How to prepare for the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim trek

LOCATED IN THE STATE OF ARIZONA in the southwest corner of the United States, the Grand Canyon is a geological wonder that has developed over the past 17 million years.

Being 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and a mile deep, there are many wonderful areas to explore. One of the best ways is to hike from the southern rim to the northern rim and back to experience the vast solitude and see the canyon from many different perspectives.

Distance: 46 miles
Duration: 6 days (recommended)
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous


Grand Canyon


PLANNING

  • Best time to go: March to May and October to November is most recommended since inner canyon temps from June to September are often above 100oF. I would personally recommend November to January to take advantage of the low season and fine weather.
  • Accommodation: Expect to carry your tent and set up at the campgrounds during the hike. Hotels are open on the South Rim year round, but closed during the winter period on the North Rim. The Phantom Ranch is also open year round although space is limited.
  • Backcountry Permits: Permits are required for any overnight trip in the canyon. Applications are available at  nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry-permit.htm and can be faxed to (928) 638-2125. Although we got lucky last minute, early application is recommended as the NPS issues a limited number of permits.
  • Water Sources: There are drinkable water sources year round between the South Rim and Bright Angel Campground along the Bright Angel Trail. Generally, the water sources at Cottonwood and the North Rim are turned off during the winter, and there are no water sources along the South Kaibab trail.
  • Map/book: The NPS provides a comprehensive list of useful materials on their website at http://www.grandcanyon.org/shop/online-store/maps-and-guides.
  • Contact: Backcountry Information Office: (928) 638-7875 (from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday)
  • Estimate Cost: The total cost for 2 people over 5 nights came to approximately $350. We spent $200 for permits, park entrance fee, and hotel at the start and finish. For food, we carried Backpacker’s Pantry brand freeze-dried meal packets as well as jerky, cliff bars, and trail mix for snacks.

WHAT TO BRING

In addition to standard hiking gear (i.e. poles, headlamp, first aid kit, etc.), plan to bring the following:

  • Backpack – minimum of a 65L size pack
  • Tent – 4 season if camping during the winter
  • Sleeping Bag – warmest and lightest you can afford
  • Sleeping Pad – I recommend going for insulated air rather than egg carton style for better comfort. We used the Big Agnes Q-core which worked great
  • Jetboil Stove – works well for cooking and heating the tent in a hurry!
  • Cooking Equipment – pot/pan, bowl, plate, cutlery, mug
  • Microspikes – if trekking in the winter
  • Clothing – in winter it can be 70F in the canyon yet freezing on the rim. Be sure to bring additional layers if necessary.

READ ABOUT MY TREK HERE

Winter in the Grand Canyon (trekking rim to rim… to rim) 

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