Grand Canyon 8-Day Adventure Itinerary

Desert Expedition 8-Day Adventure Vacation

Grand Canyon South Rim, Whitewater Rafting, Havasu Falls, Sedona and Wupatki Itinerary - Explore all the Grand Canyon Area has to offer with the Desert Expedition adventure vacation. Start your eight-day journey at Grand Canyon’s South Rim where you will enjoy the famous scenic views and hike below the canyon’s rim. Next, you’ll head to Peach Springs, AZ where you will adventure out on a full day of Grand Canyon whitewater rafting. Spend the next four days at Havasu where you will swim, hike and explore the awe-inspiring waterfalls among the red rocks. After Havasu you'll also have a chance to explore Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments outside of Flagstaff as well as Sedona's world-famous red rocks. This self-guided itinerary is best started from Tusayan, AZ or Grand Canyon Village and includes Grand Canyon National Park South Rim, Colorado River rafting, backpacking to Havasu Falls, Wupatki and Sunet Crater National Monuments, and Sedona, AZ. Read the full eight day itinerary below to learn more.

Grand Canyon Guru is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Thanks.

Self-Guided Adventure Details

Day 1 Grand Canyon's South Rim:

The best locations to begin this trip from are Flagstaff, Williams, Tusayan or Grand Canyon Village (South Rim). Once you're on the road and ready to explore, head out to the South Rim to explore its awesome vistas, ancient ruins, and unparalleled hiking trails.

  • Begin your South Rim exploration at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and enjoy a short walk to the first breathtaking view of the canyon at Mather Point. From the Grand Canyon Visitor Center shuttle bus plaza, hop on the park’s free Kaibab/Orange shuttle bus route to travel to the South Kaibab Trailhead.
  • The South Kaibab Trail descends into the canyon and rewards you with awesome scenic views the entire time. If you’re just looking for a shorter adventure, hike the 1.8-mile round trip hike to Ooh-Ahh Point for a sweeping panoramic view. If you’re ready to explore even more, continue on to Cedar Ridge (3 miles round trip) where you’ll find a great spot to eat lunch and gaze up at the canyon rim above you.
  • After your hike, hop back on the shuttle bus (consider stopping at Yaki Point for one last breathtaking view) and return to the visitor center.
  • Head out of the park via the South Entrance and make your way to your lodging in Peach Springs, AZ for a good night’s rest.

Day 2 West Rim Rafting (Self-Drive Guided Tour):

Book your one day Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip in advance.

  • Once you're geared up and on the mighty Colorado River, it's a short boat ride before you take a quick hike to picturesque Travertine Falls.
  • After the falls, hold on tight when the real adventure begins as you descend several major rapids, including Honeymoon Rapid and its Fangs!
  • After the technical whitewater, the Colorado River will become calm, offering you breathtaking photo opportunities around every corner, wildlife sightings, and unique cultural stories from your native river guides.
  • Then it's a helicopter flight up to the rim of Grand Canyon and a shuttle back to your hotel in Peach Springs.

Days 3-5 Havasu Falls:

After a day of rafting adventure, you'll spend the next four days backpacking, hiking, swimming and camping at Havasu Falls. Unlike anything else, Havasu Canyon’s red rocks and graceful turquoise waterfalls make it one of the most amazing destinations on earth.

Guru Tip: Havasu Falls is our favorite 4-day adventure for this itinerary, but because of its popularity permits can be difficult to get. Although you still need to acquire high demand permits, a Bright Angel Loop hike or Grand Canyon Rim to Rim (with one-day add on tours) are great back-up plans. You can learn more about these and other Grand Canyon backpacking trips here. If you want to change up the trip or reservations aren't available don't worry, just check out our complete guide to Grand Canyon Tours and create you own custom itinerary for this part of the trip.

  • You’ll start your hike on day two at Hualapai Hilltop, following a 10-mile trail through beautiful red rock canyons to your awe-inspiring camp below Havasu Falls.
  • En route to your camp you will pass towering cliffs, ancient pictographs, and pristine streams before you arrive in Supai Village- the only place in the Grand Canyon still inhabited by native people.
  • After setting up camp, you still have two full days to explore the Havasu area which includes many more world-renowned waterfalls—Navajo, Mooney, New Navajo, Fifty-Foot and Beaver Falls.
  • You can choose to take it easy and bask in the sun and swim in the beautiful white travertine pools below Havasu Falls or you can enjoy a spectacular hike to one of the other waterfalls in the canyon.

Day 6 Havasu Falls:

It pays to get an early start when you hike out of the canyon, so enjoy a little breakfast and hit the trail around sunrise. You’ll hike up along the graded and scenic trail back to Hualapai HIlltop, enjoying the sweeping views along the way. Get some well-deserved rest that evening in nearby Peach Springs, AZ.

Day 7 Wupatki and Sunset Crater:

Travel across through scenic deserts and forests on your way to Flagstaff, AZ where you will  explore Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments.

  • Take a short and easy hike to witness the other-worldly volcanic landscapes of Sunset Crater and then head over to Wupatki National Monument to learn more about the cultural history of the area and to check out the beautiful multi-story stone ruins.
  • Travel back across the Painted Deset of the Navajo Indian Reservation en route to the historic town of Flagstaff, AZ.
  • Explore Flagstaff’s charming downtown on foot and stop to enjoy a beer at one of its many excellent breweries.

Day 8 Sedona Arizona:

On the last day, of this self-guided adventure, enjoy the breathtaking red rock views as you drive through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona, AZ.

  • It is easy to have your own self-guided adventure in two of Sedona's most popular parks: Slide Rock and Red Rock State Parks. Slide Rock offers incredible swimming opportunities (especially refreshing on a hot summer day) or you can enjoy a tour of the historic orchards or hike on one of the park’s trails. Red Rock State Park has a beautiful trail system, with everything from easy to difficult trails, that allows you to get more sweeping views of Sedona’s scenic wonders.
  • As you head out of Sedona, no matter where your final destination may be, you’ll enjoy some final views of the spectacular Arizona desert along the way.

Grand Canyon Trip Coaching

Professional Trip Planning

Need help planning your canyon trip? Hire our professional travel advisors or trip coaches.
Grand Canyon Rafting

Top Rated Adventure

Get below the rim. Grand Canyon rafting tours are one of our top picks to add adventure to your vacation.

Add Tours and Lodging to your Itinerary

One-Day Whitewater Rafting Self-Drive

One-Day Whitewater Rafting (Self-Drive)

Duration: 10-12 hours
Rating: 5 out of 5
from $399 on G.C. West

Book Now

Havasu Falls and West Rim Lodging

Havasu Falls and West Rim Lodging

Location: West Rim Grand Canyon
Rating: 4 out of 5
from $60 a night

Find Rooms

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Scenic Flight

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Scenic Flight

Duration: 40-50 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5
from $299 on Papillon

Book Now

Broken Arrow Jeep Tour Sedona, AZ 

Sedona Outback Trail Jeep Adventure

Duration: 2 hours
Rating: 5 out of 5
from $90 on Viator

Book Now

Get Grand Canyon ready

Grand Canyon Travel Advisors

Book Tours and Experiences

Have our our Guru Pro travel advisors find the perfect trip for your Grand Canyon adventure.

Grand Canyon Trip Designers

Design a Custom Trip

Work with our Guru Pro trip designers to create a custom private Grand Canyon experience.

Grand Canyon Trip Coaches

Plan a DIY Adventure

Have our Guru Pro trip coaches answer your questions and help you plan a better adventure.

Grand Canyon Trip Planning Tools

Use our Trip Planning Tools

Use Grand Canyon Guru's free trip planning tools to craft a bespoke Grand Canyon journey.

adventure awaits

Download our free guide to the best of the Grand Canyon

Get the guide