Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Backpack
Fully Guided Trip
Grand Canyon Classic
The Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim is a classic backpacking adventure, and a feather in the cap of any avid desert hiker.
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What is included on your backpacking trips?
Backpacking trips include overnight permits, lightweight tents, team cooking equipment, main meals, trailhead transport from the closest town, water purification, team first aid and emergency communication, and of course experienced backpacking guides. Almost all of our backpacking trips also include a hotel night (double occupancy) before and after the hike, as well as a team dinner pre- and post-hike.
What gear do I need to bring?
Dreamland Safari Tours provides tents, team cooking gear, water purification, team first aid & emergency communications. You need to bring (or rent) a backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cup/bowl/spoon, and your hiking attire including a waterproof jacket and down jacket. Rentals for backpacks, sleeping bags & sleeping pads are available through Dreamland Safari Tours.
What type of food should I expect?
Dreamland Safari Tours provides breakfasts, dinners, and light lunches while we are on the trail (as well as water, coffee and tea). You can expect both fresh meals and the occasional backpacker's freeze-dried meal. We can accommodate many dietary restrictions with prior notice.
What is the bathroom situation?
Except for the Grand Canyon itineraries, there are no outhouses to be found on our backpacking itineraries. On most backpacking trips, expect to bury solid human waste by digging cat holes. For some itineraries such as the Paria and Buckskin Gulch, the use of wag bags is mandatory.
How much weight will I have to carry?
Standard pack weights for most of our itineraries vary between 35 to 40 lbs, which includes a ~5 lbs team gear allocation in addition to your personal gear. Your gear choices, trip duration, and water availability on your itinerary are the main determinants of final pack weight.
Is it possible to hire porters?
Most of our itineraries are subject to strict group size limits, which makes it difficult to impossible to offer porter services. That said: if you are booking a private backpacking adventure and would like to explore the possibility of adding on porter services, please give us a call or send us an email to discuss.
How do I get to Kanab or Escalante or... ?
Most of our backpacking programs start and finish in small desert towns which can be admittedly hard to reach. Public transport options are very limited, which makes travel by (rental) car advisable. If you are flying in and would like to avoid renting a car, please give us a call - we may be able to assist with car pools with other backpackers or airport pick ups.
Is there a place to leave my vehicle?
There is a safe spot to park your vehicle for the duration of the backpack on each of our itineraries.
Is tipping the guide customary?
Yes! A typical gratuity is $20-$40 per person per day -- so for a 5-day trip, the suggested tip would be between $100 and $200 total. You can read more about guide tipping from the perspective of one of our guides on our blog here.
About Backpacking in the Grand Canyon
Backpacking in Grand Canyon National Park is an adventure of a special kind – which is why not just one or two but THREE of our backpacking adventures take place there!
Out of the nearly five million visitors that the Grand Canyon receives each year, fewer than 1% venture below the rim. For the adventurous few who hike and backpack below the rim, the most sought-after destination is the so-called “corridor” that spans the Grand Canyon north-south at one of its widest points, connecting Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim to the North Rim Lodge on the far side of the canyon. The corridor is where you’ll find the Bright Angel, South Kaibab and North Kaibab trails, home to the classic Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim and Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim itineraries.
There are a lot of considerations that go into preparing for a Grand Canyon backpacking adventure. Given the steep initial descent and final ascent that come with any below-the-rim adventure, physical fitness is paramount. Advance permits are required for any overnight stays below the rim, and campgrounds regularly book up months in advance.
Due to the ~5,000 ft vertical difference in altitude between the rim and the Colorado River, prospective hikers also have to be prepared for extreme temperature swings and wildly varying conditions. It is not unusual for temperatures at the bottom of the Grand Canyon to be 20 degrees hotter than at the rim. If the forecast calls for a pleasant 78 degrees Fahrenheit at the South Rim, it may be a scorching 100 degrees at Phantom Ranch.
Yet for all those who are not deterred by the steep terrain, highly variable weather, and extreme remoteness of the Grand Canyon below the rim, any backpacking trip into the canyon is bound to create memories that will last a lifetime.
About Dreamland’s Rim-to-Rim (R2R) Grand Canyon Adventure
For anyone who has dreamed of becoming one of the few hikers to traverse the full North-South expanse of the Grand Canyon on their own two feet, Dreamland’s guided Rim-to-Rim backpacking adventure offers a perfect mix of pre-planned logistics and spontaneous daily exploration.
As the old saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” While the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim measures about 24 miles overall, the philosophical “distance” traveled and experience gained can be truly profound. From enjoying chance encounters on the trail to discovering the secrets of the enigmatic inner canyon, from the mighty Colorado River to historic Phantom Ranch: anyone who completes this cross-canyon trail will earn amazing memories to share… and of course, bragging rights for life.
The rim-to-rim hike is a strenuous undertaking, so this adventure is intended only for experienced hikers who are physically fit and able to carry a minimum of 35 lbs over a three-day span while negotiating significant loss and gain in elevation throughout the hike. Each hiker will be responsible for carrying in their share of gear, food, and water, and most importantly, for making sure they are fit for the hike by training thoroughly ahead of time.
About Dreamland’s Guided Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Backpack
At Dreamland Safari Tours we are proud to utilize our decades of experience in desert adventures, backcountry risk management and expedition planning to whisk you away to these magical Grand Canyon locales. You bring your personal backpacking gear & camera; we take care of the team gear logistics. Rental options for select gear such as backpacks and sleeping bags are available.
Our 5-day guided Rim-to-Rim Backpacking Adventure includes:
- 3 days on the corridor trails plus two nights in Kanab (one before the backpack, and one afterwards)
- Main meals & lodging in Kanab pre- and post-trail, double occupancy; contact us to inquire about the possibility of a single supplement
- Trailhead transport from and to Kanab
- Experienced backpacking guides at a 1:4 guide-to-guest ratio
- Lightweight backpacking tents (unless you prefer to bring your own)
- Team cooking equipment
- Breakfasts and dinners while on the trail
- Water purification and/or water resupply
- Team first-aid kit and Wilderness First Responder certified guides
- Satellite messenger communication in case of emergency
- Human waste bags where required
- Pre-trip gear & training advice as desired
- Overnight permits for Grand Canyon National Park
You will receive a detailed trip handbook & gear list once you reserve your spot on this adventure. Meanwhile, the below rough gear list provides guidance on what backpacking equipment to bring or rent:
- Backpack (55 – 65 liters)
- Sleeping bag, rated to 20 degrees or warmer
- Sleeping pad/s
- 3 liters of water capacity
- Personal bowl, cup and spoon
- Hiking boots
- Down jacket
- Rain jacket
- Hiking attire
- Personal snacks
Gear provided by Dreamland Safari Tours:
- Trekking poles
- Team cooking gear & meals
- Water purification
- Team first aid kit
- GPS communication
Permits & Group Size
Please note that there is a 2 person minimum for this itinerary. The maximum group size is 9 guests + 2 guides.
Overnight permits for Grand Canyon backpacking adventures become available three months prior to departure and are competitive in nature. We take care of all permitting requirements on your behalf and will reconfirm the details of your departure as soon as we have permits in hand. In the event that we are unsuccessful in obtaining permits for your scheduled dates and itinerary, we will work with you to establish an alternative and/or provide a refund for any fees already paid.
October 2-6 2023
Check back as we intermittently add new dates to our schedule!
Interested in a private Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim backpacking trip just for your group? Call us at 435.644.5506.
Fully Guided Tour
5pm – Hotel check-in followed by trip briefing and gear check
~7pm – Team welcome dinner
Dinner & double occupancy lodging are included in the price of this adventure
~9am – Guests meet at the Dreamland Safari Tours Office 406 East 300 South, Kanab, Utah 84741. Guests may leave cars or extra bags here.
Trailhead transfer to the North Rim. Trailhead lunch, followed by descent into the canyon. Establish camp for the night.
Inner canyon explorations: The Box, Bright Angel Creek, Phantom Ranch. Campsite selection and precise itinerary depend on permit allocations.
Ascent to the South Rim (up to 4,400 ft of vertical gain)
Trailhead pickup and return transfer to Kanab, hotel check-in. Team celebration dinner.
Dinner & lodging are included in the price.
Day 5 – Depart
Guest Experiences with Dreamland Safari Tours
We had a phenomenal winter adventure walking the length of the Paria canyon with some side canyon explorations. This was major bucket list check off! Sunny did a fantastic job as the lead guide. Our meals were plentiful and excellent. She had some great tips and tricks for comfort for winter camping. I enjoyed learning about the Paria from her and getting to know her better. She is a great steward of Leave No Trace ethics and safe backpacking practices. I also really enjoyed hiking with Maddi and Andrea who also guide with Dreamland.
Sunny was great about pre-trip communication. She developed a thorough pre-trip packet and answered my emails promptly. I really appreciate the extra time she took to give me gear, day hike, and reading recommendations. Booking was easy and I think the price is spot on for all that is included and her service. Her itinerary included hotel stays before and after the trip with associated meals. This was a huge perk that other groups do not routinely offer. It was great to have a “home base” in Kanab at either end of the trip.
I highly recommend this multi-day backpack excursion with Dreamland as well as their other day trips.
Diantha W – February 2021
My family and I did a 42 mile hike down the Paria with Sunny and Nathalie. It was AMAZING. I felt so completely confident with the terrain knowing that Sunny was scouting quick-sand and drop-offs for us. It was the most beautifully in-nature immersive experience I’ve ever had. I learned so much from each of these marvelous women and can’t wait for my next trip with them. The trip was technically through Sunny’s company AWExpeditions, and supported by Dreamland.
From what I understand, the conditions during our particular trip were a little more cumbersome than usual due to this season’s floods. We trained the whole year in advance and did great, we were aged 34-68, and I’m heavy enough that people don’t reach for the term “athletic” when they see me, but we all did great. Felt good to live in my body and move in tune with my body for 5 whole days.
Also, shout out to Jan who drove us to the trailhead and picked us up; her enthusiasm and support was memorable.
Shannon B – October 2022
WOW! I just completed a two night backpack through Buckskin Gulch with Sunny and Orion from Dreamland Safari Tours. Both guides were really capable, knowledgeable and fun to be around. I appreciated all the pre-hike planning that Dreamland put into this difficult hike through this wet slot canyon – this enabled me to be prepared for this rigorous tour.
I would definitely recommend Dreamland for your future adventures.
Neal W – October 2020
Wow! Just wow! Everything I was hoping for and more. The geology was jaw dropping, the trip organization was stellar, and Sunny’s intimate knowledge of the canyon allowed us to see the little secrets that other will miss. But the best part was Sunny’s competency in not only leading the trip, but invoking a camaraderie and chemistry amongst a group of strangers that will inevitably lead to long term friendships. That is is a gift to all of us!
Tina Q – October 2021
What to Expect on this Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Guided Trip
Traversing the Grand Canyon in the north-south direction along the so-called corridor trails (North Kaibab, Bright Angel and/or South Kaibab trails) is a challenging multi-day endeavor with almost 10,000ft of vertical change. As veteran Grand Canyon hikers like to say: “Down is optional; up is mandatory.” While the Rim-to-Rim (R2R) Backpack is a fully guided adventure and Dreamland Safari Tours will take care of group logistics, you have to be prepared to carry your own overnight gear as well as up to three liters of water, snacks, and your share of the food required for the entire time on the trail. Depending on your gear choices and packing discipline, your backpack will likely weigh upwards of 35 pounds. Each day we will cover 8-10 miles of remote and at times steep terrain. Several sections along the descent/ascent from and to the rims include exposed spots which may be challenging for individuals with an extreme fear of heights.
If you are concerned about the level of steepness or exposure on this adventure, you may enjoy our Paria Canyon or Boulder Mail Trail backpacking trips instead. Should you be questioning your physical ability to complete and enjoy this backpacking adventure, please give us a call at 435-644-5506 to discuss the feasibility of your participation.
What Gear Should I Bring for the Rim-to-Rim Backpack?
All participants will receive a comprehensive gear check list as well as recommendations for gear to buy or rent for this trip. We provide tents, cooking gear & meals but ask that participants bring their own overnight gear (i.e. backpack, sleeping pad, sleeping bag etc.). Dreamland Safari Tours has rentals available for select gear items such as backpacks, sleeping bags, and trekking poles, which may be reserved on a first-come-first-serve basis.
A Word about Grand Canyon Below-The-Rim Backpacking Permits
Overnight permits for Grand Canyon backpacking adventures become available three months prior to departure and are competitive in nature. We take care of all permitting requirements on your behalf and will reconfirm the details of your departure as soon as we have permits in hand. In the even that we are unsuccessful in obtaining permits for your scheduled dates and itinerary, we will work with you to establish an alternative and/or provide a refund for any fees already paid.