18 Photos to Inspire You to Backpack in the Grand Canyon

Trek along family!

The colors strike you first. There is nothing like the red rock of the southwest contrasted against clear blue skies. Majestic, sweeping views of the Grand Canyon don’t just take your breath away, they cram air into your lungs like a turbo fan. There is a reason people from around the world flock to this giant rift in the Earth’s surface. In a word, it’s stunning.

We were in Arizona spreading ashes at her grandma’s favorite spots. Along with Chelsea’s parents, we did a two-night backpack (about 12 miles each way) into the canyon from the Hualapai trailhead in the west canyon. (Oh, stop the shocked expression – I don’t JUST bike everywhere.) Rather than describe it, here are some reasons in photos you should visit this area! And a few shots from a glorious week of mountain biking in Sedona following the backpacking trip. That alone deserves a post, but just go there and ride until your legs fall off!

I’m writing this from a lovely coffee shop in Lander, Wyoming, a cool Old-West town where I can picture gunfights at noon and stagecoaches rolling through town in tandem with the Pony Express. Soon, we’ll be somewhere in Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Park…

Onward!

Dakota


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Ready to head into the canyon!

Ready to head into the canyon!

Starting down the trail.

Starting down the trail.

A mule train wends its way out of the canyon.

A mule train wends its way out of the canyon.

Hundreds of little rocks left in a pitted boulder. For good luck, I like to think.

Hundreds of little rocks left in a pitted boulder. For good luck, I like to think.

You can also opt to have your gear hauled in via mule. Pfffft.

You can also opt to have your gear hauled in via mule. Pfffft.

An early morning dip at the bottom of Mooney Falls. We camped at the top of this 15 feet from the edge!

An early morning dip for a camper at the bottom of 200-foot Mooney Falls. We camped at the top of this 15 feet from the edge!

A 200 foot descent on fun (aka sketchy) chains and rebar from Mooney Falls. Chelsea's parents are champs.

A 200 foot descent on fun (aka sketchy) chains and rebar from Mooney Falls. Chelsea’s parents are champs.

Climbing out of the bottom of Mooney Falls.

Climbing out of the bottom of Mooney Falls.

These clear, blue cascading pools reminded me of Plitvice Falls in Croatia.

These clear, blue cascading pools reminded me of Plitvice Falls in Croatia.

There were hundreds of these in the canyon.

There were hundreds of these in the canyon.

A day hike into the canyon below Mooney Falls.

A day hike into the canyon below Mooney Falls.

Under a waterfall in the canyon.

Under a waterfall in the canyon.

A falls along the way to our campsite.

A falls along the way to our campsite.

Heating up water for dinner.

Heating up water for dinner.

The steep switchbacks begin on the long climb out of the canyon. In 100+ degree heat - woooohoooo.

The steep switchbacks begin on the long climb out of the canyon. In 100+ degree heat – woooohoooo.

Rocking my favorite backpacking gear - nerdy hat (found in the canyon) and flipflops.

Rocking my favorite backpacking gear – nerdy hat (found in the canyon) and flipflops.

Throwing rocks with some buddies on the trail. See you guys in Chicago!

Throwing rocks with some buddies on the trail. See you guys in Chicago!

Sedona shot! Jesse cruising the red rock mesas above town.

Sedona shot! Chelsea’s brother Jesse cruising the red rock mesas above town.

Sedona shot! Jesse dropping into a steep slickrock descent on Hi-Line, a FUN trail.

Sedona shot! Jesse dropping into a steep slickrock descent on Hi-Line, a FUN trail.

Sedona shot! Chelsea cruising some red rock trails west of town.

Sedona shot! Chelsea cruising some red rock trails west of town.

Other AZ shot! Out on a great bike ride in the desert near Kingman in the NW corner of the state.

Other AZ shot! Out on a great bike ride in the desert near Kingman in the NW corner of the state.

6 replies
  1. Jill Knouse
    Jill Knouse says:

    Beautiful images. Awesome adventures. So happy you are continuing to enjoy your journey. We can hardly wait to get Shorty out on the road ourselves! Love to you both.

    Reply
  2. Chris Robinson Hagerty
    Chris Robinson Hagerty says:

    Dakota … so glad I’m a recipient of your story and photos on FB. It’s a fun, vicarious adventure!

    Reply
  3. Katie Probert
    Katie Probert says:

    Oh my goodness, these photographs have instilled a very strong feeling of wanderlust and desire to go exploring in the Grand Canyon. Looks like you had an amazing adventure there! X

    Reply
    • Dakota Gale
      Dakota Gale says:

      Hi Katie! Yep, totally awesome. Adventures to be had all over the place, but that was one that will stick in my mind for a long time, that’s for sure. Something about camping at the top of a 200 foot waterfall in the Grand Canyon will do that!

      Reply

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