon. Chances are, neither will happen but we must be prepared for each.

Probable Trip Leaders

Danielle Piscatelli
Rick Romine


$1425 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Phoenix, AZ (PHX) as well as personal equipment, restaurant meals and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 1 front country campground night, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, permits, fees and 2 awesome guides.

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.

Important Notes

THE TRIP DATES ARE NOT FINAL! This is our tentative itinerary. The Grand Canyon backcountry office will issue April backcountry permits on or about December 15th, 2021. The itinerary we are approved for may be in the opposite direction, use nearby camping zones, or the start date may be shifted a few days or more ahead or back. Or we may not be issued a backountry permit at all. Competition for permits can be fierce, especially given that our permit (as well as countless others) were canceled by park in 2020 due to Covid. We have little control over this unfortunately.

This trip does not go all the way down to the Colorado River. It may seem strange, but the trip is still amazing even if you don't visit the (sometimes muddy) Colorado River.

This is the 1st of two trips to the Grand Canyon this year. The other trip is scheduled for 11-18, 2022 but it too may change.

Difficulty (Please Read)

The Grand Canyon can be extremely difficult and forbidding. The temperatures can be freezing or over 100 degrees. There is little to no shade in some areas, so you will be exposed to the beating sun for extended periods. Sun block is not sufficient for this, you must bring a wide brimmed hat, long sleeve shirt and long pants.

Furthermore, water may not be available for a few days at a time. Expect to carry 2 gallons of water (16 pounds) and maybe more. This extra weight makes your full pack even heavier. Elevation gains and losses on the first and last day are dramatic. Expect to gain or lose over 3700' vertical on some days. In order to do this, you will need to be sufficiently hydrated. Plus, your feet must remain in good shape. Blisters will cripple you and make progress extremely slow and painful so be mindful of hot spots as they develop.

On top of that, next to several parts of the trail the terrain drops off dramatically. Most people are fine with this but some people are especially sensitive to drop offs. If this is you, please consider your options carefully before joining this trip.

Extraction from the canyon will be time consuming and expensive. You should have no expectation of rapid evacuation should you request it. Often just completing the trip by walking out with us is the fastest way out.

Training tips

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Packing List
Guides for this trip
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)
Packing List
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Saturday, April 16, 2022

Fly or drive into Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX)

We will pick you up and bring you to former Guide Deb's house where we'll have our equipment shakedown. Please arrive by 1PM if possible and let us know if you will be later than that.

Equipment shakedown

Trip to REI Chandler, 870 N 54th St, Chandler, AZ 85226, for forgotten or last minute equipment

Distribution of trail mix

Guide Deb will take your spare bag(s) for safekeeping

Drive 2 hours to Flagstaff

Go out for welcome dinner in town. Cost of dinner not included in trip cost

Drive 1.5+ hours to Tusayan, AZ

Park shuttle vehicle(s) and board a National Park Purple Route Shuttle Bus

Take Shuttle bus to Mather Campground, possibly bypassing lines at the entrance station

Set up camp and stay at Mather Campground, site Aspen 019

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Sunday, April 17, 2022

2nd set of before body composition measurements taken

Fill all water vessels as we will be "dry camping" tonight

Take Park Shuttle Bus to the Grandview Trailhead, elevation 7400'

Hike 3.0 steep, knee-crushing miles to Horseshoe Mesa, elevation 4900'

Camp at Horseshoe Mesa, site TBD, elevation 4900'

Miles today: 3.0 miles. Total to date: 3.0 miles

Possible Bailout: South Rim

Monday, April 18, 2022

Hike 1.5 steep, knee-crushing, scree-covered miles to Cottonwood Creek, Zone BG9, elevation 3900'

Get water here

Hike 5.5 miles to Grapevine Creek, elevation 3550'.

At-Large camp in the vicinity of Grapevine Creek, zone BH9, elevation 3550'. The water here is generally reliable.

Miles Today: 7.0. Total to Date: 10.0

Possible Bailout: South Rim, but it's pretty far

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Hike 5.7 miles to Boulder Spring, elevation 3600'

Water may be found nearby or downstream about 20 minutes walk. Water is often reported as salty and unpalatable.

At-Large camp in the vicinity of Boulder Spring, zone BH9, elevation 3600'.

Miles Today: 5.7. Total to Date: 15.7

Possible Bailout: No good options

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

No guarantee of water today. We must carry 8 liters each.

Hike 3.0 miles to Lone Tree, elevation 3680'

Hike 3.5 miles to Cremation Canyon, elevation 3650'

At-Large camp in the vicinity of Cremation Canyon, zone BJ9, elevation 3650'. We must camp East of the canyon (the West side is pretty steep and unsuitable for tents anyway)

Miles today: 6.5 miles. Total to date: 22.2 miles

Possible Bailout: No good options

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Hike 6.6 miles on the Tonto Trail to Indian Garden Campground, elevation 3800'

Set up camp at Indian Garden Campground, elevation 3800'. There is reliable water here.

Day-Hike 1.5 miles to Plateau Point, elevation 3740'

Day-Hike 1.5 miles to Indian Garden Campground, elevation 3800'

Camp at Indian Garden Campground, elevation 3800'

Miles today: 9.6 miles. Total to date: 31.8 miles

Possible Bailout: South Rim

Friday, April 22, 2022

Hike 4.8 grueling uphill miles to the Bright Angel Trailhead, elevation 6860'

End of Hike

Miles today: 4.8 miles. Total to date: 36.6 miles

Possible Bailout: Bright Angel Trailhead

Body Composition Taken on South Rim

"After" body composition measurements taken

Shuttle to Flagstaff for Dinner and Awards Ceremony

Shuttle back to Phoenix. Get off-trail stuff from guide Deb's house

Check into local hotel (TBD)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Free Hotel Breakfast

Free airport shuttle

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