Colorado River Loop

Guided Grand Canyon Backpacking

Visiting the Grand Canyon is a dream shared by millions of people around the world. Every year travelers come from far and wide to stand on the edge of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, but relatively few of them climb over the rim and explore the canyon’s inner reaches. Embark on a guided backpacking trip and the adventure of a lifetime and join the elite group of individuals who have experienced the intricate wonders of the Grand Canyon.

Experience two of the most famed trails in the world and stay at the most coveted campgrounds in Grand Canyon National Park on our Classic Colorado River backpacking loop. Descend into the Grand Canyon along the South Kaibab Trail, the shortest route to the the Colorado River trail and Bright Angel campground just beyond.  Day two of your canyon backpacking trek is full of endless opportunities for exploration as you make your away along Garden Creek to the campground at Indian Garden.  On Day three, you will end your trip by hiking out on Bright Angel Trail.

Duration:  3 days/2nights

Departs:  Old Town Scottsdale; call for dates.

Includes:  Round-trip transportation from Scottsdale, all permits & entry fees, skilled guide(s), all 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:  $795/person + $35/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:  Advanced

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

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)

Trip Itinerary


On our Classic Colorado River backpacking loop, you’ll descend into the Grand Canyon along the South Kaibab Trail on Day 1 and camp for one night at Bright Angel campground. On Day 2 you’ll have endless opportunities for exploration as you make your way along Garden Creek to the campground for the second night at Indian Gardens. Day 3 is your hike out day, and you’ll ascend to the Rim along the Bright Angel Trail.


Your guides will pick you up from the host hotel in Old Town Scottsdale at 6am for the drive to the Grand Canyon. The South Kaibab Trail is the shortest trail to the Colorado River and is famous for its spectacular vistas. Your hike today snakes down the spine of a ridgeline and affords unobstructed views that simply can’t be found in other parts of the canyon. Enjoy spectacular photo opportunities at Ooh Aah Point, Cedar Ridge, and The Tip-Off. Once we reach the canyon floor, we will cross the Colorado River via ‘The Black Bridge’ and get a close up look at the ruins of an ancient pueblo. Just past ‘Boat Beach,’ where the river runners stop to exchange passengers and visit nearby Phantom Ranch, we will reach our camp among the shady cottonwoods next to Bright Angel Creek. After you get settled in, choose to visit historic Phantom Ranch (they have ice cold beer!), explore ‘The Box’ and Phantom Canyon, or just lounge by Bright Angel creek. There are even trout in the creek, fashion yourself a pole and have a go!

  • Hiking: 7.0 miles (11.3km), elevation – 4,780 ft (1,457 m)
  • Meals: breakfast on your own, lunch and dinner provided
  • Lodging: Camp at Bright Angel Campground


Enjoy a leisurely morning and a great breakfast before breaking camp. Today we cross ‘The Silver Bridge’ and traverse along the Colorado until reaching the mouth of Garden Creek. The hike this morning ascends the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens. As you hike along, imagine the amazing forces that have carved this intricate landscape over the millennia. Let the canyon awaken your inner curiosity and keep your eyes peeled for the incredible wildlife that call the canyon home, including whiptail lizards, impressive desert bighorn sheep, and even rare California Condors. Tonight’s camp is situated in the cool shade of giant Fremont Cottonwoods, near the perennial springs that for centuries watered the gardens of the Havasupai Indians who once called this part of the canyon home. Soak your feet in the cool waters of Garden Creek or take an optional side hike (without the packs!) to Plateau Point, one of the most famous views in the canyon.

  • Hiking: 4.7 miles (7.4 km), elevation + 1,320 ft (optional 3 mile/5km hike from Indian Gardens to Plateau Point)
  • Meals: all meals are expertly prepared for you by your guide
  • Lodging: Camp at Indian Gardens Campground


Today will be an early start to make the most of the cool morning air. Break camp over breakfast and bid the relaxing haven of Indian Gardens a fond farewell before heading for the rim along Bright Angel Trail. This route has been used by humans for at least 10,000 years and is still one of the most popular trails in the canyon. The first mile of the trail slopes gently upwards, creating a nice warm-up for the push to the rim. Soon you will come to Jacob’s Ladder, a series of tight switchbacks twisting up until the trail surmounts the Redwall Limestone. Take a well-earned break at 3 mile Rest House, a site used for agave roasting by the Ancestral Puebloans a thousand years ago. Don’t forget to soak in the magnificence of the canyon around before continuing your ascent through the changing rock layers to the rim. Your guide will help you along the way, answering questions, sharing stories about the geology of the surrounding monoliths, and pointing out hawks, eagles, and the ancient red ocher pictographs that were painted onto the rock centuries ago. Back on the rim, enjoy a delicious and well-deserved lunch and reflect on your accomplishments before beginning the scenic ride back to Phoenix.

  • Hiking: 4.8 miles (7.4km), elevation + 3,060 ft (933m)
  • Meals: breakfast and lunch provided, 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.


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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.





Arizona Backpacking Company