Grand Canyon Backpacking Expedition

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Kanab, Utah

All adult survivors 18 and older whose loss occurred more than one year ago are invited to join TAPS on the Grand Canyon Backpacking Expedition as we find new purpose, gain radical perspective and remember what it feels like to live with determination. 

TAPS Expeditions are outdoor skills-based events that require dedication, preparation and a real sense of adventure.

TAPS Survivor at the Grand Canyon


Together, we'll experience dramatic and breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon as we journey from the North Rim to the Colorado River. 

As we hike to the canyon floor over steep and rocky trails, we'll discover ancient fossils and flowing waterfalls. We'll cool off in the Colorado River and explore one of the most pristine and remote areas of the region. After challenging days, we'll relax together at campsites with unforgettable views as we share stories of our loved ones and honor their legacy.

The expedition will be unique and rewarding, while also pushing you physically, mentally and emotionally. You’ll have the chance to gain or hone valuable outdoor skills.

View photos from the 2017 TAPS Grand Canyon South Rim Expedition to see what this experience looks like. This expedition is being put together through a partnership with REI Adventures.



Leading up to the expedition, we’ll form a team bond and gain familiarity with each other through a mandatory team meeting via conference call or video chat. During the meeting, we’ll discuss training regimens, gear lists and more. Your team will be a source of encouragement as you prepare for this adventure.

You’ll also have access to the TAPS Expeditions Facebook group, which will include participants from this expedition as well as those from previous expeditions so you can ask questions and learn from their experiences.


Day 1: Our journey begins in Kanab, Utah, with a trip orientation and gear check. Then, we'll make our way to the trailhead where we'll start our descent into the canyon. After hiking down the notorious "50 Switchbacks," we'll make our way to our first campsite overlooking the inner canyon. Backpacking: 6-11 miles

Day 2: We'll continue our trip by making a steep descent further into the canyon, where we'll quickly discover one of the most amazing sites in the canyon: Thunder River, one of the shortest rivers in the world. Then, we'll follow the Colorado River to our campsite and take a few breaks along the way to cool off in the water. Backpacking: 7 miles

Day 3: Our day will start out early as we hike to Deer Creek. We'll have a chance to see remnants of the canyon's previous inhabitants, ancient fossils and lush waterfalls. Backpacking: 8 miles

Day 4: After breakfast, we'll take advantage of the coolest part of the day to tackle our uphill climb out of the canyon. Backpacking: 9 miles

*Note: Please be aware that this itinerary is subject to change due to a number of reasons, including weather and participant skill level.

This schedule is provided by REI Adventures. For a more detailed itinerary, visit


We fully expect your team members to become your family and an ongoing support network long after the TAPS Expedition is complete. You'll be provided with a directory following the expedition to keep in touch with each other.


A $50 deposit will be collected at the time of registration. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and sponsors, TAPS will cover the rest of the trip costs, with the exception of your transportation to and from Utah, your first night's lodging expenses and some meals.


You'll need to cover the cost of your transportation to and from Kanab, Utah. Please do not make travel arrangements until you receive a notification of your selection or waitlist status. You should plan to arrive in Kanab on Sept. 12.

Your first night's lodging will be on your own, but we will be available to recommend lodging options that fit within your budget. TAPS will cover the costs for all subsequent lodging and meals.


This expedition requires no backpacking experience but does necessitate that you be physically fit and healthy. The expedition will include hiking up to 11 miles a day on rugged terrain. This expedition is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging, and your current health should be taken into consideration before you apply. All trekkers are asked to follow a two-month training regimen, at a minimum, that involves four workouts a week and prepares you for the physical demands and geographical variations. Participants will also be required to submit a physician's release prior to our departure. The participant roster always varies but has included those with no previous backpacking experience with a wide range of ages, and both males and females. Prior to the trip, we'll have conference calls and online video meetings to go over training regimens, gear lists and more.

Even if you don't have backpacking experience, if this adventure excites you we encourage you to submit an application. The TAPS Expeditions team will make sure you're prepared and well-informed of the nature of this trip.


Application now closed. Applications will be reviewed approximately every two weeks. All domestic expeditions are based on a lottery system. If more applications are received than we have slots available all applicants will be placed in a random lottery. 

It’s our goal to ensure that as many survivors as possible have the opportunity to experience healing in the wilderness. Preference will be given to applicants who haven't participated in a TAPS Expedition within the past year, so long as they are capable of participating in all activities.


If you have any questions, please email or call 800-959-TAPS (8277).

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