10 Best Backpacking Trips in Grand Canyon

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Are you an adventure enthusiast looking for an unforgettable backpacking experience? Look no further than the majestic Grand Canyon. With its breathtaking landscapes and challenging trails, the Grand Canyon offers a plethora of backpacking opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore the top 10 best backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon, ranging from stunning vistas to hidden gems. So grab your backpack and let’s embark on an incredible journey!

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Quick Facts About the Grand Canyon

Before we dive into the backpacking trips, let’s quickly familiarize ourselves with the Grand Canyon:

  1. The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, USA, and is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
  2. It is approximately 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and has an average depth of over a mile.
  3. The canyon offers a variety of ecosystems, including desert, forest, and riparian (along rivers).
  4. It showcases stunning geology, with rock layers dating back millions of years.
  5. The Grand Canyon attracts millions of visitors each year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.

1. Bright Angel Trail

backpacking bright angel trail

The Bright Angel Trail tops the list as the most popular trail in the Grand Canyon. Spanning 14 miles, this trail offers unparalleled views of the canyon. However, be prepared for a challenging hike, as it descends 4,400 feet. Despite the difficulty, the trail is well-maintained and easy to follow.

2. South Kaibab Trail

backpacking kaib trail

For a different perspective of the canyon, the South Kaibab Trail is an excellent choice. This 14-mile trail descends 4,000 feet and promises awe-inspiring views. Although equally challenging, the South Kaibab Trail offers a unique experience compared to the Bright Angel Trail.

3. North Kaibab Trail

backpacking North Kaibab Trail 

If you’re an experienced hiker seeking a greater challenge, the North Kaibab Trail is perfect for you. With a length of 21 miles and a descent of 6,000 feet, this trail is not for the faint-hearted. However, the reward is worth it – the trail showcases stunning vistas of the canyon and the majestic Colorado River.

4. Hermit Trail

backpacking hermit trail

For those seeking a moderate yet rewarding trail, the Hermit Trail is an ideal choice. This 10-mile trail descends 3,000 feet, providing captivating views of the canyon. With less elevation gain and loss, the Hermit Trail offers a more manageable challenge for hikers.

5. Phantom Ranch Trail

Phantom Ranch Trail backpacking

If you’re looking for a shorter and easier hike, the Phantom Ranch Trail is a great option. This 4-mile trail descends 1,000 feet and leads to Phantom Ranch, a popular destination for backpackers. Enjoy the beauty of the canyon without the grueling demands of a longer trail.

6. Colorado River Trail

backpacking colorado trail

Experienced hikers seeking a true adventure should consider the Colorado River Trail. This challenging 28-mile trail follows the captivating Colorado River. With a descent of 5,000 feet, this trail offers magnificent views of both the canyon and the river.

7. Wapisa Trail

backpacking Wapisa Trail

The Wapisa Trail provides a moderate challenge for hikers who still want to experience stunning canyon views. With a length of 14 miles and a descent of 2,000 feet, this trail strikes a balance between difficulty and enjoyment.

8. Tonto Trail

backpacking Tonto Trail

For experienced hikers seeking a longer journey, the Tonto Trail is the ultimate adventure. Stretching 44 miles and descending 6,000 feet, this arduous trail covers expansive sections of the Grand Canyon. Prepare yourself for a true test of stamina and revel in the vastness of this natural wonder.

9. Grandview Trail

backpacking  Grandview Trail 

The Grandview Trail is a moderate trail that rewards hikers with breathtaking canyon views. With a length of 8 miles and a descent of 3,000 feet, this trail strikes a balance between challenge and accessibility.

10. Havasupai Trail

Havasupai Trail backpacking

For experienced hikers looking to discover a hidden gem, the Havasupai Trail is a must-visit. This challenging 10-mile trail leads to Havasu Falls, a stunning waterfall nestled within the Grand Canyon. With a descent of 4,000 feet, this trail is an extraordinary adventure waiting to be discovered.
In conclusion, the Grand Canyon offers a multitude of backpacking trips for adventurers of all levels. From the popular Bright Angel Trail to the hidden gem of Havasu Falls, each trail provides a unique and unforgettable experience. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your gear, and embark on a thrilling backpacking journey through the natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon.

Key Packing List Essentials

Before we delve into our top 10 backpacking trips, it’s crucial to ensure you are well-prepared with the right gear and supplies. Here’s a comprehensive packing list to make your adventure in the Grand Canyon safe, enjoyable, and stress-free:

  1. Backpack: Choose a lightweight and durable backpack with ample space to carry your essentials.
  2. Hiking Boots: Invest in a sturdy pair of hiking boots to protect your feet on rugged terrains.
  3. Lightweight Tent: Opt for a compact and lightweight tent to provide shelter during overnight stays.
  4. Sleeping Bag: Select a high-quality sleeping bag suitable for the expected temperatures.
  5. Water Filter: Carry a reliable water filter to ensure access to clean drinking water throughout your trip.
  6. Cooking Stove: Pack a compact cooking stove to prepare hot meals and beverages.
  7. Navigation Tools: Bring a detailed map, compass, and GPS device to navigate the trails effectively.
  8. First Aid Kit: Be prepared for any emergencies with a well-stocked first aid kit.
  9. Appropriate Clothing: Pack moisture-wicking layers, a hat, sunglasses, and sunblock to protect yourself from the sun.
  10. Food and Snacks: Carry a sufficient supply of lightweight, nutritious food and energy-boosting snacks.
    With these essentials in your backpack, you’ll be ready to embark on an awe-inspiring backpacking adventure in the Grand Canyon.
  11. Snakes The Grand Canyon is home to many snakes, including venomous and non-venomous varieties:

The Best Time to Go Backpacking in the Grand Canyon

  1. Spring (March to May)
    • Why Spring?
      Spring is considered one of the best times to go backpacking in the Grand Canyon. The weather is mild, with temperatures ranging from comfortable to slightly cool. The spring season also brings a burst of colorful wildflowers, adding a touch of vibrant beauty to your adventure.
  2. Fall (September to November)
    • Why Fall?
      Fall is another ideal time for backpacking in the Grand Canyon. The scorching summer heat begins to wane, making the temperatures more pleasant for outdoor activities. As an added bonus, the fall foliage paints the canyon in warm hues, creating a captivating backdrop for your journey.
  3. Winter (December to February)
    • Why Winter?
      Winter backpacking in the Grand Canyon offers a unique experience for those seeking solitude and stunning vistas. While the temperatures can be chilly, the absence of crowds allows you to truly connect with nature and enjoy a tranquil escape. It’s important to note that winter backpacking requires careful planning and preparation, as certain trails may be icy or inaccessible.

Essential Tips for a Successful Backpacking Trip

  1. Prepare Physically and Mentally
    • Prior to embarking on your backpacking adventure, make sure you are physically and mentally prepared. Hiking in the Grand Canyon can be challenging, so it’s important to gradually increase your fitness level and stamina leading up to the trip.
  2. Pack Light and Smart
    • Since backpacking involves carrying all your essentials on your back, it’s crucial to pack light. Opt for lightweight gear and pack only the essentials to avoid unnecessary strain. Invest in a quality backpack that fits comfortably and distribute the weight evenly.
  3. Stay Hydrated and Nourished
    • Hydration is key when backpacking in the Grand Canyon, especially during the warmer months. Carry an adequate water supply and replenish it whenever necessary. Additionally, pack nutrient-rich, lightweight snacks to keep your energy levels up during the trek.
  4. Plan Your Route and Obtain Permits
    • Research the different trails within the Grand Canyon and choose the one that best suits your preferences and hiking abilities. Additionally, ensure you obtain any necessary permits in advance, as some areas may have limited access.

Trip Planning Resources


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Hi!I’m Kim!

A passionate adventurer, homesteader, home cook and food lover who loves nothing more than sharing my favorite trips, skills , and recipes with the world.



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