Grand Canyon Walking Guide: Best Tours, Trails & Tips

Hiking in the Grand Canyon National Park is not fun for the faint of heart. It is a vast desert landscape full of rocks, steep slopes and loose rocky ground. The weather here is a mix of hodgepodge, and can range from intense heat to severe thunderstorms, depending on the season and which part of the canyon you choose to explore. For the most daring hikers, we suggest learning tips and life hacks for hiking the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon. Photo: Shutterstock

The Grand Canyon from the Eastern to the Western Frontier reaches 277 miles (446 km) in length, writes Travel and Leasure... It is about 18 miles (29 km) wide from the North to South Rim, and more than 6000 feet (nearly 1830 meters) deep from the top to the bottom of the canyon. “There are no easy trails in the Grand Canyon,” says Andrea Ross, a former park ranger. Grand Canyon and trekking guide "But for those who are physically prepared for the steep climbs and descents, hiking in this greatest of America's canyons pays off with stunning views and experiences."

From day trips to multi-day wilderness excursions that take you past slot canyons, waterfalls and other amazing places, the Grand Canyon is an ideal destination for an adventure lover.

Grand Canyon Trekking

For over 100 years, people have been exploring the vast and timeless beauty of this national park while hiking. For some routes, you can obtain hiking permits through the lottery system a year before the planned trip. In addition, reputable hiking organizers offer a variety of tours that facilitate the logistics of travelers and add benefits to knowledge and safety.

“When people are in the wilderness, they like to know that they are next to someone who knows the routes, is trained in first aid, and knows how to communicate to help when needed. All of this is provided by the guides, ”says Andy Cronen, program manager for REI Adventures North America, who designs Grand Canyon tours with local guides.

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“There’s another aspect: wanting to be there with someone who can tell you everything you’re looking at, including natural history, geology, flora and fauna,” adds Cronen.

One of the most popular Grand Canyon hikes from REI Adventures is a 7-day tour that includes 2 nights at the legendary Phantom Ranch. Guide, food, permits and hard-to-find booking for the ranch are included in the tour price.

The Grand Canyon Field Conservation Institute has been working with the National Park Service (NPS) for over 2,5 decades, “to provide educational opportunities that complement the efforts of park staff.” They offer day trips and multi-day trips, including trips with mules.

Wildland Trekking offers dozens of Grand Canyon trekking tours. Programs allow tourists to camp on the campsite in the park and go from there on day trips to the canyon, returning every night.

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Grand Canyon Hiking Trails

  • For beginners: Cape Final - This 4-mile (roundtrip) hike along the northern edge of an isolated, quiet and relatively flat area, making it accessible to hikers of all skill levels. The trail takes tourists away from the more crowded routes and provides stunning views of the eastern Grand Canyon, including the Temple of Vishnu and the Temple of Jupiter.
  • For intermediate level: South Kaibab Trail - Starting at Yaki Point on the South Rim, hikers descend 4500 feet (1370 meters) nearly 7 miles (11 km) along the ridge line to the Kaibab Suspension Bridge that crosses the Colorado River. The 1,5-mile hike to Cedar Ridge is an ideal daytime option, you can continue down the river and stay overnight. This trail easily connects to Bright Angel for longer, but develops into an uphill the next day.
  • For intermediate level: Ribbon Falls - Starting at the bottom of the Canyon, this is an 11-mile (about 18 km) day hike from Phantom Ranch or campsite. A great way to feel comfortable in the heat is the path to the falls through lush vegetation to a secluded, cool and humid place.
  • For experts: The Grandview Trail, one of the Canyon's lesser-known trails, is not as well maintained as the others, so it is thought to be suitable for advanced training. Originally built as a mining trail, this trail is replete with extremely steep descents, and in the summer months the top of the trail can be covered with snow and ice.

Best day trip option

Reaching approximately 10 miles (16 km) one way, Bright Angel is the most popular hiking trail in the Grand Canyon. Not only is it easily accessible from the South Rim - the trail is just west of Bright Angel Lodge in the Grand Canyon Village, this trail also offers great views. And on it you can shorten the path at any time to complete the hike in one day. This earthen trail has several water stations and indoor rest stops and is considered the safest trail in the canyon. The first 4 miles (6,4 km) of the trail are steep, after the Indian Garden, the trail levels off and finally ends at Bright Angel Campground.

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Grand Canyon Rates

According to the National Park Service website, a car permit for Grand Canyon National Park costs $ 35 per vehicle with any number of passengers for up to 7 days. Annual pass - $ 70. Motorcycle permit - $ 30. If arriving at the Grand Canyon by other means of transportation, including by bike, shuttle bus, walking, private rafting, or by the Grand Canyon Railroad, you will need to pay $ 20 per person for an individual permit (children under 15 are admitted free ).

Weather

Northern Arizona experiences all four seasons, so tourists should be prepared for extreme heat or cold, depending on seasonal fluctuations. In summer, temperatures can soar above 100 degrees (37,7 C), which means that many tourists will start their day before dawn and finish their hike by noon. The ideal hiking seasons are spring and fall.

Safety tips

When going camping in the desert, it is important to take care of water and food. Given the dry air, high altitudes, extreme temperatures and a very small number of water sources, travelers are advised to bring enough water and plenty of food with salt to keep their body fluids. The sun is more intense in the summer months, so you also need to properly cover your head. In some steep areas, tourists will have to use a good balance skill and be prepared for extreme heights and open paths with the potential risk of injury or fall.

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