|MEETING PLACE:||DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 1175 W Route 66, Flagstaff, Arizona|
|MEETING TIME:||7:00 PM, the evening prior to your trip|
|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 3-4:00 PM to the DoubleTree in Flagstaff|
|MILES COVERED:||24-mile North Rim to South Rim Hikes & day hikes of 1-4 miles|
|TRIP LENGTH:||5 days|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 14 years old|
|ACTIVITIES:||Hiking the Grand Canyon|
This guided hiking adventure encompasses both rims of the Grand Canyon, making it one of the classic hikes in North America. The trip begins with transportation to the North Rim followed by a scenic drive to Point Imperial Overview with hiking in the surrounding wilderness. We then spend a restful night at the North Rim in preparation for the hike into the canyon. Descending into the Inner Gorge via the North Kaibab Trail, we encounter panoramic vistas with each step we take. After a long hike we arrive at the peaceful retreat of Phantom Ranch where we’ll spend two nights, enjoying an afternoon and a full layover day. For the hike out, we’ll ascend the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim. A well-earned celebratory dinner is the culmination of our hiking adventure. The next day we experience the canyon from above as we hike along the rim before our return to Flagstaff.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, and sometimes the weather. Please refer to your confirmation letter for the exact dates of your trip. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The Day Before Your Trip. . .
- We’ll meet at 7:00 PM in the lobby of the DoubleTree Hotel in Flagstaff for a pre-trip meeting. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and guides and ask any last-minute questions. Your guides will give you a thorough trip orientation and confirm the meeting time for the following morning.
- In the morning we depart Flagstaff for the drive to the North Rim. En route we’ll stop at Marble Canyon for a chance to stretch our legs. The canyon is named for its colorful high cliff walls and is the starting point for Grand Canyon rafting trips. We plan to arrive at the North Rim by mid-day. After a picnic lunch, we’ll take a winding scenic drive out onto the Walhalla Plateau to the southernmost viewpoint of the North Rim, Cape Royal. A walking path leads us across the narrow neck on top of Angels Window, a naturally formed arch in the Kaibab Limestone, to reach the edge of the canyon. From here we’ll have the widest panorama of any Grand Canyon overlook with views including the Colorado River, the tall rocky summit of Vishnu Temple, the isolated wooded mesa of Wotans Throne and the South Rim. After a day of exploring, we check-in to our lodging and enjoy a welcome dinner before retiring for the evening.
(L, D) Grand Canyon Lodge or similar
- We meet early in the morning and drive to the North Kaibab Trailhead where we enjoy impressive views looking out into the expansive canyon below. We begin our hike with a series of steep snaking switchbacks through Roaring Springs Canyon. Upon arrival at the Supai Tunnel we’ll find our first water and restrooms. The trail continues to descend rapidly through the massive Redwall Limestone layer clinging precipitously to the wall of the cliff while offering amazing vistas. At Bright Angel Canyon the trail begins to flatten out and descend more gradually. As we approach Roaring Springs we can hear the raging torrent of water long before we see it. Roaring Springs is the water source for both the North and South Rims. A short trail leads to the springs gushing from the Muav Limestone as it cascades below over ferns and moss into the Bright Angel Creek. Back on the trail we come to the Pumphouse Residence where the pump house operator resides. Below Cottonwood Campground the trail continues into the Inner Gorge as the canyon walls narrow into what is known as The Box. The walls soar high above through this twisting corridor of Vishnu Schist as the trail follows the meandering Bright Angel Creek. We cross the creek several times over footbridges. After a little more than a mile we come to the junction of the Clear Creek Trail and then another mile brings us to our destination, Phantom Ranch. Note: There are pit toilets and potable water along the trail every few miles.
- After we are checked into our accommodations, you’ll have free time to relax or venture out on your own. In the evening, we will enjoy dinner together in the Phantom Ranch dining hall. After dinner, depending on the season, the local park ranger may present an interpretive program covering a variety of interesting canyon topics.
(B, L, D) Phantom Ranch
- Today is a free day at Phantom Ranch. There are several short hikes to choose from or you might decide to take a cooling dip in the Bright Angel Creek, watch rafters navigate the mighty Colorado River or rest in the shade of the cottonwood trees.
(B, L, D) Phantom Ranch
- Rise early, finish packing your gear and head off to have a hearty breakfast. Today we will be hiking out of the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail.
- Leaving Phantom Ranch there is a short, fairly flat hike to the Silver Bridge. Once across the Colorado River the trail traverses about a mile through sand dunes. Leaving the river behind we continue another half mile onto the true Bright Angel Trail, ascending into the tight switchbacks of the Devil’s Corkscrew. A gradual climb brings you to the shady oasis of Indian Gardens nestled among the cottonwoods. It is quite common to see mule deer resting and drinking from the meandering creek. For the next mile the trail is relatively flat before reaching the most challenging section. With the rim in sight, the last four miles of the hike present a long series of switchbacks. This is where the majority of the elevation change takes place. We also pass through two short tunnels before we crest the rim.
- After a shower and a rest we will meet for dinner to celebrate our accomplishments.
(B, L, D) Lodge on the South Rim
- After breakfast we set out to explore the canyon from the rim. As we hike along the Rim Trail, we are presented with magnificent vistas of the Bright Angel Trail, the river below, and in some areas, unrestricted views of up to 40 miles. Those wishing to take a break from hiking are welcome to explore the rim on their own by foot, bicycle or the free shuttle bus. In the afternoon we return to Flagstaff.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Round trip transportation by van from Flagstaff
- Skilled, professional, experienced hiking guide(s)
- Meals as outlined in the itinerary
- 40-oz Klean Kanteen water bottle
- One duffel to pack your gear for the trip (maximum 15lbs per person)
- Round trip transport of one duffel per person by mule into the canyon
- One night lodging at the North Rim (based on double occupancy)
- Two nights lodging at Phantom Ranch in a dorm room (bunk beds, air cooled, shower, sink and toilet facilities)
- One night lodging at the South Rim (based on double occupancy)
- Site entrance fees
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Flagstaff
- Single supplement $200
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Items of a personal nature (an equipment list provided below)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Alcoholic beverages
- Meals not included in itinerary
Trip Preparation Checklist
☐ Beginning December 10, 2018, OARS will offer a travel protection plan that is administered by Arch Insurance Company.
Insurance coverages are underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, NAIC #11150, under policy series LTP 2013 and endorsements thereto. Policies are administered by Arch Insurance Solutions Inc., 855-286-8351, CA license #0I18111, TX license #1787195. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply and coverages may vary in certain states. Please refer to your policy for detailed terms and conditions; online at: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Consumer disclosures can be found at: https://oars.archinsurancesolutions.com/disclosures
If you enrolled in a Trip Mate policy through OARS on or before December 9, 2018, the policy is still in place and will be administered by Trip Mate through the end date of your scheduled travel with OARS. All information provided in regards to the Trip Mate policy remains relevant. For a complete description of your Trip Mate policy, go online to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpF431S or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan # F431S).
☐ Trip Forms: Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Verify with your adventure consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitations you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.
Flagstaff is the meeting point and ending point for your Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hiker trip.
Meeting Place & Time
The day before your trip we will meet at 7:00 PM in the lobby of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Flagstaff for a pre-trip meeting. Your trip leader will provide a thorough trip orientation and explain the packing procedure. You’ll have the opportunity to meet others on your trip and ask any last-minute questions. The trip leader will also confirm the meeting time for the following morning.
Getting to Flagstaff
American Airlines (800-433-7300) has flights into Flagstaff via Phoenix or Dallas.
United Airlines (800-864-8331) has flights into Flagstaff via Denver.
By Van from Phoenix
If you fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, you can arrange to be met at the airport and transferred by van shuttle to Flagstaff. Passengers are dropped-off at the Flagstaff Amtrak Station.
The trip takes about 3 hours and can be arranged through the following company (Advance reservations required & prices subject to change without notice):
Groome Transportation 928-350-8466; One-way fare: $49 per person
Additional Transportation Options
If the van shuttle times do not accommodate your travel schedule or if you need transportation to a different city, you may wish to contact one of the following companies:
A Friendly Cab: 800-853-4445 or 928-774-4444
Services Northern Arizona including the Grand Canyon
We suggest you leave your car at the DoubleTree Hotel in Flagstaff. They have a long-term lot, which is complimentary to OARS passengers who stay at the DoubleTree Hotel before or after their trip.
|Mileage and Driving Times to Flagstaff, AZ|
|Los Angeles||466 miles (7½ hours)|
|Phoenix||145 miles (2 ½ hours)|
|Las Vegas||254 miles (4 ½ hours)|
By Bus or Train
Greyhound and Amtrak both service Flagstaff. Amtrak arrives each evening from the East and every morning from the West.
After Your Trip
On the final day of your adventure, you will be returned to the DoubleTree Hotel in Flagstaff. You should arrive back by approximately 3:00-4:00 PM.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
We recommend that you reserve rooms well in advance in order to guarantee lodging. Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff
1175 W. Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
To make a reservation, call the number above and mention that you are traveling with OARS to receive the special rate (reservations open 12 months in advance). The DoubleTree Hotel offers complimentary van transportation from the airport and Amtrak station. Call the hotel upon arrival for pick-up.
*Please note: you are not obligated to stay at the DoubleTree, there are a number of accommodation alternatives available in Flagstaff.
HIKING INTO AND OUT OF THE GRAND CANYON
It is necessary for all trip participants to have prior hiking experience. The hikes from the North Rim to Phantom Ranch and then up to the South Rim are serious and strenuous. They take you into one of the deepest canyons in the world with a descent in of almost 6000 feet and an ascent of more than 4500 feet. The hike into the canyon is on the North Kaibab Trail (14 miles) and the hike out on the Bright Angel Trail (10 miles). Don’t underestimate the difficulty of hiking in and out of the Grand Canyon and please don’t overestimate your physical capabilities. You need to take the time to get into very good physical condition before you begin your trip. Transport of your personal gear by mule is provided, but you still need to make the hike carrying a daypack holding your water bottles, breakfast/lunch, snacks, camera, etc. The extra weight of your daypack significantly increases the stress on your legs and the amount of effort exerted.
Hiking uphill and downhill presents two very different physical challenges for your body. Hiking down into the canyon will feel “easier” than hiking uphill because gravity is naturally propelling you downward. But there are actually punishing consequences for your lower body that accumulate gradually over the long descent. The combination of your legs holding back your body weight and the pressure from stepping down and across many log “stairs” create great strain on leg muscles, knees, ankles and feet. Hiking out of the canyon will be a major cardiovascular workout, really working your heart and lungs in addition to your legs as you ascend nearly a vertical mile from the river to the rim. You need to take the time to get into very good physical condition before you begin your trip. If you have any concerns or are unsure whether you are in good enough shape for this hike, we strongly urge you to get your physician’s approval for this trip.
You’ll be hiking on maintained dirt trails. They are dusty, often steep and present occasional reinforced log steps and loose rock. They range in width from 3 to 5 feet with exposed overlooks. Hikers and mules share the trails and mules are given the right of way, as are hikers heading uphill.
North Kaibab Trail
The North Kaibab Trail is the most difficult and least visited of the three maintained trails in Grand Canyon National Park. Nearly a thousand feet higher at the trailhead than the South Rim trails, it was the last of the three to be built. After the completion of the South Kaibab Trail in the late 1920s, the park service sought to draw more tourists and increase access to the canyon from the North Rim. Plans were drawn up to cut a new trail between the North Rim and the river, replacing the then present-day route which crossed the Bright Angel Creek numerous times. The trail was masterfully constructed from the bottom up and in 1928 the North Kaibab Trail was finished. After connecting it to the South Kaibab Trail, the only maintained trans-canyon rim to rim trail was formed.
Bright Angel Trail
The Bright Angel Trail is a very old route formerly used by many Native American groups who called the Grand Canyon home. They most likely used the trail to track animals and descend to their farms at Indian Gardens where they cultivated such crops as corn, beans and squash. In the late 1800’s pioneers built a trail to reach mining claims in the canyon. It was soon realized by Ralph Cameron that tourism was where the real profit could be made. He lengthened the trail to the river and began charging a toll. Over the years there was much controversy about the use of the trail until it was transferred over to the National Park Service in 1928.
At the North Rim our accommodations will be at the Grand Canyon Lodge*. The lodge was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987 and is the only lodging at the North Rim inside the park. Nestled in a forested setting, the lodge overlooks the North Kaibab Trail and Bright Angel Creek. It features rustic motel rooms and cabins, a dining room with views of the canyon, a sun room, a snack shop, a saloon and a gift shop.
*Please Note: Accommodations at the Grand Canyon Lodge are occasionally unavailable, and we must modify our trips slightly. On these modified trips you will stay in a lodge of similar quality just outside the park boundary. We will let you know as soon as possible if this applies to your trip.
Phantom Ranch is the only lodging available below the canyon rim and can only be reached by hiking, mule or river rafting. Accommodations are shared in the group hiker cabin (mixed gender) or dormitories (male and female). Both have bunk beds and are climate controlled with heating and cooling. Bedding, towels, liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner are included. The canteen sells a small variety of first aid supplies, sundries and souvenirs. Major credit cards are accepted. You can also drop off postcards, which are stamped “Mailed by mule from the bottom of the Grand Canyon.” No private rooms are available at Phantom Ranch.
Our lodging at the South Rim will be at the Maswik North or similar, based on availability. Nestled within several acres of Ponderosa pine forest, it is located just a short quarter-mile walk or bus ride from the canyon’s edge. The complex consists of the main lodge building that houses the Registration Desk, Gift Shop, Maswik Food Court, and Pizza Pub.
Meals are provided with your stay at Phantom Ranch. Since all of the supplies for Phantom Ranch are transported by mule from the South Rim, they provide a set menu, served family-style. The canteen sells a limited amount of snacks and beverages including beer and wine. While exploring on your first day and when you return to the South Rim, your guide will set up lunch options at nearby picnic areas. For provided restaurant meals, you will be able to order from the standard menus.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. For certain serious food allergies or medical restrictions, it may not be possible to accommodate your needs.
We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination from allergens will not occur during meal prep, and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as it relates to safety, including the potential for a medical emergency caused by a severe food allergy. Also, due to the constraints of cooking for a large group in a wilderness setting, availability of ingredients or specialty items in remote locations, and limited packing space, we are unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Please discuss with your Adventure Consultant if you have any questions regarding the meals on this trip.
Beverages / Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost of your Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hiker adventure, but are available for purchase at the lodges and Phantom Ranch.
We are obligated to adhere to the regulations established by the managing agency with jurisdiction over the area in which our trip operates. Use of marijuana on federal lands, whether it be medicinal or recreational, is illegal and therefore we ask that you refrain from bringing it with you on your OARS trip.
Drinking Water Along the Trail
For your hike into the canyon from the North Rim, water is available at the North Kaibab trailhead, Supai Tunnel, Roaring Springs, the Pumphouse Residence, Cottonwood Campground and Bright Angel Campground. At Phantom Ranch you can fill your water bottles before your hike out of the canyon. For our hike out on the Bright Angel Trail, there is drinking water available at Indian Gardens and 3 Mile Resthouse. Water is also available seasonally (early May to mid-October) at 1½ Mile Resthouse. You should have a minimum of 2 liters (~64 ounces) of water with you before you leave the Phantom Ranch. A hydration system, such as a CamelBak® is a great option.
Resthouses Along the Trail
On both the North Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails there are permanent resthouses with pit toilets.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. You can use sandwich-sized Ziploc baggies during the day to store feminine products while you are hiking, and you can then discretely dispose of the baggies when you reach the lodge. When possible, we recommend o.b.® tampons, which are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. If you use pads, be sure to bring extras. Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes.
Good foot care is a must. You should have footwear that is comfortable and well broken-in. Trim your toenails a little below the tip of your toe before you begin your hike. As you hike downhill your toes will be pushed into the end of your boots. Toenails that are too long will jam into the front of your boot which can cause severe bruising to the point that they may fall off. If you start getting hot spots put some moleskin or second skin on the spot before it blisters. Change socks, slow down, rest in the shade.
You will want to store your camera in your hiking pack through the day, so ensure your hiking pack has enough room and protection for your camera equipment. We strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment. Make sure to bring additional memory cards, batteries and any other extras you will need.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you please be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music during the trip, and leave your drone at home*.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone even though there is no cell service. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are properly stowed. If you intend to take your phone with you, consider investing in an appropriate anti-impact cover for your phone.
*The use of drones is prohibited by Grand Canyon National Park
Once you are in the canyon there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Cell phone service is not available. If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). We will relay the message to you, however please keep in mind, that it could be several hours or longer before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
Fire activity frequently impacts the air quality on our trips, and occasionally wildfires may be present in the immediate vicinity of where we’re traveling. Smoke impacts are more likely in the latter-half of the summer season, so those with asthma or other respiratory conditions may wish to steer clear of this time frame. In general, we will not cancel a trip on account of smoky conditions, except in cases of clear danger to life or property. Necessary changes to logistics and/or destination may occur with very short notice as fire conditions are constantly changing. We will do our best to keep you apprised of excessively smoky conditions that can be foreseen for your upcoming trip, but we also encourage you to stay informed about local fire activity: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
Our standard cancellation terms & conditions apply should you choose to cancel due to environmental conditions resulting from a wildfire near to where our trip operates. Please review our Terms & Conditions section in this document, below. Furthermore, we recommend you consider investing in a comprehensive Travel Protection Plan that provides you the ability to “cancel for any reason” should you feel conditions from a nearby wildfire may result in you canceling your reservation.
Our guides do not carry firearms on our trips, and in most cases are prohibited from doing so by the managing agency. As a matter of preference, we ask all our guests to kindly leave your own firearms at home or in your vehicle.
Your trip will visit areas ranging from 6000 – 8400 feet above sea level, therefore you may experience symptoms associated with altitude illness. We recommend the following measures to help prevent altitude illness: arrive ahead of your scheduled departure to allow for acclimatization; drink 3-4 quarts of water every day; make sure about 70% of your calories come from carbs; only use alcohol, tobacco or sleeping aid medications in moderation or not all. Please familiarize yourself with symptoms, treatment and more about altitude illness at the CDC.
In the desert climate of the Grand Canyon, temperatures and weather can fluctuate a great deal throughout the day. It can be clear, dry and hot and in the next moment it can be cool and rainy. These conditions can manifest in any month. There are no absolutes when talking about weather in the canyon.
The temperature at the rim of the canyon is generally about 20-30 degrees cooler then the temperature at Phantom Ranch since the rim is closer to 7000/8000 feet in elevation. There is also the possibility of late or early snow storms on the rim in April or October.
The descriptions and chart below lists average weather conditions, maximum and minimum temperatures and average rainfall. This chart should be used only as a general guide. Packing according to the list will prepare you for all weather conditions.
Average Air Temperatures (°F) and Rainfall
|NORTH RIM||PHANTOM RANCH||SOUTH RIM|
Current Weather Conditions
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date forecast. We recommend the following web site: www.weather.gov. Below is a list of what you’ll need to type in the “search box” on the web site:
City/Region Type in Search Box
North Rim Grand Canyon North Rim
South Rim Grand Canyon Village, AZ
Phantom Ranch Phantom Ranch
Essential Eligibility Criteria for Hiking Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS hiking trip.
1. Ability to walk ten or more miles in a backcountry environment.
2. Ability to independently navigate rough terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
3. Ability to walk and maintain your balance on backcountry hiking trails, including trails with rocks, roots and low branches. The trails are dusty, steep, and present numerous reinforced log steps, loose rocks, and mule excrement. They range in width from 3 to 5 feet with exposed overlooks.
4. Ability to carry your own daypack with a minimum of 4 liters of water, rain gear, insulating layers, sunscreen and food (approx. 10 lbs).
5. Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
6. Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
7. If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
8. Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a hiking trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information About Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria,” but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness hiking trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including excessive heat and the potential for cold, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters in the wilderness can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense, and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid in camp and on the trail (by way of example) are: walking around without shoes in camp, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around your tent site that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards such as poison ivy and rattlesnakes, and walking near precipitous ledges.
Backcountry hiking trips are inherently risky. While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your hiking ability.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. For this trip you should be exercising 3-5 times a week. Because your trip requires a 7-mile (Rim to River) or 14-mile (Rim to Rim) hike into the Grand Canyon and a 10-mile hike out of the Grand Canyon, you need to be particularly diligent in your training work out. The best way to get ready for a hike in the Grand Canyon is to combine cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise, strength training and hiking. Walking or slow jogging is not enough. More strenuous activity such as lengthy hikes on inclines, running or cycling is required. Running and exercising on elliptical machines and stair steppers are also great ways to increase your endurance and strengthen your legs at the same time. While hiking, it is helpful to carry a weighted daypack and wear the same footwear that you will be using for your Grand Canyon hike. Please refer to the document “Training for your Grand Canyon Hiker Trip.” Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Packing for Your Trip
Hiking wear – Start with sunscreen, shorts or long pants (convertible pants are great), and long or short-sleeved shirt. Then add additional layers for sun protection or insulation depending on the time of year. As the day warms up layers can be taken off and stored in your daypack, but you should come prepared as weather conditions can be extremely varied.
Evening wear – After a long day on the trail you may want to refresh and change into clean, comfortable clothing. Soft, loose-fitting shorts/pants, t-shirts/shirts, etc. will allow you to truly relax in the evening. Dinner attire on the North Rim and South Rim is casual.
Footwear will make or break your trip. On the trail you will want a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or boots with good support and soles. A pair of sandals or flip flops to change into at Phantom Ranch will give your feet a break from your trail shoes and additional comfort.
Find professional-grade options made by Chaco® at www.chacos.com, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
Please note: If you plan to buy footwear for the trip make sure you get it far enough in advance to break it in and wear your footwear until it’s comfy—if your feet hurt you won’t enjoy the trip!
Wide-brimmed hats or ball caps are a good choice for sun protection. When the weather is cooler, you may also want a beanie-style hat.
Hot Weather Trips
A good way to keep cool is with long-sleeved cotton shirts. Old collared dress shirts work well. They can be soaked in the water and worn while hiking. This method of evaporative cooling is very effective. Bandanas are another useful item that can be used in this manner. During summer months, conditions on the trail will be hot and sunny. These trips require less gear than spring or fall trips, but thoughtful packing is still required. Protection from the sun and heat will be critical to your enjoyment and health while hiking.
Late June, July and August Trips: This can be some of the hottest times to be in the inner canyon, but can also bring thunderstorms with heavy downpours. At this time of year you should plan on carrying your raingear with you in your daypack.
To Avoid Being Cold:
Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on trips. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc., then stripped off when the chill of the morning has worn off. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet, dries quickly, and it’s compact enough to be stuffed into your day pack after you take it off. It can be layered under your waterproof rain jacket and pants. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
April, Early May, Late September and October Trips: These are surely some of the most beautiful months in the canyon, but they can also produce some surprisingly chilly times. During the spring and fall the sun is not far enough north in the sky to reach its warming rays down into the bottom of the canyon for as many hours a day as it does in the summer. This means more shady areas, fewer sunny ones.
Raingear protects you from rain and wind. It is one of the essential items that all hikers should have no matter what time of year you are traveling. Look for a jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended as well as good secure closures around your head, neck, wrists and ankles.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes are generally not a problem on this trip, although it’s a good idea to come prepared with a small amount of insect repellent just in case.
Suggested Packing List
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Daypack with hip-belt: should be large enough to carry water, lunch and a camera, as well as a warm layer of clothing and rain jacket (750 – 2000 cu. in)
☐ Water bottles: 1 liter capacity, durable and reusable (OARS will provide a 40-oz. Klean Kanteen water bottle)
☐ Hydration pack with 3 liter capacity
☐ Trekking poles: collapsible (we will provide trekking poles if you don’t have your own)
☐ Sunglasses with securing strap
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Personal first aid kit (Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, second skin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
☐ Cash for goodies at Phantom Ranch (they also accept credit cards), gratuities and meals not included in the itinerary
☐ Lightweight hiking boots or shoes: comfortable, with good tread and well broken-in (not new)
☐ Sandals or flip flops for evening after hiking
☐ Hiking socks: 3-4 pair mid-weight
☐ Long-sleeved shirt: lightweight and light color for sun protection (old dress shirts work well)
☐ Long pants and/or shorts: lightweight and light color for sun protection (convertible pants are great)
☐ Shade hat or visor with securing strap
☐ Rain jacket & pants: waterproof (not water resistant) for rain and wind. A hooded jacket is recommended
☐ T-shirts or lightweight breathable tops
☐ Synthetic or merino wool long underwear: 1 set top & bottom: mid-weight
☐ Jacket: fleece or down/synthetic fill puffy (depending on the time of year)
☐ Fleece top: mid-weight
☐ Warm hat and gloves
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Swimsuit / trunks: for a dip in Bright Angel Creek
☐ Hand sanitizer: small bottle
☐ Plastic and zip-lock bags to separate clean and dry clothes from wet and dirty
☐ Ear plugs
☐ Binoculars: lightweight and small
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore and receive FREE SHIPPING in the U.S. + 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Packing Your Gear
At the pre-trip meeting you will be given a duffel to pack for your two night stay at Phantom Ranch. This bag will hold your clothing and personal items. It will be carried by mule in and out of the canyon and therefore cannot exceed 15 lbs. in weight. The rest of your gear (one bag/person) will be transported from the North Rim to the South Rim to be waiting for you when you hike out of the canyon.
The items on the above packing list will be divided between the duffel we provide, what you are wearing on the hike and clothing you might need during the day (such as fleece, raingear, long underwear, camera, etc.) which you will carry in your daypack. Additional items for the South Rim will be left in the luggage you bring with you. Please pack light; hiking attire is very casual―comfort, convenience and duffel space takes precedence over style. It is not necessary to have a change of clothing for each day. Plan on wearing clothing (especially pants or shorts) for more than one day.
We recommend you take with you only what’s absolutely necessary (see our enclosed packing list). Keeping gear to a minimum insures it will fit into the duffel and reduces unnecessary packing and unpacking. If you do have extra luggage you do not wish to take on the trip, you can leave a bag in the OARS trailer which will be parked at the South Rim while you are in the canyon.
We recommend you leave your valuables at home. For necessary personal items such as a wallet, credit cards, etc., we recommend carrying those in the bottom of your daypack.
Tipping is optional, but appreciated by our staff. If you are wondering how much to tip, you may consider that we operate in a service industry with a host of behind-the-scenes contributors in addition to the guides on your trip. In general, we suggest a gratuity based on 8 – 12% of the trip cost. It is customary on OARS trips for gratuities to be given to the Trip Leader in the form of cash or personal check, who will then distribute appropriately amongst all the guides and support staff.
In reviewing your statement, you’ll notice a $1/person/day donation to the Grand Canyon Fund, an environmental trust fund. Your contribution will be deposited with the foundation, through which grants are distributed to organizations such as the Grand Canyon Trust. This donation is voluntary and may be removed from your invoice if you choose not to participate. Please notify our office to delete the donation from your balance.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to the The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
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Terms and Conditions
Reservations and Deposits
A $400/person deposit is required at the time of booking. Deposits may be made by check, money order or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Receipt of the initial deposit signifies acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency. Cancelling your trip will incur cancellation fees because holding spots for you means we are likely turning others away who would like to book the trip. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 80 days prior to the departure date will be cancelled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more prior to the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We do not make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including weather, wildfire, terrorism, civil unrest or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early.
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|180 or more days prior to your trip||$50/person|
|179 – 90 days prior to your trip||$100/person|
|89 – 60 days prior to your trip||$400/person, balance available as a limited-time trip credit|
|59 days or less prior to your trip||Full Fare*|
*If we are able to fill the trip and replace the cancelled passengers, the fee will be reduced to $100/person.
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation e-mail for details.
If you transfer from one trip to another within the same season, there is a $25/person fee up until 90 days prior to departure. You may choose to make a one-time transfer of your payments to a credit account for use during the following season, which incurs a $50/person fee up until 90 days prior to departure. Transfers made after this time will be treated as cancellations.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying an O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon, Inc. trip. People with heart trouble and pregnant women should have their physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
If you enrolled in a Trip Mate policy through OARS on or before December 9, 2018, the policy is still in place and will be administered by Trip Mate through the end date of your scheduled travel with OARS. All information provided in regards to the Trip Mate policy remains relevant. For a complete description of your Trip Mate policy, go online to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpF431S or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan # F431S).
Acknowledgement of Risk
Everyone is required to sign an Acknowledgement of Risk form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with OARS cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. Grand Canyon, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well being of the participants, including cancellation due to weather, insufficient bookings, (this trip requires a minimum of 4 guests) and other factors.
We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices and itinerary are subject to change without notice.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, it is important that all travelers obey the rules and regulations as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc.