Thunder Falls


Thunder River offers so much in one trip it’s somewhat astonishing. On a 3-day trip into Thunder River you’ll camp on the slickrock “Grand Canyon balcony” called the Esplanade, possibly camp along majestic and unique Tapeats Creek, explore an area rich with cultural history, see amazing Thunder River, and sleep under a blanked of stars the likes of which you’ve probably never seen.

Thunder River itself is a river erupting from a canyon wall that then flows less than a mile before merging with Tapeats Creek, which makes it the shortest river in the world.

The only way to see Thunder Falls is by backpacking.

Thunder River in Grand Canyon

Getting There

Thunder River requires backpacking. To get there, you first need to obtain a backcountry camping permit from Grand Canyon National Park, which you can read more about on the NPS website. It’s recommended that you apply for the following itinerary:

  1. Esplanade
  2. Upper Tepeats Creek
  3. Esplanade

The general itinerary to reach WATERFALL is:

  • Day 1: Hike down the Bill Hall Trail approximately 4 miles to the Esplanade and camp for the night. If it’s rained recently, there may be some pockets of water – otherwise plan on a dry camp. 4 miles.
  • Day 2: Hike south on the Thunder River Trail, which will take you down a steep series of switchbacks off the Esplanade and into Surprise Valley. Turn East (left) and after a couple miles you’ll reach Thunder River and then Tapeats Creek. Camp is at Upper Tapeats Creek – a truly wonderful camp. 6 miles.
  • Day 3: Hike back up the Thunder River Trail to the Esplanade and camp for the night. 6 miles.
  • Day 4: Hike out on the Bill Hall Trail. 4 miles.

Guided Trip Options

The Wildland Trekking Company offers a 6 day backpacking loop called The Wonders of the Grand Canyon that features both Deer Creek Falls and Thunder River. Highly recommended trip.

More Information

Check out these pages for info on more waterfalls:

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