Winter Rim to Rim

Trip Description

This tour offers you the opportunity to hike across Grand Canyon when no one else is doing it. We begin the hike on the South Kaibab Trail, descending almost 5000 vertical feet to Bright Angel Campground in the bottom of the Canyon and a short walk from the Colorado River and the historic Phantom Ranch. Next, we continue along the North Kaibab Trail to Cottonwood Campground, relishing in the vastly different views and feel of the North Rim.  Day 3 will be spent day hiking towards the North Rim and back, with another night at Cottonwood before retracing our steps to Bright Angel Campground on Day 4. On Day 5, we will pack our tents and sleeping bags on the mules and head up the Bright Angel Trail with lighter backpacks to the South Rim.

*Due to temporary trail and campground closures, this trip will not be offered from December 14, 2024 through May 9, 2025. For excellent alternatives, we recommend the Hermit Loop or Grandview Loop, both of which feature a similar difficulty level and equally fantastic secenery.


Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Days: 5

Distance: 45 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate + 

Origin: Flagstaff, AZ

Cost: $1900


Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

Depart Flagstaff early for the drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and the South Kaibab Trailhead. After final preparations, we will begin our trek down into the Canyon, stopping regularly for breaks, snacks and photo opportunities. Upon reaching the Colorado River, we cross the impressive Black Bridge just a few minutes from our home for the night at Bright Angel Campground. Relax by the creek while your guide sets up camp and prepares a delicious dinner. You will also have a chance to visit Phantom Ranch and take in a ranger-led program while the night sky fills with an unimaginable number of stars.
Drive Time: 1.5 hours
Distance & Elevation: 7 miles, 4800 foot descent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

After breakfast we will begin our hike up to Cottonwood Campground. Highlights of today’s walk include The Box, a narrow section of winding canyon along the banks of Bright Angel Creek, and Ribbon Falls, a spectacular waterfall tucked away in an idyllic grotto just off the main trail. As you near Cottonwood Camp, the massive cliffs of the North Rim tower overhead. Tonight’s camp is the ideal place to stargaze, with lots of open sky to catch shooting stars and passing satellites.
Distance & Elevation: 7 miles, 1600 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

After a few hot cups of coffee and a hearty breakfast, we will strike out on a mission towards the North Rim. Traveling with just our day packs and essentials, we will make our way up the trail, past Roaring Springs and through the seemingly endless layers of colorful rocks laid down over millennia. The towering cliffs are nothing short of spectacular and the wilderness solitude is a rare treat. After a delicious lunch, we will head back down to camp for some well-deserved rest & relaxation. *A summit of the North Rim is not a guarantee, nor is it a primary the goal of this trip. We cannot guarantee that weather conditions or the ability of all participants will facilitate such a goal.
Distance & Elevation: 8 to 14 miles, 2000 to 4500 foot ascent/descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

Today we’ll pack up and head back to Bright Angel Campground, enjoying lunch at Phantom Ranch. Spend the afternoon relaxing…you’ve been working hard!
Distance & Elevation: 7 miles, 1600 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:

We’ll be up early again to have breakfast, breakdown camp and pack up for the final leg of the journey. But today we’ll lighten our loads by packing out tents, sleeping bags and a few other items on the mules. We head up the famous Bright Angel Trail, featuring a stunning stretch along the Colorado River, the Granite Narrows of Pipe Creek and nice rest at Havasupai Gardens. We’ll top out in the early to midafternoon and celebrate a great accomplishment before heading back to Flagstaff.

Distance & Elevation: 9.5 miles, 4400 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch
Drive Time:
1.5 hours

Temporary Itinerary Change (Dec 1, 2023 through April 14, 2024)

Due to a scheduled closure of the Bright Angel Trail from December 1, 2023 through April 14, 2024, we are instituting a change to the last day of this itinerary for all trips during this time. Day 5 will exit the canyon via the South Kaibab Trail, which is effectively the same hike as Day 1 but in reverse. Additionally, mule duffel service is suspended during this same timeframe so we will be carrying full backpacks out of the canyon. This will result in a more physically demanding hike, recommended for only very fit individuals.

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


Is this trip for me?

This is a backpacking trip. Backpacking trips are strenuous endeavors and the decision to join one of these trips should not be taken lightly. It is intended for active people who exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and do not have any chronic knee issues. You will be carrying a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, all of your personal clothing/toiletries/gear, up to 3 liters of water at a time, and a share of the group food. Every participant must be able to comfortably manage a 35 to 40-pound backpack each day while hiking for 6 to 8 hours, on steep canyon trails, descending or ascending 4800 feet  in a single day. The descent into Grand Canyon is perhaps the most challenging part of the hike and the physical demands of downhill hiking is often underestimated. It is each participant’s responsibility to ensure they possess the level of physical fitness required to complete the hike. Do not take this lightly or fail to properly prepare for the hike. If you are not already a very active person in excellent health, then you are encouraged to consider a different trip style.

What's Included

  • A professional, licensed and medically trained guide
  • All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles, microspikes
  • 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% NPS 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 hotel 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

Grand Canyon issues permits for backpacking trips approximately 5 months in advance via a lottery system. We can request permits for any date you like so be sure to contact us before the deadlines (noted below). Permits for the most popular trips will sell-out immediately during the initial lottery. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you contact us prior to the deadline for the month you are hoping to hike. Pre-registration is free!


2024 Dates

May: 6-10

Permits for the dates below have not yet been issued. Request these dates or choose your own.

November: 18-22, 30-December 4 (Pre-registration Deadline July 1, 2024)

December: 2-6, 9-13 (Pre-registration Deadline August 1, 2024)

Due to a temporary closure of Bright Angel Campground scheduled for December 19, 2024 through May 9, 2025, this trip will not be possible during the closure.


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

Call 1-928-525-1552 or email us for details.

Guest Testimonials

Guest Testimonials

“We booked the Winter Rim to Rim with Four Seasons Guides starting 28 November 2021. This was my first booking with FSG and it most certainly won’t be the last. From the start the planning and organization we received from Scott and Dave was second to none. All information was set out very clearly and any questions we had promptly answered. As for the trek, it was simply out of this world, challenging, beautiful and quite simply a life changing experience. Led by our guide Bob, at all times our safety came first and he set out very clearly the days objectives and challenges. Food was great, snacks plentiful and tents cosy!!!! All in all I can recommend booking any trip with FSG due to their professionalism and friendliness, HIGHLY recommended. Many thanks!” – Leo G.

“Amazing Trip!!! My husband and I went on a Winter Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Trip with Four seasons. It was so great! The views were unbelievable and the experience unforgettable. Best time of the year to see the Grand Canyon! Our guide was great, it seemed like Jeremy knew everything about the Grand Canyon. He was a super nice guy, and very accommodating to every one on the trip from the very start. The team at Four Seasons was super helpful before the trip, answering any questions or concerns in a very timely manner. Very professional group at Four Season. Our guide was very well organized but also able to go with flow. Our equipment we used from Four seasons was in great shape and appropriate for the conditions we were experiencing. Jeremy did a great job preparing a variety food, which is very impressive for a 5 day backpacking trip. I will definitely be using some of his ideas in the future, haha. Highly Highly recommended this company for your next adventure. I know my husband and I are already looking in to more trip with Four Seasons.” – Shannon B.

“A friend and I were intent on doing the winter Rim-to-Rim hike in the Grand Canyon, and when we decided to go with a guide service, we opted to go with Four Seasons Guides. It’s a smaller business, which mattered to us, and we were pleased to be working with Dave, the owner, through much of the planning process. He is very experienced, friendly, and enthusiastic, and he answered all of our questions to our complete satisfaction. The trip itself was great, despite having to deal with the challenge of daily rain and snow showers. While the weather itself was very wet, the equipment that we brought, as well as the stuff provided by Four Seasons, kept us from getting soaked. The guide we worked with was a fine fellow named Bob. He kept us well-fed, well-informed, and well-rested. Bob is very good at this work. He’s personable, knowledgeable, efficient, and a real work-horse: everything you need in a competent, professional guide. The trail meals he whipped up were excellent, and it was interesting to watch him work. These guys know what they are doing. If you go with them, heed their packing lists and their advice! I had a great time and can certainly recommend Four Seasons to anyone interested in getting a guide service. I consider the valuable time and money that I invested in this trip to have been well-spent. I have no reservations at all in recommending these fine folks. They took great care of us, and as a person who used to lead group trips, I really understand what that means. I am an experienced hiker and backpacker (thirty-two years and lots of miles on my feet), and I was impressed with these folks.” – Ben I.

“Had a great time on my rim-to-rim (and back) trip with friends and our guide, Tamara. From initial booking through trip end, I couldn’t have been more impressed with Four Season Guides. Prior to the trip, communication and guidance for preparation was excellent. Tamara was the best! She was interested in each of us, gave us great information as we hiked- particularly on geology, and prepared meals that were delicious. She was especially thoughtful in presenting information on indigenous people of the region. I wouldn’t hesitate to book another trip with Four Season Guides!” – Sarah S.

When booking your Grand Canyon backpacking trip, make sure that you book out at least 4+ months in advance due to Grand Canyon National Park’s permit system. The deadline to apply for backpacking permits is on the first of the month, 4 months prior to the month you intend to hike (i.e. January 1 deadline for all May trips, February 1 for June, March 1 for July…etc.).