Hiking the Grand Canyon “Rim to Rim” in 1 Day

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Morning rays as we descend down South Kaibab trail into the Grand Canyon.

 

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!

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Alex switchbacking down South Kaibab.
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It rained for a few days before our hike, the green really popped!
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We’re all just little people in a vast wide world.
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Descending through the layers of the Grand Canyon.
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Overlooking the Colorado River, still a few miles to go!
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The Colorado River.
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A victory photo before the pain begins hiking up!
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Looking down from Bright Angel trail.

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!

We’re currently on a 8 month roadtrip across the American West! Never miss out on a new post and “like” us on Facebook! For more photos and stories from our nomad lifestyle, follow us on Instagram!


99 thoughts on “Hiking the Grand Canyon “Rim to Rim” in 1 Day

  1. “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.” This is one of the best pieces of advice, and I give something similar to friends who are eager to spend time outdoors but don’t have a lot of experience yet. I really appreciate that you’re encouraging people to get out and hike a bit of it, even if they can’t do the full rim to rim!

    The photos are absolutely beautiful! I’m way behind on reading the blogs I follow, but I’m still excited about your road trip! Can’t wait for more!

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    1. It seems like so many people are getting into this exploration/adventure craze and end up pulling some noobie moves that put them in sticky situation! So we want folks to play be be careful. 🙂 Wade you the man!

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  2. That’s a fabulous hike isn’t it? I was lucky enough to do Rim-Rim-Rim in two days a few years ago for charity. South to North on day one and then back again the next day. It was awesome. Enjoying your adventures.

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  3. Great photos and thanks for the tips! I’ve been to the Grand Canyon for the first time in January, I’m not sure when I’ll be back again, maybe just in a few years, but when I do I hope to hike it just like you did. In January there was snow everywhere, it was very cold and we didn’t have enough time as we were driving that same day to Las Vegas.

    Once again, excelent photos!

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    1. Hey there! AH you MUST go back to hike! I had the same predicament as you, I’ve visited the Grand Canyon a handful of times previously but always in variable conditions where a rim to rim wasn’t in the cards! Hope you get back there soon :):)

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  4. That’s it! If going pro as a female cyclist here in Japan doesn’t work out for me, I’m tracking you guys down and starting a nomadic clan. That’s just breathtaking!

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  5. We went a bit down the north rim with our elementary school kiddos and found the trick to keeping up the pace was the threat of being passed by donkeys. Don’t want to have them dirty, messy, smelly critters ahead of you! Ewwweeee! “)

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