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GRAND CANYON – DEER CREEK THUNDER RIVER LOOP

As most people flock to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, there is a secret on the other side: The North Rim. The North Rim has an extensive trail system and some of the trails will give you even more of a Grand Canyon experience. Over all the North Rim has just as many amenities and places to stay than the South. However, you may want to dig in for a minute. The North Rim just isn’t a simple “day hike”, it can be the Adventure of the lifetime.

Deer Creek & Thunder River Loop Backpacking Trip is one of the most exhilarating and breathtaking hikes you will ever go on.

Looking Down to the river from Deer Creek

This backpacking trip starts at 7,100 feet in elevation and will drop you down to the Colorado River. At some point you will have 72 switchbacks down the “Red Wall”. The terrain can be rocky and at times narrow. You will have 2 creek crossings that could be tricky.

BEST TIME

Spring and Autumn is an ideal time to hike this trip. Trails that cannot be accessed in the winter or are too hot to endure in summer. A three day backpack hike to Thunder River and down Tapeats Creek to the Colorado River are perfect for the cool days of November.

Distance: 25-miles round-trip

Difficulty: Strenuous. Skills are needed for navigating remote backcountry areas and a small scrambling section. The descent from the rim (and the climb back up again) from the trailhead to Thunder River is beyond what most backpackers are comfortable with.
Sun Exposure: You will be in full sun during most of the hiking.
Permits: Yes, for camping. A permit can be acquired by logging onto www.nps.gov, go to the Grand Canyon directory and look for backcountry permit procedures. A downloadable, faxable permit registration will need to be completed; including the dates you anticipate camping, where you will be entering the Grand Canyon and where you plan to camp. At the time of this report, a permit request is $10 and $5/person per night while camping in the Grand Canyon National Park. There is no guarantee that you will get the requested dates that are submitted, so if there is some flexibility in your schedule then you may wish to submit second date choices.

Trailhead: Bill Hall Trailhead at Monument Point – Grand Canyon North Rim

Trail Access: The roads in the Kaibab National Forest are good, but they are dirt roads and can be impassible when wet, have fresh snow on them or there is melting snow. The roads tend to dry out quickly even after a heavy rain storm and can usually be traveled the next day.

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In 2003 I completed a Thru-Hike on the Appalachian Trail. Since then I have over 12,000 miles underfoot and 20 years of backpacking, and camping experience. Certifications include WFA, WFR, LNT Trainer, and belong to AORE. Have been guiding backpacking trips for over 10 years. The outdoors has taught me one thing. Trusting the Trail! really does provide everything a person needs.

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