Riding the AZT - Crossing the Grand Canyon horseback

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Riding the AZT - Crossing the Grand Canyon horseback

Post by thenrie »

My father and I will be starting a horse pack trip from Mexico to Canada, using much of the Arizona Trail (passage 28-on - 333.2 miles) in April 2015 (a couple weeks from now). We hope to arrive at the South Rim about the end of May. After reading the information available regarding equine use of the trails, it appears the restrictions are minimal and normal for national parks, which pleases me greatly. I have never hiked the GC, so I'm unfamiliar with the trails. The AZT Interactive Maps show the entire passage, from rim-to-rim, to be about 60 miles, although that includes several miles before starting the descent and several more after reaching the North Rim. We had hoped to make the trip down one day, camp at the bottom, then make the ascent up the North Rim the second day. Is that reasonable? I am aware of the required coordination with the outfitter concessions.

We will have 4-6 horses, depending on our logistical support at that time (two horses under saddle and 2-4 pack horses). Are there any considerations we should be aware of that are not specifically spelled out in the regulations?
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Re: Riding the AZT - Crossing the Grand Canyon horseback

Post by nonot »

I am not an equestrian, but I imagine you would need to get permits like most folks. FYI-getting permits for camping at Phantom Ranch (the place you would likely camp at the bottom) involves a good bit of competition. So apply early (the first day of the month 4 months in advance.)

PR has horse corrals, but you may need to coordinate with Xanterra as I am not sure of all of the rules regarding who-owns-what and who-can-use-what down there.

The distances seem reasonable - It is about 8 miles down from the south side and about 14 miles up the North side. Any additional miles would be flat miles up top within the bounds of the national park. You would need a good, solid, horse that doesn't spook at the drop offs.

In general while the regulations are that horses have the right of way, expect to run into many clueless tourists that don't obey the rules.

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Re: Riding the AZT - Crossing the Grand Canyon horseback

Post by rcorfman »

I'll suggest calling the GCNP Backcountry office and talking to a ranger. I'm sure they will be able to answer all your questions and more. I've contacted them several times for various excursions under the rim. They've always been very friendly and helpful to me.
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Re: Riding the AZT - Crossing the Grand Canyon horseback

Post by azbackpackr »

BCO http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

Re: private stock: http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/private-stock.htm

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Re: Riding the AZT - Crossing the Grand Canyon horseback

Post by Sredfield »


Contact the backcountry office and they can help with the permit process. There are equestrian facilities at Cottonwood Canyon and Bright Angel campsites. It's among the most extreme 21 miles on earth and should not be underestimated.
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Re: Riding the AZT - Crossing the Grand Canyon horseback

Post by BrettVet »

I did the Grand Canyon on my personal mule with a pack string of 4 pack mules. It was quit an adventure…. There was a back country ranger in charge of equines that we made contact with to get the permits to enter with our own stock. At the time they only permitted mules, not horses , although that may have changed. There is a horse camp at the bottom near Phantom Ranch that consists of a broken pipe hitching rail and a water trough with no shade. You CAN NOT use the corrals at the bottom. They are for the pack string only. We went in early June and it was in the 70’s at the top and 120 degrees camping at the bottom. There are a lot of obstacles, most notably the hundreds of hikers that want to take your picture and leap from behind rocks waving sticks. The ranger made us tell all the hikers to get on the uphill side so we didn’t knock them off into the canyon. This can be difficult because not all speak English and some take offense at equines being there. Hiker safety is paramount so keep calm , be polite and persistent. On the Kaibab trail there is a spot near Skeleton Point where the trail it literally carved out of a sheer cliff with what seemed like a thousand foot drop. No guardrail! When you get to the river you have to go into a black tunnel that is L shaped that ends on a bright suspension bridge. Nice bridge but you are riding above the guard rail and with 6 mules it moved. Fortunately I have the most broke mule of all time and if she went the others followed. I guess what I am saying it was possibly one of best rides of my lifetime , but you mount has to be BROKE, BROKE, BROKE.
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Re: Riding the AZT - Crossing the Grand Canyon horseback

Post by Jkqhorse »

My husband and I rode rim to rim 2 yrs ago it was amazing. They do allow horses, with current health cert. and coggins. Get a hold of the backcountry office to get your permits to ride and camp in the canyon. They do check that at phantom ranch. We rode north rim down in a day and up south rim the next day. i see u r packing you will have trouble on passage 20 of the az trail with pack animals there are some large rocks sticking out on to trail and trail in very narrow. We just rode this passage just to see if we could pack it unless ur packs are very narrow and no hard panners u might make it. There's no way to go around those spots at that point and will b hard to turn around at that point also going across the bridge in the canyon keep narrow packs and if u tarp make them tight bridge is narrow and chain link that a tarp can catch on. If you want to talk I would b happy to call you.
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