Rim to Rim hike in one day
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First Timers Guide to Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in One Day

You can find the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike on many lists of hardest hikes in America!  It also tops the list as one of the most diverse, thrilling, and rewarding hikes on the planet!  As exhilarating as a Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon can be, it is a endeavor that demands respect and preparation in order to pull it off!  The Grand Canyon is both welcoming and hostile, and completing a Rim to Rim hike in one day requires careful planning, humbleness, and realistic expectations!  This first timers guide to hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike in one day covers all the logistics you need to know in advance, from how to train for a Rim to Rim hike, trail reports on all 3 corridor trails, transportation, logistics, accommodations, where to start and finish, what to expect along the way, how to pace, and how to prepare for the Grand Canyon elements.  There’s few truer tests of strength, grit, determination, and adventure for hikers than accomplishing a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike in one day!

 

Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in One Day

Disclosure: Below are some affiliate links-these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t make any recommendations on this page that I haven’t tested or personally used!  Enjoy this guide to the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike!

 

 

Table of Contents

Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in One Day

 

This guide is a Rim to Rim playbook for beginners.  If you know absolutely nothing about how to hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day, this will take you step by step.  It is important to know exactly what your plan is, and not to improvise anything the day of your Rim to Rim hike.  It is just as important to start preparing far in advance for your Rim to Rim hike, by giving yourself plenty of time to train, choose your route, familiarize yourself with the corridor trails, get your gear, and work out logistics.  Use this guide as a checklist for best results for a successful and safe Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon.

 

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For the purposes of this post, I will approach all recommendations from the perspective of a first timer looking to hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day.  This means I will be covering logistics from the perspective of the most approachable season to hike Rim to Rim, the recommended routes to take, and tips on how to best manage hiking Rim to Rim as a beginner.

 

 

There are multiple options for attempting a one day Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon, but the most approachable way with the best odds of success is to attempt the hike in early October (or as close to early October as possible), descending from the North Rim and the North Kaibab Trail, to the South Rim and ascending the Bright Angel Trail.  This guide will go in depth into each of these factors.  I will also explain more about why these trails are the optimal trails to use for a first timer’s Rim to Rim hike.

 

***Ready to hike into the Grand Canyon, but not ready for a full Rim to Rim?  Check out a shorter alternative  Rim to River hike then!

 

Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in One Day
Experience the mighty Colorado River up close and personal on a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike!

 

 

What to Expect from this Rim to Rim in One Day Guide

 

This guide is meant to be a one stop shop for preparing for a Rim to Rim hike in one day, as a first timer.  It is a step by step plan, that walks you through everything you need to know, in a logical, simple, and straightforward manner.  Here’s the outline:

  • Quick First Timer Tips to Hiking the Grand Canyon In One Day
  • So What Exactly Is a Rim to Rim Hike?
  • Why One Day?
  • Location of the Rim to Rim Hike
  • Choosing Your Direction and Corridor Trails
  • How to Train for a Rim to Rim Hike in One Day
  • Checklists Before the Rim to Rim Hike
  • Gear Recommendations
  • When to Hike the Rim to Rim
  • Logistics of the Rim to Rim hike: Transportation, Lodging, and Where to Start
  • Full Corridor Trail Reports

 

 

Quick First Timer Tips For Hiking the Rim to Rim in One Day

 

  • plan your hike for the 1st or 2nd week of October (or as close as possible at the end of September)

 

  • start on the North Rim (North Kaibab Trail) and finish on the South Rim (Bright Angel Trail)

 

  • train and prepare, train and prepare, train and prepare!

 

 

Training for the Rim to Rim hike
Descending North Kaibab Trail from the North Rim just after sunrise

 

 

So What Exactly Is a Rim to Rim Hike?

 

A Rim to Rim hike is basically a hike from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other.  Along the way, you will reach the bottom of the canyon at Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Campground, and cross the Colorado River.

There are two directions you can hike a Rim to Rim: North to South or South to North.

There are 3 corridor trails available for a Rim to Rim hike: the North Kaibab Trail, the South Kaibab Trail, and the Bright Angel Trail.

 

Length: 23.5 miles roundtrip point to point (North to South) or 21 miles (South to North)

Rating: Very Difficult

Elevation Gain: over 5,000 feet (depending on which corridor trails)

Estimated Time to Hike: 12 – 18 hours

Best Time to Hike: late September – mid October

Pet Policy: pets are NOT allowed on Rim to Rim trails

Permits/Reservations: Permits are NOT required to complete a Rim to Rim hike in one day.  Reservations are only required for camping on multi day/overnight Rim to Rim hikes.  You can find more information on camping along the corridor trails HERE.

 

The Rim to Rim hike is a extremely difficult hike, especially when done in one day, and that is why it is so important to prepare for it.  The 3 corridor trail options for a Rim to Rim hike in one day are below.

 

North Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Trail Route (North Rim to South Rim) – Recommended for 1st Timers

 

South Kaibab Trail to North Kaibab Trail (South to North)

 

Bright Angel Trail to North Kaibab Trail (South to North)

 

 

Why One Day?

 

So why attempt to hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day?  The most straightforward answer is that it is way easier logistically.  You can make this a multi day/overnight backpacking trip, but that requires securing a lodging/camping spot along the trail, which is extremely hard to do, and requires a reservation way, way, in advance.  Especially if you are trying to snag a spot at Phantom Ranch, which is secured via a lottery system.  

 

 

There are several campgrounds along the North Kaibab Trail, such as the Cottonwood Campground and Bright Angel Campground, and the Havasupai Garden Campground on the Bright Angel Trail, but these campgrounds are hard to get spots for.  A day hike of the Rim to Rim requires no permits, reservations, or advance notice on trail accommodations, and therefore is considered to be logistically easier to plan and execute.  

 

The other main advantage to a day hike of the Rim to Rim is the ability to carry less on your person.  If you are camping overnight, you will need to carry all that gear with you.  That may sound doable, until you start going up those last couple grueling miles of the Bright Angel Trail!  I promise you, I have never seen a fully loaded backpacker coming up Bright Angel with a smile on their face.  It can absolutely be done, but I prefer the lighter packing and carrying of a day hike!

 

South Rim of the Rim to Rim hike
Getting ready to tackle the 2nd half of this Rim to Rim hike up Bright Angel!

 

 

Location of the Rim to Rim Hike

 

The Rim to Rim hike is located in Grand Canyon National Park, and stretches from the North Rim to the South Rim.  Grand Canyon National Park is located north of the Arizona mountain towns of Flagstaff, Tusayan, and Williams.  The North Rim is more secluded, with less lodging and accommodation options, while the South Rim is considered to be more touristy, contain more infrastructure and facilities, and and be much more heavily visited.

 

Closest Town(s) to the North Rim:

  • Jacob Lake, AZ: 1 hour
  • Fredonia, AZ: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Kanab, UT: 2 hours

 

Closest Town(s) to the South Rim:

  • Tusayan, AZ: 15 minutes
  • Williams, AZ: 1 hour
  • Flagstaff, AZ: 1 hour and 30 minutes

 

Closest Airports to Grand Canyon National Park:

  • Grand Canyon Airport, AZ
  • Flagstaff Pulliam, AZ
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International, AZ
  • St. George Regional, UT

 

 

Looking out over the North and South RimsLooking out over the course of the Rim to Rim hike!

 

 

How to Prepare for Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

 

The battle to conquer a Rim to Rim day hike doesn’t just take place on the day of your hike.  It starts months in advance with the proper training and acclimation.  To pull off hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day, you MUST be fit, fast, and ready to handle the elements! 

 

 

This should NOT be a hike you decide to try the day before without proper preparation.  This is NOT a hike that you plan to get in shape on and during.  This is NOT a hike that you take on without proper food and hydration.  That could literally become a life threatening situation. 

 

 

The Grand Canyon is lethal, and that cannot be stressed enough.  It has deadly potential, and must be taken seriously and given proper respect.  As well known and well visited as this National Park is, don’t let its popularity lead to your false sense of invincibility.  Hiking these canyons can be deceptive.  Even experienced hikers have struggled and failed here.  Take your Rim to Rim training seriously, and stick to a well constructed and thought out plan.

 

Interested in some 1:1 Coaching?  Fill out this Interest Form to get started!

 

So what exactly goes into training for a one day Rim to Rim hike?  You should be prepared to handle the length, elevation, heat, and pace of the Grand Canyon, all in one day and 24 miles (North to South).

 

Rim to rim hike in one day
Get ready for length, elevation, and elements!

 

 

The Rim to Rim hike is just a hair under 24 miles long (if you hike the recommended North to South route), and encompasses varying characteristics of its resident trails.  No matter how you slice it though, it is still a whopping 24 miles long!  There are downhill sections, flat sections, and steep uphills between the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim to the South Rim’s trails.

 

 

The elevation loss can be just as intimidating as the elevation gain on a Rim to Rim hike.  Also, psychologically it is more challenging to know that the steepest climbs are at the very end of this hike and the end of a long 24 miles.

 

 

Quick Overview of All 3 Corridor Trails

 

Before we jump into getting familiar with all 3 corridor trails that can be used on a Rim to Rim hike, these charts below can give you a quick overview.

 

Trail overviews for the Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon
Quick overview of the 3 Rim to Rim hike corridor trails in Grand Canyon

 

 

Which Rim to Rim Route Should You Take?

 

Here’s where things start to get real.  You have to choose which route to take, as there are 3 corridor trails involved in a Rim to Rim hike, and you pick 2!  You also have to choose the direction of your hike, either North to South, or South to North.  These two choices go hand in hand, as your directional choice can ultimately affect your corridor trails choice, and vice versa.  So let’s get into the pro’s and con’s of all the corridor trails, as well as the 2 directional choices.

 

To recap, you must choose:

  • North to South or South to North?
  • If South to North, Bright Angel or South Kaibab?

*My recommendation for a first time Rim to Rim hike is to go North to South!

 

 

North to South VS. South to North

 

Time to figure out choice #1: WHICH DIRECTION?

First of all, it is completely possible to go either direction, and there are pros and cons to each way.  Keep in mind that this guide is aimed at a Rim to Rim FIRST TIMER, and thus, many of my recommendations come from that angle, despite the fact that I myself may have completed a Rim to Rim hike an alternative way.

 

To help visualize the decision you must make, here is a helpful chart of the pros and cons of each direction.

 

Rim to Rim hike in Grand Canyon
Pros and cons of which direction to take on your Rim to Rim hike

 

As someone who has successfully completed multiple crossings of the Grand Canyon on one day Rim to Rim hikes, here is my personal recommendation for a first timer: NORTH to SOUTH.

 

 

Why NORTH to SOUTH?

 

ELEVATION GAIN! The North Rim sits at a higher elevation than the South Rim.  The elevation of the North Kaibab Trailhead is 8,240 feet.  The elevation of the Bright Angel Trailhead is 6,840.  That is a significant amount of elevation difference, when you put it in terms of which to ascend (over 1,000 feet of difference).

 

This means that if you ascend the South Rim, you will have less elevation gain to climb at the end of a long day.  It is true that the North Rim’s elevation gain is spread out over more miles on the North Kaibab Trail, but in my experience, that doesn’t help the fact that the North Rim is simply steeper, especially the last couple of miles.  The image below can help to visualize the elevation differences of all 3 corridor trails.

 

Corridor Trails on the Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon
Corridor Trails, courtesy of NPS

 

To be clear, no matter which route you go, climbing out will be EXTREMELY HARD.  The South Rim is not necessarily a “shortcut” around this.  I strongly believe for a first timer, ascending the South Rim may be easier than the North Rim.

 

Besides that, there are a few other reasons why I recommend North to South for a first timer.

  • You will clear the hottest part of the Rim to Rim hike, the “Box” between Phantom Ranch and Ribbon Falls at the bottom of the canyon, during the 1st half of the day, which is definitely to your advantage.  If you go South to North, there is an increased chance you may hit this portion of the trail in the hotter afternoon hours.

 

  • Another reason I recommend North to South is that as you ascend the South Rim at the end of your hike, you will likely encounter more fellow hikers.  This can be a slight advantage if you should run into trouble and require some form of assistance from others.

 

  • Finally, another advantage to going North to South is that you will finish on the South Rim, where there are plenty of amenities to welcome you.  Accommodations, restaurants, etc., which tend to be greatly appreciated by exhausted hikers.  The North Kaibab Trailhead is several miles from amenities, and many South to North Rim to Rim hikers find themselves walking an extra couple of miles from the North Kaibab Trailhead to their accommodations (the closest being the North Rim Lodge – 2 miles from the North Kaibab Trailhead), or hitching a ride, if they don’t have someone to pick them up.  Nobody REALLY wants to add any extra length onto their Rim to Rim hike at the end of the day, no matter how beautiful the North Rim is!  If you finish on the South Rim, you can walk a few feet to lodging, food, a shower, a bed, whatever sounds good to you!

 

 

Rim to Rim Corridor Trails

 

  • As for the North Rim, luckily there is only one option – the North Kaibab Trail.
  • On the South Rim, you have 2 choices: The Bright Angel Trail, and the South Kaibab Trail.

 

This NPS map below shows how all 3 corridor trails connect at the bottom of the Grand Canyon at Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel Campground.

 

Corridor trails on a Rim to Rim hike in one day
Corridor Trails on a Rim to Rim hike. Courtesy of NPS

 

Corridor Trails on a Rim to Rim hike in one day
Corridor Trails on a Rim to Rim hike connecting at Phantom Ranch. Courtesy of NPS

 

Hopefully, you’ve given some thought to which direction you want to hike first, either NORTH to SOUTH or SOUTH to NORTH, as that does help make this second decision somewhat easier.  So what are your corridor trail options for both directions?

 

Corridor Trails for North to South

 

If you choose to hike North to South, your corridor trail choices are somewhat more straightforward:

  • Descend the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim
  • Connect to the Bright Angel Trail at Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel Campground
  • Ascend the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim

 

You may be wondering right about now, what happened to those 2 South Rim trails?  What about ascending the South Kaibab Trail?  Most every person who has any knowledge of hiking the Rim to Rim in one day will agree on this.  Don’t ascend the South Kaibab Trail.  Why?  There is NO WATER!  This is not a risk to take at the end of a long day hiking across the Grand Canyon.  The Bright Angel Trail, on the other hand, has several water refill stations, and that is why it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to ascend the Bright Angel Trail if you are hiking North to South.

 

 

Corridor Trails for South to North

 

If you do choose to hike the Rim to Rim from South to North, you have 2 choices for which trail you choose to descend the South Rim: the Bright Angel Trail or the South Kaibab Trail.  They each have their pros and cons, which you can see below.

 

South Rim trails on a Rim to Rim hike in on day
South Rim trails comparison

 

South Rim trails comparison for a Rim to Rim hike in one day
Pros and cons of the South Rim trails

 

Let’s talk a little bit about the graphic above. You have to make a choice here if you are hiking South to North, so here’s the summary.

  • ELEVATION – there is a slight difference in elevation. South Kaibab is higher in trailhead elevation than Bright Angel.
  • LENGTH-There is a difference in trail length. South Kaibab is shorter, Bright Angel is longer. To be exact, it is 7 miles from the South Kaibab Trailhead to Bright Angel Campground, and 9.5 miles from the Bright Angel Trailhead to Bright Angel Campground. What does this mean for you as a Rim to Rim hiker? South Kaibab is steeper because it is shorter. That means a harder downhill, but you might save some time with the shorter distance. However, if you are having to slow your pace because the steeper downhill is taking a toll on your knees, you might not end up saving that significant of an amount of time. Bright Angel is not as steep, as the elevation gain/loss is spread out over a greater distance.

 

  • WATER! – There is NONE on South Kaibab, which is why it is never recommended to use South Kaibab to finish a Rim to Rim hike, only as a potential start going South Rim to North Rim.  In theory, you would be fine starting off with several liters of water from the South Kaibab Trailhead, before it is hot, and reaching the water refill station at Bright Angel Campground/Phantom Ranch.  However, some hikers prefer to know that there is water available, period.  Bright Angel has several water refill stations.

 

  • BATHROOMS– there are bathrooms on both trails.

 

  • VIEWS – South Kaibab has the better views. However, consider that if you are planning a Rim to Rim hike from South to North, and you are planning to start early (for example, 5am), you may not even see the better views on South Kaibab.

 

  • LOGISTICS – Bright Angel is easier to access. You can park in Grand Canyon Village’s multiple lots and walk to the trailhead, or even walk from your accommodations on the South Rim. You will need to take a park shuttle, taxi, or be dropped off, to access South Kaibab, as you cannot park your own car at the trailhead. Park shuttles to South Kaibab are free and easy to catch, but they only run at certain times.  You can check out the park shuttle service’s current schedule here.  

 

  • AMENITIES – Bright Angel has more, in terms of lodging, dining, etc, directly at the trailhead. South Kaibab has none at the trailhead.  The North Rim Lodge is the closest standing accommodations, and it is 2 miles from the North Kaibab Trailhead.

 

  • CROWDS – Bright Angel will almost always be more crowded, because it is easier to access.

 

Before you continue on, give some thought to these first 2 decisions:

  • #1: Which direction? North to South, or South to North (North to South is my recommendation)
  • #2: If you are hiking South to North, which South Rim Trail? Bright Angel or South Kaibab?

 

What I have found helps most people to decide on which South Rim trail to descend, is what do you value most?  Views and saving some distance, or the increased peace of mind of Bright Angel’s kinder steepness and water availability, plus easier access?  While most people want the views understandably, a lot of people also plan to start their Rim to Rim hike before dawn, which in many ways makes this factor mute.

 

  • Are you concerned about the toll going downhill on a steeper trail will take on your knees? Then opt for Bright Angel.
  • Do you want to find a way to experience the better South Rim views?  Then go with South Kaibab.
  • Do you want the easiest option logistically speaking?  It’s Bright Angel.
  • Do you want to to save on distance? The answer is straightforward there – South Kaibab.

 

These are the kinds of questions to consider when deciding which South Rim Trail to hike.  But again, my recommendation for first timers remains: hike North to South.

 

 

Training for a Rim to Rim Hike in One Day

 

Once you have made those first decisions regarding direction and corridor trails, it is time to conquer the next step in preparing for a Rim to Rim hike: training!

 

While most people are first and foremost concerned about training for the elevation gain, for me personally, the hardest thing to prepare for on a Rim to Rim hike is the intense heat.  Did you know that even in the fall, the temperatures at the bottom of the Grand Canyon can still easily climb into the 100’s?  Imagine hiking in those temperatures on exposed trail in full sun!  That is what you need to prepare for and acclimate to, and why acclimating to heat hiking is an important part of training for a Rim to Rim hike!

 

As you are preparing for your Rim to Rim hike and getting familiar with the trails, one way to help get ready for the heat is to know where the hottest parts of the hike are:

 

  • The Box – located between Ribbon Falls and Phantom Ranch on the North Kaibab Trail
  • Devil’s Corkscrew – located between River Resthouse and Havasupai Gardens Campground on the Bright Angel Trail

 

One strategy that is helpful is to plan on getting through “the Box” by 10 am, before the temperatures in the inner canyon begin to rise.  Starting early from the North Kaibab Trail, hiking North to South, is a good plan to accomplish this.  Other strategies I utilize are to wear a cooling towel and soak it every chance I get (there are typically several chances on the Bright Angel Trail as you ascend).  Or, you can just wear a cotton shirt (normally I do not recommend cotton, but in the dry conditions of Grand Canyon it can be a useful strategy) and take it off and soak it as well.  This will help lower your core temperature, and the cotton will hold this cooling ability longer.  And don’t forget about sun protection in the form of a hat and sunscreen, and consistent and proactive hydration and snacking to replace electrolytes and fluids.

 

But it’s not just the elevation gain, or the heat, that you need to prepare for.  There’s also the immense distance, and the pace you need to maintain.  But don’t worry, below I will discuss how to train for all the challenging elements of a Rim to Rim hike:

 

4 Elements to Train For:

  • Elevation Gain
  • Heat
  • Distance
  • Pace

 

There's plenty of sun and exposure on the Rim to Rim hike!
There’s plenty of sun and exposure on the Rim to Rim hike!

 

 

So how exactly do you build a consistent and realistic training plan for hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day, while taking into account these 4 main factors of elevation, heat, distance, and pace?

 

I will go in depth into each of these tips below, but here’s a Quick Summary:

  • Train at Least 3 Months in Advance
  • Complete Multiple and Regular Long Distance Practice Hikes
  • Practice Maintaining Pace
  • Cross Train
  • Acclimate to Heat
  • Mimic Real World Conditions
  • Develop a Training Calendar

 

“Develop a Training Calendar” might be last on this quick list, but it really should come first!  Below I will discuss the reasons why you should develop a very intentional, visual, training calendar for your Rim to Rim hike.  You are much more likely to stick to your training plan with a tangible, visual, detailed training calendar, than you are without one.

 

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point, and not sure exactly how to develop a Rim to Rim training calendar, good news!  There are a few ways I can support you with this.  I mention these options below because I feel strongly that developing and sticking to a training calendar is CRUCIAL to your success on a Rim to Rim hike, no matter how you develop that training calendar.  Don’t ever forget, the Grand Canyon is a lethal environment, and hiking across it needs to be taken very seriously!

 

Ways to Help Develop a Rim to Rim Training Calendar:

 

 

  • #2: Receive 1:1 Coaching.  I offer 1:1 coaching services, and part of that package includes developing a detailed, 16 week, Rim to Rim training calendar, together!  This training calendar will breakdown all your weekly practice hikes, in increasing increments, plus all your cross training days and rest days.  It will completely take the guesswork out of developing a training calendar.  Plus, there are other bonuses to receiving 1:1 coaching, as you can see in the snapshot below.  You can fill out this INTEREST FORM to get started. 

 

  • #3: Consult.  If you aren’t up for a full 16 week coaching package, take advantage of a quick, 30 minute consult to discuss the basics of preparing for a Rim to Rim hike in one day, including how to train, as well as determining if you are currently ready to execute your Rim to Rim hike.  You can fill out this INTEREST FORM to get started.

 

Coaching services for the Rim to Rim hike
Coaching Services Offered

 

*To take advantage of 1:1 Coaching or 30 Minute Consults, you can fill out this

Rim to Rim Interest Form 

 

Continuing the discussion on training for Rim to Rim hike in one day…..

 

First, start months in advance, if not longer.  I would recommend at least 3 months (but preferably 4 months) of intense prior training specifically targeted at this Rim to Rim hike, while having an established baseline of hiking long distances with relative ease prior.

 

 

What constitutes long distance hikes?  I would recommend an established ability of being able to hike 10 + miles with relative ease before beginning to seriously train for the Rim to Rim hike.  Ultimately, the goal should be able to complete some 15 or 16 mile hikes in the last couple of weeks before your Rim to Rim hike.

 

 

Once you know that you can hike 10 + miles with relative ease, then the real training begins!  Again, I would give 3 months minimum to train intensely for a Rim to Rim day hike once you have an established long distance foundation of hiking, although as a hiking coach, my recommendation is 4 months of training.  

 

 

For your training, work up to hiking 10 + miles at least once a week during those 3-4 months, with the final weeks including some 15 or 16 mile practice hikes.  I realize not everyone has access to trails with elevation, but make the best attempt to find a trail with at least some elevation gain and loss.  Don’t let this be a damper – I live in Texas where the majority of our local trails have less than 500 feet in elevation gain, but I am still able to train on them with the right approach.  This often means finding a trail with 500 feet of elevation gain, and doing multiple repeats on that trail until I reach my desired “elevation gain”.

 

 

No matter how much elevation you are able to train on, go at it with 100% effort!  Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day demands efficiency and speed, so when conducting your training hikes, keep in mind that you should aim to be hiking 3 or more miles an hour, taking as few breaks as possible.  Even a trail with only 500 feet in elevation gain can help you develop a solid baseline if you hike 10 + miles on it once a week at full effort and your best speed!

 

 

If you can, splurge and make the effort to travel to a trail with more elevation gain whenever possible, just to get in as much uphill and challenging hiking as possible.

 

 

While you are doing your weekly training hikes, make sure to prepare as you would on the day of your Rim to Rim hike.  Bring the day pack you plan to use on the Rim to Rim hike, have your water system, eat the foods you plan to eat, wear the right clothes ( I’ll go into more details in my Gear Recommendations below ), and train as though your life depends on it!

 

 

In addition to your weekly long distance hikes, it is crucial to engage in cross training and strength training.  I would recommend adding cross training and strength training routines in at least 3 times a week for the 3-4 months leading up to your Rim to Rim hike.  What kind of cross and strength training is beneficial?

 

 

Leg prep is critical!  Do some HIIT routines ( High Intensity Interval Training ) like the one I developed here, that involve exercises like lunges, calf raises, and squats.  This will help you immensely on that final uphill climb up the South Rim!  HIIT exercises will also help to strengthen your core, which is a life saver since effective hiking is a full body activity that requires all your body systems!

 

 

Finally, cross train to make sure all your muscles groups are engaged and firing together in harmony.  For me, biking was a hugely beneficial way to cross train and help prepare and strengthen my legs for the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike.  I cycled 3 times weekly for 12 or 13 miles each time in preparation of my Rim to Rim day hike.

 

 

Running is another great way to cross train and prepare for the Rim to Rim hike.  If you choose to add some runs into your training routine, be sure to toss in as many uphills as you can.  I know everyone hates uphills, but training for them in advance will help you on the day of your Rim to Rim hike.  If you are looking for some tips to help mentally and physically overcome running uphill, check out these 7 strategies!

 

 

There are plenty of other options for cross training and strength training, and I recommend taking advantage of whatever you have available to you, whether it is kickboxing, kayaking, stair running, cycling, running, HIIT routines, weight lifting, Pilates, yoga, or a combination! 

 

 

Mix in as much as possible, while still giving yourself at least 1 day a week to rest and recover.  On those rest and recover days, be sure to practice a little yoga or Pilates to keep those muscle groups limber, or go for a short, easy walk to keep your legs loose.

 

 

Finally, the elements.  How do you train for hiking in 100 + temperatures?  The answer that no one wants to hear, is you should attempt to acclimate to hot heat hiking before you attempt hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day.

 

 

There’s no way around it, you will experience some stretches of scorching temperatures while hiking here.  There are ways to mitigate your exposure (which I will explain more in depth), but do not think you can escape it, or that you’ll get lucky and catch the Grand Canyon on a “cold” day.  You will face the heat, and it is better if you are not facing it for the first time on the day of your hike.

 

 

Since my first timers recommendation is to attempt this hike in October, before the North Rim closes and while the Grand Canyon is experiencing “cooler” temps than summer, that means that your 3 or 4 months of training will naturally take place smack over the summer season.  I am not recommending that you place yourself in a dangerous situation on a regular basis while training, but it is a good idea to responsibly take on some hot hikes (early in the morning), as well as summer cross training runs, bikes, or other activities.

 

 

I regularly train for the Rim to Rim hike by hiking 10 + miles on my local trails when the temperatures were in the low or mid 90’s.  This helped my body become acclimated and get a taste of what I needed to do to prepare.  And of course, it goes without saying that you need to prepare for this type of training by bringing at least 3 liters of water, salty snacks, the right moisture wicking and breathable clothing, and sun protection, including a hat and sunscreen.

 

 

Now that you know the foundation for training for a Rim to Rim hike in one day, the most important thing you can do is develop a schedule and intentionally stick to it

 

 

I would highly recommend grabbing your calendar and looking a minimum of 3 months out from your planned Rim to Rim hike date.  Write in what you will do each week in advance, making sure to include at least one long distance 10 + mile hike a week, with a couple 15 or 16 mile hikes the last couple weeks, plus at least 3 cross training/strength training days, and at least 1 rest day a week.

 

*If you want 1:1 coaching support to develop a customized, individualized Rim to Rim training calendar, fill out this INTEREST FORM to get started!

 

By planning out your training calendar in advance, I promise you will be more likely to stick to it than if you just tell yourself you will train when you find the time each week.  Remember, the Grand Canyon is lethal, and your training must be taken seriously in order to assure you emerge safely from your Rim to Rim hike.

 

The Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon

 

 

The Week Before the Rim to Rim Hike

 

  • Taper
  • Healthy Carb Load

 

The week before a Rim to Rim hike is vitally important to success.  The week before, I would recommend easing up on the intense training you have been doing.  This is referred to as a taper week. No 10 + mile hikes within a week of the real thing.  Go down to only 1 or 2 cross training days instead of the minimum 3 that final week.  Stretch plenty and use a foam roller when able, but emphasize rest this week.  Your legs and body need to feel fresh the morning of your Rim to Rim hike.

 

 

While you may be easing up on some of the intense training this final week, you should kick your nutrition into higher gear!  Hopefully throughout your months long training period you have been fueling your body with the right types of food, but this final week it is especially important, as your body will be counting on every ounce of energy store it has available to it.  

 

 

During that final week, make sure to take advantage of good carbs, like whole wheat pastas and breads, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal.  Get in some good protein sources regularly, like salmon, chicken, beans, and yogurt.  Drink plenty of water consistently.  

 

 

The Day Before the Rim to Rim Hike

 

 

Continue loading up on healthy carbs the day and night before your hike.  Think pasta, whole wheat bread, and sweet potatoes for example.  Drink lots and lots and lots of water.  Have all your laundry washed and lay out every article of clothing and gear you need for the following morning.  Check your gear, make sure everything works.  Do some stretches.  Take it easy on your feet and rest.  Download maps to your phone.

 

Make sure to let someone know at this point what your plans are.  Provide the name of the trails, your anticipated start and finish time, and who they can contact in case of an emergency.  Check the Grand Canyon National Park’s website for any last minute notices.  Occasionally, water line breaks or other issues come up that might affect your plans.  Alerts like these will be posted on the National Park website. 

 

And check the weather!  The Grand Canyon may appear like it is always a desert type environment, but snow, sleet, and rain do sometimes start making appearances this time of year.  In fact, a tornado touched down in the town of Williams not days after one of my October Rim to Rim hikes in Grand Canyon, and that storm brought plenty of surprise weather to Grand Canyon as well.  If the weather necessitates any last minute changes to your gear and layers, do it!

 

You can check the NPS weather and road conditions HERE, and get an updated forecast for Grand Canyon HERE.

 

 

The Morning of the Rim to Rim Hike

 

  • Healthy Breakfast of Carbs, Protein, and Energy
  • Final Gear Check

 

Eat a carb, protein, and energy heavy meal that is easily digestible for breakfast.   My go to breakfast for every long hike, run, or biking event I have ever completed is a bagel or English Muffin with peanut butter, a banana, oatmeal, and applesauce.  And water of course!

 

MORECheck out why peanut butter is the ultimate power food!

 

Do one final check on your gear!  In particular, test and make sure that if you are using a water hydration bladder, that there are no leaks.  Invert it to make sure there are no leaks near the top either.  Make sure that you are on schedule to start your Rim to Rim hike by 6 am at the latest!

 

 

Gear Recommendations for the Rim to Rim Hike

 

Below are some quick links for recommended gear, and following is an in depth dive into that gear!  For a full breakdown, check out my post on the complete Rim to Rim packing list you need!

 

Recommended Quick Links:

 

 

 

  • Water Hydration System: 

 

 

 

 

 

(Make sure you have plenty of carabiners attached to your daypack also)

 

  • Environmental Protection:

 

 

  • Snacks:

 

 

 

  • Emergency/First Aid Kit:

 

 

 

  • The Right Layers:

 

 

 

 

  • Navigation:

 

 

  • Emergency Shelter:

 

 

(Another option is a SOL Bivy for emergency shelter)

 

 

  • Personal Items:

 

 

Rim to Rim Packing List

Want this handy checklist as a download?  Get it HERE!!!
Now Let’s Dive Deeper!

 

 

  • footwear!  When you hear that there is almost 4,500 feet in elevation gain climbing out on the South Rim, that may lead you to think that hiking boots might be best, but I actually recommend trail runners for this hike, and here’s why.  I have hiked in both hiking boots and trail runners, and I believe that the Rim to Rim hike is more suited for trail runners.

 

Though there is significant elevation, the actual state of both the North Kaibab Trail (North Rim) and the Bright Angel Trail (South Rim) are very well maintained and not uneven or rocky or rooty.  Both these trails are relatively “soft” and composed of gentle sand or dirt trails.  While hiking boots are better for gripping and stabilizing on dicey, uneven, and unforgiving trails, the Rim to Rim hike does not encounter this type of terrain, therefore rendering hiking boots unnecessary in my opinion. 

 

What I do think is waaaaaaaaaay more beneficial in this case, is to wear a lighter, quicker, cushioned, trail runner!  Trail runners still have grip and traction for the uphill and rare rough spot on the Rim to Rim hike, but the huge advantage is that trail runners are lighter, quicker, and a little less clunky than hiking boots.  This is huge when you are talking about hiking 24 miles in a day quickly and speedily.  Also, if you go with a trail runner that has a proven benefit of ample cushioning like these runners that I use, your feet will definitely thank you by the end of this grueling hike! In general, trail runners leave my feet feeling “fresher” after an all day hike versus hiking boots.

 

 

  • gaiters!  While hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day may not encounter a lot of uneven, rocky, or “rooty” terrain, you will encounter a ton of sand or finely ground dirt!  Especially during the downhill portions when you will likely be going quicker and kicking up more trail, and for the portion of “beach” type terrain that parallels the Colorado River after crossing from Phantom Ranch, affordable and easy to use gaiters like these will keep the sand and dirt out of your socks and shoes!  And if you can keep the elements out, you will have to stop less, and time is of the essence on this hike.  Another benefit of properly protecting your feet – you are less likely to develop cringe-worthy blisters!

 

 

  • footwear again!  This time I am talking about socks!  The condition of your feet will only be as good as the condition of your socks.  24 miles can wreak havoc on your feet if you do not have proper socks.  The best thing you can do is surround your feet with a superbly breathable sock that will help proactively prevent blister development.  I used to get blisters all the time on my long hikes and runs, until I discovered Hilly Twin Skin socks.  The “twin skin” layers help to prevent the friction that causes blisters.  Haven’t had a single blister since switching to Twin Skins.  Be sure to pack a second backup pair that you can change into in the event of sand or dirt overload, or accidental soaking at one of the multiple stream crossings along the way on the Rim to Rim hike.

 

 

  • water, water, water, water, water, water, water, water!  Have a way to transport at least 3 liters of water on your person.  There are multiple water filling stations along both the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim and the Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim (more on Bright Angel than North Kaibab), but it is critical that you bring at least 3 liters at all times, as there are some stretches of several miles without a water refill station.  Or, there is the rare occasion such as I encountered in October of 2022, where a pipeline issue caused two of the regular water stations to be shut off.  I recommend hiking with a 3 liter water hydration bladder system like this Platypus model, which I love because the wide mouth makes it easy to fill and clean, and this form of transportation system allows you to hydrate on the go.  And this hike is all about speed and efficiency.  When it comes to water hydration bladders, be sure to test your bladder out before starting off to make sure there are no leaks.  And on this hike, it is also not a bad idea to bring along a portable, compact filter like this Lifestraw I personally love, because there are multiple natural water sources you will encounter on the Rim to Rim hike, in case of an emergency.  Lifestraws are lightweight, compact, and easy to use, so there really is no detriment to packing on in your day pack as a backup water hydration system.  You can even get a Lifestraw water bottle, with the internal filter, or a soft sided Katadyn Be Free with internal filter so you can fill up and immediately start hydrating straight from the water bottle, as backups in the event of an emergency!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • the right fabrics!  You are going to hear some debate as to what type of layers to wear, but I have tried multiple types of fabrics, and here’s what I can tell you!  Normally, I preach cotton avoidance, and when doing any kind of physical activity, I am all about breathability and moisture wicking.  The Grand Canyon, however, is different, as it is a dry heat.  This means that any perspiration can actually be beneficial if it is allowed to cling and cool.  I have hiked in breathable, moisture wicking merino wool tanks, and I have hiked in cotton tanks.  Cotton cools better.  One of the best things I learned was that dipping a cotton tank in every stream crossing I came upon helped cool my core temperature down drastically.  Not that synthetics or something similar and moisture wicking is going to wreck your hike, but I actually do recommend cotton for the Rim to Rim, and I recommend getting it wet.  Many people opt to hike in sun shirts like this one, and that is definitely an option too, I just prefer the less restrained feel of a tank.  Ultimately, practice wearing what you plan to wear on the Rim to Rim during your practice hikes, and figure out what is comfortable for you.  Don’t try anything new the morning of the Rim to Rim hike.  Another clothing item to note is as the temperatures at the top of the North Rim are often in the teens this time of year first thing in the morning, you may also want to bring along a warmer, breathable, outer layer for the first couple of miles of the descent down the North Rim on the North Kaibab Trail.  Here are my favorite merino wool clothing item recommendations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • head covering for sun protection

 

 

  • snacks, snacks, snacks!  Snacks are important for energy, electrolytes, and sodium replacement when hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim.  Every item of food you pack should serve a purpose.  I recommend going with snacks that are compact, lightweight, easy to eat on the go, easily digestible, energy packed, and salty!  Salty is important in this case as you need to carefully monitor your sodium replacement.  Here’s what the inside of my day pack looked like in regards to food:

 

  • tuna packets – super lightweight and compact, and a good source of protein

 

  • almonds – great source of easy to snack on energy

 

 

 

  • applesauce squeezable packets – this is a personal favorite of mine, because I mostly just love applesauce, but they are nice for a little moisture content, and they are something that has always been easily digestible for me, and compact and easy to eat on the go!

 

  • fruit snacks – more of a psychological treat if I just need a quick dose of sweet

 

 

  • NUUN tablets – I don’t always end up using these, but I always bring them if I feel the need for an electrolyte level replacement and boost

 

  • Salt tablets – I have used these on hot trails, as a way to monitor and replace possible sodium level loss and electrolyte loss.

 

  • Banana – helps prevent cramping and give me a potassium boost

 

 

  • and finally, a good old fashioned sandwich! – I usually make at least 2 sandwiches, either peanut butter and jelly, or meat and cheese.  They don’t take up much space, are lightweight, and are quick and easy to eat, but can be quite filling!

 

 

 

  • next is a trail map!  You will likely not have service on the North Rim at all, and possibly not on the South Rim until the last several miles.  Both the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim and the Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim are well marked, well maintained, and easily distinguishable, but you should still bring along a trail map, whether it is a traditional paper one, or a downloadable one from an app like AllTrails.  If you plan to download, just be sure to do so before you start due to the lack of cell service once you get down into the canyon.

 

***Insider Tip:  I have Verizon cell service, and I lose cell service pretty much immediately after descending the North Rim, but I do start to pick it back up on the South Rim just after passing Havasupai Garden Campground.  It becomes pretty reliable around the 3 mile Resthouse.

 

 

  • emergency communication device!  As mentioned above, you won’t have reliable cell service for the majority of the Rim to Rim hike.  In case of an emergency, have a way to signal for help with an emergency communication device like this one!  Yes they are expensive, but the potential of the Grand Canyon should not be underestimated, and every year there are numerous hikers who are either grateful they hiked with an emergency communication device, or regretted that they didn’t have one when running into trouble in the Grand Canyon!

 

 

When to Hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in One Day

 

The North Rim is open from May 15th to October 15th.  So your window for completing a traditional Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon is relatively small.  The window for completing a Rim to Rim hike while avoiding the hottest temperatures of the summer is even smaller.

 

 

I would not recommend a Rim to Rim day hike in June, July, or August.  The summer heat can be dangerously excessive even for prepared hikers, especially at portions of exposed trails like the infamous “Box” stretch along the bottom, between Phantom Ranch and Ribbon Falls on the North Kaibab Trail, where the canyon walls close in and the air can become quite stifling.  Or the Devil’s Corkscrew, a series of full exposure switchbacks you have to climb from the Colorado River in order to reach Havasupai Garden Campground on the Bright Angel Trail.  The best time to hike the Rim to Rim is the two open weekends in October (or as close as possible at the end of September).

 

 

Temperatures in the notorious “Box” (the 4ish mile portion of close walls and oven like conditions between Ribbon Falls and Phantom Ranch on the North Kaibab Trail) will still likely climb into the 90’s or 100’s during the hottest part of the day, even in October, but this is much more bearable than deadly temperatures that climb into the 120’s or 130’s in the dead of summer.  A good rule of thumb is to try and clear this portion of the trail before 10 AM, to take advantage of cooler temps.  Just another reason for an early start, and efficiency and expediency when hiking the Rim to Rim.

 

 

In October, your early morning start on the North Rim at the North Kaibab Trail will likely still be in the 20’s or 30’s at daybreak.  As soon as the sun peeks through and you descend, the temperatures will quickly warm.  Some prefer to bring a light outer layer for starting out, and others just tough it out for a bit and avoid having to carry an extra layer the rest of the 24 miles.  Either way, you’ll likely shed a layer quickly once you get moving.  By the time you are reaching the bottom of the Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Campground, Phantom Ranch, and the Colorado River crossing, you will need to be more wary of monitoring your hydration and electrolyte levels due to the sun exposure and climbing temps.

 

The South Rim is lower in elevation than the North Rim, so expect your finish at the South Rim, even if nearing dusk, to be warmer than your early morning start at the North Rim.  I have not needed an extra layer when finishing around 6 pm on the South Rim.  

 

***Insider Tip:  though rare, storms can come through unexpectedly in October.  Just days after one of my Rim to Rim hikes, a storm blew through Northern Arizona, dumping torrential rain, sleet, and snow into the canyon, as well as a tornado in Williams.  Checking the forecast is important, and you can also pack a lightweight outer shell that is waterproof and windproof if you prefer.  Outdoor Research makes the awesome Helium II jacket that is fully waterproof and windproof, while only weighing a couple ounces and compressing down to barely nothing!  It is the best jacket out there for both minding weight and full protection.

 

 

Logistics of the Rim to Rim Hike

 

There are a lot of things to consider when planning the logistics of a Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon.  I do not go in depth into every factor, as my goal with this guide is to mostly focus on the training and trails themselves, but you can get a sense for how to prepare. 

 

*Keep in mind that the details I provide are coming from a perspective of hiking NORTH to SOUTH, though some details apply to either directional route. 

 

You will need to arrange transportation, lodging at the North Rim, and details of your finish at the South Rim (and vice versa for a South to North hike).

 

The Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon

 

 

Transportation and Lodging

 

In order to hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, you will need to arrange transportation to the North Rim, and then from the South Rim to your final destination.  You can arrange to hire a shuttle service (I highly recommend the Trans Canyon Shuttle), or you can secure a friend or family member who is willing to drive to the North Rim, drop off early at the North Kaibab Trailhead on the North Rim, then drive the 5 hours down to the South Rim to pick up there, and return to your final destination.

 

Here’s how it typically looks for me:  arrange a driver to take group to the North Rim the night before the hike.  Spend the night at the Jacob Lake Inn at Jacob Lake or the North Rim Lodge.  Driver takes group early the morning of the hike and drops off at North Kaibab Trailhead by 6 am at the latest.  Driver then drives from North Rim to South Rim, and waits for group to finish on the South Rim.  When the entire group is finished, driver takes everyone to final destination.

 

Regardless of how you plan to arrive at the North Kaibab Trail on the morning of your hike, I would strongly recommend spending the night prior at the North Rim.  The closest decent sized city to the North Rim is Flagstaff, but at several hours away driving, that is not a realistic option for driving up prior to an early morning start the day of your Rim to Rim hike.

 

 

I recommend spending the night before at either the North Rim Lodge or in Jacob Lake, a quaint little mountain post about a 45 minute drive from the North Kaibab Trail.  At Jacob Lake you can find a modest lodge and cabins, as well as an accompanying restaurant (with the very BEST local cookies), gift shop, and gas station.  

 

 

The time to finish a Rim to Rim hike varies, with the average being between 12 and 18 hours typically.  My average is 12.5 hours, with a 1 hour break at the Bright Angel Campground/Phantom Ranch.  However, with more breaks, or waiting out the hottest part of the day, or a late start, it could easily edge closer to 18 hours.   You will need to coordinate your pick up at the South Rim accordingly.

 

 

Some hikers book a room at lodges like the Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim to use for a couple hours after finishing the Rim to Rim hike, for showers, rest, or while waiting on slower hikers in their group.  It is something to consider if you feel you may need a little time after finishing up your hike to recover before heading out.  Or if you have arranged to drive to your final destination the following day, then securing lodging on the South Rim for the night is a great idea, and you can even grab food easily at one of the several dining options at the South Rim, like the Maswik Lodge!

 

*If you are planning to hike South to North, and are planning to descend the South Kaibab Trail, which is the most common option for a South to North hike, then you may want to be aware of the free park shuttle that takes hikers to the South Kaibab Trail.  You are not allowed to park and leave a vehicle at the South Kaibab Trailhead, so your options for arriving and starting a hike at South Kaibab are to take the free park shuttle, get dropped off by family or friend, or hire a taxi.  Keep in mind that the free park shuttle only departs at certain times, which may affect your planned start time.

 

Grand Canyon South Rim shuttle service map
South Rim park shuttle map. Courtesy of the NPS. South Kaibab hikers take the orange line

 

 

Where to Start and Finish the Rim to Rim Hike

 

As previously stated, my strong recommendation for first time Rim to Rim hikers is to start the hike on the North Rim and finish on the South Rim.  This is mostly for elevation gain purposes.

 

 

From the bottom of the canyon, at the Colorado River and Bright Angel Campground, the elevation gain to the top of the North Rim is 5,761 feet, while the elevation gain from Bright Angel Campground to the top of the South Rim is only 4,380 feet.  Therefore it makes the most sense for beginners to climb the least amount of elevation gain at the end of a long day of hiking.

 

 

Looking out over the beginning of the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim
Looking out over the beginning of the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim

 

 

The North Rim descent occurs on the North Kaibab Trail.  The trailhead for the North Kaibab Trail is a straight shot and about a 45 minute forested drive from Jacob Lake, or 5 minute drive (2 miles) from the North Rim Lodge. 

 

The recommended start of a Rim to Rim hike in Grand Canyon – the North Kaibab Trail

 

 

The trailhead for the North Kaibab Trail is clearly marked on the left side of the road, Highway 67, though expect parking to be completely full by 6 am.  If arriving late, you may have to park on the shoulder, or consider this another good reason to have someone drop you off.

 

 

There is a water fill station and bathrooms at the trailhead of the North Kaibab Trail. Expect possible lines for both upon arrival.

 

 

After reaching the bottom of the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail and crossing the Colorado River, hikers have two true hiking trail options for ascending the South Rim.  These two trails are the South Kaibab Trail, and the Bright Angel Trail.  I have one straightforward recommendation for first time Rim to Rim’ers – ascend on the Bright Angel Trail!  Here’s why:

 

 

The South Kaibab Trail is shorter, which may sound nice at the end of your hike, but it is deceptive.  Though shorter, it is steeper in elevation gain and therefore more grueling.  Opt for the slightly longer but more manageable Bright Angel Trail.

 

 

Another, and arguably more important reason to choose the Bright Angel Trail – there is NO WATER on the South Kaibab Trail!  Not a risk I will ever be willing to take, and in my opinion not worth the risk to shave off a couple of miles.

 

 

The Bright Angel Trail is more traveled, which may initially sound like a deterrent, but consider that your ascent up the South Rim is arguably the hardest, and potentially most dangerous, part of the hike, and it is not a bad thing to have more people around in the event of an emergency.

 

 

Colorado River crossed and heading up the Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim!
Colorado River crossed and heading up the Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim!

 

 

The Rim to Rim Trails

 

Now that you know where you should start, where you should finish, and some of the basic details of hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day, let’s talk about trail details and get a “glimpse” of what you should expect on both the North Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail!  (I will go into more detail on these 2 trails as that is my recommended route for 1st timers, but I will discuss the South Kaibab Trail briefly).

 

The Rim to Rim hike

 

 

Overview of the Rim to Rim Trails

 

Below you will find a Google Maps view of the entire Rim to Rim hike from North to South, via the North Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail.  Included also are some helpful graphics to get a quick glimpse of what to expect on the Rim to Rim hike.

 

Map of the North to South route via North Kaibab and Bright Angel

 

Elevation and landmarks on the Rim to Rim trails
Rim to rim landmarks on the North Kaibab Trail, Bright Angel Trail, and South Kaibab Trail.  Courtesy of the NPS.

 

Trail overviews for the Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon
Quick overview of the 3 Rim to Rim corridor trails

 

 

Overview of the North Kaibab Trail

 

As detailed already, the clearly marked trailhead for the North Kaibab Trail is approximately a 45 minute drive from Jacob Lake, or a 5 minute drive from the North Rim Lodge.  There is a water fill station, bathroom facilities, and parking available at the trailhead, but parking does fill up quickly! Also, expect potentially long lines for the bathroom and water fill station.

 

 

Considering this is a 24 mile long hike that you are completing in one day, you should be starting early anyways, by 6 am at the latest.  This is where knowing your average hiking pace over long distances can be extremely helpful.  It can help you determine when you should start, so that you can estimate a timeframe that will have you emerging on the South Rim by dusk (6:30ish pm) hopefully.  My goal is always to try and finish a Rim to Rim hike before dark (although I always carry a headlamp as a backup).

 

Another reason to start early is to also try and get through “the Box” by 10 am or close to, therefore beating out the hottest temperatures in this bottom portion of the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail.  If you are worried about the heat, this is one of the best strategies to utilize to help: get through “the Box” before the temperatures really start to rise!

 

Dawn breaks right around 6 am on the North Rim, which is the latest you should be starting this Rim to Rim hike.  Temperatures on the North Rim in October are likely to be in the 20’s or 30’s.  You may wish to bring an extra layer for the start, but consider also what you are willing to carry with you on your person for the remainder of the 24 miles once it warms up.  Personally, I usually opt to just tough it out for the first 30 minutes, because after that I am usually plenty warmed up and the sun is out.

 

Descending the North Kaibab Trail at daybreak on the North Rim
Descending the North Kaibab Trail at daybreak on the North Rim

 

 

If you start the Rim to Rim hike at 6 am, it will be light enough to see without a light source.  If you wish to start earlier, which is not a bad idea, you may need to bring a headlamp to see the trail.

 

 

North Kaibab Trailhead: Mile 0

 

The North Kaibab Trail starts off in blazing yellow dotted forests sprouting from the bases of stark white aspens, and to witness the North Rim in this way is truly stunning in this season.  The North Kaibab Trail descends rapidly down, on a soft dirt trail that is very well established, though it can be a bit jarring at times as the trail has post steps embedded to protect against erosion, which means having to step down frequently on the descent.

 

The start of the North Kaibab Trail
The start of the North Kaibab Trail among yellow aspens

 

The beginning of the North Kaibab Trail on a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike
The beginning of the North Kaibab Trail

 

 

Coconino Overlook: Mile 0.7

 

Within what feels like minutes on the trail, you will reach the breathtaking Coconino Overlook, the first panoramic opening in which to drink in your first true taste of the canyon experience.  From here, the scenery begins to morph from aspen draped foliage to stark red rock canyon walls.

 

 

Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

 

 

Supai Tunnel: Mile 2

 

About 2 miles down the North Kaibab Trail is the Supai Tunnel, a short rock tunnel carved into the cliff.  There are restrooms and a seasonal water refill station available here.  A little bit past Supai Tunnel you will cross the Redwall Bridge.

 

Supai Tunnel on the North Kaibab Trail
Emerging from Supai Tunnel on the North Kaibab Trail

 

Descending the North Kaibab Trail
Descending the North Kaibab Trail on the Redwall Bridge, just past Supai Tunnel 

 

 

Roaring Springs Day Use Area: Mile 4.7

 

2.7 miles past the Supai Tunnel, hikers will encounter Roaring Springs Day Use Area, a dainty water landmark, before continuing quickly on the descent towards the nearby Pumphouse Ranger Station.  Here there are bathroom facilities, an emergency phone, seasonal ranger station, and a seasonal water refill station.  The trail after the Pumphouse Ranger Station begins to gradually level out in steepness.  Manzanita Rest Area is just a few tenths past Roaring Springs.

 

 

Manzanita Rest Area: Mile 5.1

 

There are bathrooms and water at this rest area, so you can take a break as needed.

 

 

Cottonwood Campground: Mile 6.5

 

After the Pumphouse Ranger Station, you will have about 1.8 miles to go before arriving at Cottonwood Campground.  Cottonwood Campground is what I consider to be the first “landmark” that has emerged from the surrounding canyon walls and is out in the open at the bottom of the canyon.  Keep in mind that camping here requires a prior permit.  Cottonwood Campground also has restrooms, a seasonal water refill station, and an emergency phone.

 

The North Kaibab Trail near Cottonwood Campground
The North Kaibab Trail near Cottonwood Campground

 

 

Beginning to emerge from the canyon walls on the North Kaibab Trail
Beginning to emerge from the canyon walls on the North Kaibab Trail and heading into ‘the BOX”

 

 

*The BOX: Cottonwood Campground/Ribbon Falls to Phantom Ranch

 

While “the BOX” is not an “official” landmark on the Rim to Rim hike, you better be aware of where it is regardless.  The BOX is considered to roughly begin around Cottonwood Campground / Ribbon Falls, where the canyon walls begin to converge in, and the trail becomes more closed in.  In the summer, this creates stifling heat and skyrocketing temperatures.  The BOX is considered one of the most dangerous sections when hiking the North Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Trail, because it is considered one of the hottest sections.

So how do you handle “the Box”?

One of the best strategies is to be out of it by 10 am, when the temperatures can rise quickly (even in the spring and fall, but especially in the summer).  This is another reason why it is important to consider an early morning start, so you can be through this portion of the hike by mid morning.

 

The Box on the North Kaibab Trail
Portions of “the Box” with narrowing canyon walls on the North Kaibab Trail

 

The Box on the North Kaibab Trail

 

 

Ribbon Falls: Mile 7.9

 

1.4 miles past Cottonwood Campground you will encounter the side trail to Ribbon Falls.  This is an optional spur trail to see the falls, if you are ok adding an extra 2 miles to your roundtrip.  However, I would not personally choose to add the extra mileage to see Ribbon Falls, nor would I recommend adding on additional mileage for a first timer.

 

 

If you choose to skip Ribbon Falls, then it is 7.2 miles of flat trail from Cottonwood Campground to the Bright Angel Campground at the Colorado River crossing.  Don’t forget, this portion of the trail is referred to as “the Box”.  The canyon walls begin to merge closer and close in, which can create those stifling temperatures.  Exercise caution here.  That being said, this was the part of the Rim to Rim hike that held the most surprise for me personally.  

 

 

I had always imagined that the Rim to Rim hike looked like descending the North Rim, crossing straight over the Colorado River, and then going straight up the South Rim.  I had pictured this hike shaped like the letter V.  Not so, thanks to these 7 miles at the bottom between the Cottonwood Campground and the Bright Angel Campground.

 

Surprisingly spots of green at the bottom of the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail
Surprisingly spots of green at the bottom of the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail

 

 

Green on the North Kaibab Trail

 

 

These 7 miles that trace along the bottom of the canyon are a fascinating mixture of ecosystems and environments, that are not even visible from above.  Towering cliff walls, striated canyons cut by erosion and the small trickling of streams, and even the surprise lush spots of verdant vegetation!  If you have ever wanted to experience that surreal moment of looking up at the walls of the Grand Canyon set to a backdrop of blue sky, you will have ample opportunity to do so on this stretch.

 

 

These 7 miles from Cottonwood Campground to Bright Angel Campground are almost all flat, with the occasional gentle slope up or down.  There are several bridge crossings, and only one very brief uphill climb before reaching Bright Angel Campground.

 

A bridge crossing on the North Kaibab Trail
A bridge crossing on the North Kaibab Trail

 

 

Bright Angel Campground

 

Bright Angel Campground: Mile 13.7

 

Bright Angel Campground is reached just prior to the Colorado River crossing to the South Rim side and is adjacent to the Phantom Ranch Ranger Station.  You will pass Phantom Ranch before technically arriving at the main heart of Bright Angel Campground. Phantom Ranch Ranger Station is a year round station, and contains a first aid station and emergency phone.  Right across from the Phantom Ranch Ranger Station is Bright Angel Campground.

 

 

It is surprisingly green at Bright Angel Campground, like a little oasis at the bottom of this otherwise desert canyon setting.   If you weren’t doing a day hike of the Rim to Rim, you can lodge here overnight, but that requires a very difficult to secure advance reservation.  Otherwise, it makes for a very good break spot.

 

A green oasis at the bottom - perfect lunch spot!
A green oasis at the bottom – perfect lunch spot!

 

Phantom Ranch on the Rim to Rim hike
Breaking for lunch at Bright Angel Creek near Phantom Ranch

 

There is a gentle stream, Bright Angel Creek, that winds through Bright Angel Campground, surrounded by spots of tall green reeds and shady trees.  There are plenty of spots to cool off, eat a snack, and take a short breather before tackling the following uphill.  You can even wade into the stream here! I like to bring a second pair of Hilly Twin Skin socks, and at this point, I strip off the old pair, soak my feet in the ice cold Bright Angel Creek for a few minutes, and then swap on a my new fresh pair of socks!

 

*Insider Tip:  so what snacks exactly are in my “lunchbox” for a Rim to Rim hike?  Here’s a few of my favorites:

 

 

 

There is also a year round water refill station, restrooms, and a small canteen store at Phantom Ranch that sells supplies, small snacks, and drinks.  I highly recommend a cup of their lemonade!  Be sure to bring cash for this store and for the lemonade!

 

 

Immediately after passing through Bright Angel Campground is the massive bridge crossing at the Colorado River!  Arguably one of the most impressive sights you can see hiking in your lifetime!  As beautiful as it is, do NOT under any circumstances approach its shores or try to enter the river.  The currents are dangerous, and the water icy cold.  Stay on the bridge to cross safely over!

 

 

Crossing the mighty Colorado River
Crossing the mighty Colorado River!

 

Bridge views of the Colorado!
Bridge views of the Colorado!

 

South Rim of the Rim to Rim hike
Getting ready to tackle the South Rim on the Bright Angel Trail!

 

View of the Colorado River bridge crossing from the South Rim side!
View of the Colorado River bridge crossing from the South Rim side!

 

 

Hiking Rim to Rim in one day

 

 

With a 6 am start time, you should aim to get into Bright Angel Campground around 11 am.  This will give you up to an hour to take a break here, with a subsequent 7ish hours before dark to finish the uphill portion on the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim.  The uphill portion will naturally take much longer and go much slower (for most hikers) than the downhill and flat portion of the Rim to Rim hike on the North Kaibab Trail.

 

 

Recap of the North Kaibab Trail

 

Length: 14 miles from the North Kaibab Trailhead to Bright Angel Campground

Rating: Moderate

Almost entirely downhill or flat, with lower morning temperatures and more shade from cliff walls.  Moderate rating due to length of 14 miles.

Elevation Loss: 5,761 feet

Logistics:  start by 6 am, aim to average 3 miles per hour, with a goal to reach Bright Angel Campground by 11 am

 

North Kaibab Trail on a Rim to Rim hike in Grand Canyon
North Kaibab Trail Overview

 

 

Recap of the North Kaibab Trail

 

 

Overview of the Bright Angel Trail

 

After crossing the Colorado River, you will then begin your ascent up the Bright Angel Trail and the South Rim side of the canyon.  From Bright Angel Campground to the top of the South Rim at the Bright Angel Trailhead, be prepared for 9.5 miles and 4,380 feet of elevation gain!

 

The Bright Angel Trail on a Rim to Rim hike in Grand Canyon
The Bright Angel Trail Overview

 

Immediately after crossing the Colorado River bridge, you will hang a right to continue up the Bright Angel Trail.  Again, I do not recommend ascending up the South Kaibab Trail, due to the steepness and lack of water.

 

Rim to Rim hike in one day
Signage after crossing the Colorado River

 

Continuing on the Bright Angel Trail Getting ready for the Bright Angel Trail 

 

Continuing on the Bright Angel Trail after the Colorado River crossingContinuing on the Bright Angel Trail after the Colorado River crossing

 

Hiking Rim to Rim in one day
Passing a horse “train” starting on the South Rim side

 

Hiking Rim to Rim in one day
Looking back towards the bridge and the Colorado River!

 

 

Pipe Creek Beach / River Resthouse: Mile 15.5

 

There is a brief sandy section in the trail here, as you trace along a vista overlooking the Colorado River to your right.  The first landmark on the Bright Angel Trail going up is the River Resthouse, 1.8 miles from Bright Angel Campground.  There are toilets and an emergency phone here, but no water station.  This is also where you will see signage for “Pipe Creek Beach”.  Be warned though, that you should not actually treat this landmark like a typical beach.  Do not go wading into the Colorado River here, it is too dangerous.  Keep plugging onwards and upwards toward Havasupai Garden Campground. 

 

After this, brace yourself for what some consider to be one of the hardest parts of the hike from an environmental viewpoint, the portion of the Bright Angel Trail that climbs up several switchbacks en route to Havasupai Garden Campground, lovingly referred to as the Devil’s Corkscrew.  The climbing, sun exposure, and heat are amped up here on the 5 miles from Bright Angel Campground to Havasupai Garden Campground.

 

Rim to Rim hike
Looking down on a series of switchback climbs called the Devil’s Corkscrew, located after Pipe Creek Beach and before Indian Garden Campground

 

 

The challenge of any Rim to Rim hike is that even a terrific pace, you will likely hit this portion of the hike near afternoon high heat.  And there is minimal shade and high exposure here, compounded with temperatures that are going to be climbing even in October.  Just keep in mind that you will receive a nice, shaded break once reaching Havasupai Garden Campground.  You just have 5 miles to go between Bright Angel Campground and Havasupai Garden Campground.

 

 

There are also no water refill stations again until Havasupai Garden Campground,  so it is IMPERATIVE that you have a full water source before leaving Bright Angel Campground, especially since this is the hottest part of the day. 

 

 

As you take on the heat and sun exposure, listen to your body!  Wear a hat and sunscreen.  Eat some salty snacks or take a salt tablet, replace electrolytes, and drink plenty of water!  Take short breaks when you do encounter a shady spot.  Do not push yourself too hard here!  You will pass several small trickles of streams ascending up to Havasupai Garden, and it is a good idea to possibly wet your hat and/or cotton shirt, or pour some of the cold water on your head and shoulders whenever you can.  Wearing a cotton shirt is great for this suggestion, because the cotton will “cling” to that coolness in the water, and help bring your core temperature down.  

 

Hiking Rim to Rim in one day
Welcoming views from the top of the Devil’s Corkscrew on the Bright Angel Trail

 

 

Bright Angel Campground to Havasupai Garden Campground is 5 miles total.   To recap, you will cross the Colorado River, traverse the sandy “beach” portion that parallels the Colorado River, and then pass the River Resthouse and Pipe Creek Beach.  From River Resthouse to Havasupai Garden Campground is 3.2 miles, and once you push through this portion of full exposure climbing and reach Havasupai Garden Campground, the worst of this portion of the hike will be over.  Possibly the worst part of the whole Rim to Rim hike, depending on who you ask.  Once you reach the switchbacks of the last few miles of the hike on the South Rim wall, you will likely be in much more shade, and dropping temperatures.  

 

 

***some hikers suggest that it is worthwhile to consider waiting out the hottest part of the day before passing through the Devil’s Corkscrew climb up to Havasupai Garden Campground.  In this case, there can be some setting shade starting around mid afternoon, so if you feel unsure of the scorching temperatures, and feel confident in your ability to complete the hike efficiently afterwards before sunset, it is something to consider.

 

 

Right before reaching Havasupai Garden Campgrounds, you will pass through some rocky tunnel like parts of the trail, shouldered on the right hand side by the gentle Garden Creek.  It is quite the welcome relief at this point!

 

Rim to Rim hike in one day
Cliffsides and close canyon “tunnel” walls enclose the trail as you near Havasupai Garden Campground

 

 

Havasupai Garden Campground: Mile 18.7

 

Havasupai Garden Campground  has a year round water refill station, year round Ranger Station, first aid station, emergency phone, restrooms, and a plethora of shady break spots.  I would recommend re-cooping here for a short break, in order to re-hydrate and refuel up.

 

An onlooker spotted at Indian Garden Campground on the Bright Angel Trail
An onlooker spotted at Indian Garden Campground on the Bright Angel Trail

 

 

Shortly after Havasupai Garden, the encroaching late afternoon does begin to blanket the trail with more shade from the surrounding canyon walls, which will be most welcoming.  There will be a section of trail that is relatively flat and in the sun for a short time after Havasupai Garden, but once you start the real climb up the South Rim, you will be largely in welcome shade.  And you will know when you start the “real” climb out! From Havasupai Garden Campground to the top of the South Rim and the Bright Angel Trailhead is 4.5 miles and 3,060 feet of elevation gain, so prepare yourself!

 

 

Hiking the Rim to Rim hike in one day
The trail on the south side of Havasupai Garden – a brief spot of flat that doesn’t last long!

 

Rim to Rim hike
Looking back in the direction towards Havasupai Garden Campground, before beginning the climb up the South Rim switchbacks

 

 

Between Havasupai Garden Campground and the top of the South Rim, there are two Resthouses that you will pass, each with a seasonal water refill station.  (These 2 Resthouses have seasonal water refill stations, and it is not guaranteed they will have water, so refill accordingly at Havasupai Garden Campground).

 

 

After Havasupai Garden Campground, you will notice the grade of the ascent changes and becomes steeper, though the terrain of the trail itself remains soft dirt and non-technical.  Ascending up from this point is largely traversing switchbacks to the top, and the grade of steepness is quite challenging and consistent, and there really are no flat spots from here to be expected.  These switchbacks up the South Rim wall are referred to as “Jacob’s Ladder“.

 

 

3 Mile Resthouse: Mile 20.2

 

1.5 Mile Resthouse: Mile 21.7

 

There is a 3 mile Resthouse and seasonal water refill station 3 miles from the top, and then a 1.5 mile Resthouse and seasonal water refill station 1.5 miles from the top!  I would recommend using one, or both, of these bathroom facilities, even if you don’t necessarily feel like you need to right at that moment.  The reason is that this portion of Bright Angel Trail becomes very heavily trafficked with Rim to Rim hikers coming up slowly, and tourists and day hikers coming down just a couple miles from the top of the South Rim.  If you need to make an impromptu bathroom stop coming up these last couple of miles, you will have ZERO privacy! 

 

Give yourself grace on this portion, as your body will be running on fumes by now, and there is no shame in taking it slow and steady on the steep grade.  Even the most experienced and fit hikers out there can often slow to a mile an hour pace for these last couple miles.  You will likely “leapfrog” other hikers and groups on your way out, as you trade taking breaks and pushing on up the switchbacks.  Make a game out of it and enjoy the camaraderie as a way to take your mind off of the climb!

 

Rim to Rim hike in one day
Looking up from Resthouse 1.5

 

 

There is a brief unnamed cliffside “tunnel” about half a mile from the finish, so that should be your last welcoming landmark before concluding the Rim to Rim hike at the Bright Angel Trailhead at the top of the South Rim!

 

 

Bright Angel Trailhead: Mile 23.2

 

The sun will set in October starting around 6 pm, with complete darkness arriving by 7 pm.  With a 6 am suggested start time, this will give you about 13 hours to hike without the aid of a headlamp.  If that timeframe makes you unsure, then it might be best to pack a headlamp and give yourself a way to hike past 7 pm if necessary.   As night approaches, in the waning daylight of the final switchback, you will be able to see the lights of the South Rim lodges lighting up the South Rim and the Bright Angel Trailhead!

 

 

Dusk approaches as the Rim to Rim hike concludes at the top of the South Rim!
Dusk approaches as the Rim to Rim hike concludes at the top of the South Rim!

 

The Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon
Dusk approaching on the final push of the Bright Angel Trail

 

The Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon
Finishing the Bright Angel Trail on a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike!

 

Bright Angel Trailhead on the Rim to Rim hike
Bright Angel Trailhead on the South Rim

 

 

Recap of the Bright Angel Trail

 

Length: 9.5 miles

Rating:  Difficult

This portion of the trail has excessive heat, exposure, and steep uphill grades and elevation gain more than 4,000 feet.  It is also considerate in length at 9.5 miles to the top.

Elevation Gain: 4,380 feet

Logistics:  aim to depart Bright Angel Campground and begin the ascent up the Bright Angel Trail by noon.  This will allow ample time to take on the slowest part of the Rim to Rim hike.  Be extra careful during the portion between the Colorado River and Indian Garden Campground due to the excessive heat and exposure.  Aim to finish the hike by 7 pm, when it will become too dark to see without aid of a headlamp.

 

Hiking Rim to Rim
Looking out over the South Rim

 

 

Overview of the South Kaibab Trail

 

For more in depth details on the South Kaibab Trail, if you do choose to hike South to North, visit this sister post on hiking Rim to River in one day.  For a Rim to River hike (South Rim – Colorado River – South Rim), I do recommend using the South Kaibab Trail, so you can find the full trail report there.  The Rim to River hike is also a great alternative for those not ready for the full Rim to Rim, or those looking for a logistically easier Grand Canyon hike to plan.

 

 

 

South Kaibab Trail overview on a Rim to Rim hike in Grand Canyon
South Kaibab Trail Overview

 

 

Water Fill Stations on North Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails

 

Water fill stations are critical to know about both trails, the North Kaibab and Bright Angel!  Here’s a quick reference for planning purposes.  You can also check out the helpful graphics with corresponding bathroom and water icons below for a quick visual!

 

  • North Kaibab Trailhead – WATER (and bathrooms)
  • Supai Tunnel – WATER (and bathrooms)
  • Roaring Springs / Manzanita Rest Area – WATER (and bathrooms)
  • Cottonwood Campground – WATER
  • Bright Angel Campground – WATER (and bathrooms)
  • River Resthouse – bathrooms
  • Havasupai Garden Campground  – WATER (and bathrooms)
  • 3 Mile Resthouse – WATER (and bathrooms)
  • 1.5 Mile Resthouse – WATER (and bathrooms)
  • Bright Angel Trailhead – WATER (and bathrooms)

 

North Kaibab Trail on a Rim to Rim hike in Grand Canyon
North Kaibab Trail Overview, including water and bathroom locations

 

The Bright Angel Trail on a Rim to Rim hike in Grand Canyon
Bright Angel Trail Overview, including water and bathroom locations

 

 

You made it! I hope that this guide provides every reader the knowledge and confidence to brave hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike!  It truly is a once in a lifetime experience, and the reward is enormous for those willing to put in the time and effort that this hike deserves!  There is no moment quite like witnessing this natural wonder from its deepest depths to its highest plateaus!  Complete the Rim to Rim hike at the Grand Canyon, and join an elite group of strong, determined, and committed hikers!

 

Views from the top of South Rim in Grand Canyon
Views from the top of the South Rim

 

 

If you are ready to start planning your Rim to Rim hike, follow this CHECKLIST:

 

 

>MORE: Check out my entire collection of all things active travel, including R2R training resources!  Get all the training calendars, checklists, trackers, and handy printables you will need to tackle any of your active travel goals!

 

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Coaching services for the Rim to Rim hike

 

 

Additional Grand Canyon Hiking Resources:

 

 

Have you completed a Rim to Rim hike at the Grand Canyon?  I would love to hear about your experience and any tips you picked up from your trek!

 

 

Not ready for the full Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike, but still looking for an epic hiking experience in the canyon?  Check out my favorite rim hike at the North Rim, the Widforss Trail!

 

The Widforss Trail in Grand Canyon National Park
Taking in the sights from Widforss Point on the North Rim’s Widforss Trail

 

 

Curious how a native Texan like myself trained for a hike like the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike?  I utilized a very detailed HIIT at home workout routine, and you can grab your own FREE customize-able HIIT home workout template HERE!

 

 

 

 

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The Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon

 

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10 Comments

  1. Greetings: Would you know of anyone who might be willing to lead an older but fit hiker on a rim-to-rim walk, with 2 nights spent at the base of the canyon for recuperation at the facility at the base of the south rim prior to taking the Bright Angel Trail up to the South Rim? (This rather than attempting a one day Rim-to-Rim trip as you’ve done multiple times? I’ve done the South Rim trip to the base of the canyon via the South Kaibab Trail & stayed overnight in the past before ascending via the Bright Angel Trail, though this was done during January. This is something I have long hoped to accomplish & am willing to spend some extra money for a guide if this is at all possible. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might be able to offer. Bill

    1. Hi Bill,

      There are several options for guided hikes in the Grand Canyon, including multi day trips, that you can find by doing a simple Google search of Grand Canyon guides. I have not used any of these guides personally so I cannot recommend a particular one over another, but good luck on your future Grand Canyon hiking, no matter which way you choose to go about it!

  2. Hi Kristen,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience in such a detailed fashion. We are a group of 5 getting ready to hike rim-to-rim in mid-Sept., and your post has been of great help. One question- how much time does it take to get from Phantom Ranch to the Bright Angel trailhead? You have mentioned 1.5 miles to River Resthouse but I presume that is from the Bright Angel trailhead?
    Thanks,
    Jas

  3. Hi Kristen,
    One more Q- I understand we do not need a permit for the one-day R2R hike but is there a separate entrance fee that needs to be paid? If so, do you know if there is a way to get it online, in advance? I called the nps office and the Grand Canyon office but I am unable to get a human to speak with me!
    Thanks,
    Jasrine

  4. Thank you for very detailed info on Rim to Rim Hike . I was planning to do one day Hike and after reading your article , I Changed my mind .
    I have done pikes peak in two days and half marathon in less than 3 hours and can walk 10-14 miles on weekend off and on . But seems None of this is enough.
    Live in Houston and can’t find elevation except on treadmill .

    1. Hi Sandhya,

      It sounds like you have a similar background as me, with other big hikes and long distance running, which is a great foundation for hiking Rim to Rim. I also have faced the challenge of finding decent elevation, as I live in the Fort Worth area. Sometimes you have to get creative, and a treadmill can still help too, when inclined. Is there somewhere you can run stairs, like a stadium or stairwell? Are you doing exercises for leg strength? Are there any decent hills near you that you could run repeats on? Is there a trail you could find with a couple hundred feet of elevation at least, and do loops? These are all things I have had to consider too when preparing for the Rim to Rim. I think with your background you can still attempt Rim to Rim in one day!

  5. Hi Kristen,

    The question I have for you is that when you say the North Rim doesn’t open until May 15th, does that mean you literally can’t hike, I was hoping to do it in late April or early May. Thank you for your very detailed write up, it was very helpful.

    Matt

    1. Hey Matt, you can still do a R2R2R hike if you go South – North – South. The North Rim facilities, roads, etc, aren’t open until May. Basically while the North Rim is closed, you can still hike if your arrival and departure points are the South Rim. Hope that helps!

  6. Your r2r in one day guide for first timers is great. I’m traveling to do this hike in late September and have been using your guide for months to prepare. I feel like I’ll be as prepared as I can be thanks to you sharing your knowledge . Thank you!

    1. So excited to hear this Spike! I love knowing people are out there getting ready for the R2R, it is a once in a lifetime experience and I hope you enjoy it to its fullest, the struggle and all! Late September is coming up, you’re almost there! I’d love to hear how the hike goes for you~