Grand Canyon Horsethief Route

Are You Ready to Hike On The Grand Canyon Horsethief Route?

Grand Canyon Horsethief Route

Guided Hiking and Backpacking On The Grand Canyon Horsethief Route


Historic Outlaw Trail


Traces Butte Fault


Wide, sweeping views


Remote solitude


Exceptional Canyon Drama


Bucket-list canyon scenery


Geologic Immersion Backpacking




30 mi/70 km




Flagstaff, Arizona


PhD +

The PhD geologist adventurer will be capable of hiking 6-12 miles daily over often rough and rugged terrain.  Trails may be unmaintained and/or nonexistent and have 5000 feet or more of elevation change.  Your backpack will weigh 35-45 lbs.  PhD hikers should be in excellent physical condition and exercise regularly.  Previous backpacking experience is a must.

Experience one of the most unique and wild hikes in Grand Canyon; trace a historic outlaw route across one of Grand Canyon’s most unusual geologic features and topography

The Horsethief Route in Grand Canyon can only be described as completely, totally, fully, and relentlessly epic.  Beginning atop the Walhalla Plateau and descending the rugged Nankoweap Route, this Grand Canyon adventure is one of the finest adventures in the world.  Tracing the length of the Butte Fault, be ready for geologic features unique to this part of the canyon inlcuding all manner of folds, bends, and strangely appointed structures.  See and explore the famous Nankoweap Granaries  Add a bit of thrilling packrafting across the Colorado River, and you have yourself one of the most intriguing adventures Grand Canyon has to offer!



Hikers should have the ability to hike on and off marked trails, to scramble over obstacles and/or barriers with frequent changes in elevation for up to 15 miles per day, carrying medium to large sized packs of gear. All hikes are one-way, except in case of emergency, and are traveled at a steady pace with breaks.


A real back-packing trip, comfort is what you carry with you. There are no showers or electricity on the trail and restrooms are primitive. Backpackers can expect to sleep on a sleeping pad outdoors or in a small tent. Food consists of single-entrée meals, some food are freeze-dried or dehydrated with a few fresh food selections. Meals are prepared by your guide and served “group-style” out of pots and usually eaten out of personal meal-kits while sitting on the ground.


Hikers will visit the remote frontier. Guides will take you to the hard-to-reach and hard-to-find attractions that remain completely untouched by the crowds. Groups will see few, if any, other hikers through the trip. Overnighting is private and secluded.

Trip Dates

Don’t see your dates?
Custom dates may be available!

Call 1-602-904-2536 or contact us for details.

2020 Trip Dates

2021 Trip Dates

geologic time travel primer


The Grand Canyon Horsethief Route Geologic Immersion Tour begins in Flagstaff, AZ.  Our party will transport to to the Walhalla Plateau and begin our descent of the Nankoweap Trail.  Get ready for incredible solitude and flabbergasting vistas!
Time in the car: 3.5 hours
Elevation & Distance: 9 miles, 160 foot descent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAYs 2-4

Our 2nd through 4th days will continue to descend the exciting Nankoweap Route on its circuitous route to the Colorado River.  Tracing the Butte Fault, we will be treated to extraordiary geologic features and highly unique topography! 
Elevation & Distance: 9 miles, 3000 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


After our navigation of the Nankoweap Route, morning brings our greatest adventure yet, a thrilling packraft adventure on the Colorado River to the Beamer Trail.  Paddles up!  We will beach before Lava Rapids and begin our traverse of the Beamer Trail, rising over 1000 feet above the river for exhilirating views.  Tonight’s camp will be near Palisade Beach and the beginning of our ascent up the Tanner Trail.
Elevation & Distance: 8 miles, 350 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAYS 6-7

This morning we begin our trek up and out, with plenty of leisure and enjoyment on the way.  Our camp will be on top of the Redwall as we pick our way along this magnificent trail.  On day 7 we will reach topside, catch our waiting shuttle, and head back to Flagstaff!

Elevation & Distance: 10 miles, 5000 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Give me some details!

What is included in the Trip Rate?:

  • Your geologist/guide with all professional, medical, and backcountry certifications
  • Gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trek poles
  • Kitchen: bowls, cups, utensils, backcountry kitchen
  • Food: Full meals and trail snacks
  • Transportation: Roundtrip from the host hotel to all activities/attractions
  • Fees: Permits, Entrance Fees, Camping Fees, all necessary trip fees

What is the Food Situation?:

Canyons and Chefs takes care of all meals on your tour.  Starting with breakfast on your first day through lunch the final day, your geologist/guide will prepare a variety of chef-inspired meals on the trail and in camp.  All dietary needs are accommodated, so please get in touch with us to give us details of your requirements. There may be times where special needs necessitate a small rate increase.

Meals with include one main dish, which is prepared by your geologist/guide. Fresh options may be limited, as backpacking typically requires lightweight, non-perishable foods. Trail snacks will include meats, cheeses, nuts, chocolate, and other filling, delicious, and varying backcountry food.

Is there anything that i need to provide myself?:

  • Transportation to and from the host city/hotel
  • Lodging prior to and following your trip
  • Gear such as clothes, rainwear, and boots/shoes
  • Personal items such as toiletries and sunscreen
  • BMAG does not provide water bottles or Camelback-Style bladders
  • Personal lighting such as headlamps or flashlights
  • We suggest gratuities for your guide, typically 10-15% of the total trip cost

*Booked guests will receive a detailed information packet

What kind of group size can i expect?

Standard backpacking tours will accommodate 6 people plus one geologist/guide.  The maximum group size is 10 guests and 2 guides.

Can I bring small children?

Children under 12 are generally not permitted on any of Blue Marble’s scheduled trips due to insurance liabilities. This can be negotiable on private tours, please contact us to discuss this policy

I want to book a trip, how can i do that?

Tour bookings can be completed through our online booking platform or through our office.  A 50% deposit is required, and the full trip rate will be due 90 days prior to trip departure.  Bookings within the 90-day window require payment in full.  Trip rates are payable through our online booking platform or over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover.  Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee).

Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Arizona time. 1-602-904-2536, or contact us for more information.

Tell me more!


Where do tours start and finish?

This trip will begin/end in the point of origin city and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure there. Contact our office for travel arrangements and recommendations.

Can I meet the guide before the trip?

A pre-trip briefing is held at the host hotel the evening before trip departure.  Any questions will be answered, and you will have the opportunity to discuss anything you wish with your geologist/guide. Most trips will depart between 6am and 9am the following morning.

ummm, what should i do with all my luggage and whatnot?

BMAG provides all transport throughout the trip.  Our guests staying at the host hotel may choose to leave their car at the hotel. Our designated host hotels will typically store your luggage if necessary.  In the event that this cannot be arranged, BMAG is more than happy to store luggage and personal belongings in a private and secure location during your tour.

how should i plan my travel after the trip?

In general, most trips can expect to be back to the host hotel by 6pm on the final day of the trip. Some trips may return earlier.  BMAG typically recommends that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Each trip has its own particular set of circumstances and logistics, so please  contact us with any specific questions you may have.

Ready for an Adventure?

Join Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism on geology-themed hiking and backpacking adventures! Find the perfect Grand Canyon hiking tour, Utah Canyon Country Tour, Vermillion Cliffs Backpacking or hiking.

Explore Further, Be Wild, See Through Time.