Remote & Wild: A True Grand Canyon Adventure
As one of the iconic National Parks in the U.S., Grand Canyon averages about six million visitors annually. If you have only experienced the congestion of the touristy areas of the South Rim, you might not be aware of the undiscovered gems that exist in the backcountry.
As beautiful as the views are from the overlooks along the South Rim, there is a whole world of hidden secrets that exist below the rim. We love leading our guests along the classic trails but our true love, and the places we explore on our personal trips, are those paths far less traveled. If you’re looking for a quieter experience in Grand Canyon, there are many great options. Here is an overview of ne of our favorite backcountry adventures.
Thunder River/Deer Creek Loop:
This is one of our guides’ favorite backpacking trips in Grand Canyon. While this is one of the more challenging trips we offer in the canyon, it is also one of the most rewarding. This loop hike travels into a remote section of the western North Rim of the park and covers several truly unique destinations. This route begins and ends at remote Monument Point and the Bill Hall Trailhead. This rugged trail makes a rapid descent to the expansive red rock plateau known as the Esplanade, where you’ll have endless opportunities to explore the nooks and crannies of this Mars-like landscape. This is also a spectacular spot to set up camp and enjoy an unbeatable Grand Canyon sunset prior to dropping further into the canyon.
Your second day starts with a steep descent into Surprise Valley, a unique “hanging valley” that is the result of a massive, ancient landslide. Turning west, the route heads down to the lush oasis of Deer Creek Canyon. Enjoy a welcome rest in the shaded “Throne Room” at Dutton Springs (the first waterfall of the trip) before continuing down to the banks of Deer Creek and camp for the evening. Drop your stuff here and spend the rest of the day exploring the Deer Creek Narrows, the “Patio”, and the majestic 120-foot Deer Creek waterfall as it enters the Colorado River. It is not uncommon to encounter a rafting group here, as they also take the opportunity to explore this beautiful and hard to reach paradise in the canyon.
Day three will be challenging as you work your way along the boulder fields alongside the Colorado River and make your way to your next tributary canyon, Tapeats Creek. There is a great shady campsite where you can enjoy a post-lunch siesta before starting up towards the Upper Tapeats campsite for the evening. Spend the afternoon exploring up Tapeats Creek and enjoy the spring-fed waters and lush vegetation of this stunning side canyon.
Day Four: It is time to pay the piper for all of the spectacular scenery you’ve experienced so far. But thankfully it’s not lacking in rewards. After a steep initial ascent, you reach one of the true gems of the Grand Canyon: Thunder River. Thunder River is a massive river/waterfall that blasts straight out of the limestone cliffs. It’s as if water was rushing to be born into the world and comes pouring out with raw force in its excitement. It is truly a magnificent sight and a great reward for the effort you’ve put into getting here. After time spent enjoying this final water source, it’s time to pick up and work your way back to Surprise Valley and start the ascent up the Supai steps and back onto the Esplanade. Find a shady overhang to enjoy a long break and rest from the day’s climb. This is a great place to spend your last night and this option is highly recommended. But if you’re feeling motivated, you could push on through a few more miles and one last, steep ascent back to the trailhead. We prefer soaking in the canyon for an additional night and making that last climb when we are fresh the next morning.
For your final day, get an early start and head up to the rim when you’ve got the cool temperatures and some early morning shade on the canyon walls. It’s a steep climb but a relatively short distance to get back to the rim and celebrate completing this epic Grand Canyon journey. Don’t forget to stop into Jacob Lake Lodge for a world-famous cookie or milkshake to replenish some of those lost calories from the last few days.
For information on planning or booking this Grand Canyon tour, or to learn about some of our other off the beaten path destinations, contact us and we can assist in helping you experience the hidden beauty of this magnificent park.