Tonto Trail

Key information: Tonto Trail

  • Meander for miles along the Tonto Platform's dramatic tongue, always adjacent to the Colorado River, deep in the Grand Canyon's bowels; return to the rim on any number of routes.
  • The longest continuous trail in the Grand Canyon, stretching for 70miles or so from Red Canyon in the east to Elves Chasm (Garnet Canyon), its western terminus. Note: these aren't on the Canyon rim.
  • Revel in huge views out across the vast canyon; enjoy the changing colours and fantastic shapes of the cliffs, buttes and spires.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating88
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest18
  • Human interest2
  • Charisma36
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating88

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: 2,590m (North Rim)
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable


The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, a World Heritage Site, and geological heaven. It is hard to overpraise the canyon's raw, outlandish shapes and formations: they are justly famous. The sheer size of the Grand Canyon is astounding. Up to 1,830m (over a mile) deep, 450 km long and up to 25 km wide, it is the one against which all other canyons are measured.

 The Tonto Trail meanders for approximately 70miles along the Tonto Platform or alongside the Colorado river, deep in the Canyon. It is the longest trail in the canyon, and connects with tracks all over the sprawling canyon complex, enabling circuits, loops and plenty of other options. The Tonto Platform is a long and rugged plateau that separates the inner gorge from the upper canyon.

 If every prospect and viewpoint along the Canyon's unending rim opens up breathtaking new panoramas, the vistas from within its entrails offer entirely new and exhilarating perspectives. As well as Red and Garnet Canyons, the trail passes close to Horn Creek and Salt Creek, and almost underneath the imposing Tower of Set.

 The Tonto Trail's greatest virtues are its (relatively) level walking as you wind along the inner platform and its role as a linking trail, enabling you to create connected loops and circuits. The Tonto Trail connects with:

  • The South Bass Trail: access to the South Rim: trailhead accessible from Rowe Well Road or Forest Service Road. This used to connect with the North Bass Trail, and access to the restricted North Rim, via a line strung over the rushing Colorado River; now, rafts must be used. The descent to the river is long and demanding, but its geography as ever stunning, surreal, and sunburnt.
  • The Boucher Trail: access to the South Rim via Hermit & Dripping Springs Trails.
  • The Hermit Trail (to the South Rim).
  •  The New Hance Trail / Red Canyon Trail: access to the South Rim: Together with the Tanner Trail, this is considered one of the toughest trails on the South Rim. The track's upper reaches involve picking your way through, over and around enormous boulders, the route only occasionally marked by the odd cairn; then there is no track, and the terrain uneven and treacherous. The flipside of this excessively rugged terrain is its isolation, and you are unlikely to see other people on this trail, which crosses the Tonto Trail before ending at the Hance Rapids (Colorado River).
  • The Grandview Trail (links to South Rim).

 The Cicerone guide has good information on all these walks.

See our Grand Canyon page for much more on the canyon, and detailed practical information.


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