Monument Point to Thunder River and Deer Creek


Mar 13, 2012
Some of flat landers from Texas planned to do this hike last fall but circumstances prevented it from happening. We managed to get permits for April 24-27 this spring. Looks like we hit a good week as the weather was great - a bit warm in the inner canyon but sunny the whole time (as compared to 6 in of snow on the south rim on May 2). We had 6 in our party but a couple had to bug out early so 4 of us completed the following hike:

Map of hike:
Click here to view on CalTopo
Day 1: Tues Apr 24
Up to Monument Point from the TH and then down to the esplanade where we cached water for a dry camp on the return trip. We then hiked down the Red Wall to Surprise Valley and over to the drop off to Thunder River where we camped for the first night (hiking down to Thunder River to get water for the night and next day). I did note that Thunder River was not running near as much as it was 10 years ago when we visited.

Day 2: Wed Apr 25
Wednesday morning we packed up and did the trek across Surprise Valley down the Deer Creek Trail - I guess 10 years of age is showing because it seemed much more difficult than I remembered it from the past. To our surprise Deer Creek Spring/Falls was totally dry - at least Deer Creek was flowing nicely! We camp Wednesday evening at the Deer Creek campsite - this is a great campsite right by the creek and it provided a much refreshing evening. We day hiked down past the patio area thru the narrows to the Colorado overlook.. This area is probably the highlight of the trip.

Day 3: Thurs Apr 26
Now for a rough day - hike out of Deer Creek and up the Red Wall during the heat of the day... We made it however so slowly and traversed most of the esplanade to our camp. There is a nice campsite on the esplanade right by a tree shortly before the brutal ascent up the rock slide area. It was a great evening to camp - warm early but very pleasant once the sun set. We did share the site with a large snake (see picture below).

Day 4: Fri Apr 27
Now for the final ascent. I started about 7:15 am and was out by about 10:15. It is not only the climb but the lose rocks and large steps (not fun for old and short legs like mine).

Hike Summary:
This is an awesome hike BUT it is not for novices! Be prepared for rough and rocky trails. I would classify probably 1/4 of the "trail" to be more of a scramble than a hike.

Below are some picture from the hike:


Five of the six of us doing the hike


Part of the initial descent off of Monument Point

View across the esplanade

Huge snake on tree (we camped here on the way out)

Me standing by a rock formation on the esplanade

View of Surprise Valley from top of Red Wall

View of Thunder River spring from near the top of the descent

Thunder River - seems a bit low to me

The rough trail down into Deer Creek

Deer Creek camp (there is a composting toilet but you have to have a strong stomach)

First falls at the patio

Steve and Charles navigating along the narrows (their first time down here)

Yep a bit scary for me also

Steve and I at the overlook

Looking down at boaters/rafters across the Colorado

Charles and Steve at the patio area

Campsite for night 3 at the "snake" tree - very pleasant evening

Evening view from the campsite - yep we go up the rockslide and along the cliff show above.

There were some flowers in the desert

The initial descent (or final ascent) from Monument Point. Yep that is the trail.

Great challenging hike! I saw a couple backpackers (yep backpackers) wearing flip/flops!! Don't get that.
Last edited:
Beautiful photos, and falls and what a magnificent snake!
Thanks for sharing!
Did a similar trip a few years ago in March. Thanks for bringing back some familiar and loved sights.
Nice of my favorite in the GC. I hiked down in sandals...cause my boots were killing my toes on the long downhill.

For a neat longer hike go down Kanab Creek from Sowats point...up along the Colorado and out Deer Creek....
This is something I've wanted to do for years. Not too high on the bucket list so I'm not sure I'll get around to it. Vicariously enjoyed your report.
That protruding rock above the slot looks super awkward, yikes.
Nice of my favorite in the GC. I hiked down in sandals...cause my boots were killing my toes on the long downhill.

For a neat longer hike go down Kanab Creek from Sowats point...up along the Colorado and out Deer Creek....
That rock hop up the Colorado is brutally slow though...
Also deer creek spring has been dry all year - or at least, it was dry when I went thru in mid March. Super low snow year in northern AZ. was the park still under water restrictions when you went?

Cool trip, thanks!!
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