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Hiking the Grand Canyon, Rim to Rim

Deb thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and is a Search & Rescue volunteer and writer living in Flagstaff, AZ.

At the top of the South Kaibab trail

At the top of the South Kaibab trail

From South to North (Or North to South) in a Day, a Week, or More

There is SO much I could write about hiking in the Grand Canyon, but I want to focus on hiking rim to rim using the popular "corridor" trails in the central part of the National Park. I usually do my rim-to-rim trips from the South Rim to the North Rim, so that's the order in which I'll present the information.

While it's not responsible to advocate hiking rim to rim in a single day, it's something I've done a number of times. But I've also done the same hike over a week, and encourage all first-time Grand Canyon hikers—or those who prefer to stop and smell the cactus flowers—to spend multiple days getting from one side of the Canyon to the other.

In fact, I highly discourage people from hiking rim to rim—or rim to river and back— in a single day. Don't even attempt this unless you're fit and already very familiar with hiking in the Canyon.

Below you'll find some information on the corridor trails and sites and stopping points along the way, interwoven with links to journal entries from my own seven-day rim-to-rim Grand Canyon hike.

I've also included suggestions on when to go, what to bring, and where (and when) to get water, as well as some informative and fun reading material.

Be sure to post any questions or comments in the guestbook at the end.

Rim To Rim: Numbers

  • Length: 21 to 24 miles, depending on the Corridor Trail route.
  • Average elevation at the South Rim: 7,000 feet
  • Elevation at the Colorado River near Phantom Ranch: 2,550 feet
  • Elevation at the North Rim at the top of the North Kaibab Trail: 8,300 feet
Hiking Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

Hiking Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

From My Rim To Rim Journal: Day 1

June 10th

Location: South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

Tonight I sleep in the bed of a pickup, where I can almost write by the moonlight alone. The trees are glowing above the campfire, and I swear I can hear the Canyon nearby. It almost seems to whisper.

Read more...

rimtorim

The South Rim and Grand Canyon Village

The most populated area of Grand Canyon National Park

You could spend a full day, if not an entire vacation, seeing the sights at the South Rim. There, you'll find hotels and cabins, a campground and RV parks within the National Park boundaries, historic buildings, free ranger talks and interpretive displays, restaurants and shops, groceries, even a bank and post office, as well as many viewpoints where you can take in the grandness of the canyon.

In addition to being a tourist destination, Grand Canyon Village is home to about 2,000 Park employees and their families, so there's also a school, grades K-12, and medical facilities located there.

The South Rim is a fun place to begin and/or end a rim to rim hike, perhaps with a stay in a comfortable hotel room and a nice, big meal to celebrate the accomplishment. And, if you want to walk off some of those post-hike kinks, there's even a paved Rim Trail to wander along and watch the colors of the Canyon change as the sun sets.

Grand Canyon Village is visited twice a day by the Grand Canyon Railway, bringing visitors to and from the town of Williams, Arizona. For information about this service and their various vacation packages, visit the Grand Canyon Railway website. I've never taken the train, myself, but this would probably be a fun addition to your trip if you want to spend a little extra time (and money).

NOTE: A free shuttle service is available year-round to take visitors from one point along the South Rim to another, so you can park your car and forget about it till you're ready to leave.

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Read More From Skyaboveus

rimtorim

The South Kaibab Trail

One of two Corridor trails from the South Rim to the Colorado River

The South Kaibab Trail is a ridge trail with incredible, wide-reaching views all along it's 6.3-mile (10.1 km) route from rim to river. Keep in mind there is no shade or water to be had on this trail, so hike early or hike late in the day during summer months, wear sunscreen and a hat, and carry more water than you think you'll need. In the hotter months, I carry four liters on this trail, even when going down ... just in case. (And if I don't need all of it, I often see someone who'd love to take some off my hands ... uh, back.)

If you're hiking rim to rim in a single day, traveling south to north, then the South Kaibab Trail is the shorter route from rim to river. The trail begins near Yaki Point and descends 4,860 feet to the black suspension bridge at the Colorado River. Because there is no water along this steep trail, Park rangers recommend hiking down this trail only rather than up and using the Bright Angel trail for a hike out.

I love the South Kaibab Trail and don't personally consider it all that steep compared to some switchback-free trails I've hiked back east. It is more exposed than the Bright Angel Trail, but, coming from someone who isn't fond of heights and drop-offs, it's not scary at all. And you'd have to take a flying leap to fall off, believe me. Now, if the upper portion of the trail is icy, I'd most definitely use crampons, so go prepared if you're hiking during the winter. Yes, the South Rim gets snow.

NOTE: If you choose to hike the South Kaibab Trail, you can park in the dirt lot along Desert View Drive and walk the quarter-mile to the trailhead, or park in Grand Canyon Village and take the free park shuttle right to it.

The Silver Suspension Bridge along the Bright Angel/River Trail route

The Silver Suspension Bridge along the Bright Angel/River Trail route

The Bright Angel Trail

My choice of a South Rim trail for a multi-day, rim to rim hike

The "B.A." (pictured to the right) is the most heavily used trail in Grand Canyon, especially the upper mile and a half. The further down into the canyon you go, however, the less company you'll have, especially on the lower portion from Indian Gardens to the Colorado River. Keep your eyes peeled as you leave the rim, and I guarantee you'll see somebody wearing heels.

Anyhow, the Bright Angel Trail begins just west of the historic Kolb Studio and follows a fault line 7.8 miles (12.6 km) to the River Trail, which you then hike another 1.5 miles to Bright Angel Campground via the silver suspension bridge pictured above. (Phantom Ranch is half a mile beyond that.) I usually think of the B.A. and River Trail as all one 9.3-mile trail to the bridge and campground beyond.

Hikers going southbound, ascending from river to South Rim, usually prefer the Bright Angel Trail to the South Kaibab even though it's longer. The availability of potable drinking water at the halfway point at Indian Gardens and, seasonally, at two other locations between there and the rim make it more appealing, as do the two shaded rest houses three miles and 1.5 miles before the top. If you time your hike out for the late afternoon, a good portion of the trail itself will also be in the shade.

As on the South Kaibab, BA hikers share the trail with mules. If you see a mule train approaching, stand off to the inside of the trail and remain still as the mule train passes.

NOTE: If you'll be leaving a vehicle at the South Rim's Grand Canyon Village, be sure to park in the backcountry lot. You'll get a map as you drive into the park, and the lots will be marked on there. (Depending on the time of year and time of day -- or night rather -- there sometimes is no ranger at the entrance station, so you might want to print this map to bring with you. Click here to print a copy of the map of Grand Canyon Village.)

Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail

A Maintained Grand Canyon "Corridor Trail"

A Maintained Grand Canyon "Corridor Trail"

A Maintained Grand Canyon "Corridor Trail"

Rim to Rim

Rim to Rim

My Rim To Rim Journal: Day 2

June 11th

Distance: 4.6 miles

From South Rim to Indian Gardens via the Bright Angel Trail

Last night was a cold one, with temps in the low 40s, and me in just a sleeping bag liner, a long-sleeved shirt, fleece vest, and shorts. I should have been better prepared for the often chilly nighttime and early morning air on the rim.

Read more...

rimtorim

Rest, Relax, or Camp at Indian Gardens

A desert oasis halfway down the Bright Angel Trail

Four and a half miles below the rim at an elevation of 3800 feet, Indian Gardens is a destination in and of itself. Here, you can relax in the shade of cottonwood trees or soak your feet in perennial spring-fed Garden Creek.

Indian Gardens is located at the junction of the Bright Angel and Tonto Trail. The area received its name from the fact that, until the early 1900s, the Havasupai indians used to raise corn, squash and beans in this desert oasis.

Indian Gardens is a wonderful campground with shade ramadas, a great base from which to day-hike and explore. As with other developed campgrounds below the rim, metal ammo cans are provided (and required) for food storage as hungry wildlife, big and small, abounds. Watch out for your wallet too! Those cute little rock squirrels will steal anything they can carry.

The Mighty Cute (But Sneaky!) Rock Squirrel

The Mighty Cute (But Sneaky!) Rock Squirrel

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Grand Canyon rim to rim

From My Rim to Rim Journal: Day 3

June 12th

Distance: 3 miles

Round-trip to Plateau Point, back to Indian Gardens

My day began at first light without a watch or alarm. I woke up just as the stars were beginning to fade. All I had to do was put on my socks and boots, and grab a water bottle, and I was off to Plateau Point.

Read more...

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Hike out to Plateau Point

A great option for an out-and-back side hike from Indian Gardens

Time permitting, I highly recommend making the 3-mile round-trip hike from Indian Gardens to Plateau Point, where you can look down 800 feet to the Colorado River and up and down the Inner (or Granite) Gorge.

This is an easy hike with little elevation gain or loss, but, in summer, it's hot. There isn't an ounce of shade to be had as you make your way along the Tonto Platform to the overlook. But, boy, is it ever pretty. So if you do go in the summer, get up really early for this one, or wait till late afternoon/early evening.

Or, better yet, bring along your dinner and a headlamp and have a picnic, watch the sunset and enjoy a night hike back to camp.

The Trail to Plateau Point, looking down from the South Rim (Those trees are Indian Gardens.)

The Trail to Plateau Point, looking down from the South Rim (Those trees are Indian Gardens.)

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Grand Canyon rim to rim

From My Rim to Rim Journal: Day 4

June 13th

Distance: 4.6 miles

From Indian Gardens to Bright Angel Beach Campground, Inner Gorge

This was a day of mixed emotions.

I awoke long before dawn, when a curious mule deer stuck its nose right up against the screen of my tent door, so close I could feel its breath. From then on, I lay awake, watching the moon move lower, towards the rim, and listening for the first cicada click. I don't know what time it was, but when I heard that sound, I started packing up.

Read more...

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch

Take your pick for staying the night at the bottom of Grand Canyon.

I've never stayed at the cabins or bunkhouse at Phantom Ranch, preferring to camp (and pay less) at Bright Angel campground instead, but that's an option if you'd prefer a night indoors and book far enough in advance.

There's also a canteen at Phantom Ranch, where you can enjoy a little air conditioning when it's 120 degrees or more at the bottom of the Canyon. Food here is very expensive, though, so you might want to bring your own inside, where you can play a game of cards, send a postcard (to be packed out on a mule's back) to your friends and family in the world above, borrow a book or have a beer. Or, better yet, all of the above!

I really enjoyed the free Ranger programs at Phantom Ranch, held throughout the year, which I wrote about in my journal entry (below). There are two talks each day, with the earlier program held just south of the Phantom Ranch Canteen at 4:00 P.M., when the canteen closes so the employees can clean up and prepare for the dinner seating for cabin and bunkhouse guests. (The Canteen is open to the public from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., and then again from 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M.)

Then there's a more formal ranger talk every evening at 7:30 P.M. at the amphitheater north of the ranger station. Nightly topics vary, so those staying at Phantom Ranch or Bright Angel Campground can attend a different program each night.

For information and reservations for Phantom Ranch, see GrandCanyonLodges.com.

A Grand Canyon backcountry permit is required to stay at Bright Angel Campground.

While staying at this point on a rim-to-rim hike, my preference is to sleep in my tent, listening to Bright Angel Creek bubble by on its way to the Colorado River, and wander over to Phantom Ranch now and then for some amenities and fun. It's also nice to take a walk down to Bright Angel Beach itself and watch for river rafts, kayaks and dories to arrive.

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Grand Canyon rim to rim

From My Rim to Rim Journal: Day 5

June 14th

Distance: 0

Location: Bright Angel Beach Campground

This is a nice spot, under a tree at the edge of the Colorado River. I'm not far from camp, but it sure feels like I am. This is where the rafts (and kayaks and sometimes wooden dories) pull in, and there are several here now. But the passengers and most of the crews have walked over to Phantom Ranch. I see the part of the beach where Steve and I cooked a pasta and pesto dinner on our honeymoon hike, but that area is now under six inches of water, as the river level fluctuates, controlled by the Glen Canyon Dam.

Read more...


Grand Canyon rim to rim

Grand Canyon rim to rim

The North Kaibab Trail

From Phantom Ranch to the North Rim of Grand Canyon

This trail sees much less use than its counterpart to the south. At 14 miles long with an elevation gain of 5,800 feet, the North Kaibab is the only maintained trail from the Colorado River to the North Rim.

The first half of the North Kaibab -- the seven miles between Phantom Ranch and Cottonwood Camp -- are relatively easy as you hike through "The Box," where the walls of Vishnu Schist in Bright Angel Canyon close in on you, and along Bright Angel Creek. Several footbridges take you from one side of the creek to the other.

After Cottonwood Camp heading north, the easier walking ends. More than half of the North Kaibab's elevation gain is accomplished in the top one-third of the trail. Two miles before the end of the hike, you'll pass through Supai Tunnel and can stop for a rest (and perhaps a potty break at the composting toilets) before the final push. Treated water is also available here from May through mid-October.

Leaving the tunnel, you'll likely start to feel the effects of the higher elevation if you're aren't used to it ... and, even if you are, it can make you breathe a bit harder.

The North Kaibab trailhead is located about 2 miles from Grand Canyon Lodge. There is trailhead parking available. A campground (right on the rim) and shower house is open seasonally, so be sure to pack some quarters for the showers if you're gonna want one.

See AmericanSouthwest.net for further information on the North Kaibab Trail, along with some great photos.

Ribbon Falls, Grand Canyon

Ribbon Falls, Grand Canyon

Visit Ribbon Falls

A beautiful place to stop for a rest, just off the North Kaibab Trail

5.6 miles from Phantom Ranch and a mile and a half before Cottonwood Camp, a short side trail leads to beautiful Ribbon Falls. A rest stop here (and maybe a cold dip) would be well worth the time if you can spare it. The falls aren't big, but they sure are pretty.

Check out this photo taken from behind Ribbon Falls:

The trail to the waterfall is not maintained, and you have a choice of either using the footbridge to the north or fording Bright Angel Creek further south. If you're hiking northbound from Phantom Ranch or Bright Angel Campground, you'll come to the ford route before the footbridge, but never attempt to ford the creek if it's at flood stage

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Grand Canyon rim to rim

From My Rim to Rim Journal: Day 6

June 15th

Distance: 7 miles

From Bright Angel Campground to Cottonwood Camp

Up at 3:45 a.m. and on the North Kaibab Trail before dawn. The North Kaibab parallels Bright Angel Creek the entire distance to Cottonwood Camp, crossing several times by bridge. Scott and I arrived at Cottonwood at 8:15.

Read more...

Bright Angel Creek, Grand Canyon

Bright Angel Creek, Grand Canyon

Cottonwood Campground

Another place to rest and relax before the big climb out

Cottonwood Camp is a small and often quiet campground, seven miles from Phantom Ranch and seven miles below the North Rim. Nearby Bright Angel Creek is a refreshing place to get wet.

Composting toilets, potable water (from May thru mid-October) and a Ranger residence are located at the campground, but no other services or interpretive programs are offered here.

I once spent a whole day at the creek, communing with the silent Canyon and watching bright blue dragon flies glittering in the sun.

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Grand Canyon rim to rim

From My Rim to Rim Journal: Day 7

June 16th

Distance: 7 miles

From Cottonwood Camp to the North Rim

Great day! Scott and I started out at 4:30 a.m. There was really no easing into it. Up we went from the very first step, but we hiked at a comfortable pace, cooled by an early morning breeze. Although I wasn't yet hungry at that early hour, I'd eaten a decent portion of granola with rehydrated milk -- fuel to get me going. I carried four liters of water and salty snacks to replace what I'd sweat out on the seven-mile climb.

Read more...

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Grand Canyon rim to rim

Grand Canyon's North Rim

An island in the sky

The northern rim of the Canyon, also known as the Kaibab Plateau, is, in some ways, a different world than its not-so-distant cousin to the south. And I'm not talking just about the differences in elevation, temperature and weather, and some of the flora and fauna. I'm also referring to its remoteness and significantly fewer visitors and visitor services, which makes it much more appealing to some. In comparison to the South Rim, which receives somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 million visitors each year, the North Rim's numbers are in the neighborhood of 40,000.

One thing to keep in mind if planning a rim to rim hike is that the 44 miles of Highway 67 from Jacob Lake to the North Rim closes for the winter due to heavy snow. While North Rim services close in mid-October, the northern rim of Grand Canyon is accessible as long the road remains open. If it is a mild winter, ADOT will try to keep the road open until Thanksgiving or even as late as mid-December.

Once the road closes, the Park itself will still be open, so if you can get yourself there by snowmobile or a long trip by cross-country skis or snowshoes perhaps, you're welcome to head for the Canyon.

For more information about staying at the North Rim Lodge or campground, visit the National Park Service website.

Grand Canyon Backcountry Permits

Yes, we all have to get one to camp below the rim, but I prefer to leave that process to the Park Service to explain.

Visit the Park Service site on backcountry permits to find out everything you need to know about obtaining a backcountry permit for your trip.

Grand Canyon Online Resources

Shuttling from Rim to Rim

How do you get back to your vehicle on the other side of Grand Canyon? Unless you can arrange for a generous friend or family member to shuttle you from one side of the Canyon to the other -- a 5-hour drive -- or you want to hike back to the other rim, you'll probably need to contact the Trans-Canyon Shuttle service for a ride, as well as current schedules and rates.

rimtorim

Water on a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike

Definitely something to think about BEFORE you go

Natural, perennial water sources are few and far between in Grand Canyon's desert landscape, and, though you may be able to see that great big river at the bottom, getting to it is another story. So your Corridor rim to rim hike is going to rely much more on human-made water sources, some of which are seasonal themselves.

Going south to north, here's what you can expect:

As mentioned above, there is no water along the South Kaibab trail from the rim to the Colorado River.

There are three places to obtain water along the Bright Angel trail:

  • Mile-and-a-half rest house (1.5 miles from the South Rim) *May thru September
  • Three-mile rest house (3 miles from the South Rim) *May thru September
  • Indian Gardens (4.6 miles from the South Rim) *year-round

There is no potable water between Indian Gardens and the Colorado River, but there are often seasonal natural sources. All water not provided by human-made taps should be filtered or treated to prevent Giardia and other waterborne "bugs."

At river level, you can obtain water at Bright Angel Campground or Phantom Ranch, year-round.

It's another seven miles from Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood Campground, where you can again fill up from May to mid-October. You'll be hiking along Bright Angel Creek the whole way, but, again, treat this water if you need to use it.

From Cottonwood Campground heading north, Roaring Springs Trail Junction is 2.2 miles. The buildings you will see as you approach Roaring Springs are the pumping station and the caretaker's house. Potable water is available from May thru mid-October.

Then it's another 2.7 miles to Supai Tunnel, where you can obtain treated water, which is also seasonal from May thru mid-October.

From there, it's two miles further to the top of the North Kaibab Trail.

Please visit the Grand Canyon Backcountry Updates and Closures page for current information on the availability of drinking water along the Corridor trails before setting off on a hike. All pipelines in the canyon are subject to breaks at any time of year, cutting off water supplies, so it's a really good idea to check before you go.

rimtorim

When to Hike in the Grand Canyon

No matter which trail or route you choose

Hiking in Grand Canyon is awesome at any time of year, but you'll want to consider these factors when deciding when to do your rim to rim hike:

The road into the North Rim (AZ 67) is closed from the time of the first major snowfall (usually mid-November) until the Spring thaw around mid-May. All North Rim facilities are also closed during this period.

July and August are hot, hot, hot in the inner canyon with daytime temps easily exceeding 100 degrees. (I've seen the big thermometer in the sun down at Phantom Ranch hit 130!) If hiking at this time of year, you'll need to carry extra water and plan your time on the trail for very early in the morning or late afternoon to evening. (Matter of fact, moonlight hiking can be a lot of fun, too.)

Perhaps the most pleasant times for a rim to rim hike, though, are mid-May to mid-June, and late-September through October, when the cooler temperatures typical of these months will make your hike much more comfortable, not to mention safer.

Hiking Grand Canyon in the Summer

Here's an excellent article from the Arizona Daily Sun.

Hiking Rim To Rim In A Day?

I don't recommend that any first-time Grand Canyon hiker undertake this trip in a single day, fit or not. And you certainly should be fit and used to hiking 20-plus miles at one shot before doing so.

That being said, I've found a one-day rim to rim hike to be a fun challenge, especially with friends. In the past, I've done this trek in as little as 9 hours and as many as 12, but always with sore feet and sense of satisfaction at the end.

Here's an account of an October rim-to-rim hike:

" find myself standing at the Bright Angel trailhead on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at 6 a.m. on Oct. 12. ... If all goes right, I'll be meeting my wife and mother-in-law at the North Rim before the sun goes down.

Check out this blog post by Tradshad about hiking rim to rim to rim ... in a single day!

Gear for Under the Rim: A Basic Backpacking Packing List

The following list is intended only as a guide to what you might want to bring on a multi-day rim to rim hike. Pack weight is certainly a consideration, not to mention the time of year, so of course tailor your pack contents to both personal preference and weather-related requirements.

Okay, so first you have your backpack. (Duh!)

Then you might add....

  • Tent: although many people prefer to sleep under the stars in Grand Canyon or bring no more than a tarp in case of precipitation. Me, though ... I prefer zipping myself inside a cocoon rather than being crawled or perhaps slithered upon by creepy-crawlies. (See the photo below, and you'll know what I mean.)
  • Ground pad: a blow-up Thermarest for the more delicate or, if you're like me and don't mind a bit less cush, a closed-cell foam or Z-rest pad to shave some weight
  • Sleeping bag or even just a liner for mid-summer hikes
  • Water bottles: I always carry four (or two bottles and a water bladder) on a R2R hike, even if a couple are empty at times. I like to have that much capacity.
  • Extra shirt (or two): The Canyon is one place I sometimes break my "no cotton" rule, particularly in the summer. You may have heard an outdoorsperson say, "Cotton kills," and that is certainly true in cold and even wet, cool weather, but in the extreme heat of the summer in Grand Canyon, it's sometimes nice NOT to dry off. A saturated cotton tee will take a very long time to dry, so it can act like an air conditioner.
  • Extra shorts or convertible pants: I prefer the convertible pants, so I can zip the lower legs on or off. They help protect my calves from the sun and occasional brushes with prickly desert plants.
  • Extra socks: Here, I always go non-cotton.
  • Thermal underwear: non-cotton. as always
  • Jacket: another thing I bring on any hike or backpacking trip at any time of year. Of course, adjust the weight depending on the season. (If you read my journal entries above, you can see the extreme temperature differences between the Inner Gorge and rims, so a variety of clothing layers is necessary.)
  • Hat: I always carry a knit hat and, in the Canyon, a sun hat is really a must. Some people even prefer to bring a lightweight sun umbrella.
  • Gloves or glove liners (and sometimes work-type gloves come in very handy, too)
  • Camp sandals for airing out one's tootsies (and wading) after a sweaty day of hiking
  • Light sources: I always carry two, a headlamp and a hand-held (flashlight), along with extra batteries and bulbs.
  • Cooking equipment: a backpacking stove and fuel, wind shield, gripper, pot and lid, utensil/s, and perhaps a mug if you like something hot to sip on now and then. And, hey, maybe even pack some food too!
  • Electrolyte replacement (Gatorade or another type of sports drink or drink mix packets)
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Toiletries, including TP (There are bathrooms in the Canyon but often nothin' but cactus spines for ... well, you know. Ouch!). I also bring a small brush or comb, toothbrush and travel-size paste, and some skin lotion.
  • Sunscreen (sweat-proof), and
  • Sunglasses
  • Emergency water purification tablets—I always bring these, even if I feel sure I'll have access to plenty of potable water.
  • Bandana: I always bring at least one. This multi-purpose item can be a sweat rag or headband, a wet-down neck band, a sun shield tucked under one side or the back of my hat to protect my face or neck if need be, a snot rag, and a washcloth.
  • Trekking poles--a personal preference
  • Map: You really don't need a map when hiking the Corridor trails, but I like to bring one along anyway, for identifying certain features and seeing what other trails and side canyons are in the area.
  • Extra goodies: Guidebook and/or field guide, camera, your favorite trashy novel, the kitchen sink and so forth. You decide what's worth the extra weight in your backpack.
  • And don't forget your wallet (or at least some money, a credit card and ID in a zip-loc baggie) and your car keys.
  • Cell phone: I'm including this only because when I don't include it my lists people remind me to add it. Thing is, cell phones don't work in Grand Canyon. Some providers will have a signal here and there on the rims, but, as with any backcountry location, never count on it. There's actually a pay phone at Phantom Ranch, and there are also pay phones on the North Rim, so you may want to carry a calling card.
My Least Favorite Grand Canyon Bed Buddy

My Least Favorite Grand Canyon Bed Buddy

Learn more about this amazing natural wonder of the world -- it's history, both geological and human; the people who've made Grand Canyon their home, from past to present; the flora and fauna; the river that had a big part in creating it; and events that have taken place in the Park.

You can also find these books in stores at the South Rim....

An Interactive DVD: Backpack The Grand Canyon

A Great Beginner's Guide

My Well-Used Pocket Guide

Have You Been to Grand Canyon National Park?

Please answer my two visitor polls below.

My friend Martin at Ooh-Aah Point on the South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon, taken on a rim-to-rim hike on October 1st.

My friend Martin at Ooh-Aah Point on the South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon, taken on a rim-to-rim hike on October 1st.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Deb Kingsbury

Have You Hiked in the Grand Canyon? - Comments, questions, thoughts and opinions are welcome.

Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on June 30, 2017:

Dropping below the rim (well, hiking below the rim) is really a wonderful experience ... as long as it's not too hot. That's why it's best to do rim-to-rim in the Fall, just before the North Rim closes. Early spring is nice too, except that the North Rim isn't open. That is, there are no services then, and the road out might still be snow-covered. But any hike in the Canyon is awesome, so I hope you get a chance to experience that.

Susan Sears on June 23, 2017:

Great article. I have been to the Grand Canyon edge many years ago and would love to actually hike the Grand Canyon. Your article gave some great information, resources, and pictures. Makes me want to try a hike sometime.

Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on September 27, 2014:

I love Zion! Such a different park to explore, even though it's not all that far from Grand Canyon. I hope you get to all those places and have a great time! Perhaps I'll pass you on the trail. :)

Satarupa Mitra from India on September 25, 2014:

Its one of my bucket list.I really have to brush up my fitness.I intent to do a camping tour of Monument valley,Zion Park,Grand Canyon(South Rim).Your detailed info. is surely a reality check.Awesome !

umbrella-bagger on June 30, 2014:

Well, you've convinced me to add a trip to the Grand Canyon to my bucket list.

DavidMoses1986 on May 14, 2014:

Superb lens :)

HandyHelper on March 13, 2014:

It's still on my list.

TerriCarr on March 12, 2014:

I am bookmarking this page to read when I have a little more time. Neat!

ChocolateLily on September 30, 2013:

I've seen the Grand Canyon from the rim, but I doubt I'd ever hike in it. I enjoyed your photos, though.

archetekt lm on September 17, 2013:

I'd love to hike the rim to rim someday. I love your guide here, didn't know there were so many options on trails.

Andrew4M on August 08, 2013:

I enjoyed the travel guide.

waterproof-boot on June 21, 2013:

It looks like an amazing place, and your write-up really makes me want to go! Maybe a new "wonder of the world" :)

TheWorldOutdoors on June 04, 2013:

This is great!! Looks like you've covered all the must-see spots and great supplemental materials and information! We provide 6 day rim-to-rim hiking tours for the adventurous travelers that want a helpful guide along the way!

blestman lm on May 29, 2013:

Great lens. you make me want to go there now and do this. I am putting this on my bucket list

mariacarbonara on May 26, 2013:

Would love to go and im now considering hiking too

anonymous on May 13, 2013:

We are going to the GC in 2 weeks. We will not have as much time to hike the RIMs, but since it is our first time there we will hang out at the south rim for a day and a half.

Cynthia Haltom from Diamondhead on May 11, 2013:

I have been to the Grand Canyon but have never felt compelled to hike it.

ian-patrick-716 on April 26, 2013:

looks fantastic except the scorpoin

Takkhis on January 16, 2013:

What a nature!

anonymous on January 11, 2013:

Did a wonderful 5-day rim-to-rim hike in late October; perfect temperatures & a full moon while we were camped at Bright Angel CG. Probably as close to a perfect hiking experience as is humanly possible to have. Have previously done the R2R, Thunder River-Tapeats Creek-Deer Creek loop, South Bass Trail, Boucher & Hermits trails. South Kaibab Trail, sections of the Tonto Trail. There's just something about the Grand Canyon that keeps calling me back.....

Lareene from Atlanta, GA on January 01, 2013:

No this may be as close as I get. Thanks for the trip beautiful scenery.

getmoreinfo on January 01, 2013:

Congratulations for being featured in the Squidoo HQ Blog.

TanoCalvenoa on December 27, 2012:

Only a little, but what an awesome place!

cheftimestwo on December 07, 2012:

Stunning lens! I've had the chance to visit the south and north rim on separate occasions for short day hikes but now I'm adding this to my list of hikes to do. Thank you for the great info.

mecheshier on December 02, 2012:

Great info and love the pics. Thanks you!

gregmansour on November 20, 2012:

not yet but maybe i will do it

Sharon Berry from Michigan on November 08, 2012:

This is an awesome lens, you made me feel like I was hiking right along with you. Would love to do this some day! Great, great job.

Linda Jo Martin from Post Falls, Idaho, USA on October 26, 2012:

I hiked the Bright Angel trail in 1971, and would like to go back. Thanks for sharing your journal and gear list...

acnesolution1 on October 24, 2012:

Amazing Lens!

mistyblue75605 lm on September 26, 2012:

:)P

gaser983 on September 23, 2012:

Very nice lens, great job!

June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on August 24, 2012:

No, but it is on my to-do list.

TheBeautifulLife on August 23, 2012:

Greatcontent. I love to read...Thank you...

Country Sunshine from Texas on August 23, 2012:

Such an excellent article! I've always wanted to backpack through the Grand Canyon. Reading your story is almost as good as doing it myself.

Cara on August 12, 2012:

I've not visited the Grand Canyon, maybe one day if I'm lucky.

tcorbs on July 31, 2012:

I've never been, but it's on my list of places to visit. I can see why this lens won for lens of the day, nicely done!

pawpaw911 on July 27, 2012:

Sounds like fun, but I've never been there......yet.

cgbroome on July 05, 2012:

Really enjoyed your lens! I haven't been to the Grand Canyon yet but my husband and I would like to go sometime within the next year. Again thank you for the insight!

EnjoyLens on July 01, 2012:

Great lens, well done! Thumbs up

Mamaboo LM on June 30, 2012:

Nice, very nice. Before I was even done with your lens, I sent it to my husband telling him we need to do this with our girls! Thanks for the lens, and one in a long list of blessings I'm sure!

raelcalu on June 26, 2012:

i like what you did here, great lens...reading the journal entry felt like i'm reading a novel or something, taking me somewhere ive never been to.

then seeing the striking photos made me want to visit the place too.

thumbs up for this one.

raelcalu on June 26, 2012:

i like what you did here, great lens...reading the journal entry felt like i'm reading a novel or something, taking me somewhere ive never been to.

then seeing the striking photos made me want to visit the place too.

thumbs up for this one.

LadyFlashman from United Kingdom on June 22, 2012:

I was lucky enough to spend a week there camping (in very very cold conditions!) as I was doing volunteer conservation work along the rim. I will never forget my first glimpse over the edge, the sheer size and depth just cannot be captured on camera. I hope to go back again someday and hike rim to rim!

SteveKaye on May 28, 2012:

You have made the ultimate guide to hiking in the Grand Canyon. It's tough hike, so I'm very impressed that you completed it. I'm going back to the top to reread this article.

Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on May 23, 2012:

@anonymous: I believe it's more like an hour than 10 minutes ... but still! Yes, the most common visit is very short. People pass through on tour buses, which don't stay long. Or they drive in and stop at a few of the view points on the South Rim for some photos. You're in the very small minority if you hike below the rim.

anonymous on May 23, 2012:

I read somewhere that the average stay at the Grand Canyon is under 10 minutes. What a shame! We didn't camp overnight on any of the trails of the Grand Canyon, but we hiked several of them over a few days. I wish we did more. Maybe we'll go back. Very nice lens.

NightMagic on May 21, 2012:

I'm planning on going to the Grand Canyon this fall. I was going to go this summer until I read your lens. Thanks for the incredible amount of info you've provided. Hopefully Pam will still be at Phantom Ranch.

SayGuddaycom on May 20, 2012:

I just got invited to go on one of these hiking trips!

Angela F from Seattle, WA on May 09, 2012:

I actually got lost in the Grand Canyon as a kid when we were camping there. Think it's about time I went back for a hike!

fullofshoes on May 09, 2012:

This is an impressive lens...great work. Bookmarked.

getmoreinfo on May 04, 2012:

The grand canyon is my favorite.

jayceehaynes on May 02, 2012:

never hiked the Grand Canyon but I love to pics there!

jayceehaynes on May 02, 2012:

never hiked the Grand Canyon but I love to pics there!

Kay on April 12, 2012:

I'm more a Sierra Nevadas or Cascades hiking kind of gal but, for the first time ever, you've got me considering this.

DahliaValentine on April 11, 2012:

I can't wait to go - you make your hike sound so awesome!

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on April 10, 2012:

Not yet! Loved reading of your experiences hiking the Grand Canyon though! :)

tjconkster on April 08, 2012:

@anonymous: We're currently planning a R2R...have day hiked there several times. but haven't done the "Big One" Ay advice?

tjconkster on April 08, 2012:

My favorite hike was doe in the winter on the Bright Angel Trail...It was beautiful and we had the trail to ourselves...Word of caution, be sure to wear crampons because the first mile or so can be snow covered and icy...our waiter at the El Tovar over diner that evening told us about a tourist who slipped off the trail and into the Canyon...he said they would recover his body in the spring after the snow melted....Caution is always a good practice when hiking the Grand Canyon!

tricomanagement on March 29, 2012:

yes - loved it but it was 1961 - long time ago

Hagglecoins on March 09, 2012:

Hiker there once as a kid, definately did not see some of these amazing sights you've shown here in your lens. Man...now I have to go back :)

anonymous on February 07, 2012:

My husband and I hiked R2R in 1989 before we had children. We are now planning another R2R hike with our three daughters. It truly is the experience of a life time.

anonymous on February 01, 2012:

Wonderful article, *blessed*

Vikki from US on January 27, 2012:

I haven't, but it sounds fun ;)

klaird on January 17, 2012:

I love all your Grand Canyon Hiking lenses. I featured many of them on "My Grand Canyon Hike to the Bottom" lens. Great Job, your hiking adventures are very inspiring!

SayGuddaycom on January 13, 2012:

Thrilling and fun.

pbfinance on January 09, 2012:

Wow, what a unique lens Bravo!

TripleTK LM on January 05, 2012:

Yes and love, love, loved it! I wasn't sure if it would live up to its grand reputation, but it far exceeded it! Camped at the bottom. Truly spectacular!

baby-strollers on December 13, 2011:

Never have, but would sure like to once the kids are a bit bigger

Bob from Kansas City on December 11, 2011:

I haven't hiked it yet but I really want to. What a great lens and an inspiration for others to hike and journal! Loved it.

chgreen on November 28, 2011:

absolutely delightful lens!

BlueTrane on November 18, 2011:

Great Lens! Loads of great info and I love the pictures. Makes me want to go back. You truely get no idea of the scope and magnitude of the GC until you hike it!

N Beaulieu on November 09, 2011:

I'm glad you shared information about water sources while hiking the Grand Canyon. Staying hydrated is immensely important. Amazing lens!

Rhidawn on October 27, 2011:

I've n ever been, but I'd like to go one day! Hiking it sounds fun

EMangl on October 24, 2011:

Must be fantastic there ..

timelapselove on October 18, 2011:

What an awesome lens! So much good info and inspiration. Adding this to my list of things I need to do. Thanks!

BucketTrucks LM on October 10, 2011:

Wow. What an elaborate lens. I hope I can write this much content some day!

SaintFrantic on October 07, 2011:

You have a lot of miles behind you.That's inspiring for everybody else

anonymous on October 01, 2011:

The Grand Canyon is truly breath taking and took my breath away the first time I seen it. Everyone needs to visit this place at least once in their life time.

Mamaboo LM on September 29, 2011:

I don't know what's more impressive. The fact that it's sooo beautiful, or that people actually do it. I find these to be wonderful Goals!!!

goo2eyes lm on September 27, 2011:

never been to grand canyon. i am afraid to look down

stephanieelizabeth on September 19, 2011:

*Adds to bucket list*. I would love to visit the Grand Canyon and hike to the bottom, but I haven't even stepped foot in the US yet. One day.

dnmarket on September 18, 2011:

I want to hike the Grand Canyon. Thanks your for the information.

AnneMathews on September 16, 2011:

You've provided an excellent resource. Well done.

Mosoma on September 10, 2011:

Beautiful lens. Thanks for sharing.

Mosoma on September 10, 2011:

Beautiful lens. Thanks for sharing.

AsaGislason on September 09, 2011:

So much valuable information, thanks. Hope that someday I can put it to real test ;-) Definitely on my 101 list.

DLeighAlexander on September 06, 2011:

That was a beautiful journey! Thank you for sharing; the Grand Canyon is filled with breath-taking beauty.

RecipePublishing on August 18, 2011:

No but I weish I had when I was younger.

termit_bronx on August 17, 2011:

Excellent lens! I've never been to Grand Canyon before, but I really hope I'll visit it once! Blessed by an Squidangel!

BlenderHead LM on August 12, 2011:

I would LOVE to visit the Grand Canyon! Looks epic!

tyler70 on August 12, 2011:

Very nice lens!! Wish to go there someday!

cyberwizzard on August 03, 2011:

I have flown over it but never had the chance to explore it on foot. Definitely a rugged adventure that would test any ones capabilities. Nice lens!

whiteskyline lm on August 02, 2011:

I had the opportunity to fly over the canyon in a helicopter back when they still did that. It was astonishing. As everyone says, pictures don't do it justice.

kTerrain1 on July 28, 2011:

Great looking lense! Always have wanted to hike the Canyon. Thanks for reminding us that we need permits first.

candy47 on July 20, 2011:

It was raining but we had fun anyway!

RobertCAshford LM on July 19, 2011:

Going on a hike is wonderful way to experience some of the canyonâs rich natural beauty and immense size. However, even if you are an avid hiker, hiking the Grand Canyon is very different from most other hiking experiences.

rim knobs

thebabyshop on July 15, 2011:

I've been here, but never hiked it. I would need some serious strength training in order to build up to this level! I love this lens, great work!

daftrude on July 13, 2011:

Sounds pretty Epic!

NightMagic on July 03, 2011:

What a totally awesome lens. I've never been to the Grand Canyon but hopefully I'll get there soon. I'm going to book mark this so I can read it again before I go. What a incredible amount of work you put into this lens.

iCarpeDiem on June 29, 2011:

What a great read! Very much enjoyed reading about your adventure. The Grand Canyon is yet on my to do list, hopefully someday soon! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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