Adventure Travel ARIZONA Blog Grand Canyon Hiking north rim rim to rim south rim United States

Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Hike: Planning Guide and Checklist

Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Hike

Climbing the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim is a bucket listing journey. Over the course of almost 24 miles, hikers descend under the extent of the rim, cross the mighty Colorado River, and climb again up the opposite aspect. It’s difficult, it’s exhilarating, and it is really an unforgettable expertise.

Nevertheless, this can be a large hike and in an effort to have the perfect expertise, you will want to do some advance planning as well as practice your physique for this journey.

On this article we share with you all the things we discovered concerning the rim-to-rim hike, from what to pack, easy methods to practice, where to stay, and more.

This text is a component 2 in our two-part collection concerning the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike. For a full breakdown of the trail, with maps, pictures, and climbing ideas, read part 1: The best way to Hike Rim-to-Rim.

Quick Overview of the Path

Most people hike rim-to-rim beginning on the North Rim, taking the North Kaibab Trail to Vibrant Angel Campground. From right here, you’ve a choice to make. The Shiny Angel Trail is the more fashionable and wiser selection, with much less elevation achieve, more shade, and several water stations on the path. The South Kaibab is an exquisite trail, but because it does not have water stations and very little shade, it’s best prevented for the hike out of the canyon.

The street to the North Rim is simply open from mid-Might by means of mid-October, giving hikers a very slender window for this hike. Since most people end up mountaineering within the scorching, summer time climate, you must be prepared for 100+ degree temperatures.

Distance: 23.5 miles
Problem: Extremely strenuous
Elevation Change: 5761 ft elevation loss (North Kaibab trailhead to Vibrant Angel Campground) and 4380 ft elevation achieve (Shiny Angel Campground to the South Rim on the Vibrant Angel Path).
Size of Time: Sometimes accomplished as a 2 or Three-day backpacking journey. May be achieved as a day hike in case you are extremely fit and fast.

For pictures of the path and full particulars on the North Kaibab Trail and Brilliant Angel Trail, learn our article The right way to Hike the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim.

Map of the Trail

Map of the path from the Nationwide Park Service web site.

When to Hike Rim-to-Rim

The street to the North Rim is open from Might 15 to October 15. This is the only time you could hike rim-to-rim (North Rim to South Rim or vice versa).

Observe: Depending on climate circumstances, the street to the North Rim can stay open into November, but there are not any providers on the North Rim previous October 15 (lodges and eating places are closed).

Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim: It’s attainable to hike to the North Rim year-round however your journey will start on the South Rim. This takes multiple days, until you propose to path run rim-to-rim-to-rim. On day 1, hike from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch or Vibrant Angel Campground. On day 2, hike to the North Rim on the North Kaibab Trail and return to Phantom Ranch/Shiny Angel Campground. Then, on day Three, hike back up the South Rim. You will want a allow or a reservation at Phantom Ranch to do this.

Since circumstances might be fairly scorching from the top of Might by way of September, most individuals might be mountaineering in the warmth.

To avoid the most well liked circumstances, plan your hike for Might, the top of September, or October.

If we did this again, I feel that the top of September into October can be a good time to do that hike. Temperatures are milder and the sun units earlier, so you will spend more time within the shade of the canyon. Just be prepared for cold temperatures firstly of the hike on the North Rim.

Grand Canyon Hike

North Kaibab Path

Doing This as a Day Hike

The National Park Service does not advocate doing this as a day hike. There are numerous warnings on the Grand Canyon National Park website and the trailheads telling individuals not to do that as a day hike.

Even so, there are numerous people who hike rim-to-rim in in the future.

Tim and I hiked the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in in the future in June 2019. It is a beast of a hike, by far probably the most troublesome day hike we’ve got finished to date. We have been profitable and had a great time along the best way, but we also spent months coaching and getting ready for this hike.

With a view to do that as a day hike, it’s worthwhile to be extremely match and quick and know what you’ll be able to deal with. Mountaineering expertise, preferably with hikes lasting over eight hours with plenty of elevation change, is right. You also want to be able to deal with 100+ degree temperatures, particularly in case you are climbing from Might via September.

How Onerous is This Hike?

We’ve hiked plenty of trails all over the world and this is undoubtedly the toughest hike we’ve completed.

Our second hardest hike…the South Kaibab Path and Brilliant Angel Path in in the future. Tyler and I did this hike 6 months prior (in December 2018).

There are several things that make the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike so difficult. For one thing, it’s 23.5 miles. In case you are doing this as a day hike, that’s an extended solution to go in at some point. Marathon runners might not assume so, but that is much more durable than operating a marathon (and we’ve carried out our justifiable share, together with those on the end of an Ironman triathlon).

What really makes this hike so troublesome is the elevation profile. You hike a mile down into the canyon which may really tire out your legs. Then, it’s a must to climb up almost one other mile to get you again onto the South Rim.

Throw in hovering temperatures, the load of liters of water on your back, to not point out no matter else you’re carrying in your backpack, and this is one robust hike.

How Match Do You Have to Be?

In case you plan to hike rim-to-rim in someday, you have to be extremely match, fast, and well-prepared.

In case you are doing this as a backpacking trip, you also have to be fit, since you’ll be climbing with more weight on your again, in case you plan to camp alongside the best way.

Earlier than doing this hike, Tim and I have been doing lengthy runs of 14 miles with shorter runs in the course of the week. Every time attainable, we did these runs midday, so we might get some heat coaching. We also spent a whole lot of time on the bike. I cycled 1500 miles within the 5 months prior to the hike. I additionally added within the Stairmaster, which is extremely boring, but I do consider it helped.

You also have to have climbing expertise. There are not any technical sections and the path is so properly marked that it will be virtually unimaginable to lose your approach, however it helps to have expertise doing massive climbs and massive descents.

This is not an excellent hike for learners since it covers such an extended distance with a lot elevation change.

In case you plan to do that hike, it’s worthwhile to be in great bodily form. You need to have the ability to walk 15 miles while sporting a backpack with little problem. You’ll want to be ready for plenty of elevation change and you additionally must be prepared to hike in temperatures reaching over 100°F.

Tim Rivenbark

Learn how to Keep Hydrated

Staying hydrated…this is among the most essential issues to do with a purpose to have a successful hike.

Over the course of the day, Tim and I every drank over 10 liters of water.

We every carried a Camelback water reservoir that would hold Three liters. We began the hike with it crammed to the Three-liter mark. As we hiked, we might refill the reservoir at each water station.

There are water stations at Supai Tunnel, Roaring Springs, Manzanita Relaxation House, Cottonwood Campground, Phantom Ranch, Vibrant Angel Campground, Indian Backyard, Three Mile Resthouse, and 1.5 Mile Resthouse. Nevertheless, these water stations aren’t all the time operational. On the day we did this hike, there was no water at Supai Tunnel or Roaring Springs.

Pro Travel Tip: To get updated info in your hike, go to the Customer Middle the day before your hike to seek out out which water stations have water. There may even be indicators posted on the trailheads with updated information. Prime off your water at each station.

We also carried a Katadyn water filter and iodine tablets, simply in case we ran out of water and wanted to refill our reservoirs from a creek or the Colorado River.

Three liters of water is heavy. Once we acquired to 3 Mile Resthouse we solely crammed our reservoirs with 1.5 liters of water. For us and our hydration standing at that point, 1.5 liters was just sufficient water to get us to the subsequent station with out having to carry a variety of additional weight. Each pound counts at this level!

Trail Signs

Hyponatremia…What Is It and Methods to Keep away from It

Hyponatremia is just a fancy word for being low on sodium (salt).

In the event you absorb giant amounts of water with out changing your electrolytes, you’ll be able to endure from hyponatremia. Plus, in the warmth of the day, additionally, you will be dropping loads of your salt in your sweat.

Changing your electrolytes is simply as necessary as consuming sufficient fluids.

You possibly can substitute your electrolytes by often eating salty foods as you hike. Once an hour we might take a fast break to eat some salty food…pretzels, beef jerky, and at Indian Garden, salty potato chips.

We additionally supplemented our meals consumption with salt alternative tablets. We used Salt Stick caps, which are really only a capsule form of sodium and potassium. Endurolytes by Hammer Power Vitamin can also be a very good salt alternative supplement.

I even introduced alongside Trioral Oral Rehydration Salts, just in case we began to endure from symptoms of hyponatremia, however we never wanted to make use of it.

Hyponatremia could be very dangerous. The symptoms of hyponatremia are nausea and vomiting, headache, loss of power, muscle weak spot and muscle spasms, seizures, and coma. I do know that a few of these signs overlap with the fatigue of mountaineering, but in the event you start to get a headache or really feel nauseated or light-headed, these might be early signs of hyponatremia. If this happens, take an extended break in the shade, eat salty meals and exchange your electrolytes with any dietary supplements you introduced along.

Necessary!! It is rather essential that you simply take enough water and sufficient electrolytes so you don’t get dehydrated or endure from hyponatremia on the trail. Once you get thirsty or once you get light-headed or dizzy from hyponatremia, it can be very troublesome to reverse these signs once they begin.

Certainly one of our keys to success was our prior expertise training for and racing triathlons. 6-hour coaching rides in 90+ degree heat aren’t uncommon for us. We all know how much water and salt we’d like and used this experience on the path.

In case you are not used to mountaineering or exercising for long durations of time in extreme warmth, think about skipping this hike or breaking it up into a 2 or Three-day backpacking journey.

The Box

“The Box”

How Much Should You Eat?

It’s higher to eat small, frequent snacks than an enormous meal every few hours. While exercising, it is onerous in your physique to course of a full abdomen of meals.

Once an hour, we stopped and ate a snack. We ate power bars, beef jerky, salty pretzels, raisins, trail mix, and potato chips. This sends a gentle provide of calories and salt into your body, which not solely helps hold you fueled, nevertheless it additionally helps together with your hydration status.

Packing Record

Tim and I each carried a mountaineering backpack. Here is what we carried with us:

Trans-Canyon Shuttle Service

Because the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike is a point-to-point hike, you will have to rent a shuttle service. There are corporations that may drive you from one rim to the opposite.

You possibly can schedule the shuttle for the day earlier than or the day after your hike.

We used Trans-Canyon Shuttle Service. It takes roughly 4 hours to drive from rim-to-rim, including 2 quick stops alongside the best way to use the restroom and to purchase snacks. The price is $90 per individual.

E-book your shuttle prematurely to ensure you get a spot on the shuttle.

What We Did: The morning earlier than our hike we took the eight am shuttle from the Brilliant Angel Lodge on the South Rim to the North Rim Lodge, arriving at noon. Tim and I frolicked on the North Rim for the remainder of the day. The next day we hiked rim-to-rim.

Pro Travel Tip: Trans-Canyon Shuttle presents a morning and a day shuttle to the North Rim. We advocate taking the morning shuttle. This allows you to be one of the first individuals to place your identify on the shuttle to the North Kaibab Trailhead. There are only 10 spots on the shuttle to the trailhead and you’ll be able to solely reserve your spot in individual whenever you verify in.

An alternative choice is to drive your automotive to the North Rim, hike rim-to-rim, and then take the shuttle back to the North Rim. What you select to do exactly is dependent upon the rest of your trip itinerary.

Study more, get up to date pricing, and make your reservation on the official web site.

Shuttle Service to the Trailhead

The trailhead is situated two miles north of the North Rim Visitor Middle and Grand Canyon Lodge. The Grand Canyon Lodge runs a free shuttle service multiple occasions within the morning to the North Kaibab Trailhead. Once we did this, the out there occasions have been Three am, 4 am, 5 am, 5:30 am, 6 am, and 7 am.

You possibly can put your identify on the record the day before your hike. You will do this at the reception desk at the lodge if you verify in. We tried to do it over the telephone however they needed to see us in individual earlier than they might write our identify on the record.

They solely have spots for 10 individuals on each shuttle.

We took the 5 am shuttle to the trailhead. Dawn was just past 5 am once we did this hike.

Start of the Hike

At the beginning of the hike.

Our 3 Day Grand Canyon Itinerary

Day 1: Petrified Forest Nationwide Park in the morning/midday and then we drove to Tusayan. We stayed in a single day in The Grand Lodge.

Day 2: Checked out of The Grand Lodge. The lodge held our luggage for us of their luggage storage workplace. We parked our automotive in Lot D in the Grand Canyon Village. At 8 am, we took the Trans-Canyon Shuttle to the North Rim. We spent the remainder of the day on the North Rim, enjoyable and taking within the view.

Day 3: Hike rim-to-rim. We slept at The Grand Lodge in Tusayan.

View of the North Rim

View from the North Rim

What to Pack for the North Rim

We only brought with us what we would have liked for the hike plus some toiletries. Every thing that we brought with us to the North Rim would either need to be carried on the path or left behind.

Tim and I wore previous shirts and underwear, which we threw away. We additionally introduced travel-sized toiletries and left these behind on the lodge as properly. We needed our backpacks to be mild as potential.

2 or Three-Day Backpacking Journey

Most individuals hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim on a 2 or 3-day backpacking trip. You could have the option to spend the night time at Cottonwood Campground, Shiny Angel Campground, Indian Garden, or Phantom Ranch.

For the campgrounds, you will have to apply for a permit. Go to the National Park web site for the small print on how to do this.

To remain at Phantom Ranch, you’ll have to be very fortunate. Reservations are made by means of their lottery. Submissions to the lottery are made 13 months prematurely. The advantage of staying at Phantom Ranch is you can sleep in a single day in a cabin or dorm, so there isn’t any need to hold camping gear on the hike. Study extra here.

Doing This Hike in Reverse Order

You possibly can hike these trails in both order, but there’s a excellent purpose to hike down the North Kaibab Trail and up the Brilliant Angel Trail.

The North Kaibab Trailhead sits 1381 ft greater than the Brilliant Angel Trailhead. By beginning on the North Kaibab Path, you remove a pleasant chunk of climbing from the hike.

Rim to Rim Hike

North Kaibab Path

Tricks to Have the Greatest Expertise

Hydrate the day earlier than. It’s essential that you simply start this hike absolutely hydrated.

Start at sunrise or earlier. This will provide you with the maximum quantity of daylight and let you hike a pleasant chunk of the path before it heats up. In case you are doing this as a day hike, begin no later than sunrise. Even think about taking the 3 am or four am shuttle to the trailhead.

Get to Phantom Ranch by 10 am. Hike by means of the box as early as attainable to keep away from sweltering circumstances.

Stay hydrated. Prime off your water at each water station and don’t overlook to absorb electrolytes.

Avoid climbing between 10 am and 4 pm. This is the most well liked time of the day. Take a nice, long break at Phantom Ranch or Indian Garden to keep away from climbing in the hottest circumstances.

Hike Moist. Once it heats up, reap the benefits of the cool creek next to the trail. Splash some water on your skin and even lie down in the creek (it feels fantastic!). Depart the artificial shirt at house and put on cotton. It can take in your sweat and the creek water and this wetness will help maintain you cool.

Eat often. We ate a snack roughly each hour whereas climbing. This steady supply of calories stored us fueled up for the final climb.

North Kaibab Trail

On the North Kaibab Trail

Planning Checklist Earlier than You Go

13 months before: Apply for a reservation for the Phantom Ranch lottery should you want to do that as a multi-day backpacking trip.

6 – 8  months before: Reserve your lodging on the North and South Rims. Begin coaching for the hike.

4.5 months before: Apply for a allow in the event you plan to camp at one of many campgrounds along the path.

3 – 4 months before: Reserve your spot on the trans-canyon shuttle.

2 weeks before: Begin checking climate circumstances. Visit the Grand Canyon National Park website for updates on closures in the park. Begin placing together the gear you will deliver with you.

1 day before: Take the shuttle or drive to the North Rim. Put your identify on the listing for the shuttle to the trailhead. Hydrate. Restrict yourself to mild, straightforward walks to save lots of your power for tomorrow.

Day zero: Have fun climbing the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim!

Rim-to-River-to-Rim Choice

Climbing from the South Rim to the South Rim is a superb various to the normal rim-to-rim hike.

You’ll be able to mix the South Kaibab and Vibrant Angel Trails into an enormous day hike. You still get the rim to river to rim experience with a lot much less distance and effort. Even so, it’s still a beast of a hike, just not as beastly as the North to South Rim hike.

Tyler and I hiked the South Kaibab to Shiny Angel Path in December 2018. It’s an awesome hike and one that you can do year-round. Plus, you don’t want a shuttle since you start and finish on the South Rim.

This can be a nice selection in case you are not fairly positive in case you are up for the rim-to-rim hike. It’s also a good way to get some experience climbing the Grand Canyon earlier than tackling the normal rim-to-rim hike. I discovered rather a lot on this shorter hike which made planning for and mountaineering rim-to-rim easier.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at The Grand Lodge in Tusayan. It is the highest rated lodge within the space. On Booking.com it’s listed as a 5-star lodge however it seems to be and feels a lot more like a 3 to 4 star lodge. Nevertheless, the rooms are clear and quiet and fit our needs.

The most important benefit with staying here is that this was the one lodge that might hold our luggage for us (Tim referred to as multiple resorts in Grand Canyon Village and Tusayan and none of them would maintain our baggage overnight). We left our baggage at The Grand Lodge overnight while we stayed at the North Rim.

One other nice choice is to stay within the Grand Canyon Village. The Vibrant Angel Lodge is true next to the trailhead so once you’re completed your hike, you gained’t need to walk far to get to your lodge.


Did we miss something? When you’ve got any questions about this hike or if you wish to share your expertise, remark under.

More Concepts for Your Climbing Bucket Record:

Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Hike

Notice: This publish incorporates affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one in every of these affiliate links, we receives a commission a small commission at no additional value to you.