3-Day Aravaipa Canyon Backpacking

3-day Guided Backpacking Trip in Aravaipa Canyon

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What do you picture when you hear the term ‘desert’? Whatever may come to mind, it is unlikely to include lush grasslands, verdant groves of cottonwood and sycamore trees, and crystal-clear water that flows year-round. That is exactly what you’ll find when you go backpacking in Aravaipa Canyon! An Arizona highlight, this secluded canyon has long been an oasis for backpackers looking to get their feet wet on an adventure in the Sonoran Desert.

Aravaipa Creek makes hiking during hot summer months a downright pleasant experience as you traverse the wide and meandering stream under towering, majestic cliffs. Be on the lookout for bighorn sheep, coatimundi, and any of the 228 species of birds known to live here. Due in part to the high biodiversity, the area is protected as a federal Wilderness Area managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Nature Conservancy also manages a preserve that borders the Wilderness Area, further protecting sensitive species and rare riparian habitats. Hone your backpacking skills and learn about unique local history in this beautiful, isolated gem of the southwest.

Why travel with AOA? Find out more


Trip Price: $695 pp*

+ $36 PP (Permits & Land Use Fees)**

*Subject to change and will be based on actual costs at time of departure

3 days, 2 nights

Difficulty: Moderate

Activity: Backpacking

This trip confirms with 2 guests!

Aravaipa Canyon Backpacking Trip

Price & Inclusions

Trip Price- $695 pp

+ $36 PP (Permits & Land Use Fees)*

  • Price is per person
  • Do you have five minutes to save $25? Use the promo code 25for5 at checkout and get $25 per person off your trip price when you take 5 minutes to complete your guest profile and sign your waiver! Profiles and waivers are due no later than 1 week after booking to cash in on this promotion!
  • See our Promos & Discounts page for a list of multi-day trip promotions that may apply!

*Subject to change and will be based on actual costs at time of departure


Trip Price Includes

  • Meals starting lunch Day 1 through lunch Day 3
  • Filtered water during van transfers and a variety of healthy hiking snacks
  • Professional Wilderness First Responder certified guide(s)
  • Kitchen and group gear (cooking utensils, stove, fuel, water filter, food storage where needed, dish washing necessities)
  • Personal mess kit (bowl, mug, fork, spoon)
  • Van transfers to/from Holiday Inn Express to the Aravaipa Wilderness
  • Bottled water and snacks for van transfers

Permits & Land Use Fees Include

  • Backcountry permit for 2 nights of camping

Not Included

  • Personal insurance and expenses
  • Pre- or post-trip lodging
  • Transportation to and from Phoenix/Scottsdale
  • Breakfast Day 1
  • Dinner Day 3
  • Sleeping bag (available to rent from AOA)
  • Sleeping pad (available to rent from AOA)
  • Backpacking pack (available to rent from AOA)
  • Backpacking tent (available to rent from AOA)
  • Trekking poles (complimentary upon request)
  • Gratuities to AOA Guides

*Please see the “Rentals & Add Ons” tab below for a list of available gear rentals and purchase options.*

Trip Details

Trip Rating (1 – 5)

Fitness – 3.5

Comfort – 1

Solitude – 5

Guest Participation – 3

Click here for an explanation of AOA’s trip ratings.


Where to Meet

START: 6:00am on Day 1. Meet your guide in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Old Town Scottsdale (CLICK HERE for map).

END: Drop-off at Holiday Inn Express in Old Town Scottsdale on Day 3 (usually between 5:00pm and 7:00pm).

GUESTS: 2 min to 8 max



Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When’s the best time to go on this trip?

A: We are offering this trip during the best times to visit Aravaipa Canyon: the spring and fall. The area gets cold in the winter, making hiking through the creek undesirable. Summertime is monsoon season in Arizona and a narrow canyon is no place to be during a flash flood. It is true that spring and fall can be hot in the Sonoran Desert, but since this trail takes you in and out of the creek, the conditions for a backpacking trip are ideal – warm-weather hiking with a means to cool off at any time. In spring we see the desert come alive with blooming wildflowers. Autumn brings fall colors to the broad leaf riparian forest that we’ll be trekking through the entire trip.

Q: Should I share a tent or go solo? How does this work?

A: If you’re traveling with another guest you can share a 2-person tent and share the weight, or you can both opt to carry two 1-person tents. People often split the weight of the tent by having one person carry the fly and poles, while the other carries the tent body. Some solo travelers choose to carry the weight of a 2-person tent in order to have more space. Others prefer to share the tent weight with another guest.

Q: What are the tents like that I can rent from AOA?

A: We rent name brand backpacking-specific three-season 1- or 2-person tents. These tents are lightweight (between 2 and 3 pounds), in good repair (we recycle our tent inventory every one to two years), and come with a full coverage rain fly with one to two vestibules for storage of gear. Backpacking tents are notoriously smaller than “car camping” tents, sacrificing head room to allow for lighter pack weights. The average length of our tents is around 90 inches and width varies by model. This trip is not mule or porter supported so you will be responsible for carrying your tent. Make sure to leave space in your pack! Call us to get the exact model tent you will be renting.

Q: What are the trails like and how do I train for the trip?

A: The best way to train for this trip is by hiking! Get out on some trails with some weight on your back and remember to train over uneven terrain as much as possible. The desert southwest is very rocky and the streambed of Aravaipa Creek is no exception. The majority of our miles on this hike will be spent with our boots in the water – perfect for backpackers who want to get their feet wet! If you find yourself in the middle of the city and can’t access any hiking trails, don’t worry! Hit the gym and hop on a treadmill, don’t forget to wear your hiking boots, and have a backpack with some weight in it. When you sign up for one of our trips we provide you with detailed info about what to expect and guidance on how to train. If you need more tips just give us a call!

Rentals & Add Ons

Gear Rentals

  • 1-person backpacking tent ($25 per)
  • 2-person backpacking tent ($35 per)
  • 55 to 65 liter backpack with removable daypack option fitted to individual ($30 per)
  • Sleeping bag ($25 per)
  • Inflatable sleeping pad ($25 per, sleeping pads add insulation and are required on AOA trips)
  • Trekking poles (complimentary upon request)

Optional Additions

  • Purchase: 3-liter Camelbak reservoir/bladder ($35 per)

Optional upgrades, additions, and rentals subject to tax (8.05%).

Trip Dates


2018 Trip Dates

  • March 25-27
  • April 13-15
  • April 23-25
  • May 4-6
  • May 21-23
  • October 1-3
  • October 19-21
  • November 2-4

2019 Trip Dates

  • March 24-26
  • April 12-14
  • April 22-24
  • May 3-5
  • May 20-22
  • September 30- October 2
  • October 18-20
  • November 1-3

Don’t see your ideal dates? Give us a call, we might be able to add them.

To see dates for all multi-day guided tours, visit our Adventure Tour Calendar.

Cancellation & Trip Policies

Reservations, Payments and Cancellation

Aravaipa Canyon backpacking tours are very popular and advanced planning is often necessary. We recommend making your reservations at least 3 to 5 months in advance. We can accommodate last-minute bookings provided space is available, so please call our office to check. Each trip requires a minimum number of participants for departure. Arizona Outback Adventures (AOA) reserves the right to cancel scheduled trips that do not meet minimum sign-up requirements.

This trip confirms with 2 guests. Grab a friend and your trip is guaranteed!

For more details please see our comprehensive Trip Policies and Payments page.

Essential Eligibility Requirements

AOA’s goal is to provide challenging and meaningful experiences through guided and self-guided tours to unforgettable destinations. These criteria have been developed to help our guests identify the skills and abilities needed to successfully and fully participate in these tours. If you are unable to meet certain criteria, please contact us; we may be able to assist you with reasonable accommodation(s) unless it would change or otherwise risk the fundamental nature of the tour, would compromise your safety or the safety of other participants or guides, or would place an undue financial or administrative burden on AOA.

See the complete Essential Eligibility Requirements.


Travel Insurance

We recommend Travel Guard insurance.

Trip Itinerary


Today you will meet your guides and fellow travelers at our host hotel in Scottsdale. After brief introductions, we will load into our van and transfer to the west entrance of Aravaipa Canyon, where we will begin our backpacking trip. Your guide will distribute any rental gear and give a safety briefing and then we start our hike! The route into Aravaipa Canyon begins on an established trail but it quickly enters the creek and will remain in and out of the creekbed for much of the hike. Your feet will be wet throughout much of this journey. We’ll make camp near Horse Camp Canyon and settle in for the next two nights. Relax and enjoy a delicious guide-prepared meal around the campfire with your new adventure companions.

  • Hiking: 4-6 miles on trail and in creek
  • Meals: breakfast on your own, lunch and dinner included
  • Lodging: Backcountry camping


Wake up to the song of the cactus wren and the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. Today is a day of exploration! After enjoying a hearty breakfast, we will begin our day by hiking further up Aravaipa Canyon and into some of the tributary canyons. We leave most gear behind in camp to lighten our load as we explore today. We will be returning to the same campsite after the trek. The day is ours to discover what this biologically-rich oasis has to offer. After a day filled with hiking, scrambling, swimming, and taking in the canyon views, we will return to camp to enjoy another wonderful dinner before settling into our sleeping bags for one more night under the stars.

  • Hiking: 7-10 miles on trail and in creek
  • Meals: all meals included
  • Lodging: Backcountry camping


We rise once again to the calming sounds of Aravaipa Creek. We’ll enjoy breakfast and coffee as we break camp and begin the journey back to the trailhead. Even though this is an out-and-back hike it will seem like a different route as we head downstream and view the canyon walls from a different perspective. Once back at the trailhead, we will load back into our van and head back to Phoenix while reminiscing about our shared adventure.

  • Hiking: 4-6 miles on trail and in creek
  • Meals: breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own
  • Lodging: on your own

Note about itinerary changes: We do our best to operate each trip as closely as possible to the published itinerary, however there are sometimes forces outside of our control that could require us to make adjustments to the operations of a trip. These include but are not limited to weather, natural disasters, road closures, park closures, campsite availability, emergency guest illness or injury.



Click here to see the trail routes we hike on this guided backpacking trip.