Little Colorado River Gorge
Arizona Red Rocks Backpacking
An Epic Experience

Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Trip Code: RRLC

Duration: 6 Days

Distance: 63.5 mi/61 km

Fitness: 3
Comfort: 1
Solitude: 5

Origin: Flagstaff, AZ

Cost: $1300/person

Trip Description:

The Little Colorado River is the southern-most tributary to the Colorado River north of Grand Canyon.  Little Brother has cut its down Little Grand Canyon through the Painted Desert of northern Arizona, with soaring canyon walls, turquoise waters reminiscent of Havasu Falls, and tremendous solitude.  Our Little Colorado River Gorge Backpacking tour features a stroll through these wild depths to the LCR confluence with Big Brother Colorado River and the Grand Canyon, a spectacular and utterly grand scene that not many see from river level.  Join us as we explore the geology and history of this fabulous Little Grand Canyon.

  1. Little Colorado River Gorge
  2. Confluence of Little Colorado and Colorado Rivers, Grand Canyon National Park
  3. Palisades, Little Colorado River Gorge
  4. Palisade Creek, Beamer Trail, Grand Canyon
  5. Little Colorado River Gorge
  6. Little Colorado River Gorge
  7. Little Colorado River Gorge
  8. Tanner Trail, Grand Canyon
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Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

The Little Colorado Rivwer Gorge Backpacking tour starts at the Canyon Overlook trail, descending quickly into the gorge.  We will make a quick detour upcanyon to hike some narrows and the original bridge spanning the gorge, built in 1922.  We wil make a very pleasant hike down the Little Colorado Riverbed, which is dry for the first part of the hike.  We will also be carrying water to make it through the dry first part of the canyon.  Although the mileage for the day is long, the hiking is easy and scenic, with towering walls of blonde Coconino Sandstone glimmering as we walk.  We will camp near the mouth of an unnamed canyon for the evening.
Drive Time: 1 hour
Distance & Elevation: 18 miles, 1000 foot descent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

Our second day will see us into the portion of the Little Colorado River Gorge wherein the Little Colorado River becomes less of a trickle, and more of a river.  We will pass several natural springs that gush from the canyon walls and add more and more volume to the swell that becomes the Little Colorado River, turning an alluring blue-green from dissolved carbonate minerals.  Today's hiking will consist of several crossings and some route-finding as we pick our way to and fro from bank to bank.  Tonight's camp will be near Big Canyon, and we will have time to explore Emerald Pools, a tremendously scenic spring in Big Canyon. 
Distance & Elevation: 9 miles, 1000 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

On day 3, after a good breakfast we willl again begin hiking, reaching the confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado Rivers, and Grand Canyons' Beamer Trail.  Though the last couple of days have been excellent and spectacular, this confluence is quite impressive, with thundering rapids and sweeping views from the Tapeats Sandstone ledges traversed by the Beamer.  We will camp at the Palisades Creek drainage, and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the Lava Canyon Rapids in Grand Canyon National Park.
Distance & Elevation: 9 miles, 350 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

Your fourth day will continue our hiking traverse of the Beamer Trail from Palisades Creek towards Tanner Beach.  Look out for Chuar Butte and Temple Butte as we cruise along this exciting trail, which will present us with some exposure and sweeping views down to the Colorado River.  We will camp tonight at Tanner Beach, a gorgeous spot with excellent view to the Palisades of the Desert, a 4000 foot sheer cliff unique to this part of Grand Canyon.
Distance & Elevation: 9 miles, 300 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:

We will split our ascent to Lipan Point into two days.  Today we will take our time in camp, and explore some old copper mining claims and Seth Tanner's abandoned cabin, a testament to the search for riches in this wondrous place.  We will ascend Tanner Canyon beginning in the Dox Sandstone, and will end atop the Redwall limestone at our scenic, but dry camp where our water caches will come in handy. 
Distance & Elevation: 5 miles, 2500 ascent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: 

Our sixth day begins like many final days of our backpacking yours; with sunrise yoga on the rocks, then a nice, lazy morning in camp, then a continuation of our ascent to the South Rim of Grand Canyon.  We will enjoy a pleasant traverse along the Esplanade before we climb past the Seventyfive Mile Canyon Viewpoint with views out to Zoroaster Temple.  After coming topside, we will meet our shuttle and celebrate like geologists, with libations at a local watering hole before we travel back to Flagstaff.
Distance & Elevation: 4 miles, 2500 ascent
Breakfast, Lunch
Drive Time: 1.5 hours

*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.

What’s Included:
A professional, degreed, licensed and medically trained geologist/guide
All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your geologist/guide will prepare all trail meals)
All food, including a mix of fresh and pre-made backcountry meals
Roundtrip Transportation from your hotel in Flagstaff to Little Colorado River Gorge and all activities/attractions
Entrance fees, camping fees, and backcountry permits

Meals: what to expect
We provide all your meals from a light breakfast on day 1 through lunch the last day. Your geologist/guide will prepare a variety of meals on the trail that will fit the day's activity. Feel free to tell us about your food preferences, as we're more than happy to tailor the menu to your needs/desires. Some specialty diets may require an additional fee.

All meals will consist of one entree, prepared by your geologist/guide.  Fresh options will be limited, as backpacking typically requires lightweight, non-perishable foods.  There will be trail snacks that consist of nuts, fruits, chocolate, and other "gorp" style mixes.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

What’s Not Included:
Transportation to/from Flagstaff, AZ
Lodging the night before/after the trip
Clothing, raingear, and footwear
Personal toiletries, sunscreen
Water bottles/hydration bladder
Headlamp or flashlight
Guide gratuity (suggested 10-15% of trip cost)
*Upon booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet

How many people are in the group?
Most backpacking trips in Little Colorado River Gorge will accommodate 5 people plus one guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 8 people plus 2 guides.

Are there age restrictions?
Children under 12 are generally not permitted on any of Blue Marble's scheduled trips.  This can be negotiable on private tours, please contact us to discuss this policy

How do I sign up?
In order to confirm a reservation , we require an initial deposit of $500 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.  Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-602-904-2536
Travel Logistics

Where does the trip begin/end?
This trip will begin/end in Flagstaff, AZ and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Flagstaff. You will want to fly into either Phoenix (2 hour drive) or Flagstaff. Please visit our  Travel Resources  page for information on airports, shuttles/rental cars and recommended hotels.

Where do you meet our guides?
We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 4:30pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the host hotel in Flagstaff. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation.  Most trips will depart between 5am and 6am.

*This meeting is not mandatory, but highly recommended, as we will depart early the next morning. If you are unable to attend, please let us know in advance so that we can make alternate arrangements.

What do we do with our car and extra stuff?
We will provide all transportation to/from trailheads for the duration of the trip. We will pick you up at the host hotel in Flagstaff and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the host hotel can leave their cars at the hotel. These hotels will often store your luggage for you, as well. If not, we are happy to store extra luggage at a secure location for the duration of the trip. If you are staying at a different hotel, you will need to check with them as to whether you can leave your car there.

What time will we get back on the last day?
Expect to be back in Flagstaff by 5pm at the latest on the last day of the trip. Some trips will return earlier but we cannot make any guarantees. In general, it is recommended that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.

Trip Dates

2017 Dates
November: 12-17

2018 Dates
November: 12-17
More dates to come soon…
Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!
Call 1-602-904-2536 or email us  for details.