Considering that the Grand Canyon is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, it offers some of the most challenging and scenic hiking and backpacking adventures that can be found anywhere.
1Careful planning is important before embarking on a Grand Canyon adventure, especially since the canyon includes steep trails, intense heat, fast changing weather, and elusive water and shade.
2The preparation is worthwhile, though, since you are treated to a part of the Grand Canyon most of the public doesn’t see.
3Most of 1.2 million acre Grand Canyon National Park can be explored by foot, with some exceptions. Approximately two dozen established trails provide access to some of the park’s most spectacular destinations.
4Beginning at North Rim or South Rim, the trails wind down to the bottom of the canyon, which is a vertical mile below. These trails range in length and difficulty, and a backcountry permit is required for overnight camping in the park.
5Though day hikers don’t have to get a permit from the park service, it’s important that they select their route carefully and tell someone where they are going and when they plan to return. Every year, numerous day hikers get lost or become disoriented in the canyon, and some die.
6The best day hike in the canyon is the Bright Angel Trail. The trail starts at Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim and meanders seven miles to the Colorado River below. Hiking to the river and back in the same day is strongly discouraged. Several rest houses are scattered at 1.5 mile increments between the top of the Bright Angel Trail and Indian Garden Campground, which is situated halfway to the bottom of the canyon.
7Remember, it typically takes twice as much time and effort to ascend than it takes to descend.
8Before embarking on a day hike, be sure to get a reliable weather forecast and dress appropriately with sturdy shoes and a brimmed hat. Water and snacks should be brought as well.
9Spending a few nights at the Bright Angel Campground or the Indian Garden Campground is ideal for first-time backpackers.
10The Bright Angel Campground can be reached by the Bright Angel or the South Kaibab Trail and the Indian Garden by the Bright Angel Trail. Advanced reservations are recommended. Bathrooms, treated drinking water, established campsites and individual food storage canisters are found at both campgrounds.
11To learn more about ideal hiking trails and other aspects of the Grand Canyon, make plans to see the National Geographic Visitor Center, which is located at the south rim entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. The visitor center serves as a destination and a resource for the most comprehensive selection of information about Grand Canyon area hotels, tours, attractions, restaurants and sightseeing and outdoor activities.