We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Stay on top and at the bottom

Which Grand Canyon National Park hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Cork, Ireland
posts: 560
reviews: 126
Stay on top and at the bottom

It won't be this year, but I'm planning on going back to the Canyon for a longer trip sometime soon. Ideally, I'd like to get there, and have a day or 2 on the rim (I've walked from Mohave to Yavapai before, but still have lots to see and do) but also 2 days or maybe 3 to go down to Phantom Ranch (1 day to go down, 1-2 nights down there, then 1 day to come back).

I was just thinking about the logistics about it, but I daresay it's something a lot of the denizens of this board have done numerous times, so what's the best way to organise this?

D1 Arrive GC, explore

D2 Walk the rim, visit the museums, drink the beer, etc

D3 6am Walk BA/SK trail to bottom, arrive say 9am, spend night at PR

D4 4am Walk SK/BA trail to top, arrive what 10am, spend rest of day lying in shade/soaking feet/drinking gatorade. Leave for North Rim :)

Too much? Too little? With this timetable, I'd check out of my rim accommodation early on D3, and then just leave the park when I get up top on D4. I assume I could store my stuff in my car while I'm away.

Do a lot of people spend time in both areas on trips, and is there a better/easier way to do it?

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
posts: 5,182
reviews: 14
1. Re: Stay on top and at the bottom

I generally recommend allocating two nights at the bottom so that you have a layover day to explore areas below the rim. And, yes, you'll want at least a night before and a night after on the rim.

A 2-night "rim-to-river" hike from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch and back is a popular first overnight hike Grand Canyon. Imo, the first important step is picking the month. Avoid June, July and August; I'd recommend April or October/early November. Phantom Ranch reservations are taken a year in advance and April/May 2014 will already be sold out at this point though cancellations do happen.

If you want to include the North Rim, you can consider a "rim-to-rim" hike. Leave your car at the South Rim, take the trans-canyon shuttle to the North Rim, hike down to Phantom Ranch and out to the South Rim. This takes more planning than the "rim-to-river" hike and is a longer hike as the North Kaibab trail is 14 miles from North Rim to river.

Note that the North Rim is only open from May 15th to October 15th, which will limit your options if you want to combine time at the NR with a hike. For this, the best time to go will be the first two weeks of October but be warned that this is a hugely popular time for hiking on the corridor trails/Phantom Ranch. To get Phantom Ranch reservations for that period, you'll need to be on the phone (preferably *several* phones) the second reservations open on October 1st. Do a search on "Phantom Ranch" in this forum and you'll find many threads about the reservation process.

Cork, Ireland
posts: 560
reviews: 126
2. Re: Stay on top and at the bottom

I assume when you say to avoid June-Aug, you're thinking about the weather and the heat particularly at the bottom of the canyon. I was there in June/July last year and it didn't seem that bad, certainly on the rim, but I'll take it under advisement - later in the year would probably work anyway, although I wouldn't like to leave it as late as November, truth be told.

Tks for the tip on the NR opening hours, never even occurred to me that it wasn't open all year round, weather permitting, but that's another factor (as is other things I'd like to do on the same trip, like a rafting trip and a walk up the Narrows in Zion).

I guess the first step is to work out WHEN I'd like to go, then see if I can PR reservations, then fill in the rest of the blanks. It also looks like taking a mule ride down is the best way of securing accommodation

Iowa
posts: 7,534
reviews: 32
3. Re: Stay on top and at the bottom

I did this hike mid June this year. The temperature on the rim was 82 and the temperature at Phantom was 112+

You need to add a couple hours onto your hike time estimates. We hiked down SK, at a brisk pace, in 4.25 hours with only a few very short stops for water and food. The hike up BA was about 8 hours with a much needed 1 hour break at Indian Garden and a few short water and food breaks.

I also suggest 2 nights at Phantom. The hike down is as hard on muscles as the hike up. You will appreciate the day of rest at the bottom.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
posts: 5,182
reviews: 14
4. Re: Stay on top and at the bottom

>> I assume when you say to avoid June-Aug, you're thinking about the weather and the heat particularly at the bottom of the canyon.

Yes. Average high temps below the rim in summer are well above 100degF. Last week, they were registering temperatures in the 115-degree (46+ degC) range at Phantom Ranch. The temperature differential is about 5-6 degF per 1,000 feet of elevation change; so it's often 30 degrees warmer at the bottom than it is at the rim.

If you want to do the Narrows on the same trip, plan for a fall trip. In spring, there's a much higher chance of the Narrows being closed due to high water flow levels.

Don't assume that the mule rides are easier to reserve. There are significantly fewer mule tour spots than Phantom Ranch dorm spaces. Also, I think the mule trips only give you the option of one night at Phantom Ranch except in winter.

Hike times vary by hiker. It takes me 3 hours to hike down SK with a pack and 5.5 hours to hike out via BA. I think the rangers routinely do it in half that time... in sandals.

Edited: 2:14 pm, July 01, 2013
Cork, Ireland
posts: 560
reviews: 126
5. Re: Stay on top and at the bottom

Tks both for the good advice. It's strange that if I want to do this trip in 2014, I've got to decide in the next couple of months, but hey, that's half the fun!

The 5.5-8 hours to get back up sounds pretty hefty, I don't think I'd be capable of jumping in my car and driving away after that, so sounds like I should be thinking about booking a room on the rim for the night after aswell?

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
posts: 5,182
reviews: 14
6. Re: Stay on top and at the bottom

>> I should be thinking about booking a room on the rim for the night after aswell?

Yes, definitely recommend that you do. There's something really special about standing at the rim and looking down at the river, knowing that you walked all the way down there and back.

Wickenburg, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Wickenburg
posts: 2,556
reviews: 591
7. Re: Stay on top and at the bottom

What we did was drive to south rim, leave our stuff in our Jeep and take the Trans Canyon Shuttle to the North Rim where we spent the night. Day two was the rim-to-rim - and I recommend other people to do it in two or three days rather than 1 - it's really only for athletes and people used to the climate to do it in one day. I had booked a night at the south rim for the following night. I;d first thought we'd get the Jeep and drive on, but then in second thought felt no, I wanted to spend the night right there at the rim after having walked 25 miles all told.

We did this in late May. Early a.m. at the North Rim was in the high 30s and gave me cold hands, and I was wearing a jacket over the fleece. At the river it was almost 100F ...

8. Re: Stay on top and at the bottom

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 12:18 am, July 04, 2014