Rim to Rim® Hike
The first question you must ask yourself is do you want to do the Rim to Rim hike in one day? Our recommendation is take two or more days to hike this and truly “experience” the Canyon.
The second question is do you want to camp out or stay at Phantom Ranch? We recommend Phantom Ranch (rest, recover, ramp up) if it is your first time.
If you choose the Phantom Ranch (which we did) you have several positives which would be a shower, bed, two meals (dinner after day one trek and breakfast before day two trek) and a lighter load! If you want to camp out you must obtain a Backcountry permit (up to months in advance). You can call the Backcountry office at 928-638-7875 to request your permit. There are three campgrounds if you backpack (Cottonwood, Bright Angel, and Indian Garden) but again we preferred staying at Phantom Ranch.
For Phantom Ranch you must make advance reservations and reservations are advised one year in advance unless you have a flexible schedule and can grab an opening. We were fortunate as I kept calling Xanterra Resorts (303-297-2757) in April to see if there were any cancellations for the fall. I called once a week. There was finally an opening for two in August in the women’s dorm. Yes, August (HOT), but we wanted to hike Rim to Rim so I grabbed the reservation for the one night and booked our meals.
I than proceeded to book a room at the South Rim (Kachina Lodge through Xanterra) so we would have a day to recuperate and reflect on the experience and adventure of our Rim to Rim hike while gaining perspective of the Canyon from the top.
Our agenda was to hike down North Kaibab Trail in one day, stay at Phantom Ranch overnight, begin hike up Bright Angel early next morning and get to South Rim for lunch. We would than enjoy South Rim (eat a good meal, rest, and relax) and head on the Trans-Canyon Shuttle (Grand Canyon Shuttle is also an option) the next afternoon (1:30 p.m.) to head back to our car which we parked at North Rim (North Rim accommodations can be booked through Forever Resorts).
All went according to plan and that is why this is our recommendation for the “in pretty good shape” hikers (that want to carry a pack of less than 25 lbs. and could hike it in trail shoes) to try our option.
Our experience was awesome (to include a quick break at Ribbon Falls on day one – go see this as it is less than 1 mile off trail) where I proceeded to soak my feet in the water. Don’t do this unless you have something to dry your feet off completely as you will get blisters.
Our recommendation for hiking Rim to Rim is to hike it from North Rim to South Rim via the North Kaibab Trail (8,241 ft – 14 miles – mostly a descent) and the Bright Angel Trail (mostly an ascent – 9.9 miles – 6,850 ft) which is estimated to be a total of 23.9 miles.
Other Option was to hike down North Kaibab Trail up the South Kaibab Trail (7,260 ft) but there is NO WATER on the South Kaibab Trail. It is shorter (7.1 miles versus 9.9 miles for Bright Angel Trail) but steeper, and trust us, you will appreciate having water along the way.
We started the journey early in the morning (5:20 a.m.) due to the expected heat in August down in the canyon in particular “the wall” which is the hottest part of the hike. Rather than give away the adventure (what to expect) we would recommend to take the hike and enjoy the experience and read some of the stories others have shared.
This entire hike was about perspective for me. It inspired me to start this club and encourage others to experience the trail.
I recently went back to the Grand Canyon just to breathe it all in. Unlike my Rim to Rim hike where we had a specific destination I “strolled” the Rim Trail and looked “down” at the hike I was so blessed to complete last summer. I spent time spent reflecting on how much I enjoyed the journey, the new friends I made, the peaceful time with no cell phone nor interruptions and the perspective this wonderful breathtaking canyon brings to one’s soul. I will hike Rim to Rim again but for now it is about inspiring others to do so. I have a head full of memories of one of the best hikes of my life.
Please join the club by sharing your story (e-mail: email@example.com). You can also post and update your hiking endeavors by liking us on our Rim to Rim Facebook page.
Here’s to YOUR CLIMB!
What you do need:
1. Great trail or hiking shoes and good socks – I hiked in trail shoes and wicking/wool socks.
2. Back Pack/Hydration Pack with proper clothes – I used a hydration pack with enough water and room in pack to bring change of clothes (fresh socks, change of undergarments, wicking socks, shirts, and shorts = 2 days worth)
3. Hat or Bandanna – I wore a technical bandana that I came to appreciate as I could dip it in the river.
4. WATER – drink and fill pack with water at all stops – STAY HYDRATED
5. Food – we carried beef jerky, energy bars (protein/energy), Fig Newtons, pretzels and CamelBak elixir to add to our water if we felt a potential “bonk” and please LEAVE NO TRACE on the trail!
6. Moleskin and Band-aids = just in case you blister (also try and bring an anti-chafing cream).
7. Sunscreen and lip balm.
8. Toiletries – Trial size it! I carried a small toothbrush, small toothpaste, and small deodorant.
* optional – Hiking poles. I used them on the descent only (North Kaibab) as I was post ACL/microfracture surgery and it helped. If you bring them make sure you have the ones that fold up so you can pack away.
Tip: If you stay at Phantom Ranch in the dorm you will have bunk mates. We had wonderful ones and that is a great thing because we traded what we needed for next day to get us through and traded out what we didn’t need for the hike up Bright Angel (i.e., pack light). If you make the mistake of packing too much you can have the mules take your pack up the next day for a fee. They hike down daily with the food and supplies for Phantom Ranch and up with the mail and bags packed too heavy, etc. We had tremendous gratitude for these animals as we appreciated the food at Phantom Ranch that they carried down for all of us. Just be prepared for some of their “treats” on the trails as they can’t help themselves!
Please also visit the Grand Canyon National Park hiking tips page.
For hiking product tips check out our Rim to Rim Club® You Tube Channel.
Trail etiquette: please visit the Leave No Trace website.
Lodging information: please visit the Grand Canyon National Park lodging page.