Grand Canyon hiking in April
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Feb 6, 2012 7:49 AM Last Post By: moongoddess
Feb 3, 2012 4:44 AM
Grand Canyon hiking in AprilI'm Australian, keen on bushwalking and camping and will be heading to Grand Canyon from either San Francisco or Las Vegas (itinerary is open) after 9 April, very keen to do some camping & hiking but not interested in doing it on my own...was thinking of trying to find a local bushwalking club that might have a 4-7 day trip planned that coordinates with my dates. Another post I came across listed various bushwalking/hiking clubs, but now I can't find it. One I did remember was the Sierra club so have joined them (and hope to join a day walk with the local chapter while I'm in SFO). The Arizona chapter doesn't seem to have anything running in G.C in April, so if there are other clubs or reasonably priced (<$100 a day) commercial ventures that anyone can recommend I would be very grateful.
Feb 3, 2012 4:49 AM
Feb 3, 2012 5:54 AM
2Also try REI, Recreational Equipment Coorperative - they do lots of trips similar to the Sierra Club.
A minor point on terminology which may help you plan your trip: In the States, "bushwacking" means battling your way through the wilderness, without a trail, and literally whacking bushes out of the way in order to make progress. You are interested in what we call backpacking trips, which in the U.S. means multi-day trips into the wilderness, hiking on trails, and carrying all your food, clothes and survival gear in a backpack (as opposed to the European sense of the term which means budget travel while staying in hostels and such and using a backpack to carry your belongings).
May seem a minor point, but it causes lots of confusion on this thread (I think the U.S. and Canada are the only places where "backpacking" means hiking into the wilderness on multi-day trips instead of simply budget travelling).
Feb 3, 2012 5:59 AM
3CORRECTION TO #2:
I see you said "bushwalking" and not "bushwhacking", but still, to be clear, tell the outfits you contact that it is "backpacking" you want to do (although bushwalking is more descriptive).
Interestingly, bushwhacking is also an old-time term from the old west meaning to ambush someone (so to be "bushwhacked" means to have been ambushed).
Feb 3, 2012 8:19 AM
4Try looking up the Grand Canyon Field Institute. Their trips are less expensive than a commercial guide service, but may still be a little beyond your budget. REI trips will be the same way. You may also want to look up the Sierra Club chapters in surrounding states, April is prime time for Grand Canyon hiking (and definitely off-season for hiking in many other areas), so there may be something offered from a nearby chapter.
The university hiking clubs operate on the school's schedule, and are thus very unlikely to schedule a week-long trip in April - had you been coming during the NAU spring break in March, then probably both organizations would be running something. I know for a fact the Hiking Club would accept a traveler on one of their trips - I used to be president of that organization "back in the day", and still keep in touch with some of the folks in it now.
Feb 3, 2012 4:30 PM
5thanks everyone - I have checked out Sierra, REI and the Institute and think I have found a couple of trips that might suit - nothing so far with Sierra, but I'll keep checking their site as it's 3 months away & things may change.
I would really like to get opinions on each of the trips in my short list - I know it's a bit like me being asked whether someone should go to Kakadu or Great Barrier Reef: they are both spectacular, unique natural wonders, but I would have local knowledge about weather in each region at the time of travel, value for moneyre: trip cost, ease/obstacles of getting there, alternativ suggestions. As I"ve said previously, I like camping/hiking (done lots of trekking in various regions of Nepal, solo stuff in Tassie - stupid, I know!, Outward Bound adult programmes, Camino de Santiago etc) am not bothered by 20kg, 20km days, no showers, pit toilets etc. Really want to get to wilderness/walk-in-only areas, to meet other nature-loving Americans, learn about the flora/fauna etc etc. I'm 46, professional (midwife), travelling solo - not ageist just like people that have a mature attitude but also enjoy a laugh. Money is not such a huge issue - I guess I just find it hard to justify spending vast (>$75 day) amounts on camping - I'm used to knowing where to go and having my own stuff so the only cost is generally Park fees and food which rarely go over $20/day but I am aware that I'm paying for the "inside knowledge" about a place, the company of others, and other stuff...
So, here are 3 I've picked - based on dates that suit (I'm in SFO till 9 April, then will either go to GC or Vegas and camp from there)
Hermit to Boucher Springs Survey April 17-23 $450. with GC Institute - seems like a volunteer trip: walk down to river, base camp with field days spent surveying the river. Dates a bit later than I woulld prefer, but seems like a trip I couldn't do with a "tour company". Would prob go to Vegas 9-11, so need a suggestion for the days 12-17.
Death Valley April 11-16 with REI $1650 (+$60 if they can't find me a tent buddy). Walk to base camp at foot of Funeral Mountains, day hikes from there. see spring cacti & wildflowers in bloom. Not GC obviously, but I could have 1-2 days in Vegas after SFO. Seems expensive, but maybe thye go to areas I'd never access on my own...
Grand Canyon backpacking, south rim April 12-15 $800 with REI. shorter than I would like - basically down to the river, a day there, then back up again - and for that reason is my least preferred .
Any opinions on these trips, or even suggestions for a completely alternative region would be greatly appreciated. I fly home from NYC on 5 May & hoped to spend my last week/10 days there, and possibly a couple of days in Summertown, TN on a work-related excursion en route to NYC, but generally have a very open itinerary.
Edited by: Maxineh
Feb 3, 2012 5:37 PM
6Keep an eye on this:
One of dozens of hiking groups may schedule a GC event.
Feb 3, 2012 6:36 PM
Feb 4, 2012 10:31 AM
Feb 4, 2012 1:58 PM
9If you don't find anything that exactly suits you, you can still consider doing this on your own. Every trip I have been on in the GC I meet other hikers. You are almost guaranteed to meet some going in the same direction as you when you are walking, and most of the backcountry camps are set up for multiple parties. Occasionally there are opportunities to to volunteer work for the Park Service. Check this site http://www.volunteer.gov/gov/results.cfm?ID=11934. Maybe it goes without saying, but the more you read about the geology and natural history of the place the more it will make sense when you get there. There are lots of field guides out there and most are available used on Amazon.com. Lastly, if you are willing to spill out bigger bucks, you can take a float from Lee's Ferry to Phantom Ranch and hike out there. You trip dates coincide with the beginning of the commercial rafting season in the canyon. The float to Phantom is around 90 miles (140km) and covers some of the most beautiful country you'll ever see. If you are interested in this type of trip, make sure that they are going to allow for plenty of day hikes. from the river.
Feb 4, 2012 3:58 PM
The Grand should be "grand" in April. There may still be snow visible if
the heavy recent snows in the west reach it.
When I was last there, you could do day hikes w/o a permit.
Also, there was a drawing each day for same day permits.
I do not know if this is still done. (Maybe someone lving in AZ
on this forum can comment on this?)
Bring LOTS of water, sunhat, sunscreen, etc.
Even in April, an unfit, unprepared person can get into trouble
quite quickly in the Grand.
Dehydration>"errors in judgment">falls, heatstroke>deaths do occur
each year, unfortunately, in the Grand.
As always, do register yourself if you day hike there and let someone
know your estimated time of return from the Grand and then CONTACT
them to let them know you are "back".
That said, do not sleep in...definitely catch at least one sunrise on the Grand. :)
Be safe, be prepared and have fun, Maxine :)
Feb 4, 2012 11:10 PM
11thanks everyone, I am really leaning toward the Boucher falls walk because of the scientific/education aspects. But am also toying with the idea of doing the Death Valley trip as well - just wondering if anyone has been to Death Valley and/or has any thoughts on the REI trip I mentioned above?
GeoinMT - solo trekking is something I have done, but I'm really interested in spending time with Americans and also am not keen on taking all that camping gear over with me - like stove, tent etc. and don't want the hassle & expense of hiring: I'd just rather join a commercial group that either provides all that stuff, or a social group with members from whom I can borrow. Also, despite having done plenty of solo walking, I do have reservations about extended walks & camping in wilderness areas - just the Aussie in me that's had the rule of "minimum of 3" drummed into me...I just don't want to feature on the evening news (like so many foriegners in Australia do, when they get lost in our bush & need rescuing!). Maybe next time - once I've done this recce
keep the hints coming, I'm learning lots & getting more & more excited after each post
Edited by: Maxineh
Feb 6, 2012 7:49 AM
12If you can do both hikes, that would be great! But if you have to choose, I'd pick the Grand Canyon Field Institute trip, if only because getting a permit to hike int he Grand Canyon can be so difficult. Hiking in Death Valley is something you could easily do on your own - no permit hassles there.
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