Hike

Rim to Rim mapRim to Rim Map 2

Quick tips for the Rim to Rim hike of the Grand Canyon:

  • Day hike it – no permit required. Tips include starting very early, sitting out the hottest part of the day in the shade, bringing plenty of sweet and salty snacks. Hike with at least 3 liters of water and a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face.
  • Day hike it twice with rim lodging – get reservations at a South Rim Lodge (El Tovar, Bright Angel, Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird, Maswik, or Yavapai), hike across the Canyon (23.9 miles), stay at the Grand Canyon Lodge for a night then return to the South Rim. Same tips as above. Reservations are difficult to get.   If you go this route consider booking a day again at the South Rim to relax and recuperate. You also have hotel options in Tusayan, Arizona which is just outside the park (South Rim).
  • Phantom Ranch – normally done in 3 days. Can go North to South or South to North. Hike down to Phantom Ranch, spend a night or two, hike out. same tips as above. Phantom Ranch reservations (1 year in advance on the 1st of the month). Difficult to get.
  • Backpacking Trip – normally done in 3 or 4 days. Can go from North to South or South to North. Easier to go from North to South (North Rim is 1,000 feet higher).  You will need a shuttle for return trip. * You need a permit, which is where lottery drawing comes in, if you’re going to camp overnight in the Canyon.  
  • Fully Guided Trip –  please click here

How we hiked Rim to Rim:

What started out as a bucket list item soon became a reality when my buddy and I lucked out a cancellation for August 18 at Phantom Ranch. I called Xanterra Resorts every week in April of that year and finally had a reservation for Phantom Ranch in the women’s dorms.   This was our green light as my buddy Sandy and I wanted to take on Rim to Rim in two days.  This is how we did it in addition to some guidance and links to help you.

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 as well as we needed to have our buddy John take us in from Jacob Lake Campground (where we spent the night prior to our hike = you also have the option of staying at the North Rim but reservations are difficult = booked through Forever Resorts) into the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park (North Kaibab Trail = approximately 50 minute drive from Jacob Lake).

Sandy and I had a great day 1 and enjoyed our hike as it was a bit overcast that morning.  We felt the bathrooms and water stops were in perfect spots as right around each of them is when we needed to re-fuel.   We enjoyed our 14.3 trek from North Kaibab to Phantom Ranch.   Day 1 was in the books and we looked forward to our overnight stay at Phantom Ranch.  We put dibs on our bunks (there were 8 others soon to join us in the dorm), took showers and than chilled out awaiting our dinner call.   I can’t tell you how appreciative we were for the mules that carried down supper for all of us hikers.  We enjoyed dinner, met some new friends and than proceeded to head to bed as we had an early rise the next morning.

Day 2 started with an early rise (4:00 a.m.), breakfast at Phantom Ranch, and off we were on the trail by 5:30 a.m.  Day 2 took us over the Colorado River up the Bright Angel Trail.  We had a 9.6 mile climb ahead of us.  Thanks to my off season training (stair master, stair master, stair master), I was ready for it.

We made great time up Bright Angel and before we knew it we were smelling fresh cologne and seeing people in sandals coming down.  We knew we were near the top and the completion of our first ever Rim to Rim hike.   We arrived at the Bright Angel trailhead just before lunch and while our room at Kachina Lodge was not quite ready yet we (and we are still apologetic) took our sweaty bodies and packs into El Tovar Dining Room for a well deserved lunch.  That diet coke over ice never tasted so good as my body was craving a bit of caffeine. We toasted to the completion of the bucket list item and simply just enjoyed time off of our feet.  Our room was ready and we showered and literally worked on our legs learning how to put one foot in front of the other again.  As the day went on my muscles became even stiffer.  I was so happy we booked a night at the South Rim so we could just relax and reflect on what we just had accomplished.

Later that evening we decided to hobble out to dinner (at the Arizona Room at Bright Angel Lodge and right next to our hotel) and ironically met up with our bunk mates from Phantom Ranch.  We all smiled, laughed and toasted to ALL OF US completing the hike.  The meal, the conversation, and the stories we shared ranks as one of the best experiences of my life!

Day 3 was all about getting up sore as ever for our 1:30 p.m. shuttle back to our car at Jacob Lake (we camped out there before the journey began).  We spent the morning taking it all in as well as gathering post cards and other gifts for our loved ones back home.  It was on the return trip on the trans-canyon shuttle where I had the epiphany “why don’t I start a club for all of us that have hiked Rim to Rim as well as a place to inspire others to take on this hike?”. Since there was no such thing, I created the Rim to Rim Club, the website, official logo, and began the journey of building rim to rim products to commemorate the hike.

This entire hike was about perspective for me. It inspired me to start this club and encourage others to experience the trail.  It was the best experience of my life and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to take the time to listen to their soul again.   Our pictures can be viewed on our photo page of this website as well as the photos from other hikers.  We welcome you to share your photos on our page by joining our group. My suggestion to those of you that have not taken on the hike yet, don’t view too many pictures as the first time you see the trail for yourself will be priceless and reserved for your memory.

Tips and links for a 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. Reservations are advised one year in advance unless you have a flexible schedule and can grab an opening.   Again, 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 also booked 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.

Again, our itinerary was to hike down North Kaibab Trail in one day, stay at Phantom Ranch overnight, hike up Bright Angel early next morning and get to South Rim for lunch. 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 – 14.3 miles – mostly a descent) and the Bright Angel Trail (mostly an ascent – 9.6 miles – 6,850 ft) which is estimated to be a total of 23.9 miles.

* North Rim Lodge and facilities are open May 15-October 15 (October 31st for campground) – South Rim is open year round.

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 miles versus 9.6 miles for Bright Angel Trail) but steeper, and trust us, you will appreciate having water along the way.

If you have completed the Rim to Rim hike like us you are in the Rim to Rim Club.  Become an official member of the club by filling out our form on the right side of this website (the club is free). You can also post and update your hiking endeavors by liking us on our Rim to Rim Facebook page.

Here’s to YOUR CLIMB!

Rim to Rim Club®

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 water.

4. WATER – drink and fill pack with water at all stops – STAY HYDRATED

5. Food – salty snacks, protein, and some carbs. 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”.  We also had the dinner and breakfast at Phantom Ranch which was awesome. 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.

* For sunrise and sunset times (hours of daylight) for the Grand Canyon please click here.

* For North Rim weather click here, South Rim here and Phantom Ranch here.

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!

* Day hikes and hikers staying at Phantom Ranch are not required to have permits.

* You only need a permit, which is where lottery drawing comes in, if you’re going to camp overnight in the Canyon.

* As of September 15, 2014 if you are with any group that publicly advertises a trip from rim to rim you will need a permit.

To camp overnight in the Grand Canyon, you are required to have a camping permit. For the Rim to Rim they’re very competitive to secure, so plan on trying several times before getting a permit. Permits become available 4 months in advance. For example if you want to hike in October, you’d apply on June 1st. You fax your application in to the Backcountry Information Center. Information can be found on the NPS website.

Rim to Rim Merchandise: Please visit the Rim to Rim® Store

Hiking tips: Please visit the  Grand Canyon National Park hiking tips page

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 

Rim to Rim guided hikes: please visit Wildland Trekking Company

Shuttle information: please visit Trans-Canyon Shuttle

Donate to the Trail: please visit the Grand Canyon Association

Support for the Rim to Rim Club®: please visit the Rim to Rim Store

ADOT: check for road conditions (especially for North Rim): http://www.azdot.gov

Backcountry Hotline (last minute permit requests): 1-928-638-7875

Permits: visit the Backcountry Office

North Rim Campground: 1-928-638-7888 and/or www.recreation.gov

South Rim Campgrounds: 1-877-444-6777 and/or www.recreation.gov

 

 

Tell Your Story

  1. Marjorie N., in P.B. Missouri says:

    As an 88 1/2 year old mother and grandmother, my grandchildren and son-in-law, are going to do this r2r2r2 climb very soon and it gives me a lot to think about and reasons to drink more wine. :-> God be with my loved ones. It would be wonderful to be young again; but, I still would not do the r2r2r2.

  2. Rim2rim2rim over 3 days aug 14-16 2014. Buildup approach.
    Day 0 camp Mather from ABQ
    Day 1 S Kaibab to Phantom ranch cabin (3.5 hrs with 0930 start). Very hot (100F+ at phantom)
    Day 2 N Kaibab to N rim cabin (7.5 hrs with 0730 start).
    Day 3 N Kaibab down Bright angel up (start 0530 finish 1830). Lots of resting and socializing at water stops so felt good at top. Phantom was 104F per the shade thermometer around 1230.
    Pack was 25lbs at start (10 essentials +flask and including 4 quarts water for first day). Pack was lighter each day with water stops and consumption figured out (had iodine tablets as backup).
    Vitals: Age 35 and hike New Mexico and Colorado. Not even close to how bad we expected but it is backcountry and to be respected and conditions change.
    Cautions: encountered 3 rattlesnakes on trail at and below cottonwood campground. No draft IPA on south rim. Phantom ranch steak dinner is just ok, over cooked but filling. N Kaibab trailhead to lodge is 1.7mi. There was an airlift (hope they were ok) from bright angel campground on 8/15. Don Lynch’s comments above are quite sound.

  3. JR SMTIH says:

    While hiking the North Rim in July of 2012, I met a New Orleans EMT who was just completing a Rim2Rim hike. Needless to say, I was thrilled by his story and began planning a R2R adventure for the summer of 2014. Due to work, the earliest departure date from Florida would be June 11th. Made reservations, obtained permits, and created an itinerary for the three day two night hike. One friend and one family member joined the adventure to depart North Rim at 5:00 am on the 12th of June and arrive at Bright Angel Campground.

    Tried to obtain Phantom Ranch accommodations by calling weekly for cancellations, without any luck- however, it was a blessing in disguise because we wouldn’t have made it for the evening of the 12th.

    One my friends slipped and was unable to hike any further than Cottonwood. A precious couple, Holly and Garth, allowed us to “crash” their campsite since no ranger was available. Early am on the 13th, having set up the friend who couldn’t walk, we hiked down to ranger station at PR. Met ranger on the trail and she assured us we did the right thing and that she would take care of getting our friend out. But our friend would have to stay another night at Cottonwood due to high winds and heat. My stepdaughter and I made it PR by 10:00 am where we experienced high winds and heat. Sat in the creek for almost an hour which lowered core temp dramatically. Visited with campers until 5pm before heading to our scheduled night at Indian Gardens. Despite full moon, we still needed headlamps because it took us so much longer due to staying at Cottonwood rather than Bright Angel on the first night.
    I don’t recommend hiking Devil’s Corkscrew in the dark – if you can avoid it.

    Wasn’t able to get much rest at Indian Gardens once we arrived due to early departures (1:00-4:00 am) of many campers. Seemed like the packs got heavier once we departed around 8:30 am- yes, we were the last hikers to ascend.

    Met so many great folks along the ascent up- this sea level Floridian noticed a definite altitude change but we rested in the heat of the day and hiked in the cool. We had to rely on the headlamps again for the final mile because it just was too dark.

    Our friend was airlifted out of Cottonwood to So Rim where she was treated and released by noon on the 14th. The rescue helicopter ride took 11 minutes.
    My step-daughter and I didn’t arrived to Thunderbird Hotel until after 9:30 pm. – tired, dusty but so THRILLED we made it.

    What memories we made along the way and now we are planning another R2R adventure for October of 2015.

    We are going to call for Phantom Ranch accommodations as soon as possible and my husband wants to come this time and ride the mules to PR.

    We would love to try and locate Garth and Holly-Minnesota – just to say thanks again for helping us.

    My step-daughter came up with a great name for us— the “Blazing Turtles”-

    Happy Trails!

  4. Did Rim to Rim August 2012. Took shuttle from south to north. Camped at cotton wood, bright angel, and indian gardens. Could have just stayed at bright angel, last year (2013) made it to south rim from phantom without camping at indian gardens, September. Did a lot of walking on local trials with weighted packs, 50 lbs and extended hikes of 10 to 15 miles. Stairs might have been more beneficial.

  5. I have done the Rim to Rim 5 times and am doing it again this year May 18th. One time down south Kaibab and the other four down Bright Angel. Yes, you need to be in shape but it is very doable. Starting at the Bright Angel is by far the easiest. South Kaibab is prettier but if you have any kind of problem, you might not see another person and are pretty much on your own. At least on Bright Angel, you see other hikers. The worst part of Bright Angel of course are the donkeys. They smell so bad and you really have to watch where you step!!

    I wore hiking shoes the first year and threw them in the trash right after. I had so many blisters. The next four years, I wore by old running shoes. By best suggestion is to cut your toenails as short as you can get them. Some of my friends have lost some toenails from the down hill pounding your feet take. I also suggest a walking stick. It really helps on those switchbacks on the way out hiking up the North side. In all five times I have done this trip it has been a “girls trip” and we loved it each time. It is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done and anyone I have taken on this trip considers this one of their greatest accomplishments!

    • How long does it take you to hike R2R? We are planning on May 28, 2014 hike and we were trying to try to get an approximate time frame. I’ve hiked North Rim down to Ribbon Falls and back up in one day, but never did the full R2R. We were planning on 12-14 hours, and taking time to stop and check out Ribbon Falls. Does that seem about right?

      • Amy, it took us about 6 hours of hiking each day = 12 hours (we completed Rim to Rim in two days). We did stop and visit Ribbon Falls for about 1/2 hour and we did stay the night at Phantom Ranch which was very relaxing. If you are planning a one day Rim to Rim (North to South) than 12-14 hours is about right depending on your conditioning. You stated that you went down North Kaibab and than back up North Kaibab (with the visit to Ribbon Falls) which is about 16 miles total so you will feel that same type of climb (around 8 miles) up the the South Rim for a total distance of 23.9 miles (via N. Kaibab to Bright Angel) and/or 21.3 miles (via North Kaibab to South Kaibab) for the full Rim to Rim. Good luck and we hope to have you in the club soon!

  6. I am in the process of planning a R2R hike for Sept 2015 and am wondering what would best- to stay on the south rim and take the shuttle to the north side before starting out or staying on the north side and then taking the shuttle back from the south to north once we get up on the south side? Im wondering if we’d want to take a 5 hr bus ride after a long hike? We plan on taking 4 days to do it and want to stay at Phantom Ranch. We’ve hiked down the south side to Plateau Point and back up in a day and really want to do R2R! Any suggestions appreciated! Thanks!

    • Lorene,

      If it is your first time we would recommend North Rim to South Rim. On our trip we camped out and than hiked North to South, one night at Phantom Ranch and than treated ourselves to a nice hotel at South Rim. We didn’t mind shuttling back as we were rested and clean!

      You can also post on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/rimtorim for feedback from our members.

      Good luck!

      Michelle

      • Thanks Michelle! Do you think it would be worth it to stay 2 nights at the Phantom Ranch or is that too many? Or are more the scenic highlights on the way down? We’ve gone down the south side as far Plateau Point and back up in a day but want to see more so the R2R is a must!

        • You can take a side trip to Ribbon Falls and also other hikes at the base. My buddy and I started early each morning so it all depends on how much other “hiking” or just “resting” you want to do and where you want to do it. We wanted to make sure we completed Rim to Rim in good spirits so we enjoyed having the day at the top of the South Rim once we completed the hike since it was our first time there. There’s a walk at the top that may also be nice for you. Again, feel free to post on our Facebook page as we have hikers on there that have done Rim to Rim multiple times and may have other suggestions/options. Either way, the Rim to Rim Experience will be one you will never forget!

  7. No permit needed for R2R if you are not camping in the backcountry. Do the trip in a day or stay at Phantom Ranch and you need no permit.
    Anyone on here doing a R2R from the south arriving on the north on May 24th or early May 25 of 2014?

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for posting this. You can also post on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/rimtorim just in case hikers don’t see this post on our website!

      Happy Hiking!

      Rim to Rim Club

    • Myself and 2 friends will start at the south rim on may 25th for a rim to rim hike. Our plan is to rest a day on the north rim and start a rim to rim (n to s) on may 27th.

    • we will be doing R2R May 23rd arriving south rim on the 25th but will have our car at north rim… does your question have to do with transportation logistics ?

    • My wife and I are day hiking R2R, south to north, and arriving at N. Rim on Sunday, May 25. Layover day/night and heading back across in a day on Tuesday, May 27th. I am responding to a question. Want to coordinate something?

  8. My 14 year old daughter and I did the rim to rim in one day on September 21, 2013. We live in Arizona, so we are somewhat acclimated plus the weather was mild, only 93 degrees at Phantom Ranch. If one has never hiked the Grand Canyon before they should not attempt the rim to rim hike in one day. In fact, you should not try the one day river and back hike on the south rim if you are not Grand Canyon experienced. We learned on our first hike on the Grandview Trail, hiking in the Grand Canyon is harder than you think it is.

    We left at 6:10 am and made good time going down. Actually, too good time, since I arrived at Phantom Ranch about 12:30 tired and with sore knees. At 2:00 pm we headed to the Bright Angel trail. My knees were okay going up hill, but I pushed too hard going up the Devil’s Corkscrew and got pretty bad leg cramps shortly before Indian Gardens. That made the rest of the hike extremely hard. We ate dinner at Indian Gardens and pushed off again at 6:00 pm. We arrived at the top at 11:00 pm. My daughter was a little impatient about how slow I went but really pretty good about it.

    In retrospect, we would have been smarter to take more time going down and not worry about any ideas of arriving at the top at any reasonable hour. Doing that last 4.6 miles in three hours and using the other two hours before to walk slower and rest more would have been a better idea. Forget any time goals, just get through it. The top will still be there at 2 in the morning.

    Advice, other than taking your time? Always have plenty of junk food and electrolyte drinks in addition to water. Even though there is drinking water on both sides, it is sometimes a fair distance apart and one half gallon per person is an absolute minimum. More is better. Don’t even think of hiking down the Grand Canyon without a good flashlight and/or headlamp. Drink before you feel thirsty. Dunking in the creeks or splashing water on your face, head and shirt are no substitute for drinking, but sure help. Take moleskin. Have good shoes and socks, test them before this hike. Take hiking poles or a staff. I carry a staff and I really use it going up. Be in good shape. Be prepared to really hurt for a couple of days afterwards.

    Would I do it again? Absolutely, but at 60 years old I have to admit I am past the age where I can push myself for the one day hike. Next time I will have a reservation at Phantom Ranch and really enjoy all the sights. I now look on the one day rim to river hike as the “easy” one. My kids and I have done that one three times now. Don’t let that fool you, that hike can kill and it has.

  9. David Goodspeed says:

    In May 2012 I hiked the Grand Canyon for the first time, descending the South Kaibab Trail to the river, and then back up Bright Angel. I hiked with my brother-in-law (who flew in from New York; I live in the Phoenix area) and we made the round-trip journey in about nine hours (including a 40-minute rest stop at Indian Gardens). After this magnificent stroll through the majestic Canyon, we both agreed we needed to do it again…only from the north side; a rim-to-rim adventure.

    We have scheduled our R2R for May 17, 2013 – reservations are already secured at the North Rim Lodge and with the Trans Canyon Shuttle. We’ll arrive at the South Rim on the morning of May 16 and catch the shuttle to the North Rim around 1:30 p.m. After the five-hour shuttle ride, we’ll spend the night at the Lodge and hope to be on the North Kaibab Trail by 6:00 a.m. A mere 12 hours later we hope to arrive on the South Rim via the Bright Angel Trail.

    Training is underway; local hikes in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, as well as running the local high school bleachers with a 25-pound weight vest. As that May date gets closer, the 25-pound vest will become part of weekly seven-to-10 mile hikes.

    Looking forward to the next adventure!

    • Samira Alqazzaz says:

      I was told by the folks at the North Rim Lodge that we need a permit to do the rim-to-rim hike and that there is a lottery drawing! Non of the comments I read regarding the R2R mention this.

    • planning same hike in February. Curious about your training (detail) and how long it took. Any feedback is appreciated.

      • Roger,

        I personally trained for 6 months for the hike. Lots of local hiking (4-5 miles per outing 2 x week) with hills as well as running (3-4 miles per outing 2 x week) and tons of stair master (40 minutes 3-4 times per week). If you are taking our same trip and staying at phantom ranch, get used to carrying about 70 ounces of water now in your pack with the fewest essentials (i.e., keeping pack light but efficient). My buddy and I used Camelbaks (100 ounce bladder) and filled them as we went. We hiked in mid August which is one of the hottest months so the need for water was necessary at all times.

        Good luck and let us know how it goes. You can also add your comment to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/rimtorim for our other hiking members to respond regarding their training.

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