Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rimprint
Hiking from one rim of the canyon to the other allows you to experience breathtaking views and the vast expanse of the canyon but if you are up for the challenge, a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim backpacking trip offers that and much more! This itinerary has you hiking from 7,000 ft (2.1 km) on the South Rim to over 8,000 ft (2,400m) on the North Rim and back again. Along the way, you will pass waterfalls, hike along Bright Angel Creek, visit Phantom Ranch, dip your toes in the Colorado River and see evidence of the ancient civilizations that once called Grand Canyon their home.
Since the road to access the North Rim does not open until May 15th of every year and is closed through the winter months, there is a limited window of opportunity to complete a Rim to Rim backpacking trip but a Rim to Rim to Rim allows you access to the North Rim during other times of the year, like April and early May. Plus, during that time there are fewer people on the trails heading up to the North Rim, so more solitude.
With our outfitting services for your Grand Canyon backpacking trip, your experience will be more enjoyable as we will do the footwork for you. Click here for more information about JRI's outfitting services.
*Please note: Due to the high demand and limited supply of permits available for the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim camping areas, we recommend having flexibilty in your dates and open to alternate camp areas. We also recommend planning this hike at least five months in advance. If you would prefer a hike from the South to the North Rim, we can help you plan that as well!
Need more information about the trails? Click the below links for the official South Kaibab, North Kaibab and Bright Angel Trail descriptions from Grand Canyon National Park.
North Kaibab Trail
South Kaibab Trail
Bright Angel Trail
Hike down the South Kaibab Trail, which is 7 miles (11.26km) and 4,800 ft (1,460m) down to Bright Angel Campground. Once at the bottom, there are opportunities to visit Phantom Ranch and Boat Beach along the Colorado River. The hike from the rim to the campground takes 5.5 hours on average.
Today you will hike toward the North Rim along the North Kaibab Trail. Today's hike covers 7 miles (11.26km) with a 1,500 ft (457m) gain in elevation before reaching Cottonwood Campground. This campground only has about 11 campsites and is very peaceful. There is running water and composting toilets, as well as Bright Angel Creek to take a dip or just sit by and relax. The average time to reach Cottonwood camp is about 4.5 hours.
The hike continues along the North Kaibab Trail to the North Rim. The hike out covers 7 miles (11.26km) with a 4,200 ft (1,300m) gain in elevation before reaching the rim. Once at the top there is still 1 more mile of hiking before reaching the campground on the rim. Be prepared for a colder night and the possibility of some snow on the ground (yes, snow in Arizona) since we will be camping at over 8,000 ft (2,400m) in elevation. Average time to the top is about 6 hours
Today you begin the journey back to the South Rim retracing your path along the North Kaibab Trail covering the 7 miles (11.26km) and 4,200 ft (1,300m) down to Cottonwood Campground. The average time to reach Cottonwood camp is 5 hours.
You pack up and hike along Bright Angel Creek to Bright Angel Campground – same place you camped on day 1. Along the way from Cottonwood to Bright Angel, you can visit Ribbon Falls again. Your hike time today is about 5.5 hours and covers 7 miles (11.26km), dropping 1,500 ft (457m) in elevation.
Today begins the hike back to the South Rim along Bright Angel Trail. After 5 short miles (8 km), we set up camp at Indian Garden. The hike takes us 1,400 ft (426.72 m) up in elevation. Since the hike only takes about 3.5 hours, you may have time to hike to Plateau Point for stunning sunset views of the inner canyon and the Colorado River. Although this is the most popular option, others are available.
Up, up and away! Although this hike is only 4.5 miles (7.24 km), there is a 3,000 ft (914.4 m) increase in elevation. This hike takes the average group 4.5 hours to complete. You should have some time to grab a bite to eat, souvenir shop and hang out with all the bus tourists before you leave the canyon to get back to Scottsdale to return your gear to us:)
Share your experience! Review this trip
I came home from the trip, with my 13 year old son* yesterday. I had been wanted to make a rim to run journey for over a year and I am so glad I did.
The weather was extremely hot even for Grand Canyon , 113 in the shade at Phantom Ranch, at end of day two. That's hot in anyone's book.
Our guide, Danny, had warned us that it was up early (3:45) when on the trail to beat the heat. That saved us because by 10:30 it was pushing 100 and climbing. His knowlage but easy going direction kept us going and away from any major mistakes.
The trip was probably one of the hardest things I have ever undertaken. I have a lot of camping under my belt but this was tough. Probably in part because the location was unknown to me.
When your in the Canyon you can't help but be overcome by the magnitude of the place. It is really beyond my words to describe.
When I finally climbed out, soaked with sweat, dirty beyond words, soar, slightly blistered and exsausted I was so glad I had done it. This is a feeling I will always remember as amazing and so so worth it.
Our guid was great, the driver who transported us to and from Phonix kept us safe and on time (very important). The food though not gourmet, was great and was just what we all needed. I would highly recommend it to someone who is really interested.
*about children, my son is in very very good shape and left me and most of the other adults in his dust. We were also lucky that another boy close to his age was on the trip so they formed a school yard friendship during the trip that helped.
Great trip. Had a very good time, very glad I went on the Rim to Rim to Rim backpacking trip. Zack was an excellent guide, I felt very save with his expertise. Food was great. Thank you.
Trip Cost Per Person
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- 65-75 liter multi-day backpack
- 2 person ultralight backpacking tent (1 tent per 2 people)
- Sleeping bag appropriate for the season you are hiking (20 F to 45 F synthetic bag)
- Therm-A-Rest Z-lite backpacking mat
- 1 pair trekking poles
- 1 backpacking stove and fuel (1 stove per 2 people)
- Backpacking meals (dinner and breakfast)
- Trip planning and logistics assistance
*Please note - Just Roughin' It is not a guide service for Grand Canyon National Park. Just Roughin' It is providing trip planning and outfitting service and will not be physically present during your hike. Hikers are required to know their fitness abilities and limitations on any backpacking route they choose to apply for directly from Grand Canyon National Park. Hikers will be required to sign a waiver when picking up the outfitter package.
Now’s the time to consider purchasing a travel protection plan to help protect your trip investment. For more information on the available plans or to enroll, contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 03-0152.
Travel Insurance is underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, NAIC #22276. 11.17 W20