Backpack the Tanner Trail in Grand Canyon National Park

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Backpack from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the edge of the Colorado River on what the park service describes as one of the most demanding and difficult trails on the South Rim.

The trip requires a backcountry permit for zone BB9 (reserve HERE). Backcountry permits in Grand Canyon National Park are available for reservation on the 1st of the month 4 months prior to your trip date (e.g. if you wanted to go on a trip on May 20 you could reserve your permit on January 1st). Permits cost $10 plus $8 per person per night.

The route to Tanner Beach starts from Lipan Point. Once you arrive at the parking lot, backtrack down the road a few paces and you will find the Tanner Trailhead. The first mile and a half of trail is rugged. You will lose elevation quickly (about 1800' or so in that first section) and gnarly, overgrown roots and rockslides block portions of the trail, requiring hikers to clamber awkwardly over them. After this section you are offered a reprieve, rejoice! The next 3 miles are relatively flat as the trail traverses the base of Escalante and Cardenas Buttes. 

After a few smooth miles you will begin another descent, this one is a little more gradual than the first descent but it doesn't end until you are nearly at the beach. By the time you reach the beach it may feel as if you've been descending forever. 

At the beach there are multiple campsites. There is also a nearby composting toilet for number twos. The park service asks that you urinate directly into the river to preserve the soil and vegetation on the beach. Speaking of the river, it is your only source of drinking water on this route, so make sure you get your order right and retrieve your water prior to using it as a toilet. 

From camp you can either return to the rim by the same route you came down, or you can link up with the Beamer Trail. By continuing onto the Beamer Trail you can hike to the confluence of the Little Colorado and the Colorado and also see the remnants of the two airplanes that crashed over the canyon in 1956 (this crash actually led to the creation of the FAA).

One last thing to note is that this is an extremely exposed hike and it is known to be unusually hot, even for the Grand Canyon. Do not attempt this hike during hot weather.

All in all this is a great Grand Canyon trip if you want to try something a little different and the weather permits! 

Pack List

  • Backcountry permit (available HERE)
  • The 10 Essentials
  • Water, make sure you bring enough to get you through the entire 9 mile hike to the river
  • Water filter and water purification tablets
  • Camera gear
  • Trekking poles
Show More
RT Distance 18 Miles
Elevation Gain 4900 Feet
Activities Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
River
Scenic

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