There’s no experience quite like the experience of the inner canyon. It’s hard to not feel like a pioneer amidst such a grand landscape. It’s almost as if the canyon itself shares her story, but to only the one’s courageous enough to venture into the unknown. Not just into this surreal land of enchantment, but into your own depths, into your own wild nature. The canyon is alive, and there is no place in the World like it.
This 4 day 35.8 mile shuttle hike (point to point) has been designed for the adventure seeker. With a descent down the famous Bright Angel trail, two side trips to the Colorado River, a sunset stroll to Plateau point, an unforgettable contour of the tonto plateau, and a night in the majestic Monument canyon this trek will only leave you wanting more. I guarantee it!
Day one: If Santa Fe is our starting point day one will be a day on the road, and our destination for the evening will be Flagstaff, AZ. Otherwise if you’re coming from another location outside of Santa Fe (out of state) our meeting point will be in Flagstaff. Hotel accommodations will be made according to group size. Prices may vary depending on peoples comfort levels and/or privacy needs. The only thing on our to do list for day one is to put the finishing touches on our gear and enjoy the inviting mountain town.
Day two: We will drive to the last town before the Park entrance (Tusyan). From here we will take a taxi service provided by the Grand Canyon to the Bright Angel trailhead 7,000ft. Don’t be mislead by the intense amount of tourists on the rim and near the trailhead. The next few days will provide an abundance of solitude. We will see others during the trek, but at this point we essentially leave civilization behind us. Bright Angel is the most popular trail in the canyon, so we are bound to pass by many day hikers and some backpackers during the first few miles. Many will ask us if we’re going all the way down to the river, as this is such a goal and incredible accomplishment for just about everyone who visits the Canyon. We will make our way down the beautiful trail to our first nights camp at Indian Gardens 3,760, descending over 3,000 ft in 4.8 miles. There are two rest houses, which provide shelter and a nice place place for a rest. The view dominates the senses. It’s impossible to not be incredibly proud of what you’re doing in this very moment. We’ll set up camp, then if everyone’s on board we can take a sunset walk to the powerful Plateau Point where we’ll get our first look at the Colorado River. This is an amazing place to be for sunset.
Day Three: Today we will trek 11 miles on the tonto plateau. Our elevation gain and loss will be minimal as the plateau is mostly flat. There is some up and down as we enter and exit drainages but for the most part this is a smooth sailing kind of day. We are quite exposed as these altitudes, so even with the relatively easier terrain the elements can really take it out of you. The contour is awesome! The views again will have you questioning if this experience is actually real. As we near our camp at Monument Creek we should be greeted by the trickling sound of a clear desert stream. This is one of my favorite places in the canyon. Once here you will see why. Enjoy the wildness of this place. We are as far away from the road as we will get on this trek. It’s hard to imagine roads when you’re in places like this.
Day Four: Today we will spend the morning by day hiking down to the Colorado River in Monument Canyon. The three mile out and back hike is completely in the canyon with no trail. The roar of the Colorado’s Granite rapids is a great introduction to the power of this Wild and Scenic river. Once back to camp we will pack up our stuff and make our way a few miles over to the next drainage; Hermit Creek. From here we’ll make our last nights camp alongside Hermit Creek. If we’d like we can take another 3 mile side trip to visit Hermit Rapids, another unique and remote part of the canyon. This will be our last night spent below the rim. I’m sure there will be a widespread feeling of not wanting to return to civilization. Sure, there will be positives to our return, but the feeling of a deeper connection to Mother Earth is inevitable at this point. The time you have just dedicated to yourself and to this place of unimaginable beauty is yours to cherish for the rest of your days.
Day Five: Our hike out is 7.8 miles with an elevation gain of 3,650 ft. The great thing about this trip is we will have ample time to adjust to the terrain, elements, our gear, and each other. We will backtrack a mile to get to the turn-off for the climb up to the Cathedral Stairs. Say goodbye to the plateau. The switchbacking begins. After about 1,400 ft of climbing we’ll reach Breezy point ( a great place to admire the views). From here all the way to Santa Maria’s Spring (about 3.5 miles) we’ll gain about 500 feet so it is a relatively mellow section of the Hermit trail. From the spring it’s another 2 miles out and 1,600 ft or so up to get to the rim. The last leg is challenging, but the reward of what’s to come will be the empowering factor on this last day. This is an achievement beyond what most ever accomplish. To gift yourself with an experience like this may be one of the best decisions you ever make.