Rafting Through The Colorado River
Two scenic drives go into the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River. One drive leads to Lee’s Ferry, where rafters begin their journey through the Grand Canyon. The other curves its way through the Canyon. It starts near Peach Springs, Arizona, and follows Diamond Creek through the Hualapai Reservation.
The Grand Canyon National Park Service has helicopter tour providers certified to fly the Canyon. Tours are not allowed to fly to the bottom of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, but some tours land at the bottom of the Grand Canyon West Rim.
Pack Light And Wear Good Shoes
The less you carry the more quickly and comfortably you can travel, and this means packing only the essentials. Water and food should make up the most weight and space in your pack, but sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are also high priorities. Layers for warmth and light rain may be called for, and bring a headlamp if you might get caught in the dark. A small first aid kit should always be with you. Many people bring heavy camera equipment into the canyon, and this is truly one of the most photogenic places on Earth. Consider what you need and dont need to get the shot. That tripod and those extra lenses will feel a whole lot bulkier on the hike back up.
Hikers on short trips can probably get away with wearing any decent tennis shoes or outdoor sandals, but hikers on lengthier hikes or more rugged trails will want lightweight, durable hiking bootsones that have already been broken in and wont give you blisters. Soft and snug socks are important to minimize the friction that causes blisters. Also, be careful to keep your socks and shoes dry although splashing in Bright Angel Creek along North Kaibab Trail is inviting, you may want to do this barefoot so your feet wont be soaked for the rest of the hike.
Sleeping Under The Stars Deep In The Grand Canyon
The National Park Service operates developed campgrounds on the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon and allows backcountry camping on the rims and the canyon floor. Developed campgrounds have tent sites or parking pads for RVs and limited hookups. If youre backpacking, you dont have to stay in one of the campgrounds on the canyon floor, but all campers, including those staying at Bright Angel, Cottonwood and Indian Garden campgrounds require backcountry permits. There is also dispersed camping in national forests near the north and south rims.
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Camping In The Grand Canyon: Things To Know To Make It Happen
Camping should be easyat least finding a campsite should be. But, its not. This I have learned the hard way. It actually requires A LOT of advance planning. And, thats just summer car camping in Colorado. If you want to go camping in the Grand Canyon, well thats an entirely different game. One I cant wait to learn from my friend, camping extraordinaire and fellow writer, .
To kick things off we begin with the most critical, time-sensitive requirement booking your campsite so you can actually make camping in the Grand Canyon a reality.
What To Pack For Camping In The Grand Canyon
Since youll have to pack out everything you pack in to one of the Grand Canyon backcountry campgrounds, there probably will be no room in your backpack for extras. Temperatures at the rim of the canyon and the valley floor can be very different. Pack lightweight clothing you can layer as temperatures change. Thin, long-sleeved shirts worn over a tank top keep you cooler by protecting your skin from the sun. Wear pants if youll be hiking through areas with bushes that might scratch your legs. Otherwise, shorts are acceptable. Wear thick socks, make sure your hiking boots are worn in and waterproofed and carry blister bandages. Pack extra socks in case yours get wet. Use sunscreen, and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Hike in the early morning or in the evening, and make sure you have enough water to remain hydrated.
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What To Expect Of Grand Canyon Off
With so much breathtaking scenery in front and behind, you won’t mind the 25 MPH speed limit along the entire route. Watch out for rough dry wash crossings and drop-offs on the sides of the road that can sneak up on you if you are going too fast. Take your time and enjoy the views.
Getting closer to the river, several streams cross the road. A high-clearance 4×4 is recommended for this road because the stream bottoms and even dry washes can have sharp rocks sticking up – such as this one just waiting to kiss the oil pan of a passenger car.
Less than a mile away from the Colorado River, the canyon starts to close in and more water flows over the road. Small waterfalls can be seen off to the side of the road, adding to the beauty of being down in the canyon.
It took far longer to discover the route than it did to traverse it – in just under an hour we had reached the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The canyon here is not as deep and spectacular as upriver, but this is the only place where you can say that you drove to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Free Camping Near The South Rim
Because the Grand Canyon is so popular, you cant always count on getting a reservation during peak season. Just south of the entrance station is Kaibab National Forest. Free, dispersed camping available there. Just be sure to follow proper boondocking etiquette: leave no trace, do not drive off trails, and be mindful of fire restrictions.
- You can learn more about finding free campsites here.
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Grand Canyon Backcountry Use Areas Map
Poster-size map of Grand Canyon use areas . This pdf shows Grand Canyon backcountry use areas overlayed on a topographic map.
Hike Smart Podcast 03 Heading Down the TrailYou know, it’s all about planning… Before we start down the trail, there are a few to consider. First, are you in good physical condition? If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before visiting. Make sure you are healthy enough to hike steep and difficult trails. Listen
Introduction To Backcountry Hiking Brochure
This brochure is for day and overnight inner canyon hikers. It has information about hiking the Bright Angel, South Kaibab, and North Kaibab trails, as well as permit, planning, Leave No Trace, and Hike Smart information. It is distributed at park visitor centers and backcountry information centers. The web version of this publication is formatted to print on standard 8.5 x 11 letter-sized paper.
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How To Get A Campsite At Grand Canyon National Park
All three NPS-run campgrounds in the park accept reservations. If youre hoping to reserve something, click over to Recreation.gov to find a site. Reservations can be made six months in advance. The Trailer Village is run by a concessionaire and accepts reservations 13 months in advance.
Some off-season first-come, first-served camping is available and generally fills in the morning hours.
When you arrive, grab an envelope from the registration kiosk and then proceed into the campground to find an available site. The sites that are available will not have a tag on the post, and youll want to choose one of those. If you see an empty campsite that still has a paper stub on the post, it likely is still paid for and occupied by someone elseso dont set up there!
After finding a suitable site, immediately fill out the envelope and insert payment, put the stub on the post for your site, and drop the envelope in the slot at the registration kiosk.
To choose your ideal campground, take a look at the in-park options below:
Is There Anything To Do At The Bottom Of The Canyon
When we planned our trip, I thoughtHow many times are you ever at the bottom of the Grand Canyon? We should explore!
Heres the deal. There are a few day hikes you can do while within the canyon, but I didnt find them to be exceptionally well-marked.
And by the time we got to the bottom, I was tired enough that didnt trust my judgement on an unclearly marked trail into the wilderness.
So, if you want to hike on one of those trails, I suggest talking to a park ranger before starting your hike, and also making sure that you are coherent enough to make good hiking decisions.
I also recommend bringing this trail-guide book along: Official Guide to Hiking the Grand Canyon
Heres what we actually did at the bottom of the canyon:
- Sat on boulders in the Bright Angel Creek, rested our very sore legs in the cold creek water, and worked on the art of doing nothing.
- Walked to the shore of the Colorado River, dipped our toes in the water, and ate our lunch on the sand.
- Wandered down the walking path around Phantom Ranch.
- Drank lemonade and beer inside the Phantom Ranch Canteen.
- Went to bed early.
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Campgrounds Fill Up Fast
Camping is a great way to enjoy the Grand Canyon, but remember that the campgrounds fill up quickly. The National Parks are going through a boom in visitation, so you really want to be prepared.
You want to have a solid game plan for getting the most out of your trip.
Whats the best way to do that?
We provide you with a step-by-step game plan for seeing the park. No wasting time figuring out what to do and when. We tell you how to structure your day to see the best sites.
The itinerary is over 30 pages and is full of maps to guide you.
AND it comes with an audio guide to give you the best stories about the park! The audio guide is over 2 hours of stories and lessons about the park.
It was created entirely by me through my research. I am a history teacher at Weber State University and I love finding and telling stories!
Climbing Out Will Take More Time
This seems obvious, but many hikers get lured into descending further than they can reasonably return in a day. The trip downhill can be deceptively easy, but dont let yourself get carried away monitor your progress, your food and water, your energy, and how much daylight remains. You might be surprised at how quickly it gets dark once the sun drops below the canyon rim. Know when sunset is , and remember to pack a headlamp and extra layers if you think you might be out later. Roads remain open in the park all night, so getting “nighted” isnt necessarily a big deal as long as you are prepared.
If you are determined to get as far as you can in a day, plan your route and set a turnaround time before you even set foot on the trail to make sure that you have enough time and energy to get out before dark. Know your average hiking speed, and expect to go slower than normal when climbing out of the canyon. Maps are available for free at the park entrance, and rangers can provide detailed information on weather and trail conditions for the day.
While a round-trip day hike to bottom of the canyon is a lofty accomplishment, the National Park Service does not recommend it, especially during the warmer months. While the complete Rim-to-River and back is frequently completed by people who are physically fit and well prepared, you should only try it if you are experienced in desert hiking and confident in your abilities.
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Hike To The Bottom Of The Grand Canyon
If you plan to visit and hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, you need to know a few things before taking off.
The one-and-a-half miles of the Seven Mile Hole Trail provides a view of the Silver Cord Cascade. Travel another half mile to join the Washburn Spur Trail before arriving at the Hole a little further on the trip.
Grand Canyon Camping At The South Rim
The South Rim is probably the landscape that most travelers are familiar with when conjuring up mental images of the Grand Canyon. The high desert climate, red rocks, and juniper trees are all iconic to the experience. It comes as no surprise considering that the South Rim is the closest point of interest for most visitors as it is near the main park entrance. The South Rim is easily accessible and is a well-developed area with plenty of amenities including a visitors center, general store, and shuttle system.
Hiking is readily available with the Rim and Bright Angel Trailhead is easily accessible. If camping during the summer be prepared for warmer temperatures. Have plenty of water and large water containers on hand. Dehydration can set it with an alarming speed when staying in an arid, high altitude climate. The winter months are much colder. Bring plenty of cold-weather gear as snow is a possibility.
When camping in the South Rim there are two campgrounds available: Mather and Desert View.
The Desert View campground is the second South Rim option. It is smaller than the Mather campground with fewer amenities. Reservations are on a first-come/first-served basis. Flushing toilets and water spigots are available, however, there are no laundry or shower facilities. Please be advised that Mather campground is not open year-round and closes for the winter, reopening in the spring.
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What Is The Most Dangerous National Park
These Are the 5 Deadliest National Parks Grand Canyon, Arizona. Death Count Since 2010: 134. Yosemite, California. Death Count Since 2010: 126. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee. Death Count Since 2010: 92. Sequoia and Kings Canyon, California. Death Count Since 2010: 75. Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Death Count Since 2010: 52.
Where To Stay On The South Rim
Open year-round, Mather Campground is in Grand Canyon Village. Sites are nestled in the shady pinewood forest, with fragrant Ponderosa pine, Pinyon and Juniper trees separating tent sites for privacy in an otherwise busy campground. Elk and deer are frequent visitors. There are 327 campsites, and although RVs are welcome, there are no hookups. Reservations are accepted six months in advance youll want make sure you plan ahead.
First come, first served Desert View Campground , is a smaller, quieter campground, with more rustic facilities. Reservations are not accepted and the campground typically fills by noon for the day. The season for Desert View varies, but is roughly from mid-April to mid-October. Because of COVID-19, it remains closed for the 2020 season.
National Park Service campgrounds in the park do not have RV hookup capabilities. Trailer Village , in the South Rims Grand Canyon Village, is a full hookup RV campground thats open year-round. Youll want to book well in advance during those busy months.
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Rafting To Phantom Ranch
The only way to avoid the lottery is to take a rafting trip from the start of the canyon to the half-way point . Trips often spend their last night with a stay at Phantom Ranch, organized by the rafting company. Then you hike the Bright Angel Trail out of the canyon up to the South Rim.
Read my post on Rafting through the Grand Canyon for full details.
Phantom Ranch Mule Ride
Yes, mulerides to Phantom Ranch from the South Rim are anoption. It means you dont need to hike,but unless you are used to riding a horse , it is worth knowing that amule trip to Phantom Ranchcan actually be much more uncomfortable than hiking. I took a three-hour mule-ride just at the topof the canyon, on flat ground, and long before the end of it, I was in so muchpain I wouldnt have done anything to get off the damn mule. Riding requires a whole set of muscles that Ihave NOT developed.
An alternative to the mule trips to Phantom Ranch is to hike but use the mules to carry your luggage .
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Camping At Phantom Ranch
Phantom Ranch is the only established lodging at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. You can only get there by hiking on foot, traveling by mule, or rafting the Colorado river.
- From the South Rim: Phantom Ranch is 7.5 miles down the South Kaibab Trail or 10 miles down the Bright Angel Trail.
- From the North Rim: Phantom Ranch is 13.6 miles down the North Kaibab Trail
At Phantom Ranch, you can choose to either rent a cabin, or stay in the dorm. There is no tent camping there. Dorm prices start at $53 per person.
While you can pack your own food, one of the cool things about Phantom Ranch is you can order Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner to be cooked and served when you make your reservations. Theres also a duffle service available where the park will deliver your bags to your room at the base of the canyon. That makes for a much simpler hike!
Phantom Ranch is one of the most sought-after accommodations in the Grand Canyon. While its open year-round, there is a lottery process to go through to win your spot. Youll have to enter the lottery 1 month in advance prior to your stay. Entry forms become available on the 15th of every month.