When we were at the Outdoor Adventure Show in Toronto, we got a lot of requests for information on hiking the Grand Canyon “Rim-to-Rim”.  This is quite the hike, approximately 23 miles (37km) and takes several days to complete. It has become a very popular hike for those brave enough to hike it!

We have compiled some of the top tips to make note of when planning a Rim-to-Rim hike. There are plenty more so make sure to give us a call and we can go through all of your options for you.

 

    Top Tips for Hiking Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon:

 

Bright Angel Trail
Bright Angel Trail

 

·         The best time of year to do a rim-to-rim is mid-May through mid-June, and mid-September to mid-October. Part of this has to do with the temperatures, as they are scorching hot in the summertime, but this also corresponds to the closing of the North Rim Lodge in the colder months.

·         We recommend that you start at the North Rim and end at the South Rim. There are a few reasons for this; 

o   First, and most important is the 1,000 ft or 300 m of elevation difference between the North Rim and South Rim.  By starting at the North Rim, you save yourself that much in uphill.

o   Second, if you plan on hiking it in an 1 overnight excursion, get the 14 miles from the North Rim to Phantom Ranch out of the way on day 1.  That makes day 2 a 7 mile and 4780 ft or 14750 m (South Kaibab Trail) or 9.5 mile 4380 ft or 1335 m (Bright Angel Trail) day. 

o   Third, if you are planning on making this a 3 day trip, this evenly breaks up all of the days to about a 7 mile hike if you use the Cottonwood Campground.

o   Finally, there are more restaurants, lodging, camping, and transportation facilities at the South Rim versus the North Rim and they are open year-round. It is easier to get home and also reward yourself with a good shower and a hot meal at the end of your trip!

·         If you are wanting to do Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, then you should start and end at the South Rim for sure.

·         Note: Don’t forget this hike isn’t a loop. There is a shuttle service that provides transfers from Rim-to-Rim to help you get to where you need to go. (That’s where we can come in to help!)

·         The recommended time to take for the hike is 2-4 days. While it is possible to do in 1 day, it’s a lot of distance and elevation and we would not recommend it. If you split it up into 4 days, you will have time to actually explore the other trails inside the Canyon and see the beautiful sights along the way.

·         Permits are required to stay overnight in the Grand Canyon. All of the info on how to obtain a backcountry permit can be found here. You can submit your permit request up to 4 months prior to your desired start date for the trip. You can also let us know your permit requests and Southwest Adventure Tours can assist you with arranging permits.  

·         Here is some recommended gear and other things to consider:

o   You want to make sure that you dress for the desert conditions. This includes cool temperatures in mornings and evenings, but warm to hot days. Have a jacket or fleece to keep your body temperature up when it is cool.  Hypothermia has happened in the desert before.

o   Make sure to cover up from the sun and have a good hat. Also, sunscreen, chap-stick, etc. is good to have.

o   Water is available along the way, but bring water purification equipment just in case of a pipeline failure.  These do happen multiple times every year.  If you hike up South Kaibab Trail, plan on having enough water for the whole trip.  There isn’t a place to refill like on Bright Angel and North Kaibab.

o   Trekking poles are great to help you descend and keep your balance.

o   You also want to pack as little as possible to take the stress off of your legs. Don’t bring the kitchen sink because about mile 6 on your way up out of the canyon, you will want to throw it away! Weight will be your enemy on this trail.

o   Make sure that your hiking boots or sneakers are well broken in, well-fitting, and comfortable. Do not bring new shoes for this hike.

·         You will also need to bring more snacks and eat more frequently. You will be burning a ton of calories! You want to make sure to eat before, during, and after your hike. You should also bring electrolyte supplements (Gatorade packets or similar) to help replenish your electrolytes.

·         There is a lot of potential for dehydration, heat stroke, and even rattlesnakes! It’s a dangerous trail and plenty of advance planning is needed to ensure that you are both physically and mentally prepared for a trail of this nature.

·         When hiking the trail, you will be met and passed by mule trains going up and down the trails.  When this happens, stand on the inside of the trail, against the wall, not the edge.  It has happened where the mule has pushed people off the edge of the trail. Also, watch out for the “GREEN MUD!”

 

Average Temperatures in the Inner Canyon

 

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

High (F)

56

62

71

82

92

101

106

103

97

84

68

57

Low (F)

36

42

48

56

63

72

78

75

69

58

46

37

High (C)

13

17

22

28

33

38

41

39

36

29

20

14

Low (C)

2

6

9

13

17

22

26

24

21

14

8

2


Source: Nps.gov

·         Lastly, please make sure to leave the trail as you found it. With increased hikers comes increased waste and litter, so it is important to leave the canyon as you found it.

Driving Distances from Major Airports to North & South Rim

South Rim to Las Vegas: 4.5-5 hrs
South Rim to Phoenix: 3.5-4 hrs
North Rim to Las Vegas: 5 hrs
North Rim to Phoenix: 6+ hrs

If you have any additional questions or are interested in a guided Rim-to-Rim trip or even a self-guided one with permit assistance, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 1-800-970-5864 for more details.

 

 

Who here has hiked the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim? Is it on anyone’s bucket list? Comment below! 

  

Ooh Ahh Point
Ooh Ahh Point