Grand Canyon Tentative Information
I'm planning a trip to the Grand Canyon.  Information will be updated as I know/decide more.
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Summary   (See Route Details link on left for more details)


Trip to bottom of the "Little Grand Canyon."  This is the canyon on the east side of the Grand Canyon.  Indian reservation (permits required to get in) and the prospect of having to dive down long dirt roads, or a shorter 4-wd road keeps the riff-raff away.  Even if other people do come in for the solitary view, the only  hike down requires rock climbing gear.


1. Make it to the bottom (I've tried and failed twice before--see trip reports)
2. Find unmapped Blue Spring and watch the water coming out, hike downstream and see the formations in the water..
3. Find the Hopi Sipapu where the Hopi entered into this, the fourth world. (Story) or another version with a picture of the Sipapu. 


March-April-May:  Good weather, higher probability of rain.
June-July-August:  Medium probability.  July-August is hot and dry, but spring is most visible.
Fall:  High probability.  Cooling off.


Phoenix to Grand Canyon:  Drive.  From there we have several options, discussed below.

Raw details:

Part 1:  Desert View to Rim Camp:  17.5 miles by trail (depending on trail).  Elevation change: Approx 2,170 feet.
Part 2:  Rim camp to Blue Springs: 4012 feet horizontal, 2141 feet vertical.  (53% grade)


Full hiking option will require a mid-level amount of stamina to haul camp and a few days to a week's food.  How well you eat is up to you.


Ability to rock climb a 5.6 grade, with the confidence to do it over a 2000 foot drop on dirty (i.e. loose) rock.  This is not a clean, bolted granite wall.  Most harness-time will be protected horizontal belays for safety.  There are a few <20 foot vertical sections to navigate for the fun of it, but you can get around them if you want.  You must also be able to safely belay others.  There will be lots of opportunity to practice in Phoenix.  We can gear-coordinate ahead of time. 


Trade-offs are all time-based.  Where do you want to spend most of your time / how much of Arizona do you want to see?
• Hiking Option:   If we spend almost the whole time at the canyon, we can rent/borrow cars, drive up, park vehicles at the ranger station, and all hike in together to the Canyon edge.  There's some pretty scenery on the way in.
• Biking Option:   Ship bikes via Greyhound or rent mountain bikes, rent/borrow car and bike rack or trailer, then park at ranger station.  Bike on in to the Canyon edge.
• Driving Option #1:   I will have one 4-wheel drive at my disposal (The crusty...I mean trusty old Amigo).  I will be taking driver seat, and probably have the passenger seat filled.  With gear, we would be restricted to two people in the back seat (or possibly 3 if comfort on a five hour drive isn't a necessity).  We could also rent a 4wd, but this is more expensive and the last two times I went, there were a couple short parts where you need a 4-wd, not just have it to impress your friends how much you spent.  This gives us the most time down inside the canyon, but restricts the number of people.
• Driving Option #2:   As the dates firm up, if there really is high demand for this, there are other routes in through the Indian land that should be fine with a high-clearance 2wd vehicle.  These are not bad to rent for a few days.  One group could go in that way, while the other goes in via the 4wd route so we can still register with the Park Rangers.

Trip Reports

My 2 tries   (Here are All my trip reports)
6 day trip a group did in 1991.  They put in at Blue Springs (Little GC), hiked to the GC, then south to Desert View.  1 week.

Ambitious Group - Tried to hike a big loop from Desert View, to Blue Spring, to River Confluence, then back to Desert View. 50 miles of rough, primitive trail and vertical descent in a week.  They didn't make it.


Make no mistake, this is a dangerous hike.  No single element is bad, but there are a lot of them.
• Water:  All water has to be carried in.  We found water pockets, but filter cloggers for just two people.  In the Canyon, you have to get water ABOVE Blue Springs because the minerals will clog your filter and give you stones.
• Dangerous Critters:  Rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, coyotes, mountain lions, and at higher elevations, bears.  And don't forget my favorite:  velvet ants  (actually a multiple-stinging wingless wasp and boy will you know it if you get stung by them.  Nick name: mule or cow killer, due to the pain) 
• Falls:  You're on the edge of a 2000 foot drop, and it's pretty much "make your own trail."  Nothing is stable.
• Rockslides:  They come under you, they drop on top of you.
• Weather:  No, really.  You have a very limited view of the sky and will be descending through several ecosystems.  It can surprise you.  Below freezing on top, shorts on the bottom, and be ready for rain in-between.
• Lack Of Support:  Cell phones don't work in the canyon (the might at the top by now).  The ranger station is hours away, and if you're hurt, they have to get you to the top before they could med-evac you. 
• Common Sense:  This should not be a problem for us, but people under-estimate.  "It's so easy, I'll hike to the bottom in one day! in my sandals!  with only one bottle of Gator-aide!"  Then they can't make it out.  It's a mountain in reverse--plan accordingly.  The rangers do hate tourists.
Search and Rescue Statistics in the Grand Canyon


Good attitude and flexibility.  I'm taking my key from Michael:  This is the standard "individual coordinated, group travel."  We'll lay out the plans, you try and show up.  Fly into Grand Canyon Village if you want and we'll try and pick you up.  There are false trails on the way down; I followed one before and had to come back up.  

There's really not much more to say about it.   See the trip reports and Route Details.

Trip Members

Namee-mail changed to fool spam-botsNote
Wayne SanaghanSanaghan^
Work/Page:   972-344-4521
Michael RaileyWork: m-railey1^
24 hr Page:  972-598-3337
Jacek StachurskiJacek^ 

Itinerary  (Very subject to change)

Very tentative, very generic plans are below. Some things would need to be decided: Hike in (pretty scenery) or drive to edge, or rent mountain bikes and use 2 vehicles to transport them to the starting point. Driving in would make it easier carrying all the gear, but hiking lets you go cross country through smaller, pretty rugged landscape.

I know--we could theoretically do this quicker: Drive day, down day, up day, out day. 4 days. Even skip the rest stop at the top and just drive straight out.  Why so long?  Tuesdays and Thursdays are the cheapest flights, and we have about 24 hours of buffer built into the schedule--always good for back country.

We could also take 5 days off work (plus the weekends) and enjoy more sights in the area.

US News & World Reports on planning your trip through the Canyon to avoid tourists: 

Northern Arizona Stuff  (North of Phoenix) 
• Tons of other hiking in different ecosystems, from desert to pine. Partial list below.
• Petrified National Forest (better than the painted desert) 
• Meteor Crater (the other big hole in the ground in Northern Arizona) 
• Towns: Flagstaff, Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon 
• Tonto National Bridge 
• Lowell Observatory 
• Williams AZ Steam Train 
• Havasupi reservation at Grand Canyon (not as pretty since it washed out, but still very nice) 
• Lava Tube--3/4 long underground lava tunnel)
• Tuzigoot Nat. Monument 
• Montezuma's Well & Montezuma's Castle (Indian ruins)
• White water rafting down the Salt River Canyon (Class 4)
• Vegas or Laughlin (5 hour trip) 
• And much, much more.

Southern Arizona Stuff (South of Phoenix) 
• Tons of other hiking in different ecosystems, from desert to pine.
• See hiking lists and "Tucson Area Stuff To Do"on my main Outdoor Rec page, here.

Detailed Info 

Basic rock climbing skills needed.  If you can put on a harness, tie knots, and put someone on belay, you're fine.  At least half the group should be able to place protection and take lead.

Mike Recommended workout/test:  Take your backpack load with 3-4 gallons water, treadmill, 3 times per week.  Prior to departure it should be easy to do:  1 hour, 3.5 rate, 15% incline, 45lbs backpack, with your mountain climbing shoes.

Equipment list:
There is a minimum equipment list which will be required, additional gear is recommended. Though this climb is close to a very populated area and has fairly good back up support we must assume we are alone.  Worst case is a 5 hour climb out of the canyon and a 3 hour 4x4 ride back to the ranger station.  There is some analog roaming cell phone connection.

You need different permits for different areas. It varies by the person you talk to. Try to pick one area to camp in and get the correct permits, you should be fine passing through the other.

• Grand Canyon
- To camp in the Grand Canyon National Park, you need a permit. - To enter the GC NP you need to pay an entrance fee if you enter in from a highway, during regular hours. - You might or might not need a back country fee in the GC NP if you're just driving through.
- Permit info from the National Park Service (includes link to form)
- Permit Procedure from  (better information, easier to understand, also has link to form)

• Tribal Land
- You can pass through Indian land for free, but need a permit to camp for the night, and for most spots a back country permit as well.
- Easy to get with a stop in Cameron.  You shouldn't need a back country permit to pass through.
- Permit info from Navajo Parks and Rec

As of 2007, without a special parks permit or any discounts:
- NPS GC Park permit: $10 per permit plus $5 per group per night camped above the rim
- Navajo park and recreation permit: $5.00 per person, per night for anyone over the age of 6. Back country permit fees: $5.00 per person.
- Navajo fees will vary depending on how polite you are to the person behind the counter. And if they see you respecting their land, hauling out trash, and reporting fence problems, you might get your fee waived next time.

Despite what the NPS GC website says, I've never had a problem getting a last minute permit to camp at the rim in areas SA9 and SB9 (covered by these road updates); most people want permits to descend into the main canyon area. The East entrance is undergoing a great deal of construction and things change monthly. Also note the east entrance station on 64 seems to be unmanned after 6 pm and they leave the gate open all night, if you want to drive up at night, camp just before the 4x4 section by Desert View, then head down the 4x4 stretch first thing in the morning (by vehicle, hiking or mountain bike).


Contacts In The Area


Grand Canyon / Arizona Links