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Grand Canyon Field Institute (GCFI) May Classes

Take a Load Off: Mule-Assisted Backpacking

May 14 - 17
Instructor: GCFI Staff
Hike Level: 3
Fee: $670.00 GCA Member; $695.00 non member

With a little help from four-legged friends, participants in this class descend into the heart of the Grand Canyon for a two-night camping adventure beside picturesque Bright Angel Creek. This class begins with a thorough morning orientation after which camping gear is taken to the nearby mule corral for next-day delivery to the canyon floor. The afternoon is spent on an educational walking tour along the breathtaking South Rim. On the second day of class, participants hike seven miles down the South Kaibab Trail, enjoying a combination of sweeping views and intriguing facts about geology, ecology and human history. As pack mules are hauling the bulk of the group’s camping gear and food, participants can devote more time and energy to uncovering the canyon’s secrets. Upon retrieving their camping gear at historic Phantom Ranch, the class will set up camp for a two-night stay at Bright Angel Campground. For the remainder of the day and all of the next, the focus will be on learning about the geologic formation of the canyon from the inside out. The diverse flora and fauna of the canyon, and the human inhabitants it has sustained for millennia, will also be discussed at length. Destinations will likely include the refreshing pools of Phantom Creek, ancient archaeological sites and the melodic shoreline of the Colorado River. The class will return to the South Rim via the 10-mile Bright Angel Trail, which reveals its own array of biotic communities and geologic wonders.

Itinerary
Day 1 Introductions and orientation
Day 2 Descend South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Campground
Day 3 Exploratory dayhiking near Phantom Ranch
Day 4 Ascend Bright Angel Trail to the rim and wrap up session

Introductory Backpack

May 14 - 17
Instructor: GCFI Staff
Hike Level: 3
Fee: $510.00 GCA Member; $535.00 non member

A Grand Canyon hike from rim to river spans millions of years in geologic time, and takes one from a high-altitude forest to desert lowlands in very short order. Along the way there is much to intrigue the curious traveler. Big views, ancient fossils, amazing plants, archaeological sites and pioneer-vintage structures are all in plain view, and provide a plethora of topics for your expert instructor to address. Our introductory backpack begins with a thorough orientation, pack check and afternoon stroll along the scenic South Rim. The following day includes a 4.5-mile descent of the Bright Angel Trail to the towering cottonwood trees of Indian Garden Campground—home for a two-night camping adventure. A sunset visit to nearby Plateau Point with its command view of the Inner Gorge will cap the group’s inaugural day below the rim. The following day will feature a backpack-free day hike to the sandy beaches of the Colorado River for a glimpse at the forces that carved this marvel of a canyon. Depending on group hiking strength and weather, an optional visit to historic Phantom Ranch (several miles upriver), may also be an option. The final day of class includes a return to the South Rim on the Bright Angel Trail, each at his or her own pace, and a proud look back at the canyon that doubled as classroom and playground for three splendid days.

Itinerary
Day 1 Introductions and orientation
Day 2 Descend Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden Campground. Sunset at Plateau Point.
Day 3 Exploratory dayhiking to Colorado River and Phantom Ranch
Day 4 Hike to rim and wrap up session

Rim to Rim Geology Backpack

May 20 - 25
Instructor: Brian Geootee
Hike Level: 4
Fee: $710.00 GCA Member; $735.00 non member

Boasting one of our planet's most spectacular and accessible geologic cross-sections, Grand Canyon routinely draws geology buffs of all stripes. And one of the best opportunities to take it all in is to cross the canyon along the fabled rim-to-rim route; one of the quintessential hikes in North America. This class will do just that. Along the way, participants will examine the canyon’s rich geological story, from ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks to recent debris flows. Discussions will include the structural geology, stratigraphy, hydrology and formation theories as evidenced along this amazing 24-mile route. Roaring Springs, Ribbon Falls, Phantom Ranch and Plateau Point are but a few of the treasures awaiting those who take part in this moderate-intensity backpack.

After being shuttled to the North Rim, the class will spend its first night at the North Rim Campground. During the precipitous descent into the canyon, participants hike from an aspen-clad forest to the banks of a desert stream in a few short hours. Nights are spent at Cottonwood, Bright Angel and Indian Garden Campgrounds respectively. The final day of class includes a 4.5-mile hike to the top via the Bright Angel Trail, each hiker traveling at his or her own pace. Note: recent, comparable backpacking experience is a prerequisite for all GCFI rim-to-rim backpacking classes.

Itinerary
Day 1 Introductions and classroom orientation and van shuttle to the North Rim Campground
Day 2 Descend to Cottonwood Campground via the North Kaibab Trail
Day 3 Continue down the North Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Campground
Day 4 Layover day and exploratory day hike
Day 5 Hike up Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden Campground
Day 6 Hike up the remaining distance of the Bright Angel Trail to the rim and wrap up session

Rim to Rim Natural History Backpack

May 23 - 28
Instructor: GCFI Staff
Hike Level: 4
Fee: $710.00 GCA Member; $735.00 non member

The rim-to-rim journey across the Grand Canyon is considered one of the quintessential hikes in North America—and for good reason. The North Kaibab and Bright Angel trails combine to exploit a rarified cross-canyon thoroughfare, one that harbors many delights for the experienced backpacker. Roaring Springs, Ribbon Falls, Phantom Ranch and Plateau Point are but a few of the treasures awaiting those who take part in this moderate-intensity backpack.

Topics will include geology, archaeology, pioneer and Native American history, and a discussion of the varied biotic communities that can be found along this 24-mile route. After being shuttled to the North Rim, the class will spend its first night at the North Rim Campground. During the precipitous descent into the canyon, participants hike from an aspen-clad forest to the banks of a desert stream in a few short hours. Nights are spent at Cottonwood, Bright Angel and Indian Garden Campgrounds respectively. The final day of class includes a 4.5-mile hike to the top via the historic Bright Angel Trail, each hiker traveling at his or her own pace. Note: recent, comparable backpacking experience is a prerequisite of all GCFI rim-to-rim backpacking classes.

Itinerary
Day 1 Introductions and classroom orientation and van shuttle to the North Rim Campground
Day 2 Descend to Cottonwood Campground via the North Kaibab Trail.
Day 3 Continue down the North Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Campground.
Day 4 Layover day at the bottom of the canyon.
Day 5 Hike up the Bright Angel Trail, crossing the Colorado River, to Indian Garden Campground.
Day 6 Continue up the Bright Angel Trail to the rim and wrap up session.

Hermit to Bright Angel Natural History

May 25 - 30
Instructor: Bryan Bates
Hike Level: 4
Fee: $625.00 GCA Member; $650.00 non member

The 26-mile Hermit Trail to Bright Angel Trail loop is one of the more popular hikes for experienced backpackers looking to get away from the crowds. This splendid route is home to a treasure trove of desert streams, big views, stunning geologic formations and botanical wonders. This class will incorporate wide-ranging topics and interpretive points of interest to weave the story of the canyon’s past, present and future. Focusing primarily on the biotic communities of the inner canyon, participants will learn about ecosystem dynamics and functions, and a variety of resource-management issues pertaining to this vast landscape. After a thorough orientation, the class will descend the historic Hermit Trail, and then utilize the Tonto Trail to proceed upcanyon during subsequent days.

Campsites will include picturesque Hermit Creek, Monument Creek and Indian Garden Campground. Side hikes will descend through the two-billion-year-old Vishnu Schist en route to the fabled Colorado River where Hermit and Granite rapids bear testament to the power and significance of this iconic Southwestern waterway. A final sunset at Plateau Point with a command view of the inner canyon will provide a dramatic finale to this classic journey through the grandest of chasms. On the final morning the class will ascend the historic Bright Angel Trail for a wrap-up session and farewells.

Itinerary
Day 1 Introductions and classroom orientation.
Day 2 Descend to Hermit Creek Campground via the Hermit Trail.
Day 3 Explore Hermit Creek and hike to Hermit Rapids. Hike to Monument Campground.
Day 4 Dayhike to Granite Rapids at the Colorado River via Monument Trail.
Day 5 Continue eastwards along the Tonto Trail to Indian Garden Campground.
Day 6 Ascend Bright Angel Trail to the rim and wrap up session.

Rim to Rim Natural History Backpack

May 30 - June 4
Instructor: GCFI Staff
Hike Level: 4
Fee: $710.00 GCA Member; $735.00 non member

The rim-to-rim journey across the Grand Canyon is considered one of the quintessential hikes in North America—and for good reason. The North Kaibab and Bright Angel trails combine to exploit a rarified cross-canyon thoroughfare, one that harbors many delights for the experienced backpacker. Roaring Springs, Ribbon Falls, Phantom Ranch and Plateau Point are but a few of the treasures awaiting those who take part in this moderate-intensity backpack.

Topics will include geology, archaeology, pioneer and Native American history, and a discussion of the varied biotic communities that can be found along this 24-mile route. After being shuttled to the North Rim, the class will spend its first night at the North Rim Campground. During the precipitous descent into the canyon, participants hike from an aspen-clad forest to the banks of a desert stream in a few short hours. Nights are spent at Cottonwood, Bright Angel and Indian Garden Campgrounds respectively. The final day of class includes a 4.5-mile hike to the top via the historic Bright Angel Trail, each hiker traveling at his or her own pace. Note: recent, comparable backpacking experience is a prerequisite of all GCFI rim-to-rim backpacking classes.

Itinerary
Day 1 Introductions and classroom orientation and van shuttle to the North Rim Campground
Day 2 Descend to Cottonwood Campground via the North Kaibab Trail.
Day 3 Continue down the North Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Campground.
Day 4 Layover day at the bottom of the canyon.
Day 5 Hike up the Bright Angel Trail, crossing the Colorado River, to Indian Garden Campground.
Day 6 Continue up the Bright Angel Trail to the rim and wrap up session.

Talk to a live person by calling us toll-free:
1-800-2-CANYON (1-800-222-6966) or 702-655-6060

You may also email us with your tour questions at salesdesk@grandcanyontours.com.
If you have a question regarding a group or need a special tour package planned for you please email groups@grandcanyontours.com.

 

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