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Deer Creek Narrows, AZ

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Guide 12 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > North Rim
5 of 5 by 8
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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Distance Round Trip 0.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,304 feet
Elevation Gain 500 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 3.25
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
20  2016-10-12
Bill Hall Trail
22  2014-10-16
Deer Creek / Thunder River
44  2014-10-16
Deer Creek / Thunder River
53  2014-10-16
Deer Creek / Thunder River
30  2014-10-16
Deer Creek / Thunder River
59  2013-11-02
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop
42  2013-11-02
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop
41  2013-11-02
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop
Page 1,  2
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Oct, Nov
Sun  6:11am - 6:41pm
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby

June 2012
Climbing and/or rappelling in the creek narrows, with or without the use of ropes or other technical equipment is prohibited. This restriction extends within the creek beginning at the southeast end of the rock ledges, known as the “Patio” to the base of Deer Creek Falls. The hiking trail from the river to hiker campsites and points up-canyon remains open. This restriction is necessary for the protection of significant cultural resources.

AmAZingly sweet narrows down along the Colorado River with 4 rappels, some down climbing, loads of wading, and topped off with a final 180ft waterfall rappel

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
  • Grand Canyon Use Area Boundaries - Dynamic Map
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Deer Creek Narrows
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Deer Creek / Thunder River
Earlier this summer I talked to Chumley about the fall and we wanted to do a couple of hikes on the North Rim of my beloved Canyon. I would plan North Bass and he would plan Thunder River / Tapeats Creek. We scored the permits and the time flew by.

We left Phoenix on Wednesday morning in two cars (thanks Chumley & Karl for driving!) and made our way to the north rim. The drive to the trailhead took about six hours and that includes a couple of stops. The dirt roads leading to Monument Point are in very good condition and made for fast travel. We covered 33 miles in under an hour. We found a camp about a half mile from the trailhead and car camped overlooking the Canyon. Life is good!

Day 1 – October 16, 2014
We packed up our gear and drove over to Monument Point and started the hike down the Bill Hall Trail. You start by climbing a couple of hundred feet to the high point and then you start the descent. The going is a little rough at first and then the trail levels off as you traverse to the west. After a bit you start the steep descent to the Esplanade. From there we made good time as we headed for the Redwall Break. Along the way we stopped to look for some water pockets. We found one of them but it was muddy and not reliable.

We continued on and hit the break soon after. The view down into Surprise Valley is stunning! This was the scene of an ancient land slide four million years ago. There are three large chunks of Redwall that slid down and appear as large mounds. Our route leads past the west mound. We continued hiking and headed west for Deer Creek. The going is fairly easy and then you start to descend. Our group got spread out but met back up at Deer Spring. This is an amazing area with water pouring directly out of the rock wall. I drank several handfuls of untreated water and it was delicious!

After the spring we made our way to camp and got everything set up. We then headed down to the Deer Creek Narrows and explored the area all the way down to the Colorado River. This is an exceptional area that is truly beautiful! Deer Creek has cut a channel in the Tapeats layer and Deer Creek Falls pours out just a matter of feet from the Colorado. We all returned to camp and settled in for the night. This was a fun day!

Day 2 – October 17, 2014
Our group woke early and noticed the smoke in the air. We guessed the smoke drifted into the Canyon from a controlled burn on the north rim. Our views will be compromised. Chumley, JonnyB & Patrick left camp first so they could explore the narrows again. The rest of us took our time and enjoyed breakfast. We all met at The Patio around 10am and then started the hike to Tapeats Creek. There is an established route all the way. The going was straightforward with amazing views! We stayed on the high route and eventually dropped down to the river. There is a fun scramble about a half mile from Tapeats Creek. Going down would be more difficult.

We eventually hit Tapeats Creek and then started the hike up to the shelf above the creek. From there we made our way north and reconnected to the creek. We continued on and had to make two creek crossings and there were a couple of relatively easy scrambles to shelves above the creek. Before long we reached camp and settled in for the afternoon. Later that day we made the hike up to Thunder River and what a sight it is! Water gushes right out of the rock wall. It was spectacular! Chumley and Karl tried to climb to the top of falls but there is a three foot gap that has zero margin for error. They turned back. I would need to be roped up to cross the gap. Afterward we all returned to camp and that ended day two.

Day 3 – October 18, 2014
This is our layover day. We don’t have to move camp and we have a few options. We could either relax in camp, head back to the Colorado River or head up creek to Tapeats Cave. I chose to go with Chumley and Karl to Tapeats Cave and I’m glad I did! The route was challenging and the scenery spectacular. The cave was very cool. You can see my separate trip report for Tapeats Cave.

Day 4 – October 19, 2014
On our final day in the Canyon, we had to make the 9.5 mile hike back to the rim. Jon & Patrick left camp first around 5:30am. Kyle and Karl left after 6am and Chumley and I headed out around 6:40am. All of us took our time on the hike out. We topped off our water at Thunder River and then continued on to Surprise Valley where the sun finally greeted us. It is a spectacular day! The miles poured by as we hiked back up to the Esplanade and then on to Monument Point. All of us were back to the trailhead well before noon. Our trip has come to an end and what a trip it was!

Thunder River and Deer Creek are an exceptional area that might be my favorite place in the Canyon! There is a huge amount of water flowing through here and it’s a very lush area. I highly recommend spending a few days down here. There is a lot to see and do. You won’t be disappointed!
Deer Creek Narrows
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Deer Creek / Thunder River
An awesome 4-day backpack loop starting with Deer Creek. Hit the Deer Spring on the way down. Did the narrows to the falls both Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

We took the high route on the traverse across to Lower Tapeats before heading up to Upper Tapeats. Friday afternoon we headed up to check out Thunder River. As I sort of expected, I wasn't able to convince myself to risk the final climb to the cave. Karl tried after me and came to the same conclusion. I'm pretty sure if I watched somebody else do it first it would be no problem. But we had no such guide so that will have to wait for another day.

Saturday was our excursion to Tapeats Cave and Sunday we hiked out early in the day.

In the downtime, we harassed canyon mice and made sure that the liquid weight we had carried in wouldn't slow us down on the way out.

I'm not sure what part of this loop I liked the most. Deer Creek Narrows are special. The falls are incredible. Tapeats Creek is a force to be reckoned with, and the cave is amazing. Thunder River is a wonder. And as always, the massive views the canyon provides can't be beat.

It was a great trip with an awesome group of people! We'll have to do it again! :)

Jon and Patrick posted a video of the trip on their WildernessTV page: It's highly entertaining!
Deer Creek Narrows
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Deer Creek / Thunder River
You really can't beat this trip.

Day One: Woke up at our campsite on the north rim and prepared for our descent. We drove to the trailhead and headed down. We mostly split up and met for long breaks on the Esplanade and Deer Creek Spring. We made it to our campsite at Deer Creek, set up camp, and then headed through the narrows and down to the falls.

Day Two: We broke camp and headed to Tapeats along the Colorado River. Smoke had drifted into the area from what we assumed were some controlled burns on the rim. This stretch of trail is pretty rugged with lots of ups and downs. We made it to Tapeats Creek and then headed up creek to our camp at Upper Tapeats. We had a beautiful and roomy spot for two nights. We set up camp and then headed up to check out Thunder River spring.

Day Three: I was not as adventurous as some and passed up a trip to Tapeats cave. As sore as my muscles were and the prospect of possibly hiking out the next day with damp shoes was, I opted to hike back down to the river and check out the boat beach a little upstream. Chumley showed me a route he found on satellite view. I attempted it but it was a bust. It disappeared pretty quick and I ended up a couple hundred feet up surrounded by nothing but skree. I came back down and took the route along the river. I met a few rafters and had a pretty nice day.

Day Four: Hiked out of that ditch. It was long. It was steep. It was awesome.

Thanks to Chumley for organizing this. Its probably the prettiest route I've done in the canyon so far.
Deer Creek Narrows
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Wonderful 'traditional' Deer Creek Loop - Bill Hall to Surprise Valley, east past Thunder River Falls to Upper Tapeats camp. Down the creek-left trail to Lower Tapeats and over to Deer Creek camp. Then up and out of Deer Creek, across Surprise Valley and back up to the Bill Hall T/H. But for the last 30 minutes (rain, thunder, lightning & hail) the weather was perfect.
Esplanade potholes were full in places, some not; regardless, do not count on them.
Traditionally travelled forest roads into Bill Hall are in awesome shape with beautiful autumn foliage.
Deer Creek Narrows
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Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop
After an hour's sleep, I met up with Dave, Bruce and Denny in Camp Verde in the middle of the night (morning?), then crawled into the Brucemobile for the long journey to the North Rim. The sun rose as we crossed the Colorado River, turning the Vermillion Cliffs...vermillion. Quite a sight. After a breakfast stop in Jacobs Lake, we headed into the wild woods on slightly snowy back roads, encountering several turkeys and a couple of "you shore got a purdy mouth" boys along the way. Dave led the way into the Canyon on the Bill Hall Trail...

The four of us descended to the broad red rock country of the Esplanade, with its Sedona like feel. We stashed water for the return hike before our big drop through the Redwall. It was a big drop indeed down jumbled blocks of massive landslide debris to the floor of desolate Surprise Valley, which looked like it would be HOT :sweat: during the summer. We searched for and found a little mesquite tree to cool off under and eat lunch, before continuing onto Deer Creek.

As we dropped into Deer Creek canyon, the sound of a waterfall greeted us below massive Redwall cliffs. Deer Spring poured out of a hole in a cliff. We cooled off and reloaded on water at the base of the falls, enjoying a little piece of paradise. Deer Creek itself started off beautiful and grew to jaw-dropping-amazing as we entered Deer Creek Narrows. I was blown away by the Narrows with its slot canyon and waterfalls. After a brief search, we found a route down to the base of enormous Deer Creek Falls, on the shores of the Colorado River. A beautiful and impressive waterfall, to say the least. :o We backtracked a bit to the beginning of the Narrows, and began our off trail journey up the Colorado River at dusk. A couple hours later we reached Tapeats Creek and our camp for the night. Mountain House never tasted better. Much needed sleep came quickly. :zzz:

Sunday morning dawned and we were on our way, making a steep climb up the western wall of Tapeats Canyon. High above the creek, we contoured along above the cliffs into a deep gorge of overwhelming scenic beauty, where a ribbon of whitewater snaked its way through a never ending series of red rock walls. I filled one memory card on my camera, then loaded another. Our route involved crossing the swift, chilly waters of Tapeats Creek a couple of times, which we did with care.

Two miles up Tapeats Creek, we reached its confluence with the thundering Thunder River. One last creek crossing and we began ascending Thunder River's course to its source. Aptly named Thunder Spring greeted us amidst a lush, leafy green canopy, below a sheer cliff of Redwall Limestone. We rested here awhile, enjoying the impossible beauty. Dave and I attempted unsuccessfully to reach the cave where the spring flowed out of. It was possible, but the move from one ledge to another over open air seemed too risky. We continued on, reaching Surprise Valley once again, where we fueled up for our push through the Redwall cliffs. Gerhardt, the German hiker we had met the day before, joined us for lunch.

Up the cliff and across the Esplanade once more, where we retrieved our water stash and rested for he final push to the North Rim. A lone bighorn sheep atop a cliff watched us for some time as we trudged up the Bill Hall Trail. The setting sun turned the Kaibab Limestone from white to gold as we crested Monument Point, exhausted. A short time later we arrived at the trailhead at dusk. A change of clothes and were racing down the back roads toward Jacobs Lake Lodge, where we enjoyed a well deserved, delicious post-hike dinner. Best burger I've had in a while.

Following dinner, four dead-tired zombies climbed back into the Brucemobile, and sped south into the night for home. An amazing, unforgettable, and perfect trip. I had a blast with you guys! :D :D :D Thank you for organizing this epic adventure, Dave! :worthy:
Deer Creek Narrows
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Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop
This one has been on my list for awhile now.

Quite a hike for only my second real backpack trip...

Dave put together one heck of a trip. Timing on the weather could not have been any better with highs in the 60's and lows in the mid 40's at night. Perfect for my best sleep ever on a hike.

For me, this would be an impossible Day hike. It was brutal in two days for me. My hats off to todak for day hiking this killer loop.

Up at 2am, left North Phoenix at 3 am, stopped in Jacob Lake for some eats (27 degrees) and were at the Monument Point TH, 350 miles later, and on the trail at 10 am at a comfortable 47 degrees.

Pretty awesome looking over the edge and trying to follow the route you'd be taking over the next few days.

A slight climb for 3/4 of a mile before the Bill Hall Trail drops 1700' for the next almost two miles before meeting the Thunder River Trail. At this point you are on the Esplanade of the Supai Layer (You are in Sedona Toto). Mushroom and other unusual rock formations abound. This grade is a nice relief from the loose downhill we just finished and lasts for 3 miles or so.

Now it's time to make your next drop. More uneven steepness that test the muscles you don't normally use.... and then you are in Surprise Valley. We take a lunch break under the only bush big enough to provide any shade.

We start the drop into Deer Creek next. Part way down you start to hear water. Then you come to the top of the Cliff area that Deer Spring is located. Dave hangs precariously off the edge of the Cliff to attempt to get a glimpse. No Luck. When we get below the spring, is actually tucked under a lip in the wall and squirting out nicely. Preston splashes around like a baby bird in the pool.

Deer Creek is a wonderland. Creek, Water, and lush riparian areas quickly change into narrow slot canyon walls. This leads right out to a spot 200' above the Colorado River and Deer Creek Falls. I took a break while the boys went down to check it out.

We started the trek over to our Campsite. We were able to get the majority of our remaining elevation gain for the day done, to the Deer Creek Saddle, just prior to the sun going down. We started the 3+ mile walk in the dark to Tapeats Creek camp. Dave busted out the cairn finder and got us safely across to our camp at the confluence of the Colorado and Tapeats Creek. :y: 8pm at camp

Day 1
13.73 Miles
1,767 AEG
09:25 Time

Day One Video :next:

The Second day started right off the bat on the Thunder River Trail with a 300' climb in less than .15 miles. Tapeats Creek was running nicely and the views were eye opening. Sure glad we did not miss this. The confluence with Thunder River was a bit less than 2.5 miles. We had to cross the creek twice the route we took, but there were options on both sides of the creek in places.

From Tapeats Creek to get to Thunder Spring is a bit of a climb. A little more than 3/4 mile and you are at the Spring. What a site!
Thunder River Spring emerges from the desert cliffs as a spectacular set of waterfalls that cascade 1/2 mile down a steep side canyon to Tapeats Creek.
Thunder River's estimated discharge of 21 million gallons per day (over 240 gallons/second) ranks number 2 for springs on the north side of the Grand Canyon behind Tapeats Spring. Tapeats Spring gushes forth with 48 million gallons per day.

We cooled off and filled our water for the last time. DAve and Preston attempted to get into the spring outlet. No luck this time. The climb out of Thunder Spring was a tease for what was to come.

Across Surprise Valley to our first cache at the Deer Creek/Thunder River intersection, and we had some lunch. Our new friend Gerhart stopped and chatted. He's in from Germany on vacation and this is his 20th straight year in the Canyon. He is 60 years young and was doing the same loop as us, in the same two days.

The first climb up to the Esplanade was as steep as feared. The walk across was once again a nice respite from the steepness. One last climb and we finished just before dark.

Day 2
11.71 Miles
6,455 AEG
09:50 Time

Day Two Video :next:

The BEST! Bacon Cheese Burger ever at Jacobs Lake after the hike. (Dave ordered two meals)

A big thanks to the boys! :y: I provided the truck and Dave, Denny and Preston took care of most of the the Driving and Petrol. (I think they felt guilty that I had to work on 3 hours sleep, and they all had Monday off!)

Some of the trees were beginning to turn
Deer Creek Narrows
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This technical canyon & area has been on my GC list for some time now and finally got around to visiting these amAZing gems. :y: Drove up Friday night and camped at Monument Point before dropping down the Bill Hall trail early the next morning. Such amAZing views from this trail! :D Dropped Gatorades at the junction with Thunder River trail and continued across the slickrock and thru the Redwall and down into Surprise Valley and east towards Thunder River. I've seen loads of pics of Thunder River, but you really need to see it for yourself to fully soak it all in. :sweat: We stopped at the falls for a bit with a few of us scrambling up to the springs coming out of the cliff. Roped up we continued up to the left spring and up and into the cave entrance. We didn't get very far into the cave, just enough to do some stemming and check out the hallway behind the springs. Sweet! : rambo : We stemmed back out of the cave entrance and rappelled & scrambled back down to our friends & packs before continuing on to our campsite at Upper Tapeats Creek. Such an awesome campsite with the sun setting across the canyon walls high above and the gushing creek nearby. Gotta love Grand Canyon camping! :D

The next morning, we broke camp early and headed further down Tapeats Creek staying to the right side of the canyon to avoid any dicy creek crossings. Eventually we hiked along the cool looking lower Tapeats narrows but unfortunately we didn't have any packrafts on this trip. :lol: We filtered some more Tapeats water before making the hike downstream along the scenic Colorado River. It stayed fairly flat with some sandy & scrambling sections but as it neared Deer Creek it climbs 500ft to reach a saddle before dropping into Deer Creek. We dropped our packs and walked the trail down canyon while admiring the amAZingly sweet narrows that were the main goal of the whole trip. :y: I ran down and evaluated the flow of the falls while they rest stayed back and setup camp. The falls were flowing pretty good but not so much that I felt it'd be too risky to descend. ;) Ran back up and setup camp while downplaying the flow of the falls and started gearing up for a late afternoon run thru Deer Creek Narrows. Afterwards we crashed back in camp and enjoyed a much need large dinner. :)

Technical beta on narrows: It starts off with a slick downclimb on the far side of the narrows just below the first two falls. You down the narrows with loads of wading, rock hopping, occasional down climb, and potentially loads of rafters gawking from above. :lol: Eventually you reach the first 15ft rappel alongside a gushing falls but you can avoid most of the flow. Some more creek spelunking and you reach the 2nd rappel. I had them put me on belay while I climbed up the the bolts. :o This is a double drop alongside a 40ft falls into a pool and then the creek bends around a corner and drops another 15ft. We used whistles here in order to stay in contact and I stayed at the anchors and had a contingency anchor setup in case someone had issues while rappelling the falls. At the bottom of the 2nd rappel are the anchors for the 3rd 20ft drop but I'm glad we had a 80ft rope for that drop since the current below is kinna strong as it gushes down the 180ft falls. :o I stayed on rope as I waded/swam across to the final anchors and set it up while my two partners came down and joined me before making the final flipping amAZing 180ft rappel. :y: Such a sweet falls to rappel and since it was gushing quite well, we got hammered by the lower falls before reaching the bottom pool. : rambo :

The next morning we slept in a bit before gearing back up for another technical run thru Deer Creek Narrows. :y: If you're going to haul all that extra weight around, you might as well get a 2nd run out of it... :sweat: Afterwards we dropped the wet gear in camp to dry a bit before heading up creek and checking out Deer Creek Springs and the Throne room. After enjoying those gems we returned to break down camp and pack up all the dry canyoneering gear before making a late afternoon climb thru Surprise Valley and up to the top of the Esplanade just after sunset were we camped our third and final night in the canyon. :cry:

The next morning, we huffed it along the slickrock and up the final climbs on the Bill Hall trail to finally top out at the super scenic Monument Point. Such an amAZing GC backpacking loop and I already can't wait to do it again!!! :D
Deer Creek Narrows
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Day 1: Scottsdale :next: Monument Point :next: Esplanade. Great views and terrain.
Day 2: Esplanade :next: Deer Creek :next: Granite Narrows. Deer Creek is unbelievable!
Day 3: Granite Narrows :next: Upper Tapeats (saw a GC Pink Buzzworm near the beach and a turkey at Upper Tapeats)
Day 4: Out to the rim. Thunder River is just incredible. On the way home we were treated to the most amazing Harvest Moon above the Painted Desert. :)

Probably my all time favorite backpacking trip. Although some great ones in the Mazzies.

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To canyon trip
Access the narrows either by raft or by hiking in from the Bill Hall or Thunder River THs
page created by Vaporman on Jun 11 2011 3:55 pm
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