Grand Canyon Backpacking Trip Information
Thank you for booking your Grand Canyon hiking tour with Just Roughin‘ It Adventure Company! Please be sure you and every member of your group have read and understand the following information about preparing for and what to expect leading up to, during and after your trip. If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact us. Oh, and there will be a quiz.
12-18 weeks prior
- Physical Conditioning: You are signed up on an active participatory Grand Canyon backpacking tour so it is important that you are in good physical condition. Being in shape will help you get the maximum enjoyment out of your experience. We provide free training information on our website as well. Please be certain you do train and keep in mind that there are others on your trip that may be waiting on you if you are not physically prepared. DO NOT train just for the minimum requirements for the trip. The outdoors presents so many obstacles and factors that can make the trip more challenging or have you on the trail longer than expected - weather, hiking speed of group, blisters, trail conditions, unexpected delays to name just a few. We do screen all guests to the best of our ability to ensure they are physically prepared or will be prepared to accomplish the trip they (and you) signed up for, but we do not place people on trips based upon like fitness abilities. Everyone signed up for the trip is expected to train so they can accomplish AND enjoy their trip.
- Protect Your Investment:
Just Roughin’ It Adventure Company recommends you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your trip investment! Now more than ever it is important to think about the unexpected. Consider travel protection for Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and much more… Click here for a quote from TravelEx Insurance Company.
- Registration Forms: You will receive an email providing you access to complete the registration/waiver online about 12 to 16 weeks prior to your trip month if you booked more than 4 months from your trip month - no more printing, faxing, mailing or scanning! You will have 30 days to complete the paperwork upon receipt of this email. If you booked less than 4 months from your trip month, you will receive the form the same time you receive your confirmation but in a separate email. If you prefer to fax or mail the form instead, please let us know and we will provide you with a printable form. Fees may be incurred or your trip may be forfeited for receipt of late paperwork.
30 – 60 Days Prior
- Have you sent your registration forms? If yes, you are free to do some cartwheels. If no, please send them. If you cannot find the email with your forms, please contact us ASAP so we can be certain you have what you need.
- Keep training! You are so close, don’t quit now!
- Final Payment: Due 60 days prior to your trip or immediately if you sign up within this time period. You may be at risk of losing your spot(s) without a refund of your deposit if you fail to pay by this date.
- Please take note that tents are double occupancy. If you are a single hiker, you will be paired up in a tent with another hiker of the same gender – so, sharing with a stranger. If you prefer to have your own tent, please let us know and we can set you up for a $50 single supplement fee.
- Got Questions? We got answers to all of life’s difficult questions on our FAQ page. Our website is also full of answers. We’re happy to help you with any questions you have regarding any part of the trip so shoot us an email or give us a call.
2 Weeks prior to your trip
- Purchase any items you may need for the trip as detailed on the check list. You can purchase anywhere but we do have a gear store where you can purchase in person or online most of the items you need or may just want. We have lots of cool goods! http://www.justroughinit.com/store.
- Got new hiking shoes or shoes you have not worn in a while? Better start breaking them in NOW! There is nothing more frustrating that having painful feet making you miserable when you have been expending so much time, sweat and tears training for your awesome trip! Check out our expert advice on selecting your hiking shoes/boots.
Evening before your trip
- Check into the Fairfield Inn Scottsdale North.
- Head on over to our outdoor gear store at 8658 E Shea Blvd., Ste 175 for the trip orientation scheduled for 5pm, unless otherless notified. We will size packs, cover the checklist and give you most of the gear so you can get all packed up and ready for the adventure! You are more that welcome to come early to shop around.
- Eat a well rounded, yet high carb dinner - rice and pastas are great!
- Hydrate! Drink the recommended 64 - 80 oz of water. Stay away from alcohol.
- Trim your toenails!
Morning of the trip
- You will be picked up from the lobby of the Fairfield Inn Scottsdale North at 5:00am. Be checked out and backpacking gear in tow. If you are staying at a different hotel, do be sure you are at the Fairfield Inn Scottsdale North by 5am for pick up.
- Space in the vehicles is limited. When you check out, please store the luggage you do not need for the hike at the hotel. When necessary, luggage can be brought in the vehicle and stored during the duration of the trip. Any personal belongings in excess of a small personal sized bag like a small tote or purse, will incur a cost of $25/bag fee for handling and storage. The guide service taking you on your trip, nor JRI, is not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged property.
- Drink as much water you want in the vehicles, we want you to be hydrated for your hike. However, please wait to drink any other beverages or eat snacks outside the vehicles when we take breaks. No matter how careful guests may be, people have had hot coffee spilled on themselves, travel partners or gear and luggage – which makes for an uncomfortable trip. Also, some people’s allergies can be so severe, even the whiff of peanuts in trail mix can cause an allergic reaction – sometimes severe. The driver will stop along the way as needed for bathroom and snack breaks.
- You will stop on the way to Grand Canyon to eat breakfast at Starbucks, McDs or Taco Bell. Breakfast is not included in the price of the trip.
At the trail head
- Your guide will helo you pack up any additional items such as group food and make last minute decisions on those few items you may not have been sure about bringing. If you decide to leave anything behind, it will be brought back on the return shuttle.
- The guide will help get your packs on and recap how to fit them for the journey. Great time to ask questions about gear and pack fit as well since now you will have a bit more weight than when you received your packs at orientation.
- Set up trekking poles. Please ask your guide for assistance if you are new to using poles.
During your trip
- Communication is key! Let your guide know of any problems you may be experiencing; hot spots on your feet that may turn into blisters, joint pain, headache, nausea, or any signs of dehydration.
- Listen to your guide! For the safety of the group, efficiency of the trip and to abide by park and Leave No Trace regulations, there are some rules to follow.
- Drink water! Couple swallows every 5-10 minutes depending on temperatures. Your guide will try to remind you often but as a participant, and a grown-up, please do your absolute best to ensure a fun and safe trip for you and your fellow hikers by making this a priority. If you need constant reminders to drink water, maybe we should bring mom along to remind you to eat your vegetables as well!
- Eat snacks! You need to keep up your energy while hiking.
- Expect to be sore and sweaty.
- Enjoy the experience with every turn on the trail.
- Expect to be waking up early and hiking, especially during the warmer months.
- No eating or drinking (except water) in your tents! Animals will go after the smallest of crumbs and will chew through your tent, and your pack- so don’t leave it unattended.
- Once you arrive at camp, empty your pack of all snacks, trash, scented toiletries, plastic bags and any other items animals might decide is food and place these items inside the supplied storage boxes or wire mesh sacks. Animals will chew through, or even just eat, your packs. See GEAR CARE for important details about your Just Roughin’ It gear.
Your guide will set up your tents once you arrive at camp and after they are finished with any matters they must attend to first. On some days, do expect to be arriving to camp after dark (especially when days are shorter). This is normal, acceptable and is what headlamps are great for. Your guide will have a plan for what they want to get worked out first – i.e. maybe they want to get dinner prepared before setting up tents. Please let your guide do first what they feel is most important and necessary for the circumstances of the day.
- On the last day of your trip, your guide will try to have you out of the canyon by 11:00am, but the time will depend on your route
- He or she will try to provide time for lunch and souvenir shopping (not included in price).
- Once at the shuttle vehicle, exchange gear (remove all your gear from JRI packs). Any items you left behind on the first day will be in the vehicle.
- You will leave the canyon by 1:30pm at the latest on most trips and arrive in Scottsdale by 5:30-6pm. Once you are dropped off at the Fairfield Inn Scottsdale North, be absolutely certain you have all your personal belongings. Any items left behind will incur a minimum shipping and handling fee of $20 for returned items.
- It is advised you do not schedule any ﬂights or appointments for this day. If you do decide to ﬂy out of the Phoenix area the same day please do not make any ﬂights with departure times of any earlier than 8pm respectively. Please be advised that it is highly discouraged that any guest schedules ﬂights or other appointments for the last day as their trip. Itineraries will not be adjusted in order for guests to make their ﬂights or appointments on time, nor can all possible delays be accounted for or are under the control of JRI or the guide service providing your trip. JRI, nor the guide service providing your trip will be responsible for any costs incurred due to missed ﬂights, transfers or appointments.
*This information applies to most Rim to Rim and South Kaibab/Bright Angel Loop trips. Any other trips will have varied schedules depending upon the route and information will be provided accordingly.
Important Information About Hiking in Grand Canyon’s Backcountry
Travel in Grand Canyon National Park’s backcountry has inherent risks and unavoidable hazards. Your safety depends upon your judgment, your experience and a realistic assessment of your ability to travel safely. A successful and safe hike may depend on weather, routes and unforeseen natural occurrences. Routes and trails are susceptible to deterioration due to rockslides and may become obscured. Extreme cold or heat can compromise an individual’s ability to cope with the psychological challenges of backcountry travel. If you have doubts as to your ability to hike safely in Grand Canyon, do not attempt to do so! Do not assume that your travels in the backcountry will not develop into a serious situation if you are not mentally and physically prepared. Be prepared to acknowledge the risks and the challenges of stepping below the rim in Grand Canyon National Park! And remember, hiking in is optional, hiking out is mandatory.
A lack of preparedness coupled with overconfidence can lead to injury and evacuation; disturbing historical and ecological resources; infringement on each others quality of experience; even citation, wasted vacation days and outright suffering.
Distance and Terrain. Hiking in the Grand Canyon is different from mountain hiking. The hike to the bottom involves descending more that 5,000 feet in elevation. The elevation change, combined with carrying a heavy backpack, is very hard on knees, ankles, feet and toes. Blisters and traumatized toenails are common. The 5,000 foot hike out of the canyon occurs at the end of a hike when hikers are mentally and physically drained. Difficulty increases as hikers approach the top reaching 7000 to 8000 feet.
Distances in the canyon are deceiving due to the rugged terrain. People who choose aggressive hikes often end up camping short of their goal. This involves creating new sites, which damages sensitive ecological resources, or negatively impacts other campers by putting too many people in a confined space. It is important to carefully consider your route and be sure it is within your group’s ability to safely complete the hike.
Remoteness. In some areas of the canyon, hikers may not cross paths with any other humans. Hikers are responsible for their own safety and must be prepared to deal with emergency situations and know how to prevent them. No one else may be around to provide assistance. So always follow your guide’s lead and listen to directions.
There is no guaranteed phone service anywhere below the rim of the canyon and even satellite coverage is iffy so don’t expect to get in touch with ANYONE! This includes any calls, texts, emails. Even smoke signals are unreliable in the canyon.
Other people or rangers does not equal easy transportation. Sore? Have blisters? Knees bugging you because you forgot to tell us about your knee replacement surgery you had 2 weeks ago? Don’t except to get out of the canyon any other way than by your own two feet. The park personnel have a saying “Hiking in is optional, hiking out is mandatory.”
Changing Weather. Grand Canyon is known for drastic and quick weather changes. Extremely hot summer days may give way to chilling winds, rain, hail or even snow. Cases of heat stroke and hypothermia have been reported on the same day. Be prepared to alter your course if weather turns inclement. Hikes can be canceled, changed or rerouted due to swollen streams, snowpack and ice, lack of water, etc.
Toilet Facilities. Like almost all backcountry or wilderness adventures, there are no bathroom facilities so digging a hole behind a bush away from water source and washes and doing your business is the norm! You must carry out your used toilet paper, or anything else used for sanitation - no burying or burning!
Grand Canyon National Park Rules and Regulations
- The National Park Service requires Just Roughin’ It to ensure all our guests know and obey the following regulations as put forth by the backcountry permitting office…
- A backcountry permit is required for all overnight backcountry use and MUST be in the guide’s possession while in the backcountry. Permittees must abide by all trail closures and activity or use restrictions.
- Permits are only valid for the trip leader, campsites, dates and number of people specified on the permit. Your group must follow the itinerary!
- Carry out all trash. Burning, burying or leaving trash or toilet paper is prohibited.
- Wood or charcoal fires of any type are prohibited. Sterno or fossil fuel backpack stoves are permitted.
- Use of biodegradable or any other type of soap in creeks within 100 feet of any water source (except at designated sites) is prohibited. But you still need soap to wash hands.
- Feeding, touching, teasing or intentionally disturbing wildlife is prohibited. This includes the squirrels. Yes, they are a nuisance but we have to exist together in the same canyon.
- Traps and nets are prohibited. A valid fishing license is required for all fishing.
- Throwing or rolling rocks or other items down hillsides or mountainsides, into valleys or canyons, or inside caves or at wildlife (including again, the squirrels) is prohibited.
- Leaving a trail or walkway to shortcut between portions of the same trail or walkways, or to shortcut to an adjacent trail is strictly prohibited.
- Possession, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging or disturbing from its natural state any plants, rocks, animals, mineral, cultural or archeological resources, natural features or signs is prohibited.
- Because of their sensitive and sometimes dangerous nature, entry and/or exploration of any caves or mines must be approved in advance through Grand Canyon National Park.
Leave No Trace
Grand Canyon National Park is sacred to many people. During your visit, please help ensure the canyon is treated well and left in good shape so future backcountry visitors will also have the opportunity to experience its natural grandeur. You can help by familiarizing yourself with the Leave No Trace principles as put forth by Grand Canyon National Park.
- Dispose of Waste Properly. Simply put, “if you pack it in, pack it out.” Inspect your campsite for trash or spilled food items and pick them up. Pay particular attention to “micro-trash,” the small fragments of food and wrappers. For human waste, use outhouses when available. When outhouses are not an option, deposit solid human waste in a 6-inch deep cathole at least 200 ft from water, camp and trails. Toilet paper and hygiene products are a luxury in the backcountry and are also trash and must be packed out. When possible, urinate directly into the Colorado River – that has proven to be the best and most environmentally friendly option for Grand Canyon – but never urinate directly in any other streams or on beaches. Wash yourself and your dishes at least 200 ft away from streams and use small amounts of biodegradable soap.
- Leave What You Find. Please give others the opportunity to experience this amazing place by leaving what you find as you found it. Examine, but do not touch, cultural relics or historic structures and artifacts. Do not build structures, furniture or dig trenches. Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you found them.
- Respect Wildlife. Though animals within the park may exhibit little fear around humans, it is important to remember these animals are not tame and need to remain wild for their health and safety. Stay at least 25 feet away from large mammals, condors and rattlesnakes. Do not follow, approach, handle or feed animals. Store your food and trash securely so animals cannot get to it; use containers that rodents and animals cannot chew through. Feeding wildlife compromises their health and alters natural behavior. For the thrid time, this also includes the squirrels - even if you have a squirrel vendetta. They may take the food right out of your hand, but you do not then get to chase them or throw rocks at them. Maybe a squirrel broke up your marriage, but that does not mean all squirrels are homewreckers. That is called stereotyping and that is bad. But if you do decide to chase one, it will be recorded and posted on YouTube, qued to the Benny Hill theme for the entire world to see what an idiot looks like.
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. In addition to staying on trails or hard surfaces whenever possible, avoid creating new campsites; good campsites are found, not made. While it is tempting to camp at water, you can help protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 ft (70 adult steps) away from streams. Beware of camping in dry streambeds when precipitation and ﬂash ﬂoods are possible.
- Be Considerate to Other Visitors. Uphill hikers have the right of way. If you are hiking downhill, always yield to hikers who are traveling uphill. Remember also that natural quiet is a treasure in Grand Canyon. Please keep loud noises to a minimum and keep the rest of your group within voice range so needs can be addressed before they become problems. Quiet time at camps is 8pm to 6am each day.
Additional Hiking Tips
Eating and Hydration: You should prepare for your hike by eating well and drinking plenty of ﬂuids at least one full day before the “big hike.” Be sure to eat breakfast the morning of your hike. It is also important to eat as well as drink during your hike. If you don’t take this seriously, you may cause yourself to become very ill from either water intoxication or dehydration. Severe dehydration or water intoxication will leave you feeling sick for several days or possibly cause you to be evacuated from your trip.
Water intoxication (also known as hyponatremia) happens when a person drinks a large amount of water and eats very little or not at all, creating an electrolyte imbalance. Eating is an important defense against exhaustion and water intoxication because your body spends an enormous amount of energy (food calories) keeping you cool in the heat.
The opposite of water intoxication is dehydration. Dehydration happens when your body does not get as much water and ﬂuids as it should. Dehydration can be caused by losing too much ﬂuid, not drinking enough water or ﬂuids, or both. We sweat around 1/2 to 1 quart of water each hour when hiking in the heat. Drink 1/2 to 1 quart each hour that you are hiking.
Do not wait until you are thirsty to start replacing ﬂuids. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Hydration packs are great for the hike because they make drinking water easy and accessible. Be aware of signs of dehydration: dizziness, nausea, irritability, cool clammy skin and dark colored urine.
We recommend eating small amounts of food every 1/2 hour even if you don’t feel hungry. It is also a good idea to rotate back and forth between water and an electrolyte replacement drink. We will provide you with food and electrolyte replacement drink for your hike.
Pace Yourself: Prior conditioning is invaluable. Remember to hike at a pace that is comfortable for you. When you huff and puff, your body does not get enough oxygen to function efficiently. Don’t exceed your normal level of physical activity or training. You should be able to walk and talk at the same time.
Take Care of Your Feet: Trim toenails. Shoes should fit properly and be broken-in sufficiently and belong to you. Do not wear your best friend hiking shoes. Besides the ewww factor, the investment is worth it as 90% of all injuries are blisters. Bring one pair of hiking socks with heel and toe cushioning for each day of hiking. Some people like to wear a pair of sock liners, in addition to socks, to reduce rubbing. Super Salve also works well to prevent rubbing. Retighten shoelaces during the hike to provide proper support for feet. Painful and crippling blisters are common but preventable. Address any blisters or hot spots as soon as possible with Moleskin (a padding which protects against painful friction).
You will be supplied with $800 - $1,000 of top quality backpacking gear. In order for this type of gear to be provided to you, here are some tips on how to be sure the gear stays intact for your comfort throughout the trip and to avoid any cleaning, repair or replacement fees. The gear already has wear and tear, just let you guide know if anything happens to any of the gear while it is in your possession. Please let your guide know immediately if you are having trouble with any of your gear.
- Make certain your pack is fitting you properly. Allow your guide to assist you in making the pack fit as comfortably as possible.
- Please be certain all food, trash and scented items are removed from your pack as soon as you arrive at camp and put into the provided storage units. This will prevent any animals from chewing through your packs.
- Do not add to or remove anything from the packs. For example, strings, rope or anything you would tie to the pack. Carabiners are ok.
- Use straps as and for what they are intended.
Think of your tent as your home away from home. You would want to keep the doors closed to keep unwanted things out and wanted things in. And keep it as clean as possible - you’ll be spending plenty of time in the dirt as it is.
The desert environment is very dry and can wreak havoc on tents - especially the zippers. Which is why you will find that your tent may be zipperless! If it is, do more cartwheels. If you have a tent with a zipper, keep reading. The tents are cleaned after every trip, but the zippers on the doors can get sticky and dirty, especially after a few days in the backcountry. If you notice your zipper sticking, please do not force it open or closed. Check to be sure nothing is caught in the zipper - such as the rain ﬂy or mesh. If that is not the problem, alert your guide so he or she can fix it for you. Forcing the zipper will break it and result in you having no door to close throughout your trip and a repair fee.
- Your tent is your ‘clean space.’ Keep it as clean as possible by keeping all dusty and dirty items, such as shoes, outside.
- No chewing, eating or drinking anything, except for water, in your tent. Be sure you have no food wrappers or scented items in your tent. This includes gum, toothpaste and deodorants.
- Do not add or remove anything to or from the tents - including guy lines. Guy lines are the cords attached to the tents. They are already positioned in the places they should be. Please do not remove and put them someplace else.
- Do not cut any guy lines or cords on the tent.
- Do not tie knots in the guy lines.
- While your guide is there to put up and take down your tent, some guests like to help. If you are one of those helpful guests, be sure the tent is put away the same way it was packed when you received it - footprint on the bottom, tent then rainﬂy. All doors must be closed before rolling it up. Please do not stuff the tent into the stuff sack. If you have questions, ask your guide. He or she would be glad to help or put everything away for you - remember this is your vacation!
Your mats are closed cell foam mats; so while they are not inflatable nor prone to puncturing, they still can come in contact with sharp rocks and cacti. It is best to carry your mat between the top lid and main body of the backpack to avoid rubbing into various sharp rocks and needles. This will keep your sleeping tear and needle free.
- Since your tent is your clean space, you will want to set up your sleeping bags inside the tent.
- A liner sheet must be used in the sleeping bag - they add comfort, warmth and provide a longer life to the bags.
- Bags are to be used inside the tent only. They can only be used outside the tent if there is a large tarp provided.
- Tent footprints or rainﬂys cannot be used as tarps to sleep on.