How the Mule Duffel Service Works (Hike in Trips Only)

By Krystal • December 6, 2019

Guests hiking into the canyon may have the option to use Xanterra’s mule duffel service to carry a bag with their gear down to the river while they hike the Bright Angel Trail. If you’re interested, we recommend calling Xanterra (888-297-2757) as soon as possible; reservations for the mule duffel service open about one year in advance and they do tend to sell out. Due to the limited availability and changing trail conditions, even if you book the mule duffel service you should still be prepared to hike in carrying all of the items needed for your river trip loaded in a backpack.

The guides pick up the duffel bags from the mule wrangler about 2 miles upstream from where you will hike in to meet them. The only way the guides will know to pick up your bag is if you tell our office in advance that you have booked the mule duffel service. The guides cannot go back upstream to retrieve your bag.

It is extremely important that you follow these instructions when using the mule duffel service:

  • This service is only available to guests hiking into the canyon. Outbound mule duffel does not work in conjunction with ARR trips.
  • When booking, let the mule barn know:

1) The name of each person using the mule duffel service
2) That you’re rafting with Arizona River Runners
3) Your trip start date (the day you hike in)
4) That your bags will need to be dropped off at BOAT BEACH

*Due to our trip logistics, the mule duffel service can only be booked for the same day that you will hike in to the canyon.

  • Notify our office by phone or email when you reserve the service. We need to know WHO is booked for this service, and HOW MANY bags will be packed in. Please DO NOT cancel or book muled bags within 2 weeks of your trip start date.
  • We will mail out a luggage tag for each duffel that is being carried down. Please make sure that you’ve attached the Arizona River Runners luggage tag to your duffel and that it is clearly labeled with each guest’s name.
  • Only soft-sided duffels are allowed and there is a weight limit of 30 pounds.

*The bag dimensions and weight limit for the mule duffel are different than what we recommend. This is because your duffel needs to fit into our provided dry bags once you reach the river. If you follow our guidelines of 12in x 12in x 24in and max of 25 pounds you will be fine for both the river and the duffel service.

  • Be sure to arrive at the South Rim THE DAY BEFORE your hike in and drop off your bag at the Grand Canyon Mule Barn prior to 3:30 pm. If you are late, there is a late drop-off option for an additional fee.
  • You will still need to carry a small backpack on the hike in with at least 2 liters of water, and things like snacks, a rain jacket, hat, camera, sunscreen, and any non-replaceable items (glasses, medication, etc.)

Please be sure you are aware of the strenuous nature of the hike into the canyon and do not count on the mule duffle service to have a successful trip. Xanterra has the right to suspend services at any time if trail conditions are unsafe for the mules.
If you’d rather not hike in or out of the Grand Canyon be sure to check out our full canyon adventures!

Happy Trails!