The Nankoweap Route
Grand Canyon Backpacking
An Epic Experience

Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Trip Code:  NAGC

Duration: 6 Days

Distance: 34 mi/54 km

Fitness: 5
Comfort: 1
Solitude: 5

Origin: Flagstaff, AZ

Cost: $1475/person

Trip Description:

The Nankoweap Route Backpacking tour explores perhaps the most adventurous, rugged, spectacular, and diverse route in all of Grand Canyon; and in our opinion, rivals some of the greatest adventures in the world.  In addition to the seemingly endless and stunning views of this rigorous out-and-back, there is geology unique to this part of the Canyon, ruins and ancient granaries from Ancestral Puebloans, petroglyphs, fossils, and above all, wild, remote adventure.  There are several areas with exciting downclimbs and, at times, intimidating exposure.  We will see first-hand how much work the Butte Fault, one of the Canyon's most important structural features, has done, as well as the prominent East Kaibab Monocline, likely the single feature most responsible for the entire existence of Grand Canyon.  This adventurous and exciting trip is an indelibly memorable experience.  The outrageous vistas, unique and fascinating geology, and the challenging hike coalesce to make this truly one of the most rewarding hikes in the Grandest.  Due to its rugged and remote nature, this trip is recommended for experienced Grand Canyon backpackers in good shape only. 

  1. Nankoweap Route, Grand Canyon
  2. Nankoweap Route, Grand Canyon
  3. Marion Point, Grand Canyon
  4. Nankoweap Route, Grand Canyon
  5. Nankoweap Route, Grand Canyon
  6. Nankoweap Route, Grand Canyon
  7. Nankoweap Route, Grand Canyon
  8. Marion Point, Grand canyon
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Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

Our Nankoweap Route Backpacking tour adventure will begin with a scenic drive from Flagstaff to the North Rim, with stops at Marble Canyon, Lees Ferry and the mouth of the Grand Canyon, The Vermillion Cliffs, the North Rim Lodge, and then out to our campsite near the Nankoweap Trailhead, roughly 30 minutes east of North Rim amenities.  Along the way your geologist/guide will introduce you to the geology and history of the entire region, and there will be excellent photo opportunities as the Canyon reveals itself to us little by little.  We will make camp near Nankoweap, and prepare a great dinner while we think about the fantastic journey ahead.​
Drive Time: 3.5 hours
Distance & Elevation: no elevation change
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

Day 2 will begin with a sunrise breakfast, and hitting the trail on our epic route to the Colorado River.  As we descend, we will be immediately confronted with the scale of this part of the Canyon, which is nearly beyond spectacular.  Outrageous and sweeping views toward the South Rim are completed with excellent exposure of the East Kaibab Monocline and the Butte Fault.  We will also happen upon and explore the ancient granaries and dwellings of the Anasazi, who inhabited this region over 1000 years ago.  Views of Tilted Mesa, Mt. Hayden, and Point Imperial will follow us all the way down to our fist nights camp at the mouth of the drainage at Nankoweap Creek.  Kick back and enjoy the views as your geologist/guide sets up camp and prepares an excellent dinner.
Distance & Elevation: 10.6 miles, 4600 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

Your third day offers a tremendous hiking traverse down to the Colorado River, with excellent views of the Inner Gorge and some exciting route-finding, scrambling, and downclimbing on the way to our second night's camp at the river.  We will be able to explore and observe some of the tremendous Anasazi ruins, as well as some side canyons and along the mighty Colorado.
Distance & Elevation: 6 miles, 1000 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

Day 4 of this fantastic hiking adventure is our turnaround point, as we hike out of the gorge, up the Nankoweap drainage, and up to the night's camp near Nankoweap Creek.  Although we didn't do tons of mileage today, we gained some serious elevation, and will be grateful to have more time to explore this excellent part of the Canyon.  More scrambles, isolated viewpoints, and fabulous geology are everywhere, and we may even stumble upon archaeological artifacts and other wonderful discoveries.
Distance & Elevation: 3.3 miles, 2000 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:

Our fifth day continues our relaxed but steep ascent toward the North Rim, retracing our steps that we took on the way down.  Our slower hiking pace here allows you to really appreciate where you are and what you are doing, and gives us a few precious moments for exploration, and engagement with our natural surroundings.  You will be treated to more excellent Grand Canyon scenery and geology as we traverse more steep but unforgettable topography toward the night's camp between Tilted Mesa and Marion Point.  
Distance & Elevation: 5.0 miles, 3000 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6:

​The Final Countdown begins with sunrise yoga, as we bring together body and mind; Soak yourself in the epic scenery, this is your last day in this wild place.  Keep an eye out for California Condors as we move ever closer to the North Rim; with the topography a bit more forgiving than the last two days, we have some wherewithal to observe while walking.  After we come up topside, we will celebrate our Grand Adventure in the geologist's tradition: with libations at a local watering hole before we head back to Flagstaff, with a time-permitting stop at the famous Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River.
Distance & Elevation: 5.3 miles, 1000 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch
Drive Time: 3.5 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 Grand Canyon 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 liightweight, 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 Grand Canyon 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 $250 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 6pm 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
June: 1-6
November: 11-16

2018 Dates
June: 1-6
November: 11-16

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.