If one would even have the slightest inclination to hike down and up the Grand Canyon in 1 day the idea would be immediately shot down by online trail guides, the official Grand Canyon NPS website, Grand Canyon Rangers and anyone else you may seek advice from. They will tell you that you will likely shrivel up and die from exhaustion.
However in reality, it’s quite simple. You walk down and then back up roughly 4800 feet. The in between part of slogging up switchbacks and gasping for air is all part of the fun and games! Being prepared for a nice butt kicking is necessary.
We initially wanted to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim, a true “rim to rim”. After a bit of research, we discovered the shuttle ride back was obscenely expensive for our nomad selves so we decided to head down South Kaibab trail and up Bright Angel. Long distance hikes are always some of our favorable things to do, and this was no exception!
The Nitty Gritty:
- Down South Kaibab Trail is 7.1 miles with 4860 feet of elevation loss.
- Along the River Trail is 1.9 miles of relatively flat terrain.
- Up Bright Angel Trail is 8 miles with 4380 feet of elevation gain.
- Start your hike early in the morning as the sun rises for stellar views and to avoid the heat.
- It is not recommended to do this hike in the hot summer months… We experienced quite the heat wave when we were there mid-April.
- Be honest with yourself and your fitness ability. Yes, this hike is doable in one day but it doesn’t mean that you necessarily should.
- We hiked at a pretty non stop pace of about 2mph.
If you’re fortunate enough to visit the Grand Canyon, don’t limit yourself to simply stopping along one of the many viewpoints along the rim. Even if you don’t hike all the way down to the river, at least hike a ways into the canyon for incredible views and amazing landscape!