|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:||Day hikes & 17-mile round trip hike – South Rim to Phantom Ranch|
|TRIP LENGTH:||4 days|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 14 years old|
|ACTIVITIES:||Exploring ancient dwellings & hiking the Grand Canyon|
This epic guided hiking adventure takes you into one of the deepest parts of the Grand Canyon with an overnight stay at historic Phantom Ranch. The adventure begins with opportunities to explore Walnut Canyon and Wupatki National Monuments for a glimpse into the ancestral past of the local inhabitants. We then spend a restful night at the South Rim in preparation for the invigorating hike into the Grand Canyon. The South Kaibab Trail opens our eyes to panoramic vistas that overwhelm our senses as we attempt to take in the canyon’s grandeur. At Phantom Ranch we find a relaxing retreat to enjoy a peaceful afternoon. The next morning we lace up our hiking shoes again and conquer the Bright Angel Trail for our trek out of the canyon. A well-earned celebratory dinner culminates 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.
Our short morning drive from Flagstaff takes us to Walnut Canyon National Monument. We’ll hike along the Island Trail where we have up-close views of 25 cliff dwellings nestled below the canyon rim. These dwellings were home to the Sinagua people between 1100 and 1250 AD. Walnut Creek, which flows in the canyon below, was the life source for their existence while they grew crops on the rim and in crevices. Looking across the secluded U-shaped canyon we can also see numerous other Sinaguan dwellings.
We return to our van for a drive north to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument for a short hike along the Lava Flow Trail. The 1-mile loop guides us through the Bonito Lava Flow at the base of the volcano which rises 1,000 feet above.
We’ll continue on a short distance by van and then stop for a scenic picnic lunch. Once we are refueled, we’ll venture on to Wupatki National Monument where we explore a different type of ancient dwelling. There are hundreds of identified ruins within Wupatki National Monument. We will visit some of the larger multistory structures built from red colored sandstone blocks and mortar. The structures began as houses for families and eventually grew into a pueblo of more than 100 rooms. The pueblo also includes secondary ruins with a community room, ball court and natural blowhole.
Our final destination is Grand Canyon National Park which we enter through the east entrance. En route to Grand Canyon Village we’ll make a brief stop at one or two vista points for our first glimpse into the vast crevasse. After a long day of exploring we arrive at our lodge where we will repack our gear for our hike the next day. Dinner is on your own this evening.
(L) Lodge on the South Rim
We meet early in the morning and make our way to the South Kaibab Trailhead. The hike begins with a series of switchbacks before traversing below to Yaki Point. Following the ridge line, the trail extends out into the canyon enticing us to descend into this natural amphitheater. Each turn opens up a new series of panoramas, exposing layers of rocks in shades of burnt orange, mahogany, amber and rose. Upon arrival at Ooh Ah Point you will be welcomed with some of the most dramatic and spectacular views in the canyon. Another half mile down the trail we reach Cedar Ridge before skirting around to O’Neill Butte. With a single switchback we reach Skeleton Point. If we are lucky, we may spot bighorn sheep or even a condor. We then descend into the Inner Gorge of the Grand Canyon, dropping steeply along switchbacks towards Tonto Platform and Tip Off. From 1,200 feet above, at Panorama Point Overlook, we have our first glimpse of the river below. The last leg of the trip goes through another series of short yet steeper switchbacks. Continuing down, you arrive at the Kaibab Suspension Bridge. After crossing the bridge, Phantom Ranch is just a short distance away. We expect to arrive at Phantom Ranch by midday. Note: There are pit toilets along the trail, but no potable water and little shade.
After we are checked into our accommodations, your afternoon is free to relax or venture out on your own. You might choose to take a cooling dip in the Bright Angel Creek, hike up the Clear Creek Trail, watch rafters navigate the mighty Colorado River or rest in the shade of the cottonwood trees. We 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
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. This first part of the trail is nestled in a ravine, traversing close to the inner part of the canyon. It therefore provides some shady rest stops, as well as water and pit toilets along the 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 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 between the South Rim and Phantom Ranch
- Overnight at Phantom Ranch in a dorm room or hiker cabin (bunk beds, air cooled, shower, sink and toilet facilities)
- Two nights lodging at the South Rim (based on double occupancy)
- National Monument entrance fees
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Flagstaff
- Single supplement $200
- Grand Canyon National Park entrance fee
- 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
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: We recommend the purchase of the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you before and during your trip. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip due to listed reasons such as a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. We list the cost for the optional OARS Travel Protection Plan on your trip invoice.
10-Day Free Look Period: This stipulation allows you to cancel your travel protection plan within 10 days from your effective date of coverage or before your scheduled departure date, whichever comes sooner. OARS will refund all of your premiums paid if you cancel coverage within the time specified, provided you have not already filed a claim under the travel protection plan. Effective date refers to 12:01 AM the day after the policy premium is paid.
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
☐ 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 River 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 go over 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
Previous hiking experience is required for the hike from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Phantom Ranch and back. Even though this trip is escorted by an experienced hiking guide, it is necessary for participants to take the time to get into very good physical condition before beginning the trip. The trails take you into one of the deepest canyons in the world with an elevation decrease/increase of more than 4500 feet which greatly compounds the difficulty of these hikes. On average, the hike in on the South Kaibab Trail (7 miles) takes 5-7 hours and the hike out on the Bright Angel Trail (10 miles) takes 6-9 hours. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of hiking into and out of the Grand Canyon and please don’t overestimate your physical capabilities. 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 and 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.
South Kaibab Trail
In 1919 when the National Park Service gained control of Grand Canyon they wanted visitors to have access to the river from the rim. At the time Ralph Cameron owned and operated the Bright Angel Trail, which was the only trail into the canyon. He charged visitors a fee to use it and refused to give up his claim to the Park Service. After many legal battles the Park Service eventually decided to bypass Cameron and in 1924 construction began on the South Kaibab Trail. The trail was cut using dynamite, jackhammers and compressed drills with one crew working from the top and the other from the bottom. It was built for the fastest descent to the river, not taking into consideration any natural features. Hikers can still see evidence of where workers drilled the rock and placed dynamite to construct the trail.
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.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
Nestled in this 600-foot deep canyon, there are more than 80 abandoned cliff dwellings thought to be constructed over 700 years ago. When the Sinagua people arrived in the canyon they discovered natural overhangs which had been carved into the limestone walls by Walnut Creek. In this deeply forested canyon, they proceeded to build their dwellings in these protected alcoves. Many of these one-story structures are well preserved, still quite intact and accessible along the park’s hiking trail. Like many other ancient tribes, the Singua suddenly abandoned their dwellings. It is thought their departure was due to the threat of drought or nearby tribes. The canyon also offers a diverse variety of vegetation from ponderosa pines and fir to cactus, cholla and walnut trees, for which the canyon was named. Our hike in Walnut Canyon National Monument takes us along the 1-mile dirt Island Trail. The trail descends 185 feet into the canyon, skirting along the dwellings built under the cliffs. Returning to the rim requires an upward climb of 240 steps which can be quite strenuous since the elevation is over 6,600 feet.
Wupatki National Monument
Evidence of people inhabiting this region is believed to go back at least 10,000 years. In more recent history, archaeologists estimate several thousand people moved into the region following the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano in the 11th century. Wupatki then flourished and became one of the largest pueblos in the region. The inhabitants subsisted on agriculture and harvested rain water on this arid plateau. Artifacts have been unearthed indicating they were also gifted artisans and traders. The monument has many well-preserved pueblo ruins scattered throughout, which are easily accessible by following the self-guided trails.
Near Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument we’ll hike on a combination of wooden boardwalks, paved walkways and dirt trails over fairly flat and rolling terrain. Each hike is generally no more than a mile in length, but the elevation still ranges from 5,000 to over 6,000 feet.
Our lodging at the South Rim will be at the Maswik Lodge 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.
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 write a postcard which is stamped “Mailed by mule from the bottom of the Grand Canyon”. No private rooms are available at Phantom Ranch.
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 River Hiker adventure, but are available for purchase at the lodges and Phantom Ranch.
OARS is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our guests and for our staff. We ask that smoking of any kind be done away and downwind from other trip participants.
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
Water is available at the South Rim and Phantom Ranch to fill your water bottles before your hike in and out of the canyon. The South Kaibab Trail, which we will be using to hike into the canyon, does not have water along the trail. You should therefore have a minimum of 2 liters (~64 ounces) of water with you before you leave the rim. A hydration system, such as a CamelBak® is a great option. 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.
Resthouses Along the Trail
On both the South 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 South Rim is close to 7000 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
|SOUTH RIM||PHANTOM RANCH|
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
South Rim Grand Canyon Village, AZ
Phantom Ranch Phantom Ranch
Hikers Responsibility Code
- Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.
- Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
- Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.
- Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.
- Abide by the managing agency’s rules.
- No drugs or alcohol prior to, or during, your trip; alcohol is allowed in moderation in the evening on overnight trips.
- Minimize your impact on the environment.
- Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
- Your children are your responsibility!
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
The information below is subject to when your trip takes place. The need for warm weather or cold weather items should be based on a reliable weather forecast leading up to 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 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 will provide 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.
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.
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, it’s compact enough to be stuffed into your day pack after you take it off, and 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.
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 (Merino wool is best)
☐ 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 (www.oars.com/OARStore) and receive FREE SHIPPING in the U.S. + 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Local Outdoor Equipment Stores
Aspen Place at The Sawmill, Flagstaff; (928) 213-1914
Big 5 Sporting Goods
2775 S Woodlands Village Blvd, Flagstaff; (928) 214-0590
Packing Your Gear
The evening before your hike in, you will be given a duffel to pack your gear. This bag will hold your clothing and personal items for your stay at Phantom Ranch. It will be carried by mule in and out of the canyon and therefore cannot exceed 15 lbs. in weight.
The items on the above packing list will be divided between the duffel we provide, what you are wearing for the day and clothing you might need during the day (such as fleece, raingear, long underwear, camera, etc.) which you will carry in your daypack. 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 https://www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
Get free shipping on OARS gear + give back! 15% of all purchases help fund outdoor adventures for under-resourced youth:
Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear & outdoor gear:
OARS practices a Leave No Trace conservation ethic:
Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau:
Grand Canyon Area Maps:
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|
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may 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
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.
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. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices subject to change without notice. OARS is an equal opportunity provider.