By Michael Lanza

This is, in a way, a story about addiction. Or a love affair. Or both. Those metaphors best describe how the Grand Canyon constantly lures me back when I’m thinking about spring and fall hiking and backpacking trips.

It is that rare kind of natural environment that exists on a scale of its own, like Alaska or the Himalaya. There’s something soul-stirring and hypnotic about its infinite vistas, the deceptive immensity of the canyon walls and stone towers, and the way the foreground and background continually expand and shrink as you ascend and descend elevation gradients of a vertical mile or more—all of which validates enduring the wilting heat and trails that sometimes seem better suited to bighorn sheep than to bipedal primates.

For backpackers seeking adventure, challenge, and incomparable natural beauty, the canyon delivers.

This story will show you, in words and photos, why one or more of these Big Ditch backpacking trips deserves top priority as you’re planning your next trip. I think you will quickly understand why the Grand Canyon has increasingly become one of my favorite places over more than three decades (and counting) of backpacking, including the 10 years I spent as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A hiker on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon.
” data-image-caption=”David Ports hiking the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon. Click on the photo to see my e-guide “The Complete Guide to Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim.”
” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Gran7-120-A-hiker-near-Skeleton-Point-South-Kaibab-Trail-Grand-Canyon.-2.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Gran7-120-A-hiker-near-Skeleton-Point-South-Kaibab-Trail-Grand-Canyon.-2.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1″ width=”900″ height=”600″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Gran7-120-A-hiker-near-Skeleton-Point-South-Kaibab-Trail-Grand-Canyon.-2.jpg?resize=900%2C600&ssl=1″ alt=”A hiker on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon.” class=”wp-image-31207″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Gran7-120-A-hiker-near-Skeleton-Point-South-Kaibab-Trail-Grand-Canyon.-2.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Gran7-120-A-hiker-near-Skeleton-Point-South-Kaibab-Trail-Grand-Canyon.-2.jpg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Gran7-120-A-hiker-near-Skeleton-Point-South-Kaibab-Trail-Grand-Canyon.-2.jpg?resize=768%2C512&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Gran7-120-A-hiker-near-Skeleton-Point-South-Kaibab-Trail-Grand-Canyon.-2.jpg?resize=1024%2C683&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Gran7-120-A-hiker-near-Skeleton-Point-South-Kaibab-Trail-Grand-Canyon.-2.jpg?resize=1080%2C720&ssl=1 1080w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />David Ports hiking the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon. Click on the photo to see my e-guide “The Best
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