So you’ve decided to hike the Grand Canyon – one of the world’s most famous hikes, that’s for sure! I’ve summarised our itinerary and all the things you need to plan, to make it super easy to achieve that great big bucket list tick.
Get a reservation at Phantom Ranch, the lodge at the bottom of the Grand Canyon (pre-season lottery opens 15 months in advance, or check last minute availability online) – 2 nights is perfect. We found February/March an ideal time to be there (not peak months, but perfect hiking temperature).
Once you’ve secured Phantom Ranch, plan the rest of your trip:
- 1 night at Yavapai Lodge, for the night before you hike in.
- Flights to Las Vegas or Phoenix (top tip: If driving to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, drive along super scenic Highway 179, through the red rocks of Sedona).
- Rent a car.
Local recommendations for before your descent:
- The Horsemen Lodge Steakhouse in Flagstaff, for dinner
- Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim, for breakfast
- From the Visitor Centre, take the Rim Trail, then get onto the South Kaibab Trail, all the way down to Phantom Ranch (7 miles).
- Note that as soon as you drop below the rim, you’ll lose all phone signal – and there’s no wifi at Phantom Ranch either (make sure you take a good book down with you!).
- Get down to Phantom Ranch before 3pm, so that you can get a cold lemonade or beer before the canteen closes!
- For us in early February, daytime temperature was 0°C on the rim and +23°C at the bottom.
At the bottom
- Accommodation is either in private cabins or dorms, with bunk beds, a toilet and sink; the showers are separate. All bedding and towels are provided.
- Meals are hearty (stew and cornbread for dinner; pancakes, eggs, sausages and bacon for breakfast) and served family style; wine and beer available for purchase. “Sack lunches” are provided.
- You can send postcards from the bottom of the canyon, and they’ll be “mailed by mule”.
- For day hikes, we went out and back along the North Kaibab Trail, which follows the river (all the way to Ribbon Falls, if you’ve got the energy), or take the steeper Clear Creek Trail to a lookout point above Phantom Ranch. You can also do a loop through Bright Angel campground, across one suspension bridge, along and then back along the other suspension bridge – this was lovely at golden hour.
- Everything you see at the bottom has been packed in by mule – and will be packed out the same way. So try not to create too much waste, and carry out any trash you bring in.
- There’s zero cell signal or wifi at the bottom. Enjoy the digital detox!
- After breakfast, hike out along the Bright Angel Trail – 9 miles to the South Rim.
- If hiking in summer, start hiking as early as you can – before sunrise – to avoid the heat of the day
- The trail is mostly shaded, and trust me when I say that going out is easier than going down! My knees and calves were super painful on the way down, and we actually hiked out faster than we hiked in.
- There are toilets and water at Indian Garden campground if you need.
- If hiking in the winter, you may need crampons as you near the rim, as the shaded parts of the path get very icy. We purchased these ones at the Phantom Ranch shop.
If you made it this far: Congrats! You just hiked the Grand Canyon, undoubtedly one of the world’s most incredible natural wonders, and the ultimate bucket list hike!