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Hiking Down the Grand Canyon on the South Kaibab Trail

Updated on July 21, 2016
South Kaibab Trail
South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab

One of the more traditional ways to hike in the Grand Canyon is to go down South Kaibab and up Bright Angel. You want to leave as early in the morning as possible, especially during the hotter months. I recommend camping at one of the campgrounds on the rim of the Grand Canyon the night before you plan to hike out. Try to reserve a campsite as far in advance as you can, both for the campsite at the rim and the campsite at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon. If you are not close to the South Kaibab trail head and want to get an earlier start, you can take a park shuttle.

The view of the canyon at the trail head is pretty amazing. The canyon looks vast and shadowed in the early morning light. From this vantage, the Colorado river isn't even visible which can be a little daunting. As you are making your way down, make sure to stop and watch the sun rise. Watching the sun rise over the canyon is spectacular. All the different colors of the canyon wall are so vivid and bright it seems they've been painted on. As you continue, new rock formations come into view that look like castle fortresses. Eventually you begin to see glimpses of the lower parts of the canyon. One of the most exciting moments of the hike for me is the first view of the Colorado River. At this point you're still a ways off from the bottom, but it's in sight. When you finally reach the end of the trail, there is a tunnel leading to the bridge that takes you across the swift, brown currents of the Colorado River.

Despite the beauty of the canyon, it's a backpacking trails in the Grand Canyon. By the time you reach Phantom Ranch, your feet will be aching and you will be exhausted. Lucky for you there is the Phantom Ranch Canteen that serves ice cold beverages, including lemonade. It's pricey, but it's worth it. They also serve meals, but these must be ordered in advance. Phantom Ranch also has several cabins that can be reserved. There is a creek running through the campsite that is a perfect spot to soak those aching feet. Get all the rest you can, but do some walking so your legs don't get too stiff. Make sure to find out if there are any activities planned by the park rangers. The last time I was there a ranger led a bat sighting at dusk and told stories about bats.

There are no water sources along the South Kaibab so make sure to stock up. A powdered electrolyte drink like Gatorade or Powerade is also good to have. There is water at the campsite at the bottom. There are also several bathrooms (porta potties) along the South Kaibab and bathrooms at Phantom Ranch.

This is a difficult hike, but if you go prepared you will enjoy yourself and experience one of the most beautiful trails in the United States.

South Kaibab Trail
South Kaibab Trail


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    • brenda12lynette profile image

      brenda12lynette 5 years ago from Utah

      It would be well worth your trip! Thanks again dwachira!

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      I would love to visit Grand Canyon one day, great hub brenda12lynette. Voted up, useful and shared.