Escalante Route

Trip Description

Watch the topography change from vast, open valleys to the deep, narrow gorges as you travel one of the more adventurous Grand Canyon routes. The Tanner Trail brings us to the Colorado River near the Furnace Flats, a wide open expanse of rolling hills and ridges surrounded by distant towering cliffs and buttes. The scenery here is truly incredible and completely unique to this part of the park. Heading west, we begin the Escalante Route, crossing open flats along the river before climbing a long steady ridge above Unkar Delta and on towards the quartzite narrows of 75 Mile Canyon, enjoying spectacular riverside campsites. Upon reaching Red Canyon and the mighty Hance Rapid, we will turn south and begin the challenging trek back up to the South Rim via the New Hance Trail, spending a final night high on top of the Redwall cliffs. The Escalante Route presents a spectacular challenge for the experienced backpacker seeking world-class hiking, fantastic solitude and some of the most outstanding wilderness in the country.


Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Days: 5 Days

Distance: 28 miles

Difficulty: Advanced +

Origin: Flagstaff, AZ

Cost: $1700/person


Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

This epic Grand Canyon backpacking tour begins with travel from Flagstaff to the South Rim’s East Entrance. After final preparations at the trailhead, we will begin our journey down the steep and rugged Tanner Trail. A few miles down, the steep grade eases and we begin a long and scenic traverse through the red Supai Sandstone, enjoying views into the vast depths of 75 Mile and Tanner Canyons. After several more miles we reach our first camp along the top of the Redwall. The views from camp are truly amazing, with vast lengths of the Colorado River weaving a meandering coarse out from Marble Canyon beneath the massive cliffs of the Palisades. Relax, enjoy a fabulous meal, and kick back as the sun sets around you.
Drive Time: 2 hours
Distance & Elevation: 5 miles, 2000 foot descent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

After sunrise coffee and a hearty breakfast, we will continue down the Tanner Trail to the Colorado River where we’ll have lunch and enjoy some rest on the beach before picking up the Escalante Route to Cardenas Creek. The broad valleys and gentle slopes offer pleasurable hiking and wide vistas of towering cliffs and solitary rock monuments with names like Apollo Temple, The Tabernacle and Comanche Point. Arriving at Cardenas Creek, we will setup camp along the sandy beach by the shores of the Colorado River.
Distance & Elevation: 7 miles, 3000 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

Day 3 offers challenging hiking and well-deserved views. We start with an ascent to a superb vantage point directly above Unkar Rapid, 300 feet straight below. We continue our climb and contour around an unnamed drainage before dropping into Escalante Creek. This stretch of trail features tricky footing and some exposure to heights. Back at the river, we continue downstream, following the route into the quartzite narrows of 75 Mile Canyon. This stunning stretch of canyon brings us back to river where we’ll make camp for the night. Enjoy some time in the afternoon to relax or explore without the backpack.
Distance & Elevation: 7 miles, 1300 foot ascent/descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

After a leisurely morning, we’ll continue downstream towards the mouth of Red Canyon and the dull roar of Hance Rapid. Enjoy great photo opportunities of the river and the unique geology. We’ll have lunch at the beach and hope to witness whitewater rafters try to navigate one of the most feared rapids in Grand Canyon! Then it’s off to begin our climb up the New Hance Trail through Red Canyon, our route back to the rim. We’ll top off our water containers before heading up to a dry-camp atop the Redwall. Enjoy the striking quiet found here, high above the canyon floor and the turbulent river. Another tasty dinner caps off our final night in the backcountry.
Distance & Elevation: 6 miles, 2500 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:

An early start will allow us to make the most of the day. It’s an arduous climb back to South Rim but Red Canyon and the New Hance Trail offer the shortest river to rim route in the park. The route starts gently, but eventually launches into a relentless climb through challenging terrain requiring attention and determination. You’ll savor the evolving views at every chance as we push onward and upward through the many layers of colorful rock. The sense of accomplishment experienced upon reaching trail’s end is one not soon forgotten. This is truly an epic journey!
Distance & Elevation: 5 miles, 2000 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch
Drive Time: 1.5 hours

* Alternate itineraries are available for this trip, depending on group fitness and/or desires for a longer trip. It can also be extended along the Tonto Trail to Horseshoe Mesa and exit the Grandview Trail for a fantastic 7 day adventure! Call for details.

*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.


What's Included

  • A professional, licensed and medically trained guide
  • All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
  • All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your guide will prepare all meals)
  • All meals from a light breakfast on Day 1 through lunch on the last day + trail snacks
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon
  • Entrance fees and backcountry permits
  • 5% National Park Service Commercial Fee (a required fee that passes through to Grand Canyon National Park)

What's Not Included:

  • Transportation to/from Flagstaff, AZ
  • Lodging the night before/after the trip
  • Clothing, raingear, and footwear
  • Personal toiletries, sunscreen
  • Water bottles/hydration bladder
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (suggested 10-20% of trip cost)

*Upon Booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet

How many people are in the group?

Most backpacking trips in Grand Canyon will accommodate 5 people plus one guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 9 people plus 2 guides.

Are there age restrictions?

Children under the age of 13 are generally not permitted on backpacking trips. This restriction may be negotiable on private tours. Please contact us with any questions regarding this policy.

How do I sign up?

In order to confirm a reservation, we require an initial non-refundable deposit of $250 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.

Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. You can also pay by personal check or PayPal (PayPal incurs a 1.5% surcharge). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-877-272-5032

Travel Logistics

Where does the trip begin/end?

This trip will begin/end in Flagstaff, AZ and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Flagstaff. You will want to fly into either Phoenix (2 hour drive) or Flagstaff.

Where do meet our guides?

We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 4:00pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the Little America Hotel in Flagstaff. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation.

Most trips will depart between 4:30am and 6:30am. *This meeting is not mandatory, but highly recommended, as we will depart early the next morning. If you are unable to attend, please let us know in advance so that we can make alternate arrangements.

What do we do with our car and extra stuff?

We will provide all transportation to/from trailheads for the duration of the trip. We will pick you up at your hotel in Flagstaff and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the Little America Hotel (recommended) can leave their cars at the hotel. The hotels will often store your luggage for you, as well. If not, we are happy to store extra luggage at our warehouse for the duration of the trip. If you are staying at a different hotel, you will need to check with them as to whether you can leave your car there.

What time will we get back on the last day?

Expect to be back in Flagstaff by 5pm at the latest on the last day of the trip. Many trips will return earlier but we cannot make any guarantees. In general, it is recommended that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.

Trip Dates

2018 Dates

September: 28-October 2

October: 22-26, 29-Nov 2

November: 8-11, 12-16


2019 Dates

April: 8-12

Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!

Call 1-877-272-5032 or email us for details.

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