Hike the Grand Canyon
photographic virtual hiking tour
Hiking trailsThe Grand Canyon National Park offers hiking at various levels. However, one should be aware that virtually all of the many beautiful hikes down into the Grand Canyon are very strenuous. The height difference from the rim top down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is more than 5.000 feet. It is very important that you know your limits, especially if you plan a dayhike down into the Grand Canyon. While it is easier to return when walking uphill a mountain, the Grand Canyon in the end makes you walk uphill when you want to return to your car or shelter. Be sure to plan your trip and check with the Visitor Center for conditions and hazards. Watch the weather and take plenty of water. In the summer months, it may be extremely hot, with temperatures in the hundreds or above, while in the winter, the rim may be covered with snow and temperatures may be far below the freezing point. There are also other hazards about which the Visitor Center will inform you thoroughly.
In my opinion, the best time of the year for hiking is late fall or late winter when it is relatively cool. Note that it may be freezing, and snow and ice may cover the trails. Be aware of hazardous hiking conditions in that case, since many trails down into the Grand Canyon are quite steep. My first hike down into the Grand Canyon was in mid-December, and we used small crampons for the first snow- and ice-covered part of the trail (even though it would have been possible without, but you never know ...). Camping at the South Rim required an excellent and warm sleeping bag. Temperatures down in the canyon were more comfortable, and camping was possible without a reservation. My second hike was in early March, with much warmer temperatures. I absolutely would not recommend the summer due to the extremely high temperatures. Moreover, this is the main holiday season: Prepare for the crowds and reserve early!
Be prepared for your hike! Take plenty of water, enough food and appropriate clothing.
DayhikesThe Grand Canyon offers many possibilities for day hikes at various levels. The Rim Trail at the South Rim is an easy hiking trail which leads along the south rim, offering gorgeous views into the canyon. The Rim Trail is mostly level except for some parts west of the Grand Canyon Village. This trail can be hiked in parts and is far less strenuous than any hike going down into the Grand Canyon.
You can hike down into the Grand Canyon on the South Kaibab Trail starting right at the Grand Canyon Village. Your maximum day hike destination should be Indian Gardens or Plateau Point, which is about 4.6 miles and 6.1 miles into the trail, respectively.
Depending on your phyiscal condition, you may also hike down the South Kaibab Trail until Tonto Trail and then hike west along Tonto Trail to Indian Garden. From there, you can hike out of the canyon along Bright Angel Trail, which will bring you back to the Grand Canyon Village. You can reach the South Kaibab Trail head with a bus from Grand Canyon Village. Please note that Tonto Trail is a wilderness trail and requires route finding capabilities! If you do not feel comfortable with this, or if you do not have the required experience, plase do not take Tonto Trail.
Overnight hikingThe Grand Canyon offers many multiple-day hikes. Probably the most popular multiple-day hike is a combination of South Kaibab Trail and Bright Angel Trail with a campout on the Bright Angel Campground. When doing this hike, I recommend that you hike down the South Kaibab Trail, and return up on the Bright Angel Trail. This offers you some great views over the Grand Canyon. You can reach the trail head of the South Kaibab Trail with a bus from Grand Canyon Village, and the Bright Angel Trail will bring you back directly to the Grand Canyon Village. If you think that hiking out of the Grand Canyon in one day is too strenous, you may consider spending an additional night at Indian Garden campground along Bright Angel Trail, making your trip a two-nighter. It is also worth spending some more days down at Bright Angel Campground from where there are several possibilities for beautiful day hikes, such as hiking up the North Rim Trail to Ribbon Falls. Phantom Ranch is located right next to Bright Angel Campground and has a restaurant and bar and several lodges. Fresh water is usually available, except for when the fresh-water pipe is broken (check with the backcountry office before).
As an alternative, you can also hike down the South Rim and then hike back out via the North Rim Trail. In this case, you obviously need someone who picks you up at the North Rim.
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