Aravaipa Canyon Backpacking

An Oasis in the Desert

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 on our Aravaipa Canyon backpacking trip! An Arizona highlight, this secluded canyon has long been an oasis for backpackers looking for 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.

Duration:  3 days/2nights

Departs:  Old Town Scottsdale @ 6:30am on Day 1

Includes:  Round-trip transportation from Scottsdale, all permits & entry fees, skilled guide(s), meals (lunch day 1 thru lunch day 3), kitchen & group gear (cooking utensils, stove, fuel, water filter, food storage, dish washing necessities), personal mess-kit (bowl, mug, fork, spoon).

Not-Included:  Personal insurance and expenses; Pre- or post-trip lodging; Airfare to and from Scottsdale, AZ; Airport transfers; Breakfast Day 1, dinner Day 3; Sleeping bag, Sleeping pad, Backpack, Tent (rentals available); Trekking poles (complimentary upon request).

Cost:  $695/person + $36/person permit fees
Price is based on shared occupancy.  Solo occupancy upgrade available for an additional $25/person +tax; A $500.00 per person deposit is required to hold your reservation on any trip. The balance is due 60 days prior to your trip departure date.  Subject to change and will be based on actual costs at time of departure.

Skill level:  Moderate- Guests will need the ability to hike on established trails with noticeable elevation change over uneven natural surfaces for up to 10 miles per day. Some routes may not have a shorter or turn-around option and the group will move at a 2 to 3 mph pace with breaks.

Notes:  RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.  All backpacking tours are group tours; minimum 2 guests.  Please inquire for available dates.  Private backpacking tours are available for an additional fee.  

Trip Itinerary


The Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is an incredible desert oasis of Arizona. A visit here is worth at least one or two nights so you can get the full backcountry hiking experience. Our professional and WFR certified guides will make this a trip worth remembering.


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. Unlike hiking in Tucson or Phoenix, your feet will be wet throughout much of this journey – be sure to bring your best hiking socks and shoes! 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
  • Meals: breakfast on your own, lunch and dinner provided
  • Lodging: Backcountry campsite


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 surrounded by Arizona canyons.

  • Hiking: 7-10 miles
  • Meals: All meals
  • Lodging: Backcountry campsite


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 in an incredible Arizona desert oasis.

  • Hiking: 4-6 Miles
  • Meals: Breakfast & 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.


Request Information

Backpacking is a very challenging endeavor and each route will require a certain level of fitness, capability and in some cases, experience.  Our goal is to ensure that you do not get in over your head to the extent it requires an evacuation.  Our staff is eager to work with you to put together the adventure that's best for you and your group.


Cell service & Electricity: While backpacking in Aravaipa Canyon, you will not have cell phone service, you should expect to be unreachable by phone. There is no electricity available. Bring a portable battery to charge your phone for photos.

Bathrooms/Showers: During this trip we will not have access to showers or bathrooms. We will use a WAG Bag system to pack out our waste and ensure we Leave No Trace.

Hiking & Terrain - This backpacking trip requires that you carry all you need and a portion of the group gear on your back. Expect to carry about 35-50lbs in your backpack. We will be hiking in and out of Aravaipa Creek over slippery rocks, your feet will be unavoidably wet, and sand will get in your shoes. Trekking poles are very helpful on this trip and gaiters are a must.

Age & Group Size

  • Minimum Age: 14
  • Max Group Size: 8


  • May 6-8
  • May 20-22
  • September 30-Oct2
  • October 4-6
  • October 11-13
  • October 18-20
  • November 1-3

All cancellations must be made in writing via email or fax. Cancellation fees abide by the following schedule:
-91 or more days prior: Full refund for all trips
-61 to 90 days prior: Forfeit of deposit (30%)
-31 to 60 days prior: 50% of trip cost
-0 to 30 days prior: 100% of trip cost (no refund)





Arizona Backpacking Company