Grand Canyon National Park

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The Basics:

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet / 1,800 metres).

The forested rims are high enough to receive winter snowfall, but along the Colorado River in the Inner Gorge, temperatures are similar to those found in Tucson and other low elevation desert locations in Arizona. Conditions in the Grand Canyon region are generally dry, but substantial precipitation occurs twice annually, during seasonal pattern shifts in winter (when Pacific storms usually deliver widespread, moderate rain and high-elevation snow to the region from the west) and in late summer (due to the North American Monsoon, which delivers waves of moisture from the southeast, causing dramatic, localized thunderstorms fueled by the heat of the day).

The image above is a real-time image of The Grand Canyon from Yavapai Point.. The web-cam taking the image is housed in the National Geographic Visitor Center, which is located near the entrance to Grand Canyon’s southern rim.


  1. South Kaibab Trail:

    Hiking the Grand Canyon

    Hikers seeking panoramic views unparalleled on any other trail at Grand Canyon will want to consider a hike down the South Kaibab Trail. It is the only trail at Grand Canyon National Park that so dramatically holds true to a ridgeline descent. But this exhilarating sense of exposure to the vastness of the canyon comes at a cost: there is little shade and no water for the length of this trail. During winter months, the constant sun exposure is likely to keep most of the trail relatively free of ice and snow. For those who insist on hiking during summer months, which is not recommended in general, this trail is the quickest way to the bottom (it has been described as “a trail in a hurry to get to the river”), but due to lack of any water sources, ascending the trail can be a dangerous proposition. The trailhead is located at Yaki Point, off of Desert View Drive. The trail runs from the rim (at 7,260 feet of elevation) to the Bright Angel Campground (2,480 feet of elevation) approximately 7 miles away.


  3. The Bright Angel Trail:

    The Bright Angel Trail is considered the park’s premier hiking trail. Well maintained, graded for stock, with regular drinking water and covered rest-houses, it is without question the safest trail in Grand Canyon National Park. The trailhead is located near the aptly named Bright Angel Lodge at an elevation of 6,860 feet. There is a ranger station located at the trail’s halfway point (Indian Garden, 3,800 feet of elevation/approximately 3.2 miles from the trailhead) and one at the bottom of the canyon (Bright Angel Campground, 2,480 feet of elevation/approximately 9.5 miles from the trailhead). Visitors hiking for the first time at Grand Canyon often use this trail in conjunction with the South Kaibab Trail. Particularly during hot weather, it makes sense to ascend via the Bright Angel Trail because of potable water, regular shade, emergency phones, and the ranger presence.


  5. Rim to Rim to Rim:

    Albeit a bit extreme, traveling from Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) is not as uncommon as you might think. There are few trips that can compare, mile-for-mile, hour-for-hour. In fact, in the world of trail running, crossing the Grand Canyon and coming back in the same day is considered a classic, must-do jaunt (with only two hills!). Seriously though, think about it: in one day, you pass through 1.6 billion years of geology (four times), you span the grandest Big Ditch in the world (twice), and cover roughly 50 miles.

    Starting at the South Rim, runners typically descend the South Kaibab or Bright Angel Trail before dawn. Leaving Phantom Ranch and heading toward the north rim, the trail becomes the North Kaibab Trail. Although there are a couple of potential short side trips, there are no other trails, so it is nearly impossible to get lost. The trail traverses the Canyon floor and climbs slowly climbs up to Cottonwood campground, 7.1 miles from Phantom Ranch. It’s another 2.2 miles to a Ranger’s Cabin at Roaring Springs, and another 4.7 miles from there to the North Rim.

    Overall, the trail quality is generally pretty good. It is consistently slightly rocky, and very occasionally quite rocky, but most of the trail is runable. Most of the trail is about half again wider than a typical single-track trail. Water is a major issue on this run, but water sources are strategically placed so that you should be able to get through the run with a Camelbak-type backpack. Click here to watch a bit of R2R2R video!



A = The South Kaibab Trailhead, B = The North Rim, and C = The Bright Angel Trailhead.


Mt. Grand Canyon Resources:

  • The Grand Canyon National Park Service – This should be everyone’s first resource for information on the Grand Canyon. This is the official page. It’s the place to go to see if there are any Park Alerts in effect.
  • Grand Canyon on SummitPost – This is another good site for general information.
  • South Rim Businesses – The South Rim’s Chamber of Commerse guide on ‘where to stay’, ‘what to do’, where to eat’ and ‘where to shop’ etc.