5-day Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike

5-Day Guided Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hiking Tour

Named by National Geographic Traveler as one of 50 Tours of a LifetimeTripAdvisor Certificate of ExcellenceHike from Grand Canyon’s North Rim to the Colorado River and ascend to the South Rim over 5 days! Join us for one of the world’s most sought after adventures – hiking rim to rim in the Grand Canyon. This guided Grand Canyon hiking tour was selected by National Geographic as one of the 50 Tours of a Lifetime. A journey through geologic time, it is a must do for all adventurous travelers.

 

Why travel with AOA?: Find out more

Price: $2,445 pp

Activity: Hiking, Camping, Lodging

5 days, 4 nights

Difficulty: Advanced

book now!

 

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Trip

Trip Details


2017 Price- $2,395 pp
2018 Price- $2,445 pp

Price is per person, shared occupancy in all accommodations.

Find out more about solo accommodations under the “Upgrades & Additions” tab below.

 

Overview

Carrying only day-packs, we will hike across the canyon from North to South and on the way spend two nights at world famous Phantom Ranch located in the bottom of the canyon. On our layover day we will explore the inner canyon and relax beside the mighty Colorado River. Your awe-inspiring adventures below the rim will be book ended by a peaceful night on the North Rim and an evening of celebration on the South Rim after hike out. This is a strenuous trip for which we require a written letter of approval from your doctor.

*Note: This hiking trip is challenging and requires that all participants submit a letter of doctor’s approval.*

 

Trip Rating Details

grand canyon rim to rim guided hiking trip rating

Click the icon for an explanation of these trip ratings.

 

Where to Meet

START: 8:00am 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 5 (usually between 3:00pm and 5:00pm).

GUESTS: 4 min to 9 max

 

Included

  • Round-trip ground transportation from Phoenix/Scottsdale
  • Rim-to-rim luggage shuttle
  • National Park entry fees
  • Meals starting lunch Day 1 through dinner Day 4 and lunch Day 5
  • Water and snacks
  • Trekking poles complimentary upon request
  • 1 night lodging at North Rim Lodge (or equivalent based on availability), 2 nights lodging at Phantom Ranch, 1 night lodging on the South Rim
  • Dining and housekeeping gratuity
  • Professional Wilderness First Responder certified guide

Not Included

  • Personal insurance and expenses
  • Air transportation to and from Phoenix/Scottsdale
  • Pre- or post-trip lodging
  • Breakfast Day 1, breakfast Day 5
  • Day hiking pack
  • Optional gratuities to AOA guides

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

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How difficult is this trip?

A: AOA’s 5 day Rim to Rim hiking trip is not for novice hikers. This hike requires that you are capable of hiking at a pace of 2 miles per hour or faster for a distance of 14 miles. We require that each trip participant submit a letter of approval from their doctor, verifying that they are physically fit to participate. You should expect to hike about 30 miles over 3 days with significant elevation change.

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

A: This trip is only available May 15th through October 15th due to National Park closures on the North Rim. The early and late season trips generally see slightly cooler temperatures in the inner canyon, while mid-season trips can be hotter. Snow is possible in May, September and October. The high elevation of the canyon rims provide refreshingly ideal weather throughout most of the rim to rim season. July and August tend to have significantly higher temperatures as well as greater likelihood of stormy weather.

Q: Why should I travel with AOA?

A:  Arizona Outback Adventures has been operating guided tours in the Grand Canyon for almost two decades. Our guides know the canyon intimately and are passionate and enthusiastic about this beautiful wilderness as well as experienced and certified in wilderness first aid. AOA promises to exceed your expectations in 5 key areas: Safety, Comfort, Food, Education, and Exceptional Guides. Our guests return to travel with us again and again. To hear what they have to say, read our Testimonials page.

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

A: Before hiking rim to rim in the Grand Canyon you should do significant training to ensure you will have a fun and unforgettable experience. The Rim to Rim Hike is a strenuous trip and is not recommended for novice hikers. On the second day we descend the North Kaibab Trail, losing 5,700 feet in elevation over 14 miles, for those with a history of knee problems this can present a serious challenge. The hike out ascends the Bright Angel Trail, gaining 4,300 feet of elevation over 10 miles.

Q: What sort of accommodations are included on this trip?

A: The Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hiking trip includes one night at Grand Canyon North Rim lodge (or equivalent based on availability), two nights at Phantom Ranch, and one night on the South Rim at one of the National Park lodges. Standard reservations are in double occupancy rooms in the Rim lodges and gender specific dormitories at Phantom Ranch. If you are traveling with a companion or group, we will ask you for the name of the person you prefer to share with  for the accommodations on the rim of the canyon. Those who are traveling alone will be assigned a roommate of the same gender. Purchasing a solo occupancy upgrade grants you a private room during the stay on the North and South Rims, accommodations at Phantom Ranch are in the dormitories.

Still have questions? Read our detailed Grand Canyon trip FAQ.

Grand Canyon Information

Some say you haven’t lived until you have hiked in the Grand Canyon. A guided trek through the heart of the canyon and will leave you with a sense of accomplishment, awe, appreciation, and love of the grandest place on earth.

The Grand Canyon is a complex and mysterious place that continues to evolve. As the canyon itself is constantly changing, so too are the hypotheses as to how it was formed. New questions and discoveries are nearly as plentiful as the visitors who come to gaze into the vast chasm. Geologists, archaeologists, and adventurers alike have been canvassing the canyon for decades trying to come to some sort of understanding of the place. The canyon is still very much a wild frontier.

How old is the Colorado River? What sort of creature created this fossil? How is it that rocks only 500 million years old are found at the same altitude as those that are nearly a billion years old? Why is a type of rock found in one area of the canyon and not another?

Geologists are able to date the ages of the rock layers with accuracy. We know that the oldest rock layer, the Vishnu Schist, lies deepest within the canyon and is the layer through which the Colorado River currently flows. This ancient Vishnu Schist is considered some of the oldest exposed rock in the world, dating its birth to approximately 1.7 billion years ago. Scientists generally agree upon the ages of the rock layers and the means by which they were formed, but it is the age of the canyon itself that is debated. Some say the river began cutting into the canyon a mere 5 million years ago, others claim it was as long ago as 70 million. By as recently as 1.2 million years ago, Grand Canyon had come to look much the same as it does today. The beautiful and complex rock layers that have been exposed offer a glimpse into the incredible tectonic forces that have impacted this part of the world over a span of nearly two billion years.

For more information on Grand Canyon flora and fauna, geology, and weather visit the Grand Canyon Natural History Page.

Recommended Reading List

  1. Grand Canyon National Park, a Natural History Guide – Jeremy Schmidt
  2. It Happened at Grand Canyon – Todd R. Berger
  3. Grand Canyon Treks: 12,000 Miles Through the Grand Canyon – Harvey Butchart

References

Learn more about Grand Canyon National Park.

Upgrades  & Additions

Solo Accommodations Upgrade

$289 pp

 

Non-Participant Package

$695 pp

*Limited to one non-participant per hiker, only available in partnership with a hiker already booked on a trip.

Package includes:

  • Round-trip transportation from the Holiday Inn
    Express Hotel and Suites in Old Town Scottsdale
  • National Park entry fees
  • Trans-canyon Shuttle Reservation (transportation
    from North Rim to South Rim)
  • Meals: lunch and dinner Day 1, dinner Day 4, lunch
    Day 5
  • Lodging on Days 1 and 4
  • Bottled water and snacks while in AOA vehicle

Does not include:

  • Day 1 breakfast, Day 2 meals, Day 3 meals, Day 4 breakfast and lunch, Day 5 breakfast
  • Airfare to and from Phoenix/Scottsdale
  • Pre- and post-trip accommodations (we recommend the Holiday Inn Express and have special rates there)
  • Lodging on Days 2 and 3
  • Airport transfers
  • Optional AOA Guide gratuities
  • Personal insurance and expenses

 

Gear Rental

  • 30 to 40 liter daypack ($35 per pack)

 

Optional Additions 

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

 

Optional upgrades, additions, and rentals subject to tax (7.95%).

Trip Dates

Dates

2017 Trips

  • August 31- September 4
  • September 5-9
  • September 28- October 2
  • October 4-8
  • October 9-13
  • October 14-18

2018 Trips

  • May 17-21
  • May 18-22
  • May 22-26
  • May 27-31
  • May 29- June 2
  • June 1-5
  • June 5-9
  • June 20-24
  • June 22-26
  • June 25-29

HEAT PROTOCOL

It’s possible that trips offered during the months of June, July, and August may follow special heat protocol to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all participants. Read through the trip itinerary to see how trips operated under heat protocol differ.

 

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

Reservation & Cancellation Policy

Reservations, Payments and Cancellation

Grand Canyon 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. Please note that for the Rim to Rim hiking trip, a letter of doctor’s approval is required for each participant.

We strongly recommend that you purchase “travel insurance.” This is a valuable tool that will protect your trip investment.

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

 

Trip Itinerary

DAY 1: DRIVE FROM SCOTTSDALE/PHOENIX TO THE GRAND CANYON NORTH RIM

8:00am Today we shuttle from Scottsdale/Phoenix to the Grand Canyon North Rim with some interesting stops along the way. We break at Cameron Indian Trading Post. Established in 1916, it is a famous showplace for fine Native American and Southwestern art, as well as a perfect lunch spot. Then we’ll explore Navajo Bridge, just downstream from Lee’s Ferry which is the launch point for rafting the Grand Canyon’s mighty Colorado River. Days end will find us settling into the quaint cabins of Grand Canyon’s North Rim Lodge (or equivalent based on availability) before enjoying a sunset stroll and dinner in this spectacular setting.

  • Hiking: 0‐2 miles
  • Meals: Breakfast on own, lunch and dinner included
  • Lodging: North Rim Lodge (or equivalent based on availability)

DAY 2: HIKE DOWN THE NORTH KAIBAB TRAIL TO PHANTOM RANCH

Hike Grand Canyon Rim to Rim with AOA Adventures

Cooling off at Ribbon Falls on North Kaibab Trail

Get ready for a challenging trek into the heart of the canyon! Today’s hike is 14 challenging miles downhill, a 5,700 ft descent into the grandest of canyons! Expect that on this day we will be hiking at a pace of 2 miles/hour for 7 hours. On today’s trek we traverse through nearly every biological life zone in the North America and as we drop from the alpine to the desert, each step takes us thousands of years back in geologic time through ancient oceans, deserts, lakes and swamps. With mind-blowing vistas, fascinating trail design and workmanship, 100-foot waterfalls, plus green spring-fed oases, the North Kaibab Trail is a national treasure. At trails end, we find Phantom Ranch nestled on the banks of Bright Angel Creek just before its confluence with the Colorado River. Phantom Ranch was originally founded in 1903 as a hunting camp and named by Mary Jane Colter after nearby Phantom Creek. This will be our home for the next two nights.

Heat Protocol: Today’s challenging 14 mile descent will begin with an “alpine start.” The exact timing will be at the discretion of the guide, but hikers can expect to eat breakfast and begin hiking well before sunrise. There is a certain allure to these early summer mornings. Grand Canyon’s North Rim is extremely remote which means there is very little light pollution and incredibly dark skies and bright stars! As the morning approaches, you’ll witness the canyon awaken and have the rare treat of experiencing your first canyon sunrise deep within the backcountry. Arriving at Phantom Ranch at an early hour allows for more time to relax in the inner canyon, soaking your feet in the Colorado River or enjoying a cold beer at the Canteen.

  • Hiking: 14 miles (trailhead is at 8,200 feet – Phantom Ranch is at approximately 2,500 feet – TOTAL elevation loss of 5,700 feet)
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
  • Lodging: Phantom Ranch same-gender dormitories

DAY 3: A DAY TO ENJOY PHANTOM RANCH AND THE PEACEFUL SOLITUDE ONLY FOUND WITHIN THE CANYON WALLS

Today we plan to hike the beautiful Clear Creek and River Trails. However, many participants choose to use this day for relaxation, cheering on the rafters, socializing with other adventurers, or stretching out in the shade with a book and a cold beer. All our meals will be at the famous Phantom Ranch Canteen. Enjoy the solitude or mix with other intrepid canyon hikers in the very bottom of Grand Canyon as the steep walls block out the rest of the world, affording a feeling of tremendous peace and tranquility. Photographic and bird watching opportunities abound in this lush riparian habitat. Your guides will be available all day to share with you the secrets of one of the world’s most special places.

Heat Protocol: The inner canyon can be especially relaxing in the summer temperatures. The hot days force you to slow down and appreciate the views. Rise early today and stretch your legs while your guide leads you on a fun hike or instead just enjoy a coffee by the river until the day warms up. Follow the lead of the wild animals that call the canyon home, mornings are for activity, afternoons are for siesta.

  • Hiking: 3‐5 miles
  • Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner included
  • Lodging: Phantom Ranch same-gender dormitories

DAY 4: ASCEND THE BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL TO THE GRAND CANYON SOUTH RIM VILLAGE

Hike Grand Canyon Rim to Rim with AOA Adventures

The rising sun finds us preparing to conquer the canyon. We will ascend the Bright Angel Trail, a classic Grand Canyon trek! After crossing the Colorado River, the trail snakes its way up out of the inner gorge to the shady oasis of Indian Garden. Here we will refuel and refill with water before tackling the steep ascent up Jacob’s Ladder through the Redwall layer. While always a tremendous challenge, your guides will provide you with helpful hints, strategies, techniques, and their insider knowledge of the keys to a successful ascent. The ascent up Bright Angel trail is a constant climb with an average grade of 10%. With proper preparation, hydration, and diet, the entire group will soon be high‐fiving and hugging on the rim. Tonight we celebrate our shared accomplishments at historic El Tovar Restaurant before retiring to our rooms at one of the several rim-side lodges for some well-deserved rest (call to inquire about lodging for your specific departure).

Heat Protocol: As on your descent into the canyon, it will be extremely important to begin today before the sun is up. Hiking out of Grand Canyon is extremely challenging so your guide will be very conscientious of your water consumption and exertion as the temperatures rise. The hike along Bright Angel trail boasts the welcome oasis of Indian Garden approximately halfway through your hike. Depending on the day’s temperatures, group fitness and comfort levels, it is possible your guide may require an afternoon siesta at Indian Garden to wait out the hottest part of the day in the shade before continuing on to your destination at the Rim. Here you can relax beneath shady cottonwood trees and soak your feet in Garden Creek. We encourage you to take a load off and appreciate these extra moments beneath the bustle of the Canyon Rim.

  • Hiking: 10 miles (Phantom Ranch is at approximately 2,500 feet – trailhead is at 6,800 feet ‐ TOTAL elevation gain of 4,300 feet)
  • Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner included
  • Lodging: One of the South Rim’s lodges, usually Kachina or Thunderbird

DAY 5: TOUR THE SOUTH RIM AND RETURN TO SCOTTSDALE/PHOENIX

For those who want a fantastic final hike the Rim Trail awaits. Using the shuttle system you can hike one-way along the rim and it is a great way to stretch your legs and get a bird’s‐eye view of the route you traversed in the days prior. Other interesting cultural experiences include Hopi House, condor talks, and the many interpretive centers. Following this relaxing morning we will begin driving back to Scottsdale/Phoenix with a stop for lunch en‐route. We will return between 3:00pm‐5:00pm.

  • Hiking: 0‐3 miles optional
  • Meals: breakfast on own, lunch included
  • Lodging: On your own

 

Check out this trip’s route

Click here to see the route we take for our 5-day Rim to Rim hiking trip.

 

Tips for Planning a Rim to Rim Hiking Trip

A Rim to Rim hiking trip takes a lot more time and planning than most realize, read up on what it takes to go by yourself, as an organized group, or guided!

The length of the Colorado River from headwater to delta 1,450 miles, and 277 miles of the river flows through the Grand Canyon. Before you head out on a Rim to Rim hiking trip, read up! Check out the first of our four blog series on the Colorado River: Exploring the Colorado River.

Does the name John Wesley Powell ring any bells? His 1869 expedition of the Grand Canyon was monumental in developing an early understanding of the Colorado plateau. Read up on this iconic explorer before you head out on a Rim to Rim hiking trip.

Need help choosing a backpack for your upcoming hiking trip? We’ve created a guide on how to find the right backpack for hiking and backpacking.

When it comes to the geology of the Grand Canyon, guests have many questions. Our guides are very knowledgeable on this topic, but we thought we would write up a short Grand Canyon Geology Lesson just in case your curious before you explore the beauty of the Grand Canyon yourself.