This summer we visited the Grand Canyon, but we are not just to see it from above, we wanted to get to the bottom, to the Colorado River, and from there emerges this post: “The Grand Canyon to view ant: Definitive Guide to Descend to the bottom”

All you need to know to descend to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

What you will find in this guide is the result of our experience lived after 2 days of trekking and the sum of all the information gathered prior to the organization of the trip.

I spent many hours to organize this adventure, and today I want to collect here all that experience and make it easier for anyone like me in his day, to organize his excursion to this national park patrimony of Humanity.

When you find yourself face to face with your grandeur The sensations you experience are overwhelming. Its magnitude makes you feel the size of an ant and its millions of years remind you of the ephemeral and insignificant that is your existence. 

We enjoyed the Grand Canyon from above, from its trails to the bottom of the river and Bird’s eye view on a helicopter tour, and despite the fatigue and the great effort we made by not being an expert mountaineers, the experience was well worth it.

On the official website of the park they say that the reaction of their hikers to the first experience is usually one of these two types: those who are willing to do it again or those who swear not to do it again.

I have to admit that at the time of being up the second group, but I think it is an experience that, although very hard, everyone should live it.

Grand Canyon of the Colorado hiking

“Grand Canyon tests human beings, both physically and mentally, overcoming the Park’s adversity is an experience worth living.”

1. What you should know about the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.

In northern Arizona you will find this marvel of Nature. A colorful and steep gorge that passes the Colorado river, visited annually by thousands of Tourists.

Called in Spanish as the Grand Canyon or canyon of the Colorado River and in English as the Great Canyon has a length of 446 km, about 2 billion years, and a cumulative height of 3000 MTS between one edge and the Other.

The Grand Canyon has several edges; South rim, North rim, West rim, and East Rim. Although of the 4, are only the first two entrance doors to the Grand canyon, both with their respective viewpoints, accommodations, trails…

The climate on the plateau is semi-deserted and this makes it quite extreme. In winter temperatures are usually below zero and in summer it can reach temperatures of up to 54 º C. In the valley of the river the temperatures are higher even than on its edge (above).

The decision on which edge to approach your visit, maybe it’s easier if you decide where you’re going to go, (since the distance between one edge and another is about 35th miles by car), what you want to see, or the time of year you decide to Visit.

South Rim Grand Canyon

1.1. South Rim, North 

It is considered by many “the great real canyon”, has lots of points and viewpoints and most of the views you know by photos are taken from here.

It has accommodations, a Visitors Center, free bus lines that take you around the edge, a great deal of activities and your access is easy from multiple nearby points like Flagstaff, Williams, Tusayan, or something farther away like Las vegas, Phoenix…

It is open all year, 365 days 24 hours, and keep in mind that in summer there is enough influx of visitors.

1.2. North Rim

Right on the opposite end of the previous we found this Edge. It is only open from May to October because of the snowfalls that occur on this other Side.

Despite being directly opposite it is much greener, more chilly (about 10 º less), quieter and with much more fauna and vegetation.

The views from this edge are less numerous, only 3 in front of 12 of its twin edge, but in this area you can breathe more tranquility and see more the width of the Canyon. (from The southern edge you can see more depth).

It also has accommodations, visits and excursions scheduled but in much smaller quantity compared to your brother the South Rim.

1.3. East Rim, West

This edge is the only one that allows you to have a glimpse of the Colorado River from above, which from the previous two is impossible to spot due to the Depth.

The point to take a beautiful picture would be Horseshoe Bend.

Here there are also several points around this border where you can do excursions, camping, visit Navajo reservations, But for this you have to ask for the corresponding Park department Permits.

1.4. West Rim

This would be the last option not for her without less importance. In it is the famous Glass Skywalk structure and is the most accessible and nearby area from Las Vegas.

It is not a proper part of the Grand Canyon National Park (so its entrance and fares go separately) but it is no longer a Grand Canyon regardless of who manages its land.

I leave your website if you want to know more about Grand Canyon Glass Skywalk.

Once we have seen the four cardinal points from which we can see the Grand Canyon we will focus on our journey and how to descend to the BOTTOM.

We traveled in august, we came from doing Route 66 so our entrance was by Flagstaff so our decision was South Rim.


2. Entrance to the park and camping permit

Entrance to the park

The first thing you should know is that to enter the park you must pay an entry fee, if you also want to camp this is another way and later I explain how to do it.

The entrance fee to the park Is: $35 if you travel by car (regardless of the number of people traveling in it), $25 per motorcycle and $15 for each person who enters the park by train, bus, bike, for a rafting tour…

The park has a free parking but in summer it tends to be quite crowded, so we decided to leave the car in Tusayan.

Tusayan is a 20 minute bus ride from the park with hotels, restaurants, a Visitor Center, shops,… And from where the helicopters leave to do the tours by the grand Canyon.

In the Visitor Center of Tusayan There is a parking where you can also leave the car for free, and within the same, there is an automatic machine where you can take the entrance of the park, the only thing is that you can only pay with Card.

From the visitor center of Tusayan (from May to september) the Violet Line takes you in 20 minutes to the visitor center of the Park.

Purple Route Grand Canyon

Camping Permit

If you want to go down to the Colorado river, it’s best to do it in two stages; 1 day to descend to the bottom and another day to make the Ascent.

Going up and down on the same day unless you’re an elite mountaineer or you’re used to making great trekking trips to the mountain is not advisable.

The hike is hard, even the descent by the great drop you find on the route, so it is best to spend a night at Least.

Recommendations Grand Canyon National Park

To sleep at the bottom of the Grand Canyon there are only two options, one is sleeping at Phantom Ranch and the other camping in any of the campgrounds There.

1-sleeping in the ranch is not an easy task, has squares in cabins and dorms very limited and if you travel in summer time you better plan it with Muuuucha in Advance.

In order to get accommodation in this small ranch, it is necessary that you enter your system of allotment of places with 15 months in advance, in its the website of Phantom Ranch you will find all the Details. The ranch also offers a meal service later I tell you more Information.

2-if you want to sleep in one of the campgrounds the thing is a little easier. So we decided to try this one, because when we decide that we were going to descend to the bottom of the grand canyon, it was already covered the allotment of places on the Ranch.

How to get a camping permit

To be able to camp in the Grand Canyon (outside The campgrounds there are both on the South Rim and in the north), you will need to fill in these papers here and pay the $10 for permission (apart from the entrance to the Park) and $8 for each person who goes camping. (If you have questions about how to fill it up please contact us and I will help you enchanted!)

It is necessary to fax, mail or in person to Backcountry Information Center located inside the park on both sides (North Rim and South Rim). If you can get close to the park they will give you a number and each day they’ll assign spaces by number Order.

Travel TIP: Please note that camping space allotments must be made 4 months in advance. If your intention is to camp for example in august, you would have to apply for permission in April (4 months before), Although I recommend you start doing so from the 20th of March.

Here I leave a table when you should submit your requests depending on the date you want to do your Tour.

 Camping Permit Grand Canyon

Once the Backcountry Information Center department evaluates your request and availability, you will get an answer e-mail with your camping permit.  It usually takes about 3 weeks and the permit goes to the name of the person who requests it, for them the “leader of the trip” and you must make it available to the park rangers who can solicitártelo at any Time.

3. The camping space: Bright Angel Campground

If you have decided to camp and have been fortunate enough to get a permit, tell you that the only thing this provides is a space where you can rest that night.

We decided to do the descent by South Kaibab Trail and the ascent by Bright Angel Trail so our camping site was bright Angel Campground which is the one next to the Colorado River. If you decide to go down Bright Angel Trail, you have another option of camping in Indian Garden Campground to 925 mts of the Border.

The camping spaces in Bright Angel Campground, are composed of; A esplanade of land next to a stream where by the way, if you travel in summer as we appreciate you can refresh yourself, a bank and metal boxes where they advise you to put the food to not attract the animals.

Bright Angel Campground

As common spaces you will find toilets with services and a sink, (no showers) and a water outlet where you can pick up Supplies.

The camping area does not have a space allocated for each permit, just choose the one you want when you Arrive. Well it is true that there are some larger than others that are reserved for large groups as was our Case.

The Ranger’s Hut is next to the common service area in case you had any problems or doubts, the one we found on our arrival was Lovely.

If you decide to go down the South Rim and ascend the North rim, you have another camping area Cottonwood Campground Ennorth Kaibab Trail.

4. Camping Equipment rental for the Grand Canyon

If you want to sleep in shelter you will have to rent a tent and/or sleeping bag because there you will not find this material.

We look for places where we can rent mountain material and find one in Flagstaff is called Peacesurplus.

In it we rented the tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, and especially and very important walking sticks, the price was not excessively expensive and you can make the rent from your website or by e-mail they answer you immediately.

Travel TIP: The tent in summer is quite useful but the sleeping bag we rented a summer one and we could have saved it, because the heat down there was infernal. We only use them to quilt the Floor. 

5. Already en route, How do we start the descent?

It is best to go down South Kaibab Trail and ascend the Bright Angel Trail.

Then I explain both routes and maybe you understand the reason for the previous Recommendation.

South Kaibab Trail

It begins in South Kaibab Trailhead with 2195m of Height.

Accessible only by walking from the Visitors Center of the park, which adds almost 30 minutes to your hike, or the Orange Line of the shuttle Bus. (you cannot access by private vehicle).

Shuttle Bus Orange Grand Canyon

Viewpoints-points of the route

This route has 4 points-viewpoint Ooh AH point with 230 mts of height, Cedar Ridge with 340 mts, Skeleton Point with 630 mts of height and The tipoff with 1100 mts of LEVEL.

Even with all this descent, there is still North Kaibab Trail junction and Bright Angel Campground the drop up here 1430mts.

The views of this route are impressive, you can not stop doing it if you go down and listen to me, you do not want to upload!, the drop is important enough for you just want to make it down.

The route is very hard, even if you make it descending.

The quadriceps are loaded, the twins seem to be in the next step are going to leave, and the heat when we did (august), did not help much to improve the Situation. Still the tour is a sight for the VIEW.

None of the points have water or shade, so I recommend that you take enough to get to the camp where if you can Fill. We took about 3 liters per person, and there were people who had to drink from the rest that we were better off.

Distance and time

The total distance of the route is 11.3 km and the duration in our case was about 5 hours stop at all Viewpoints.

If you want a reference, none of the 9 we were going was any consecrated mountaineer, although if there was a member of the group who was in full shape and could have done it if it had gone only in a much less time.

We were somewhat unconscious and started the route at about 12 in the morning, reaching the bottom of the park around 5, the heat to August 16 was infernal and that’s enough to make the Descent. If you can, organize so that you can start the route about 5:30-6 in the Morning.

The park has even a shuttle “hikers ´ express” that allows you to start early, on the link you have the Schedules.

South Kaibab Trail

Descending the Grand Canyon

Skeleton Point

Bright Angel Trail

Start at Bright Angel Lodge at 2085 MTS.

You can access this accommodation from the Visitors Center with the blue Line.

Shuttle Bus Line Blue

Viewpoints and points of the route

It has 6 points-viewpoint: Lower tunnel with 180 mts of height, 1 1/2 mile resthouse with 340 mts, 3 mile-resthouse 645 mts, Indian Garden Campground 925mts, Plateau Point 940mts, River resthouse 1320 MTS. Plus the previously named South Kaibab Trail juntion and Bright Angel Campground both with 1320 MTS.

We decided to use this route for the ascent because it is much longer but therefore less steep. In addition you have drinking water in many of its points and quite shade, so you will not need to carry water behind your back and you can shelter some heat which will facilitate your promotion.

The beginning of the same is quite affordable, little difference and a totally different place to the South Kaibab Trail. This route is much greener even reaching through small streams.

To Plateau point the ascent is quite bearable, from this point begins to complicate and begins the serious Ascent. By then you already carry a third of the route and with that you are animated, and if you leave soon (we start at 5:45 in the morning), the sun still does not tighten too much and you are no longer in the pot of the Grand Canyon where the heat is Extreme.

Distance and time

The route is 15.3 km and in hours we take about 6 hours and a half almost 7 stop at all points and more along the Route. Alex who was in the form of the 9 managed to do it in 4 hours, which for us was unthinkable!.

3 Mile Resthouse

Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Lodge

This map was very useful to control the water and the Forces.

Hiking South Rim Trails

6. Resetting forces on the road

One of the things to take into account in a demanding route is the descent to the bottom of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado is food and drink.

I have already commented before that on the route of South Kaibab Trail There are no drinking water points throughout the route to get to the camp, which if there is on the route of Bright Angel Trail so if you go down the first takes enough water , if you do it for the second you can avoid carrying so much weight.

The food issue if you do not want to carry more weight, Phantom Ranch has a food service for all those who are lucky to find a place because they are limited, regardless of whether you sleep in their facilities or not.

The ranch has breakfast service for $23.65, of lunch to take for $20.85 and of dinner giving you to choose between vegetarian by $28.93 and others of stew and meat by $28.93 or $47.91. I leave the Cantina page so you can book and check the canteen schedules.

We did not get to have places for dinner but if we could catch it for breakfast the day of the Ascent and the truth was quite abundant. Fruit salad, coffee, juice, pancakes, bacon, sausages… So although the price is somewhat high, it is worth to start the day with something warm and freshly made.

7. Mule Service

The park has a mule service for those who need it or prefer to have this experience for $142.83 per Person. Mules in the park are also used to bring groceries and stuff to Phantom Ranch as it is the only way to get There.

It has certain weight, age and height restrictions and it is also necessary to request it 15 months in advance, if you need more information this is the Web page of mules Rides.

Mules ‘ freight service

We transportábamos all the material needed to camp that night, so when we went through the Phantom Ranch cantina to take something chilly at 8pm which is when it opens for everyone, we asked about the Mule service as we wanted to remove something Weight to our Backpacks.

There we were given a paper and we were told that if there was possibility, since there is not always mule available, it could be done following the instructions that were explained there after paying the corresponding fee.

The truth that the man who was that night was not the friendliest, but basically what you should do is; Be on the ranch with everything you want to transport the mules prepared before 6:15 am which is when they come Out. Prepared means, tucked into his drawer, weighed and tagged with some IDs that leave you to then you can pick him up at Bright Angel Transportation desk at Bright Angel Lodge.

All this is done at a table in the back of the Canteen.

Mules carry your goods in a sort of crate. All you want to transport can not exceed the measures of this drawer or the maximum weight per mule, but remember wrong were about 16-20 kilos, (we left the 4 tents that each weighed about 4 kilos). At that table you will find the measures noted, the weight to check and the labels to Identify.

If what you want to transport exceeds the maximum allowed you will have to hire another drawer and the price per crate was in 2018 of $65, but we paid them so much to taste after loading with all that weight in the Descent.

Mules on Phantom Ranch

8. The Grand Canyon of the Colorado Bird’s eye view.

The final auction to our trekking experience was to hire a helicopter tour of the grand Canyon.

The tour went out from Tusayan, we had ascended by Bright Angel Trail so we had to reach the Visitors Center of the park to take the Purple Line that was the one that took Us.

After retaking some breath after six and a half hours walking, make us a few pictures and rest a little, we went to the stop of the bus to take the blue line that is the one that took to the Visitors Center of the Park.

Shuttle Bus Line Blue

When we got to Tusayan we went to Papillon which is with the company that we hired the TOUR. We hired the Grand Tour, the Impertial with Ecostar that takes you from the South Rim to the North Rim passes through the East rim and returns South.

Imperial Tour with Ecostar in helicopter

There are no words to describe the lived experience that do not fall Short.  It’s the $299 best Invested. The hairs are tipped when you reach the edge and fly over the grand canyon, I will not tell much more because the factor surprise too long ago and not expect what you’re going to live makes it even better.  But the helicopter tour flying over what just a few hours ago you had walk, was the best experience I have lived in Time.

Andrea, one of the members of the gruop, who is afraid to fly decided to venture and not miss and loved it!. Both for the experience of flying by helicopter and on the park and for having been able to overcome their fear with views like Those.

Any questions you have about how to organize your adventure, do not hesitate to ask and from next stop: the world, we will try to help you.