Grand Canyon Backpacking Weekend
Eagle-posing on the Grand Canyon’s edge for that Insta-famous photo? That’s just first base, mama. Go all the way and learn every glorious curve! Backpack your way down to the Colorado river and back on our women’s Grand Canyon Backpacking Weekend trip. Four days. Five goddesses. There will be boob sweat.
Backpacking and Guided Hiking on the Hermit, Tonto and Bright Angel Trails
Escape the crowds and dipsticks who openly blast Nickelback on their trail speakers. Instead, seek out a more intimate Grand Canyon backpacking experience. This route is an Explorer Chick favorite – we ghost the racket of the main corridor and bust our booties over a peaceful yet rugged section of the unmaintained Tonto Trail.
Hike along rock layers formed millions of years ago. Share secrets with your new desert sisterhood: But seriously, how do you deal with butt chaffing? Backpack down the Hermit Trail, across the Tonto Trail, and up Bright Angel on the South Rim as you shout the names of impressive women who blazed historic trails. Thank the dusty earth beneath your feet that you have the heart and mind of a She Wolf to soak up every detail.
Grand Canyon Backcountry Camping
Each evening, enjoy down time at camp to read a book, lizard on a river rock, take a chilly dip, or sneak in a nap. Share stories of the day while chowing down on a yummy backcountry dinner with your Explorer Chick sisters. Raise a glass to sunsets and sunrises that look Photoshopped. Drink in the symphony of stars made possible by canyon walls that block out ambient light as you settle in each night. This is some of the best backcountry camping in the nation—and you’re living it, baby!
Grand Canyon Virtual Hike
Part of our Grand Canyon trip includes hiking the Bright Angel Trail. Can’t wait and need a sneak peek? We totally get it. Check out this virtual hike in the Grand Canyon, courtesy of Google Maps, which includes a 360° view from Bright Angel. Google’s taken their Street View technology and applied it to some of the best bucket-list attractions in the world. How cool is that?! (Now, who’s ready to see the real deal?)
All Major Backpacking and Camping Equipment Provided
Don’t have backpacking equipment, but can beast master the stairs? Explorer Chick has you covered with:
- sleeping bag
- sleeping pad
- shared tent
- trekking poles
- shared cookware
Yep—all included! All you need to do is show up for this Grand Canyon backpacking trip to get your National Parks bucket list checked.
- Backpack 4 days/3 nights exploring Grand Canyon National Park including getting up close and personal with the Colorado River.
- Enjoy a more intimate experience as you steer mostly clear of the crowds on the main corridor.
- Bask daily in the sunrise and sunsets that light up the red canyon walls.
- Star gaze from your backcountry camp under the dark skies and below the canyon walls.
- Share stories of the day while chowing down on a yummy backcountry dinner with your Explorer Chick sisters.
- Enjoy down time at camp to read a book, lizard on a river rock, take a chilly dip, or sneak in a nap.
- Disconnect to reconnect! Leave behind the constant contact and use your phone solely for capturing moments.
- Simply show up to a fully-planned backpacking trip. We’ll take care of everything including snagging the nearly impossible to obtain permits.
- Relax with a comprehensive itinerary that makes the logistics, permits, navigation, meal planning, gear, and everything in-between easy.
- Geek out with supportive and encouraging Explorer Chicks on a private, women-only, small group adventure tour.
Grand Canyon Permits are very competitive and we are not always successful in securing permits. Your trip dates are not confirmed until we have secured Grand Canyon Wilderness Permits. We will know approximately 4 months in advance of your trip departure.
Do NOT book your airfare until we have confirmed your trip and permit.
If we are not able to secure a permit for your dates, we’ll work with you to rebook to a new date or issue you a refund for full amount paid.
Permits may be secured for an itinerary that is not as described below. Explorer Chick will notify you of any changes to your itinerary. You may chose to cancel your booking at that time.
Adventure’s Eve: Welcome Orientation and Duffle Shuffle
Welcome to Phoenix aka our gateway to the Grand Canyon! You’ll meet your Explorer Chick guide and group at 5pm in the rendezvous hotel lobby for fangirl introductions and to review the upcoming itinerary. All gear will be passed out afterwards with shared equipment and provisions being divvied up amongst the group. Bring everything you plan to take in the backcountry – your guide will be assisting you with packing and fitting your pack.
Day 1: Descend from the South Rim into the Grand Canyon
LAST CHANCE FOR FLUSHABLE #2s. It’s an early start as we make the scenic 3.5 hour drive from Phoenix to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Then it’s time to gather up our backpacking gear, hop a shuttle, and head out from the Hermit Trailhead to kick off our 4-day Grand Canyon adventure. Yeah, sister! You are backpacking one of the largest canyons in the world! Take that, 5th grade gym teacher!
The Hermit Trail is a rugged, steep descent into the canyon. Those with a fear of heights may feel a bit bum-clenchy, BUT YOU GOT THIS. Your guide and Explorer Chick sisters will support you the whole way. In the first 2.5 miles you’ll drop almost 2,000 feet before a short respite of long traverses. Then it’s another intense descent on rocky switchbacks until you reach the Tonto Trail – a trans-canyon route that parallels the river for 95 miles on rough, unmaintained trails.
Once on the Tonto, the trail levels out as we settle into camp. Soothe those tootsies in the creek to get your second wind for the night sky show.
Approximate Backpacking: 8.3 miles / 3,700′ loss.
Day 2: Backpacking on the Tonto Trail to the Colorado River
Day 2: The Tonto Trail to the Colorado
It’s a shorter day today as we pack up camp and hike down to the Colorado River. We’ll pop our tents at Granite Rapids while watching whitewater rafters smash through the water. Nosh a granola bar on the sandy beach or brave a swim in the brisk waters. You’ll want to snap a classic Grand Canyon photo upriver – and we know all the angles to nail your glamour shots. You earned those strong, bold photos!
Approximate Backpacking: 4.7 miles. 823′ elevation gain/ 1,325′ elevation loss
Day 3: Traversing the Tonto Trail
We’ll wake to an incredible sunrise bouncing off the canyon walls before packing up camp to head out for backpacking on the Tonto Trail. Today’s mileage is longer, but it’s a chill undulating trail – although still plenty rugged.
Along the way, your Explorer Chick guide will talk about the geology of the Grand Canyon. Jurassic Park noises will likely follow, and you might even happen across an archaeological mescal pit in which hearts of agave were once slow-roasted. This is still how traditional, smoky Mezcal (“oven-cooked agave”) is made. Yes, Tequila is a mezcal but it is made with strictly blue agave. But margs are for Day 4! Back to backpacking.
We’ll roll into camp one final time to share stories of the day, belly laugh at dirty jokes only women would dream up, and ogle the starry skies above. It’ll be our best sleep yet.
Approximate Backpacking: 10.5 miles. 2,438′ elevation gain / 1,289′ loss
Day 4: Backpacking on the Bright Angel Trail and Goodbyes
We’re not done yet, Explorer Chick. As they say, “Going down the canyon is optional, going up is mandatory.” Engage Hiker Booty Mode. We’ll pack up camp and start making our way up the Bright Angel Trail. A side trip to Plateau Point is encouraged with its views of the Colorado 1,300′ feet below.
We’ll take a rest at Indian Creek before the last 4.8 miles that climbs a whopping 3,000′. (Yes, you read that right). We’ll continue along the Bright Angel Trail greeting more and more day hikers as we climb up the countless switchbacks. You’ll be rewarded every 1.5 miles with rest stops and water (if it’s working).
Exhausted hugging and twerking is encouraged once you emerge on the South Rim. Be sure to sweet talk your Explorer Chick guide for directions to ice cream and all the junk food.
We’ll toss our gear into our shuttle to return to Phoenix via the quietest transfer ever as everyone falls into a hiker’s coma.
You can expect to return to Phoenix at approximately 6pm. (This is not guaranteed and is based on a multitude of factors outside of our control including weather, group dynamics, traffic, etc).
Your Explorer Chick guide will make an airport drop off before returning to our Rendezvous Hotel. Staying the night? Get together with your newest besties for one last celebratory dinner and a frosty ‘rita.
Approximate Backpacking: 10 miles. 3,655′ elevation gain / 538′ elevation loss
*Exact routes are determined by the National Park Service Permit Lottery.*
We hope to adhere to this itinerary, however we may backpack alternate routes. Distances will vary trip to trip. (Train for 5-10 mile days with up to 3,700’ STEEP gains and losses). Every trip will be just as unique as the Explorer Chicks who travel with us!
*Explorer Chick reserves the option to modify trip itineraries at the discretion of your adventure leader as necessary due to weather, conditions, illness, injury, group dynamics, safety, or other unforeseen incidents. If an activity must be cancelled due to conditions and cannot be rescheduled, your Explorer Chick guide will work to find alternatives or modifications to ensure the best value for your trip.
- 4 days/3 nights backpacking in Grand Canyon National Park with shared tents – 2 per tent.
- Backpacking Gear Included:
- Shared Tents
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Trekking poles
- Shared cookware
- Grand Canyon Entrance Fees and Wilderness camping permits
- All meals as indicated in itinerary: B-4, L-4, D-3
- A commemorative Explorer Chick shirt.
- A detailed Travel Guide upon booking with everything you need to know for your trip.
- The freedom to enjoy your vacation and mindlessly wander!
- 1 experienced Explorer Chick Guides ensuring your trip is seamless and unforgettable!
- Small Group experience! Your Explorer Chick Adventure is exclusive and limited to 5 women.
**Packages do NOT include your rendezvous hotel, departure hotel, airfare, airport transportation, alcoholic beverages, Travel Insurance, meals exclusive of itinerary, costs for additional activities, and your Explorer Chick Guide’s Tip.
*Does NOT include your Explorer Chick Guide’s Tips – Tipping your Explorer Chick Guide is optional, but customary. If you wish to recognize your Explorer Chick Guide for exceptional service we recommend you tip total 10-25% of your trip costs.
*Explorer Chick reserves the option to modify trip itineraries at the discretion of your tour director as necessary due to weather, conditions, illness, injury, group dynamics, or other unforeseen incidents.
You will receive a travel guide attached to your booking confirmation with the rendezvous hotel, a packing list, and all the important information you need to know to prepare for your epic trip to the Grand Canyon.
Important: Do NOT book your airfare until we have confirmed your trip and permit. Grand Canyon Permits are awarded approximately 4 months in advance.
Your trip begins and ends in Phoenix, AZ at our Rendezvous hotel.
Arrival Day 0 – Arrive into Phoenix the day prior to the official start of your trip.
Meet in the lobby of our Rendezvous hotel at 5pm for our official Orientation followed by a duffel shuffle where we’ll hand out gear, divvy up the shared provisions, and assist you with packing properly. You are responsible for booking your arrival hotel and airport transportation.
Departure Day- Day 4: – Our return to Phoenix will be at approximately 6pm (This is not guaranteed and is based on a multitude of factors outside of our control including weather, group dynamics, traffic, etc). You are responsible for booking your departure hotel and airport transportation.
Please confirm your trip is guaranteed with permits and the required 4 Explorer Chick minimum before booking airfare.
The Grand Canyon Backpacking Trip is for experienced hikers and backpackers. This trip is not recommended for “off the couch” outdoor enthusiasts or beginners.
The Grand Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world. On Day 1 you will descend over 3,000 feet. On Day 4 you will climb back up 3,000 feet. This is how canyons work: Going down is optional, but going up is mandatory.
The trails are steep, varying, and challenging. The terrain is rocky with dramatic elevation gains and losses. And, you’ll be doing it with a 35-40lb pack on your back.
The Hermit and Tonto Trail are rugged and unmaintained. The Hermit Trail may prove challenging to those who are weary of heights.
Approximate Daily Backpacking Mileage / Elevation Gain + Loss:
Day 1 – 8.3 miles/ 3,700′ loss
Day 2 – 4.7 miles / 823’ elevation gain / 1,325’ elevation loss
Day 3 – 10.5 miles / 2,438’ elevation gain / 1,289’ elevation loss
Day 4 – 10 miles / 3,665’ elevation gain / 538’ elevation loss
Total Route: 33.5 miles with steep 3,500+ foot descents and ascents on Day 1 and Day 4.
Plus, optional side hikes of varying distances/elevation.
You should very easily be able to hike on rough terrain at 2 miles per hour. Please read the itinerary thoroughly with the stated hikes and gains.
You should be training on rough and rugged terrain – not always perfectly paved sidewalks. Train how you play!
Find steps, a hill, or the Stairmaster and get to climbing! Your quads, booty, and calves will thank you. Train in all the weather – This even means rain!
Gradually build up your training pack weight and distances. Start with just your day pack for an hour hike a few days a week. Add distance, duration, and weight until you are able to carry the full required weight on a 6-7 hour hike leading up to your trip.
Train your tootsies! Do NOT show up with brand new hiking boots or trail shoes. You should be spending hours upon hours in your boots leading up to your adventure to break them in. Better to suffer blisters at home than to miss out due to painful hot spots on your feet. This is our number one injury. Do not let it happen to you!
Please consider your ability to meet the physical demands very seriously. It is for the safety of both you and our group. All Explorer Chicks will be required to sign an Acknowledgement of Physical Demands as part of their waiver upon booking.
Still not convinced that THIS is the adventure for you?
We’ve rounded up some of our most popular blog posts, so you can get to know us a bit better and learn what really goes down on your Explorer Chick Adventure.
- Remember How it Feels to Play
- You are NOT Alone
- The Power of Explorer Chick
- What Does an Explorer Chick Look Like?
- We are ALL IN
- We Do Dumb Stuff
- The Explorer Chick Purpose
- The Traveler vs. the Tourist
- 6 Benefits to Booking with a Tour Company
You can always reach us by email with more questions! Info@ExplorerChick.com
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