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Backpacker Magazine – November 2009

National Parks Hall of Fame: Best Canyon

The Tanner Trail in the grandest of U.S. canyons is a camping classic.

by: Jim Gorman

Grand Canyon, AZ (Mike Buchheit)
Grand Canyon, AZ (Mike Buchheit)

Tanner Trail to the Inner Gorge, Grand Canyon, AZ

"The canyon is an ego killer," says Mike Buchheit, director of the Grand Canyon Field Institute and veteran of more than 2,000 miles of Canyon hiking. "It puts your life–and concerns–in context." To really get put in your place, tackle this epic 57-mile route from the remote Tanner Trail at the east end to the inner gorge's South Kaibab Trail.

The trip has all of the ingredients of a Canyon classic: beach camping, views, lush streams, tight slot canyons, and challenging scrambles. Highlights come early and often. Day two's view of Unkar Delta's Anasazi ruins is one of the best in the park, according to Buchheit. Stage a layover day at Hance Beach, the last of the river camps on this route, and explore exotically colored Red Canyon. The experts-only terrain limits crowds, leaving you to lose your ego in peace.

Season Fall and spring
Permits Required
Map Earthwalk Press Grand Canyon National Park ($10,
Contact (928) 638-7875,

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Reader Rating: -


AZ Hiker
Nov 04, 2012

Day-hiking into the Grand Canyon is on many people's bucket list but kicking the bucket while hiking there usually isn't! Many people die in the canyon each year for a variety of reasons; one of them being that some hikers are unprepared for the experiences they encounter there. Sure a lot of people hike there almost every day of the year but there are still those hikers who get lost and either barely or don't make it out alive. Read Felix! the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart (Amazon) before you hit the trail for a day-hike. Felix! teaches the reader what to pack, trail ethics, what to do if you get lost or scared, and survival packing (for the car and for the trail) incase you end up unexpectedly spending the night in the canyon. Additionally, the main canyon trails have their own requirements that hikers must follow. Learn how to navigate your way with or without a map or compass, and how to get rescued. Learn to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. A compass doesn't need batteries and works in all types of weather but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Your Grand Canyon adventure should be the thrill of a lifetime so make it safer and more comfortable by knowing what to do and having the essentials with you!


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