Sunset on the South Rim - Grand Canyon
It’s been a couple years since the last time I hiked across the Grand Canyon.  I knew when we finished that I would do it again.  In fact it was really just a learning experience although a really challenging and fun one.  Although I’ve added a couple of posts for that trip, I planned it before I was doing my “planning” posts for bigger trips, so I don’t have it all written up, but I do have several emails to review and I’ll understand the information on the park’s website much better than someone who’s never done it before. One of the key lessons learned from my last Grand Canyon Rim to Rim was to plan earlier. Although we started planning for the trip early in 2010 and did not do the hike until October, this was not soon enough. Lodging reservations can be made up to 13 months in advance and because there is high demand during the very short “sweet spot” for hiking rim to rim in the fall, we were unable to get lodging at the North Rim. Because we didn’t have rooms at the North Rim lodge we had to change our plan, taking the shuttle from the South Rim to the North Rim no longer worked, and we ended up driving from the north to the south rim twice. So this time I’m starting planning earlier, so even though we plan to do this in May 2014, I believe it is not too early to plan for this trip. There are only about 4 months left before we need to make reservations.

Near the top of the North Kaibab Trail
Since we did it in the fall last time we’ll shoot for the spring this time. It will be interesting to see how things are different. Other than that, we plan to do it very much the same. One change could be to stay at Phantom Ranch rather than camping at Bright Angel campgrounds. This will allow us to skip setting up duffel service for tents and other camping gear and may make catching the shuttle easier. On the downside it will make the composition of the group less flexible as much of Phantom Ranch lodging is male and female dormitories so we will be locked in to the male/female mix that we come up with in the original plan. However, there are some 4 person cabins, so that would be our first choice at Phantom Ranch.   Also we can make Phantom Ranch reservations 13 months in advance and change to camping reservations as late as 6 months in advance if our group make up changes. We could even do a mix of Phantom Ranch and camping if we get a larger group to join us.

Jenny and Eric hiking in Mission Trails Park North Fortuna Trail.jpg.08
Another change for me will be doing the hike with my wife! She is an avid hiker, although she is not a big desert hiker (me either). I’m positive she will love hiking the Grand Canyon. It is dry and hot. However, at the right time of the year, it is more like hiking in milder desert climate of San Diego county than further inland in the drier deserts of Southern California.  The climate is especially mild at the right time of the year at the North Rim.  The canyon floor always has the potential to surprise you, in 2010 even though we were hiking in late October, the last minute weather forecasts were for 100 degree temperatures on the canyon floor.  Luckily for us on day one we got afternoon showers which lowered the temperature, and on the way out there was morning cloud cover until we had climbed to higher, and cooler elevations.

The hike plan:

  • Drive to the South Rim, arriving in the mid morning, will require staying overnight somewhere nearby.
  • Drop duffels to the Livery Barn.  (The deadline is 4 PM the day before you hike in)
    • If we are staying at Phantom Ranch this may not be necessary (no tents or sleeping bags), or we may only require 1 duffel instead of 2.
  • Catch the shuttle to the North Rim Lodge.  (The shuttle leaves the south rim at 1:30 p.m. and arrives at the north rim at 6:30 p.m.  The fare is at least $85 and reservations are required.)
  • Stay at North Rim Lodge one or two nights.  It would be great to have a day to spend exploring the North Rim.  There are several choices of cabin style or hotel rooms.
  • Take the hikers shuttle from the North Rim to the North Kaibab trailhead.  Departs at 5:30 and 7:00 am.  The early start is preferred.
  • Hike to Phantom Ranch.
  • Stay at Phantom Ranch.  One of the 4 person cabins is preferred, but we could consider the dorm rooms also.  We will also need to consider if we want to spend two nights in order to have a day to explore the Phantom Ranch area.  A camp site will work with the duffel service to take tents/sleeping bags in for us, but I would like to try out Phantom Ranch rather than staying at Bright Angel campgrounds.
  • Hike up Bright Angel trail to the south rim.
  • Stay at the South Rim lodge for one night.
  • Head home…

Picnic and seating area at Phantom Ranch

Reservations for this trip will happen on May 1st 2013, for lodging at North Rim, South Rim, and Phantom Ranch.  I believe the meals at Phantom Ranch can be reserved at the same time.    A backcountry permit is NOT required for people staying in Phantom Ranch dorms or cabins.  If we camp we’ll need to get backcountry permits (this is to ensure there are enough campsites).  If a campsite and backcountry permit is required, the request would be submitted on 1 January 2014.

View of the Bright Angel Trail from near the top of the South Rim

This post started as a plan to hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim “again”. Even though I’ve been looking forward to doing this hike again, I always thought of it as just doing the same hike one more time. However, as I did the planning, it didn’t feel like planning to do the same hike again. It will be a different hike, with different experiences, and I’m much more excited about it after doing this initial planning than I was when I started the planning. This will be a great trip!

Update 20 August 2013: We got our reservations and things are coming together for this trip. I’ve posted a follow-up planning post: Grand Canyon Rim to Rim (June 2014 – Intermediate Planning)

List of all my posts for the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim: Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike Posts (Oct 2010 and June 2014)


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