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The Bus Trip Program

Since 1982 the San Diego Chapter has been offering bus trips to a variety of National and State Parks within an eight hour drive of San Diego.

Part of the largest grassroots environmental organization in the country, Sierra Club provides environmentally friendly outdoor adventures.

What makes these bus trips special is that they are organized by a fantastic team of volunteer leaders who do not get paid for their efforts. They do it out of an appreciation for these special places, and a passion for sharing them with you. Bus Trips include transportation by motorcoach unless otherwise specified, camping permits, backcountry backpacking permits, route planning and the expertise of our Chapter Outings Leaders. We look forward to having you join us on a bus trip to explore, enjoy and protect the planet.




Backpacking Trips

All of our backpacking trips are led by Sierra Club Chapter Outing Leaders. On each bus trip we offer a minimum of 4 backpack outing trips. We do our best to offer a variety of backpack trips from easy to difficult. We utilized a rating system to provide you with guidance on selecting a backpack that is in alignment with your fitness level and backpacking experience. The backpack trips are usually five days and four nights in duration. On some trips, you will backpack in to a remote location and set up camp and go on day hikes each day. On other trips you will backpack and travel from campsite to campsite each day. As we will be in the wilderness, restroom facilities, showers, tap water, restaurants and stores will not be available, therefore, you will need to bring all your food, cooking supplies, gear and water filtration/treatment products with you. If you have never backpacked before, we highly recommend taking the Wilderness Basics Course

Bus Camping & Day Hikes

Camping Bus Trips

Camping Bus Trips are also usually five day and four night trips. On these trips the bus will drop us off at a campsite usually in a National or State Park and we will set up a base camp. We offer a number of day hikes each day led by Sierra Club Chapter Outings Leaders that range from easy to hard or you may have the option of going on a self-guided hike. Depending on the location, the bus will take us to our trail head, we will use locally provided transportation or depart from our campground.

Pre-Trip Planning Meeting

Pre-Trip Planning Meeting

A few weeks before the bus trip, we will hold a pre-trip meeting where you will get to meet your leaders and the other participants on the trip. We will review general information about the trip, and you will have the opportunity to have your questions answered. In addition, the leaders will elaborate on the details of your outing, review plans, maps and required gear. You will have the opportunity to connect with other participants on the trip and discuss gear sharing. We will review the departure location information and what to expect on the bus.



Transportation is provided by San Diego's most trusted charter service. Our trips take us to some areas that can be quite challenging for a motorcoach to navigate. We developed a relationship with a team of dependable professional drivers to meet our unique needs.  Our bus of choice is a 47 seat passenger luxury MCI motorcoach with the following features:

  • Air Conditioning
  • Reclining Seats
  • Restroom-equipped
  • Privacy Shades
  • Large Overhead Compartments
  • Luggage Bays
What to Expect on the Bus

What to Expect on the Bus

The great part about not driving yourself is you don't have to worry about traffic and can relax and enjoy the view, eat, sleep, read a book, watch a movie on your tablet or smartphone, or talk to your neighbor. Seat selection on the bus is based on a priority system of when you signed up for the trip and your presence at the time of seating. On the ride up to our destination, we will do introductions and get to know one another. Depending on the length of our bus ride, we have a rest stop at the half-way junction to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat. On our return trip home, every outing group is encouraged to share their trip's experience.

Post Trip Gathering

Post Trip Gathering

A few weeks after the trip, we all get back together for a post trip gathering. We set up a slide show for everyone to share their favorite pictures and videos and recount stories about their experience. Depending on the venue, participants are encouraged to bring a potluck meal to share and friends and family are welcome to join in on the post trip gathering.

Grand Canyon National Park

May 20-24, 2020

The southern Grand Canyon, from Havasu Canyon to the Little Colorado River, offers dramatic views and unique rock formations. The diverse, beautiful colors of the mile-deep gorge are a sight to behold. Awe inspiring evidence of erosion documents its history over geologic time and attracts visitors from near and far. Roughly 13,000 years ago, native Americans made their first impressions in the Grand Canyon while living and farming the arid land wherever possible. John Wesley Powell's exploration of the Colorado River in 1869 led prospectors, railroad men, and promoters to dream of ways to turn the wonders of the Grand Canyon into personal fortunes. Close inspection of the rock layers, from the Kaibab Limestone to the Vishnu Schist a mile below, often reveals archaeological evidence of their passage, as well as of the prehistoric creatures that preceded them. The rugged, sometimes steep and exposed, trails from the rim to the river provide access to immerse yourself in this wonderful place. Join San Diego Sierra Club's experienced leaders as they take you to explore the majestic area of Grand Canyon National Park South Rim.
We will travel in a chartered, air-conditioned bus up to Grand Canyon National Park, spending four nights either at Mather Campground or backpacking with the group of your choice. We’ll enjoy hiking, campfires, starry nights, and good company. We offer both base camp and backpack trips of varying difficulty for participants. Base camp participants will be able to choose which hike they would like to do each day.

This tent-camping trip is for adults only who are in good health and are physically fit. Participants must provide their own meals and camping equipment. Upon registration, you will receive an email confirmation and information about an optional pre-trip meeting to meet your leaders and ask questions (highly recommended for first-timers). A handout will also be available with suggestions about what to pack, weather, safety tips, etc. We look forward to having you join us!

For questions, contact the Coordinator, April Armijo, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Visit our Trip Rating System to determine which Backpacking Trip or Day Hike is right for you.

Please read our RESERVATION AND REFUND POLICY before you sign up for the trip.

Space: Limited to 47 participants (including leaders and assistants)
Cost: $265
Registration Opens: Friday, April 17, 2020 at 6 am
Pre-trip Meeting: Tuesday May 5, 2020 at 6:15 pm at North University Community Library, Community Room,  8820 Judicial Drive, San Diego, CA 92122

Departure: Wednesday May 20, 2020 at 8:30 am
Return: Sunday, May 24, 2020 at approximately 9:00 pm

Trip Rating: A variety of difficulty from easy to strenuous. Please see individual hikes below.

Trip 1
Type of Trip Base Camp / Day Hikes
Easy to Hard
Name of Trip Base Camp / Day Hikes
Leaders: Monica Elrod, Mike Fry         Assistant Leaders: Melody Eues, TBD
Trip Rating: Easy to Hard
Event capacity = 14 including leaders and assistants 

Each day, your leaders will offer some fascinating hiking adventures of varying difficulty levels. Since these will be on a space-available basis, sign-ups will be announced at the campground on the evening before the hike. Should you decide to stay in camp instead, you can take the shuttle and go to the visitor center, restaurants or place of your chosen. See below for some of the Day Hikes that will be offered:

Rim Trail (E3-12A)
Stretching from Hermits Rest on the rim’s western edge through the Grand Canyon Village to Pipe Creek Vista and with an elevation change of only 200 feet, the Rim Trail connects a series of scenic points. Every viewpoint from Hermits Rest to Yaki Point is by shuttle. We will see sights such as the Trail of Time, keep an eye out for California condors, admire the green of Indian Garden, and enjoy Mohave and Hopi Points which offer great views of the Colorado River.

South Kaibab Trail (H6D)
One of the park’s most scenic trails and a shorter day hike.  This corridor trail is the only one that follows a ridgeline instead of a drainage route, allowing for unobstructed 360-degree views. The maintained dirt trail is steep, with very little shade except from canyon walls.

Bright Angel Trail (H12D)
This trail offers wonderful views every step of the way. The trail is a natural route along Bright Angel Fault first traveled by Havasupai on their way to reach the water source at Indian Garden.  The trail has lots to see with plants, animals, ancient pictograph panels and historic structures.

Trip 2
Type of Trip: Backpack
Name of Trip: Monument Creek
Leader: Michael Taylor, Assistant Leader: Rose Williams
Trip Rating: H10D
Event capacity = 6 including leader and assistant

We will be backpacking down Hermit Trail, staying the first two nights at the Monument Creek campsite. On our non-backpacking day, we hike down to the Colorado River and view the Granite Rapids. On the third day we will backpack along the Tonto Trail to Horn Creek campsite. On the last day we will rise early and backpack up the Bright Angel Trail and catch the bus home.

Trip 3
Type of Trip: Backpack
Name of Trip: Horseshoe Mesa Backpack
Leader: Doug Grover, Assistant Leader: TBD
Trip Rating: H7E
Event capacity = 8 including leader and assistant
Number of Backpack Days: 4, Number of Backpack Miles: 5 per day, Number of Day Hike Miles: 2

The trip explores the area around Horseshoe Mesa, an aptly named structure standing 1200 feet above the expansive Tonto Platform. 100 years ago, Horseshoe Mesa was the location of copper mining. Remnants of that activity are still visible. After a knee-pounding, 4000-foot descent over 5 miles, we'll spend one night at each of the creeks that flank the mesa. On the 5 mile return trip to the rim, we'll dry camp at Horseshoe Mesa. Views from both arms of the mesa are immersive. The moonless evening should offer broad views of the night sky and the Milky Way.  Although not maintained, the trails should be in decent condition. The upper one mile of the trail has some exposure. Good boots and hiking poles are recommended. After leaving the trailhead, water is available only at the two creeks. Carrying extra water is advised.

Trip # 4
Type of Trip: Backpack
Name of Trip: New Hance Trail to Grandview
Leader: Kris Watkin, Assistant Leader: April Armijo
Trip Rating: S8E
Event capacity = 8 including leader and assistant
Number of Backpack Days: 4, Number of Backpack Miles: 8 per day, Number of Day Hike Miles: 6

New Hance Trail via Red Canyon to the Colorado River, returning via Hance Creek, Horseshoe Mesa to Grandview Trailhead. A strenuous trip with some amazing views. This trip will take one of the oldest (historical), least traveled & shortest trails to the river. The trail is not well maintained and will involve some route-finding as we traverse approximately 7+ miles and 5600 ft down to the river. We will set up camp two nights at the river near Hance rapids. Second day we will have a day to explore the area with daypacks. Third day, we begin the ascent from the River, camping at Hance creek after 6 mi and 2750 ft elevation gain along the Tonto trail. The final morning will involve a very early start to traverse 5 miles and 5000 ft to make the Rim in time for our pick-up to catch the bus back to San Diego.

Trip # 5
Type of Trip: Backpack
Name of Trip: the Escalante Route: Tanner to New Hance 
Leader: John Plander, Assistant Leader: Caleb Thibodeaux
Trip Rating: S9E
Event capacity = 8 including leader and assistant
Number of Backpack Days: 4, Number of Backpack Miles: 27, Number of Day Hike Miles: TBD

Join us on the South Rim’s premiere backpack: The Escalante Route, in its entirety, from Tanner Beach to Hance Rapids.  Follow the footsteps of early Native American canyon dwellers, on foot paths improved by Seth Tanner and John Hance to work their mining claims.  Highlights include riverside beach camps every night, the Papago Wall, Hance Rapids, Red Canyon and Native American dwellings and artifacts.   If this trip is not on your bucket list, do a Google search of "Escalante Route" and "Papago Wall" and you will quickly realize it should be.  This trip will appeal to super fit, sure footed, fearless adventurers with enough upper body strength to hoist themselves up a 100’ Class 2/3 wall with their packs.  All trails are quite rugged with steep and exposed sections.   Hikers with a fear of heights or falling will not enjoy this trip.   If descending 5500' over 8 miles the first day, and climbing 4800’ over 5 miles on the last day, sound like fun and within your fitness capacity, please sign up. This is the first time the San Diego Chapter has offered this trip; don’t miss it!

Trip # 6

Grand Canyon Bus Trip - Staff and Leaders
This trip signup is for STAFF / LEADERS ONLY
Event capacity = 1

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Explore, enjoy and protect the planet