Hiking the Grand Canyon in One Day

Another trip to the Grand Canyon under our belt! I’ve spent roughly 18 days either camping along or hiking through the canyon (check out my most recent trip white water rafting the Grand Canyon here!), and I can confidently say these views will never get old. This was my second time hiking the Grand Canyon, so I’d like to think I know a thing or two aboutthe infamous Rim2Rim hike 😉

Although, I shouldn’t brag. My husband has done this hike 5 TIMES! Crazy, I know.

HIKE OVERVIEW

  • Distance: 24 miles
  • Elevation change: ~10,000 feet
  • Steps: ~60,000
  • Start time: 5:07 am
  • Finish time: 2:50 pm

WHERE WE STAYED

Kaibab Lodge

We stayed at the Kaibab Lodge near the North Rim the night before the hike. This quaint lodging was such a pleasant surprise!

The rustic cabins are located on this beautiful wide open land with a gorgeous tree line. The Aspen trees were a stunning bright yellow – I felt like I walked into a fall wonderland!

We enjoyed a buffet-style dinner at the hotel’s restaurant and played some board games in the lobby before turning in for the night.

The hotel is a short 30 minute drive from the North Kaibab Trail, so it’s a great spot to stay at the night before!

El Tovar Hotel

Once we completed the hike, we checked into the El Tovar Hotel on the South Rim.

The spacious hotel has rustic charm and a vibey restaurant. We enjoyed a big post-hike dinner and great wine.

El Tovar is a pretty popular hotel to stay at the South Rim and has attracted some high-profile visitors, including Albert Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt, Paul McCartney, Oprah and others!

WHAT I PACKED

The Essentials

  • Hiking or trail running shoes (I wore Nike Pegasus Trail 2 trail runners)
  • CamelBak hydration pack
  • Water
  • Salty snacks (Goldfish, Chex Mix, trail mix, etc.)
  • PB&J sandwiches or Uncrustables
  • Head lamp
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Sunglasses

The Optionals

  • Layers (leggings, gloves, jacket, etc.)
  • Hat
  • Gaiters (what they lack in fashion, they make up for in practicality!)
  • Extra socks
  • Headphones or AirPods
  • Hiking poles
  • Advil / Aspirin / Excedrin
  • Salt pills
  • Moleskin
  • Biofreeze / Icy Hot / Ben Gay

WHERE WE STOPPED

Cottonwood Campground

Mile: ~8

We actually didn’t stop here, but we planned to. This is usually our first bathroom stop, but neither of had to go so we grabbed a few snacks out of our bag and kept going.

That being said, this is a great place to use the bathroom! It’s a campground so there are a lot of toilets.

Side note: This is a fun way to break up the hike if you don’t want to do it in a day! You can hike down to this point (either from the North or South Rim), camp for the night, and continue on your way. Visit the National Park Service’s website here for more information.

Phantom Ranch

Mile: ~15

Phantom Ranch was our longest stop – we were there for about 20-30 minutes. We arrived just before 10 am, refilled our water and used the bathroom. We treated it as our lunch stop even though it was still the morning. We enjoyed our Uncrustables, salty snacks and candy. Sten also bought me a lemonade from the store there – so good!

This is a pretty popular place to stop, so expect crowds when you go. There’s a few tables and other good places to sit, plus shade so I definitely recommend taking a break here.

Although it was a welcomed break, Phantom Ranch can be mentally misleading. In terms of mileage, you’re more than half way done with the hike but it will take you just as much time (if not more) to complete the remaining 9 miles.

Fun fact: You can mail postcards from Phantom Ranch! They are carried up the trail by mules, which is kind of cool. They have stamps available, but it’s easier if you stamp them ahead of time.

Indian Garden Campground

Mile: 19.5

From Phantom Ranch, we hopped onto the Bright Angel trail and headed for Indian Garden. This is actually the rest stop I look forward to the most. The stretch from Phantom Ranch to Indian Garden is not my favorite part of the hike. There’s some sunny switchbacks on sandy trails, plus you’re trying to get your momentum back after stopping for lunch.

We were there for about 10 minutes, refilled our water, ate more salty snacks and mentally prepared for the last 4.5 miles of the hike. 4.5 miles might not seem like a lot for a 24 mile hike, but it’s definitely the hardest part of the day.

For one thing, your body is tired. Even if you’re well-trained or an endurance athlete, this hike takes a toll on your body and the last 4.5 miles is when you really start to feel that. It’s also the first time you’re experiencing elevation gain which let me be the first to say, is no joke!

3 Mile Resthouse

Mile: 21

This resthouse was our last planned stop. We were here for about 5 minutes to catch our breath and indulge in more salty snacks. There’s another resthouse 1.5 miles from the top that we stopped at. We also stopped a few more times as we made our way to the top because we were SO tired.

But before we knew it, we were out! Nearly 10 hours and 24 miles later, we found ourselves at the South Rim trailhead 🙂

If you’re thinking about hiking the Grand Canyon, here’s a helpful brochure to review before you head down there!

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