Arizona Trail Resupply: The Complete Guide

When thru-hiking you can either resupply your food by shopping in towns along the trail when you get to them, mailing yourself boxes full of food, or a combination of the two. This post covers the logistics of both methods, plus I share the resupply plan that worked well for me on my recent AZT thru-hike.

This post is a thorough guide, so here’s an outline of what’s covered. Click on the area of your choice to jump to that section, or simply scroll down to read the whole thing.

General Delivery for Thru-Hiking 101
What is General Delivery?
How to I address the letter/package?
How much does it cost to send myself resupply boxes?
Can I mail fuel in my resupply box?
What are some tips for packing a resupply box?

Town Resupply vs. General Delivery

My AZT Resupply at a Glance

My AZT Resupply in Detail

More Resources for AZT Resupply Planning

Because I wanted to eat vegan and when possible organic on trail, I mostly mailed myself resupply boxes, which we can do thanks to General Delivery.

General Delivery for Thru-Hiking 101

What is General Delivery?

General Delivery is a cool service offered by the U.S. Postal Service so that people without permanent addresses can still receive mail.

So, let’s say I want to mail something to my nomadic pal Libby when he passes through Lansing, Michigan. On the USPS website I can clearly see which branch in Lansing offers the General Delivery service by checking the “On-Site Services” list:

usps lansing general delivery

How do I address the letter/package?

Use this format to address the envelope or package, with “General Delivery” as the second line:


So, Libby’s letters would be addressed to:

My Nomadic Pal Libby
General Delivery
Lansing, MI 48933

And I would let Libby know that Lansing’s General Delivery office is the one at 315 W Allegan. The post office will hold the piece of mail for 30 days. All Libby needs to do is go there, ask for his General Delivery mail, and show an ID with his name.

You can send packages General Delivery as well, which is why the service is so useful for thru-hikers.

How much does it cost to send myself resupply boxes?

I recommend using the USPS Priority Mail Flat-Rate boxes because the price is the same no matter the weight of the box (up to 70 lbs) nor the distance being sent (from any state to any state). And since they’re priority, the boxes arrive in 1-3 days, the box is insured (up to $50), and each box has a tracking number.

There are three sizes, and here’s the current cost to ship each:

  • Small ($7.90)
  • Medium ($14.35)
  • Large ($19.95)

You can pick up the boxes for free at most post office locations. Even if it’s after hours, you can usually get into an unlocked section of the post office which has the white priority mail boxes.

You can grab free priority mail address labels from this kiosk as well.

medium flat rate priority box

There are two types of medium boxes: top-loading and side-loading. There are also two different styles of large boxes: board game box (side loading) and your standard top-loading box. I used their medium top-loading boxes for most of my resupplies, and two large boxes (top-loading). Be aware of this when you’re grabbing the flat boxes from the post office, so you don’t accidentally take a side-loading when you want a top-loading box.

You can also order the free boxes online, though if there’s a post office nearby I recommend taking what you need directly from the physical shop.

Can I mail fuel in my resupply box?

Yes you can, but it cannot travel by airplane—which is how priority mail is usually sent. The box must be marked “Surface Only” and “ORM-D.” Tell your cashier that the box must be shipped ground because of the fuel canister.

Some postal workers are more familiar with these regulations than others, so here’s the section that explains how to ship liquid fuel (class 2 flammable gas that meets requirements of 342) if you need written proof. Basically, if it’s in a metal canister, the maximum amount of fuel you can send is 33.8 fluid ounces.

I sent myself an 8oz MSR IsoPro fuel in two different resupply boxes.

What are some tips for packing a resupply box?

If you pack meals or snacks in ziplocks, label the bag with a sharpie.
You may know what’s in it, but this will greatly benefit other hikers if you need to leave something behind in a hiker box. I’d especially make a note if the item is vegan, nut-free, or gluten-free, to benefit those with similar diets. (Contrarily, you can write “contains milk” or “has peanuts,” etc.)

You see, there were a few times where I wanted to take a dehydrated meal from a hiker box, but nothing was written on the ziplock so I had no idea what exactly was in it, nor if it was vegan, so I didn’t take it.

On the other hand, when I left behind my homemade oatmeal bags in a hiker box, I included a note that listed everything that was in the bags (oatmeal, flax seed, peanut butter powder, cacao nibs), and noted that it was all organic and vegan. And you know what? I met multiple people down trail who said they’d eaten my oatmeal! One hiker even told me he normally never takes hand-packed stuff, but that mine was packed so cleanly and well labeled that he did. So you’ll help prevent food waste and make a hiker’s day!

Clearly you could also wait and only label the food you’re leaving in a hiker box when you’re leaving it, but that means you must have a working pen/sharpie on hand, and that you must remember to label it too. Will you remember when you’re on trail? Or should you label what you can now, while you’re packing boxes? You know you!

azt resupply boxes

Keep crushable food in boxes for shipping.
If you’re mailing something like Triscuits or Wheat Thins, you may want to leave them in the box to protect them through shipment. Then when you get your box at the post office, open and recycle the cardboard right then and there.

If someone from home is going to mail boxes as you’re hiking, don’t seal them up!
Leave the boxes open so that your home contact could add or remove items as needed before shipping you the box.

Write your return address on the box label.
Shipment of boxes can be delayed if there’s no return address, so be sure to fill in that field completely on the labels for each box.

Double check the shipping address.
If sending to a place of business (restaurant, lodging) as opposed to General Delivery, call and double check that they’re accepting boxes and that you have the correct address. Some of these places ask that you write your Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) or “Please hold for AZT thru-hiker” on the box. Follow the request of wherever you’re shipping the box.

Keep a list of where you sent your boxes.
It can be helpful to keep a list somewhere of all the places you sent your boxes to. I thought I knew it all from memory, since I only sent six boxes from my home base, but when I approached Roosevelt I couldn’t remember if I’d correctly sent that box to the marina, or mistakenly sent it to the post office (which was 10 miles away). Turns out I sent it to the marina (hooray!), but I had to cross my fingers and simply go find out in person because I didn’t have a list with the actual addresses I’d used, just towns.

Make your boxes stand out.
As more and more people hike the Arizona Trail, there will be more and more resupply boxes waiting at post offices. Since they all look the same, it can be helpful to add some bright color to make your box stand out.

azt resupply boxes

Town Resupply vs. Resupply Boxes

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I chose to rely on sending myself resupply boxes for most of the hike. A good friend of mine who is a super seasoned thru-hiker will only use a resupply box if necessary; he prefers buying what he needs when he passes through towns. You get to choose what will work best for you.

Here are some pros and cons of using resupply boxes to help you decide.

Pros of Resupply Boxes

Specialized diet/home cooking
If you want to make your own meals and dehydrate them, resupply boxes deliver that food to you on trail. Likewise, if you eat a specialized diet, preparing your own resupply boxes will ensure that you’ll be eating what you want on trail. This was huge for me, as lots of specialty-vegan items and organic products were easily available at a grocery store at home, but would have been unheard of in small trail towns.

Quick/less stressful town time
I really loved that all I had to do was go to the post office and pick up a box when I passed through a town—a box filled with foods I loved. Often I would stop at a grocery store for some produce, but then I could get back on trail quickly, where I felt at home with nature. This low-stress resupply was really important for me, as is what I put in my body. I didn’t want to be limited by what was on the shelves, or get stressed out because I couldn’t find fuel when I needed it, etc.

Even with the added shipping cost, I bet I spent less on groceries by buying in bulk from my local Woodmans than I would have spent buying in towns along the trail. Prices are much higher in small towns, so that’s something to be aware of if you’re hiking on a budget. That said, a dollar is not equal to a dollar; by resupplying in these small establishments, you’re supporting local businesses.

Cons of Resupply Boxes

Shipping cost
On top of the cost of food, you have to pay priority shipping to send the boxes. I spent a total of $117.95 on shipping during my two months hiking. (Four medium boxes; three large boxes.)

Less support of local economy
As mentioned above, you won’t be spending as much money in the towns on-trail if you mail yourself boxes—something to consider if this is important to you.

Set menu in advance
Since you shop so far in advance of eating, there’s a possibility of getting sick of a certain type of food, or having too much/too little. I was warned of this, but didn’t get tired of eating anything—except for the oatmeal I’d packed without brown sugar. So, I had a good variety and genuinely enjoyed my snacks and dinners. (You can see what I ate here.) If I ever had too much food, I simply left things behind in hiker boxes. If I needed something more, I picked it up from a grocery store after I’d sorted through my resupply box.

Hiking with post office hours in mind
Another con of resupply boxes is that you have to keep in mind post office hours when hiking. This wasn’t much of a con for me, as it only notably impacted my hiking twice: in Patagonia, where I would have passed through Sunday afternoon and thus needed to wait until Monday morning, and Mount Lemmon, which I climbed in Warrior Mode to make it before the 3pm closing. Other than that, without any prior planning, I happened to pass through every other resupply town on a weekday when the post office was open.

As you can see, the first two pros far outweighed any cons for me, which is why I went the resupply boxes route.


My AZT Resupply: At a Glance

Here’s where I mailed resupply boxes:

  • Patagonia
  • Colossal Cave
  • Summerhaven (Mount Lemmon)
  • Superior
  • Roosevelt
  • Pine
    [Resupplied in Flagstaff and mailed final box from there]
  • Grand Canyon South Rim

My preferred resupply style was to enter a town, get my resupply box, perhaps supplement it with some fresh produce, and then get back on trail—so that’s the context for the info you’ll find below.

My AZT Resupply in Detail

I had four dinners with me when I started the AZT, and passed through Patagonia on the morning of Day 5.

Patagonia, AZ

Mile: 51.2 nobo
Miles to next resupply: 68 miles (~5 days)

Patagonia Post Office

[Your Name]
General Delivery

Patagonia, AZ 85624

Address: 100 N Taylor Ln
Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

The post office in Patagonia is right on the road that enters town (Harshaw/Mc Keown Ave.), so you’re unlikely to miss it. Just be aware the trail crosses at the small side street (Taylor Ave.) in front of the post office, then immediately turns right on 82 until your left on 1st Ave. (After visiting shops in town, I mistakenly continued in that direction (left), taking 82 west out of town, the completely wrong direction! Whoops.)

There is a recycling center right behind the post office, so you can recycle your box and anything else you’ve accumulated up to this point.

In town I highly recommend heading to Red Mountain Foods (347 Mc Keown Ave) if you’re looking for fresh produce (much is organic) or any other thing you find yourself needing. I picked up a pack of tortillas here, as well as a salve for sun blisters. It’s owned by an amazing woman, they’re thru-hiker friendly, and they support many values in tune with loving mother Earth and fellow humans.

Note: I would have reached Patagonia on a Sunday, but didn’t have the budget nor desire to stay in town. Yet I couldn’t pass through until Monday when the post office was open. I thought I’d simply find somewhere to camp along the three-mile road walk into town, but it turned out to be mostly all private property. I ended up paying to pop my tent at the Patagonia RV Park, which again is on the way into town (566 Harshaw Ave.). It was $26 for the night, and the place had wifi and hot showers. Not a bad option if you find yourself in the same situation as me!

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Mile: 119 nobo
Miles to next resupply: 65 miles (~6 days)

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

[Your Name]
c/o Colossal Cave Mountain Park

16721 E Old Spanish Trail
Vail, AZ  85641

Write on the box “Please Hold for AZT Thru-hiker [Your Name]” as well as your ETA

Gift shop hours: 8am-5pm daily

The above information was confirmed by the park in March 2019. I’d recommend contacting the park whenever you plan to thru-hike to double check that they’re accepting packages.

Getting there: The best way to get to Colossal Cave is to take the left turn at mile 118.8 (not currently shown on Guthook) that points towards restrooms. This leads to one of Colossal Cave’s campgrounds where there is a water spigot. From here, hook a right and walk up the road, and take a left when you get to the intersection. (It’s simple; just head uphill!) Look for the 911 sign on the right side of the road. After the sign, there is a trail which takes you all the way up to Colossal Cave. AZCC put in the trail this year (2019), and at this time it’s not yet on Guthook map. It’ll save you a road walk, though, and was easy to see.

The mountain park has restrooms, drinking fountains, a gift shop, and an outdoor cafe (on a nicely shaded terrace).

Cave Tour: I’d recommend giving yourself time to do the cave tour. (I mean, when else will you ever be here?) This year it was $18/adult for the 45-minute tour. I got there too late in the day to do a tour, so that’s why I’m encouraging you to put it on your radar and plan to spend the time there!

Summerhaven (Mount Lemmon), AZ

Mile: 183.9 nobo
Miles to next resupply: 116 (~8 days)

Mount Lemmon Post Office

[Your Name]
General Delivery

Mount Lemmon, AZ 85619

Address: 12984 N Sabino Canyon Pkwy
Hours: M-F 8:30-11:30am, 12-3pm

The woman who works at this post office is a delight! If you’re caught in terrible weather, know that the post office is always open (so people can access their PO boxes) and you can sleep inside if it comes to it. You can recycle here, too!

The Mount Lemmon Visitor’s Center is right across the street from the post office. Around back there’s a side door that leads to public bathrooms with outlets. I was able to grab free wifi from the bathroom. Here’s another place you could potentially sleep if you get caught up in bad weather.

I boosted my resupply box with a tomato, avocado, and banana from Mount Lemmon General Store. It’s a very friendly place with an active hiker box, so be sure to check that out. There are benches outside with outlets, which is where I sat and sorted through my resupply box. It’s less than a minute from the post office, same side of the street (12856 N Sabino Canyon Park).

Since this was one of my longer hauls, I sent a large resupply box to Mount Lemmon.

Superior, AZ

Mile: 300.5 nobo
Miles to next resupply: 45 (~4 days)

Superior Post Office

[Your Name]
General Delivery
Superior, AZ 85173

Address: 25 N High School Ave.
Hours: M-F, 8:30am-4:45pm

You’ll need to hitch a ride from Picket Post Trailhead into town. I got dropped off right on 60, near the Family Dollar. From there I walked north a few blocks until I stumbled on Main St, which had everything I needed nearby.

The public library is just up a side street from Main (99 N Kellner Ave), but be warned that it’s a tiny one-room library with a single one-room bathroom—so if you’re planning to discretely wash a bunch of things, as I originally was, you’d be visibly holding up the only bathroom. The librarian was kind, and offered to let me fill my waters there. And like most libraries, you can get a guest pass to use the internet on a computer.

The first time I ate in a resupply town was here at SunFlour Market (149 W Main St), while the library was closed for lunch. The owner was incredibly friendly, and they happily made a few adjustments so I could eat vegan. They also refilled my waters!

I grabbed some produce at Save Money Market (420 Main St) because it was right there on Main. There were single peppers for sale, so I got a green pepper, a red pepper, a few tomatoes, an avocado, and some carrots.

Then I walked back to 60 to hitch a ride back to the trailhead.

Roosevelt Lake Marina

Mile: 345 nobo
Miles to next resupply: 115 (8-9 days)

Roosevelt Lake Visitor’s Center

[Your Name] 
c/o Roosevelt Lake Visitors Center
28085 North AZ 188
Roosevelt, AZ 85545

Include “Please hold for AZT thru-hiker” as well as your ETA on the box.

Don’t mail packages to the post office in Roosevelt! It’s 10 miles from trail!

Instead, send your box to the Roosevelt Lake Visitors Center (address above). In 2019, all resupply boxes mailed to the visitor’s center were actually held at the Roosevelt Lake Marina for pick-up. So, our boxes were in the first building you see as you cross 188 to the marina—the convenience store on the left. This place didn’t even have sunscreen in their shop, so I wouldn’t count on finding what you want here, but I had to go in for my box.

After picking up your box, I highly recommend walking further back on the marina to the other building, the Roosevelt Lake Visitor’s Center, run by the U.S. Forest Service. There are bathrooms where you can definitely wash stuff in sinks. There are drinking fountains with cold water. Outlets. There’s a trail registry to sign inside, and the rangers are super friendly! It’s a great place to sort through your stuff outside, charge devices, etc.

Double check with the visitor’s center and/or marina when you hike the AZT to find out what their current system is for resupply boxes.

To get to the marina from the AZT: When you get to the Cemetery Trail junction (mile 345.3), leave the AZT and take the Cemetery Trail (right), walk just a quarter mile, cross the main highway—118—and you’ll be at the Roosevelt Lake Marina right there on the water.

Pine, AZ

Mile: 460 nobo
Miles to next resupply: 123 (~7-8 days)

Pine Post Office

[Your Name]
General Delivery
Pine, AZ 85544

Address: 3847 N AZ Hwy 87
Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

Many people send their resupply boxes to THAT Brewery (3270 N AZ-87) in Pine, but I went for the post office. It’s about a mile walk from the trail, simply down the main street (Hwy 87), and I rather enjoyed observing the small-town vibes as I walked into Pine.

After sorting through my box, recycling paper, and charging my phone at the post office, I grabbed some produce—including mini 99-cent garden salads—at Ponderosa Market (6112 Hardscrabble Mesa Rd), which is also right there on Hwy 87. There’s a Farmer’s Market next door, but it was closed when I passed through.

I didn’t think there’d be anything for a vegan at The Early Bird (3618 AZ-87), but a veggie burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion hit the spot—as did the cafe’s homey atmosphere. And then it was back to the trail, which was extra-well maintained around Pine.

Flagstaff, AZ

Mile: 575 nobo (via city route)
Miles to next resupply: 113 (~7 days)

There are ample options for resupply in Flagstaff, so even if I hadn’t had friends to stay with, I wouldn’t have sent myself a box here. I resupplied at a combination of Whole Foods (320 S Cambridge Ln) and Fry’s (201 N Switzer Canyon Dr). If you don’t have a Fry’s card, ask for one at the checkout. You don’t have to fill in anything, and you get to use the card right there. I saved over $40 by asking for a card!

And a few days in Flagstaff would not be complete without a meal (or two!) at Red Curry (10 N San Francisco St; closed Tuesdays), which serves homestyle Thai cuisine—all of which is vegan!

During my zeros I got a priority box from the post office downtown at 104 N Agassiz St, went grocery shopping, packed the box, and went back to that same location the following day to mail it to the Canyon.

Grand Canyon Village (South Rim)

Mile: 688 nobo
Miles to end of trail: 
100! (~6 days)

Grand Canyon Village Post Office

[Your Name]
General Delivery
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023

Address: 100 Mather Business Ctr
Hours: M-F, 8:30am-3:30pm

I ended up staying at Mather Campground for two nights inside the national park, as it was only $6/night for bikers/hikers! I happened to pass the campground while entering the park on the AZT. If I’d known about this ahead of time, I would have planned to spend more days on the south rim so I could do some day hiking. I highly recommend staying several nights at this campground to explore the Grand Canyon!

I spent my zero hiking around the village doing errands. First I got a backcountry permit from the Backcountry Information Center (1 Backcountry Rd). The permit is $10, plus $8/night. I reserved a spot at Cottonwood Campground and paid for a second night of dispersed camping on the north rim for the following day, as I didn’t think I’d make it out of the park in one day. (I didn’t.) So that’s [$10 permit] + [$8/night x 2 nights] = $26, an amount I gladly paid to the parks.

Then I grabbed a few things from the Canyon Village Market (1 Market Plaza Rd) before picking up my large resupply box next door at the post office (100 Mather Business Ctr.).

Note: Cottonwood Campground was awesome! You get a full site to yourself, which was much more spacious and private than I’d imagined. Each site includes a table (omg!) and a locked box to keep your food and smellies. If I’d known this is what the campground would be like, I would have booked two nights for sure—to fully enjoy it!

And this final resupply box got me through the end of the AZT, where I found a ride to Page, AZ!

I wouldn’t change anything about where I sent packages to; the length of time between resupplies was good for me. Many people wouldn’t want to carry that much food weight when I did 8-9 day chunks, but for me it was more important to have flexibility in the distance I’d hike each day and to spend more time in the wilderness rather than towns. You do you!

As I mentioned in this final section, the only changes I would have made would be to plan on staying in the Grand Canyon longer, both at Mather Campground and at Cottonwood Campground.

More Resources for AZT Resupply Planning

Arizona Trail Resupply Plan by Beardoh of Long Distance Hiker
This post was helpful as I chose where to send my first six boxes.

AZT Mail Drops by Mike Cavaroc of Free Roaming Hiker
I also referenced this post to get an idea of where I might want to send resupply boxes.

Arizona Trail Town Guide by Nathan Ventura of Long Walks and Dirty Socks
Nate’s town guide is handy to have along on paper. Although the Guthook app has more up-to-date hours/phone numbers of places, what I like most about this guide are the simple maps of each town, which I referenced as I entered each. This is especially great for folks planning to resupply in towns.

Have another resource that was useful in planning your AZT resupply? Let me know and I’ll add it above!

Have any questions, comments, or updates? They’re very welcome below!


This post is part of the Beginner’s AZT Thru-Hiking Guide. See the full guide here.