The enormity of the Grand Canyon is enjoyed by millions each year. From the North and South Rim overlooks, people ooh and aah at the cavernous trench, and standing among this congregation of on-lookers you too will be taken in by the impossibility of what lies before you.
You may even be drawn into its depths on one of the canyon’s popular routes: the Kaibab or Bright Angel Trails, also known as the “corridor” trails. En route you’ll see hundreds of others who had the same idea, and while you are awed by each turn in the trail you may notice a subtle desire churning inside you. A wish to go a bit further, to experience something special, more away from it all.
The Grand Canyon’s 1.2-million acres of backcountry offers countless opportunities for such experiences. Here are six discoveries awaiting those who venture off-the-beaten-path in the Grand Canyon:
Quietude results in heightened senses. Hear the echoes of every wren and breathe in the scent of sage on the desert air. When you leave the corridor you will see fewer people as you hike and will often have campsites to yourself. Imagine being lulled to sleep by the sound of a rushing creek and waking up to find curious mule deer mulling near your tent.
Many Grand Canyon trails started as Native American pathways that were then used by miners to get to copper deposits. With trips like our Grandview Trek and Hermit Loop, you can experience trails steeped in the mining history of the canyon and even see artifacts of the bygone era.
The corridor trails are the only ones in the canyon that are regularly kept up by the park service. Real adventure begins on the trails that haven’t been maintained in over 80 years. If scrambling around big boulders and shimmying through slot canyons sounds like your kind of fun, consider exploring the less-traveled paths of the Grand Canyon.
Why take a bridge when you can experience the glorious Colorado River from your very own packraft? If only 1% of Grand Canyon visitors spend a night below the rim, it’s hard to imagine the small percentage of hikers who packraft from one rim to another. Packraft Rim to Rim is truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and a great way to throw in another sport with your hiking trip.
The Grand Canyon is not an easy place to hike. Going to the river usually involves about 5,000 feet of elevation loss which must be regained on the way back to the rim. There is no easy way to get to the bottom of the canyon and every hiker who makes it there feels a special sense of accomplishment that is completely deserved. But if you have achieved this goal and want to take it a step further or are a hardcore hiker who enjoys long days, a Kanab Creek trip is the hardest and most secluded trip we offer.
6. epic scenery
When you get off-the-beaten-path you will discover waterfalls, slot canyons, and gorgeous beaches (that you can camp on!). You’ll see Wonders of the Grand Canyon and usually have them to yourself. A variety of sweeping panoramas and charming close-up views of seldom-seen parts of the canyon await those of you willing to take the trails less traveled.
Rachel Harman – Wildland Trekking Guide