Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. national park system, which means even more crowds than usual will be out cramping your camping style, starting as early as this summer. A sure way to beat droves of tourists is to go the slightly more dangerous and super technical route with REI Adventures. Their four-day, three-night Grand Canyon North Rim backpacking trip, designed for only the very fit and experienced backpacker, is one of their hardest trips ever (available from May to Oct, $775 per person, rei.com).
On this expedition from the North Rim to the Colorado River, you'll encounter dramatic canyon walls, steep rock trails, ancient fossils, treacherous switchbacks, lush waterfalls, and the magical Thunder River. While the daily mileage isn't absurd (between 6 to 11 miles per day), the elevation loss and gain are. A clean bill of health from a doctor is required of all participants. Heed this wise advice from one adventurer who experienced this trip in May: “Just when you think you're in good enough shape for this trip, train more. Add more weight to the pack, focus on hiking duration instead of distance (there were days when we didn't hike very far but because of the terrain it took all day), be very thoughtful about what you pack (the guides will help with this), have a positive attitude even when it gets tough.”
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