So you're finally ready to commit to a multi-day backpacking trip with us. We know you have questions, and we have a lot of answers! Check out our frequently asked questions below, and feel free to message us with anything we didn't cover!

Guided Backpacking FAQ

What is included (and not) in my registration fee?

What’s Included:

  • Guiding services from a company operating legally within Grand Canyon National Park. We have all required Commercial Use Authorizations and backcountry camping permits.
  • Guaranteed two guides for every trip regardless of how many clients are in the trip
  • Pre-trip review of each individual’s backpack and all the gear they intend to bring.
  • Transportation from the South Rim to the North Rim (Rim-to-Rim trip only)
  • 1 night of tent accommodation on the North Rim (either tent camping or shared rooms at the lodge) (Rim-to-Rim trip only)
  • 3-5 nights of backcountry camping reservations below the rim of the Canyon
  • 4-6 days of hiking below the rim of the Canyon
  • All meals while backpacking *Including at least one meal (breakfast or dinner, possibly both) at historic Phantom Ranch Canteen **Phantom Ranch meals exclude non-corrider trips
  • We will cook all meals for clients
  • All necessary camping/hiking gear, including:
    • Backpacks
    • Tents
    • Sleeping bags
    • Inflatable sleeping pads
    • Inflatable camp pillows
    • Trekking poles
    • Dinnerware kits (collapsible plate, collapsible coffee mug, long-handles spork)
    • We will set up and take down camp every time for clients using our gear. We will take the time to teach anyone how to do this, if interested.
What’s Optional (Available for an Extra Fee): *If you decide later that you’d like to use our portering services we can arrange payment or you can reserve at the time of reserving your spot: +$200: Portering (your guides will carry these items) of tent camping gear throughout the trip on a first come, first served basis (depending on space/weight constraints in guides backpacks). This includes:
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Inflatable sleeping pad
  • Inflatable camp pillow
Note: If a client insists on using their own gear and having it portered we reserve the right to refuse carrying it based on size and weight. Our gear is REALLY lightweight and packs down small, which allows for us to offer portering services. What’s NOT included:
  • National Park entry fees
  • Transportation to/from Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)
  • Any transportation within the park that is not on the shuttle bus
  • Accommodation on/near the South Rim of the Canyon before/after backpacking trip
  • Personal snacks for during the hike
  • Any food/drinks purchased before entering or after exiting the Canyon (even if we meet as a group for these meals)
  • Any items for sale at Phantom Ranch not included in the provided meals (snacks, beverage, souvenirs, beer, wine, etc.)
  • Portering services of all non-camping gear (personal clothing items, water, snacks, cameras, miscellaneous gear, etc.)
  • Gratuity for your guides (optional)

What is the cancellation policy for backpacking trips?

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Should I purchase trip cancellation insurance? Do you have recommendations?

What happens if the weather is bad?

Our trips will proceed rain, snow or shine! These trips are planned months in advance, and unless there is extreme or life-threatening weather, we'll hit the trail! Please come prepared with appropriate gear for the forecast of your trip. If you need help choosing the right gear, we will be happy to go over your pack with you. Mandy Lea Photo reserves the right to cancel any trip if extreme weather poses a safety hazard to the excursion.

Can I bring my dog?

If your dog is a pet, no. Pets are not allowed below the canyon rim.

  • Inner canyon trails are narrow and well-travelled. Pets can be unpredictable on a trail. Hikers, runners or mules can spook pets and cause an accident.
  • Pets can harass or harm wild animals by making noise, chasing them or catching them.
  • Pets can damage the ground and plants by digging or rolling.
  • Pets can attract predators such as cougars or coyotes looking for easy meals.
If it is a service animal ("service animal" excludes emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals) the animal is allowed to go wherever a visitor may go. Please visit the Grand Canyon service animal information page for more information. If you have a pet, the Grand Canyon offers kenneling services where you can leave your pet while we hike!!

Can I listen to music while we hike?

We encourage all hikers NOT to listen to music, and instead enjoy the company of other hikers in the group or the silence of the canyon,. If you choose to listen to music on one of our excursions, it must be on headphones. We highly encourge those listening to music to only use one earbud, so they have an open ear to their surroundings. There are often mule trains or other hikers/runners that you need to hear approaching. Furthermore, we follow a "leave no trace" principal, which includes noise pollution. Keep the canyon silent out of respect for others.

Where/how will I go to the bathroom?

During our Indian Garden, Rim-River, and Rim-Rim trips: There will be several restroom stops along the trail. This includes pit toilets and even pumming toilets (at Bright Angel Campground). These are almost always stocked with toilet paper, and we highly encourage using them whether you have to go or not! We understand emergencies do happen. If you have to go when we are not at a toilet or during our "non-corridor" trips, we will have a trowel available. You will be expected to follow leave no trace principals; leave the trail, dig a hole 6" deep, and pack out all waste paper.

Will there be water available?

Indian Garden, Rim-River, and Rim-Rim trips: During our hiking days there will be no water available on the trail. You will need to pack all the water you require for a day of hiking. However, there is water available at each campground (Bright Angel and Indian Garden). As a backup, Kendrick will always carry water treatment in case there is an inturruption in the canyon water supply. Little Colorado Confluence Excursion: There is no water source for the 9-mile hike to the bottom. Bring all the water that you require for that hike. Once we reach the bottom, we will have access to the river. Kendrick & Mandy will take care of treating the water both for drinking and cooking. You will need to carry enough filtered water to last you the 2-day hike out.

Is gratuity included/expected?

While gratuities aren’t required or even expected, they are always much appreciated! If you feel your experience was worth it then feel free to throw us a tip. Our industry standard asks for 10-20%, but honestly, we're happy with a meal, a bottle of whiskey or some IPA’s!

Do I need to bring food and/or snacks with me?

As your guides, we will include all major meals during the excursion (breakfast, lunch & dinner). You will need to bring your own trail snacks (granola bars, jerky, nuts, trailmix, energy gel, or anything else you like) to get you through the day hikes.

How much water should I carry with me?

Indian Garden, Rim-River, and Rim-Rim trips: Since there is no water source available on the trail, we recommend carrying approximately 2-liters of water with you. A water bladder (available upon request) is most convenient, or you may bring water bottles. Little Colorado Confluence Excursion: You may be required to carry more water on this trip, as much as 3-4 liters, as we will be more limited on our water sources.

Will my cell phone work in the Canyon?

No! There is no cell service in the canyon. We encourage you to unplug and de-stress from the outside world. However, your cell phone still takes great photos, so we encourage you to bring it along with a charger/battery and take many photos! Both Kendrick and Mandy will be equipped with satellite communication devices in case there is an emergency or we need to get a message out.

Where can I park my vehicle/trailer while on the trip?

While we are in the canyon, you can safely (and free of charge) park your personal vehicle (and trailer) in the Backcountry Information Center parking lot. For most trips, this is where we will meet the morning of our hike to catch the bus to the trailhead. We will then hike back out to our vehicles. Some trips may require other arrnagements.