When to Go: September to May
Round-Trip: 28 Miles, 3 to 4 Days
Level: Challenging Backpacking Trip
Of all the Grand Canyon rim-to-river routes, the Nankoweap is the most challenging and the most rewarding. In the course of 14 miles from the North Rim trailhead on the Kaibab Plateau, the trail plummets 6,000 feet. Allow one to two days to hike down, two to hike out. All the glories of the canyon are on view—buttes and hoodoos, cliffs of sandstone and redwall limestone. But the real reward is a solitary camp beside the Colorado River near the echoing roar of Nankoweap Rapids and a chance to explore ancient granaries of the Ancestral Puebloan people.
Insider Tip: On the way out, lay over at Nankoweap Creek, and be sure to top off your water bottles—the final 14 miles are bone dry.