How To Hike The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park was the fifteenth National Park to be established. Personally, I believe it is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The canyon is so vast, and one cannot see the Colorado River from the top of either rim. The best time to visit is in April-May and September-October due to the low crowds, perfect temperature around the 70s, and lowest accounts of rainfall. I hope everyone can have the opportunity to see this natural wonder of the world.

Now, if you want to visit the Grand Canyon, but don't want to hike, you have two great options. You can either walk on the rim-trail on either the South Rim or the North Rim. The North Rim is higher in altitude, has more animals, and has fewer crowds.

However, it can be 10 degrees cooler than the South Rim. The iconic shot of the Grand Canyon is from the South Rim. Here, you can walk from Hermit’s Rest all the way to Desert View to encapsulate this majestic view. While the total rim trail is 12.8 miles, you can start and stop anywhere you would like, and get a large feeling of the Canyon.

On the North Rim, you can hike 0.25 miles to Bright Angel Point, which is regarded as having the most beautiful view of the South Rim.

In the case you would like to hike for a short amount of time, and have a better view within the Canyon, I would highly recommend hiking 1.5 miles down the Bright Angel Trail to the 1½ Mile Rest House.

The altitude delta is 1120 feet, and the round-trip trail takes, on average, 3 hours. It is very important, no matter the hike, to remain hydrated. You should bring 2 liters of water with you on any hike. Luckily, there are water stations at the 1½ Mile Rest House, where you can refill your water bottles. When drinking water, is it important to take small sips frequently rather than drinking large volumes infrequently. This will avoid dehydration. It is also advisable to bring small snacks with you, typically salty snacks, to retain the water in your body. As you sweat, you lose electrolytes. If you can, I would recommend bringing a Vitalyte package to mix in your water in order to avoid muscle cramps, and to remain fully hydrated. While short in distance, this hike allows you to see a completely different perspective of how vast the Canyon is when you are within it.

If you are a tenacious hiker, hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim is for you. To warn you, this hike is not for everyone. There is a 408-page book, Over the Edge, which details every known death in the Grand Canyon. Most of these deaths are associated with dehydration/heat stroke, and falling of edges. It is of the utmost importance to continue being hydrated, and to always walk on the path.

While there are three separate trails to hike down to the Colorado River, there are two main trails to hike rim-to-rim. I would advise you to split the hike in two days no matter the trek. You can either purchase a permit to sleep at Bright Angel Campground, or you can rent a bed at Phantom Ranch. If choosing the latter, you will not have to carry a tent, Therm-A-Rest mattress pad, or sleeping bag down the canyon, which reduces the weight of your backpack significantly. Also, I recommend eating the steak dinner, breakfast, and the packed lunch at Phantom Ranch. Not only is it delicious after a strenuous hike, but also it allows you to carry less weight through the Canyon.

When hiking the rim-to-rim hike, you can either hike from the South Rim to South Rim, or hike from the North Rim to South Rim. Doing both, I can tell you the pros and cons to each. Either or, it is most important to start these hikes around 4:00 a.m. local time to avoid the rapid increase in temperature in the “hot box” of the canyon floor from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. But be warned, I have hiked in May, and it hailed and rained on us. As the Boy Scout motto states, “Be prepared,” and carry the appropriate clothing for such instances.

First, you can hike down the South Kaibab Trail (7 miles), and hike up the Bright Angel Trail (9.5 miles). This is a nice trek, as it is hiking from the South Rim to the South Rim. You will not need to take a transfer bus to the other rim the night before your hike. Also, it is better to hike in this order, because the Bright Angel Trail is less steep than the South Kaibab. Nevertheless, it is always important to wear the proper footwear. There are two main cons to this hike. First, there are no water fountains down the South Kaibab Trail, so be prepared with filled water bottles. It is also easier to carry less weight going down the Canyon as you continuously drink water. Second, this is not the famous rim-to-rim hike. Sure, this trek is a rim-to-the-same-rim hike, however, the next hike is the famous rim-to-rim adventure.

Second, you can hike down the North Kaibab Trail (14 miles), and hike up the Bright Angel Trail (9.5 miles). This hike contains two trails with water, so you can always refill your water bottles. Also, these trails are less steep than the South Kaibab. However, there are a few costs to this journey, as well. First, you will need to take the trans canyon shuttle bus, which costs $90 one-way, and takes four-and-a-half hours, to return to your motor vehicle. Second, the North Kaibab Trail is double the length of the South Kaibab Trail. However, the North Rim offers a completely different view of the Grand Canyon. It has a diverse, green ecosystem that is unknown to the South Rim. When you complete this voyage, you will have seen the entire Grand Canyon at large, which only 1% of Grand Canyon visitors complete.

In the popular PBS series of “The National Parks,” Ken Burns projects how National Parks are America’s Best Idea. I couldn’t agree more. Moreover, I believe the Grand Canyon is one the world’s most stunning treasurers. One can visit multiple times in one’s life, but still feel the vastness of beauty every time. Nonetheless, if you want to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim, I highly recommend one of these two treks.

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