Hiking Articles

The Trail of Time, covering the stretch of rim from Yavapai Point, near the Geology Museum, moving West into Grand Canyon Village, has undergone a revival.
The South Kaibab Trail is the more challenging of the two maintained trails along the south rim, with challenging vertical changes.
The Bright Angel Trail is considered Grand Canyon's Premier and safest trail. This trail offers options for Day Hikes, and hiking to the bottom.

Hiking Information from the National Park Service

The National Park Service Grand Canyon offers a large amount of information about hiking the Grand Canyon, and Trip Planning, available as an app or in PDF Format. Check out the links below. 

NOTE: As of the date this page was published, there is NO SHUTTLE BUS SERVICE inside the Grand Canyon National Park. Please visit the Grand Canyon NPS Public Health Update Page for current information. 

Grand Canyon, AZ – Grand Canyon National Park joins multiple national parks across the country by offering an official park app. This free app is available for download for iPhone and Android mobile phones. Cellular service and Wi-Fi locations are limited within the park, so visitors are encouraged to download the app and all of its offline content before arriving for the best user experience.

Grand Canyon Official App-Apple Store Preview

Grand Canyon Official App-Google Play Preview

Grand Canyon National Park has a handy Trip Planner in PDF format that you can download, save and/or print.

This Trip Planner includes maps and detailed information, including Backcountry Trip Planning information, for both the North Rim and the South Rim.

The Trip Planner is available in several languages, including EnglishChineseFrenchGermanItalian
JapaneseKorean, and Spanish.

HIKING TIPS AND INFORMATION

Each year, more than 200 people need to be rescued from the Grand Canyon, and this is something that is costly and dangerous for the rescuers, and something that is almost completely preventable if hikers follow the recommendations of the NPS for hiking in the Grand Canyon. 

The first thing people need to realize is that there ARE no ‘easy’ trails into or out the canyon, and every hike should involve research, planning, and more planning

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HIKE FROM THE RIM TO THE RIVER AND BACK IN ONE DAY, ESPECIALLY BETWEEN MAY-SEPTEMBER!

For all hikes, consult and follow these tips from the NPS. All information for this webpage was obtained from the NPS Website. 

General Hiking Tips

Summer Hiking Tips

Winter Hiking Tips

Backcountry Updates

Hike Smart Podcasts

Trail Courtesy and Leave No Trace Principals

Day Hikes

Many options are available for day hikers. The  South Rim  offers rim trail hikes that have spectacular views of the inner canyon, some on paved trails. Or you can choose to day hike into the canyon. Permits are not required for non-commercial day hikes.

Day hiking can be a safer and more enjoyable choice than an overnight trip into a difficult area that is beyond the capabilities of any single member of your group.

To obtain the most current information, always visit the South Rim Day Hike Page

The Rim Trail extends from the village area to Hermits Rest. Begin from any viewpoint in the Village or along Hermit Road. The Rim Trail offers excellent walking for quiet views of the inner canyon and for visitors who desire an easy hike. No water west of Bright Angel Lodge. Part of the trail is paved and accessible.

Rim Trail (Destinations, distances and services shown in a table)

Rim Trail (Hike Smart information and a detailed map)

(Steep) The Bright Angel Trail begins just west of Bright Angel Lodge and offers day hikes that range in distance up to 12 miles (round trip). Some shade. Seasonal water subject to pipeline breaks. Check at the Visitor Center or Backcountry Information Center for water status. Upper portion of the trail may be extremely icy in winter or early spring.

Bright Angel Trail (Map, Details and Mileage)

Bright Angel Trail Article and Video

(Steep) The South Kaibab Trail begins south of Yaki Point on Yaki Point Road.  Offers day hikes that range in distance up to 6 miles (round trip). Best views for a relatively short hike. Steep trail, no water, little shade. Water available seasonally at the trailhead. Upper portion of the trail may be extremely icy in winter or early spring.

South Kaibab Trail (Map, Details and Mileage)

(Steep) The Hermit Trail offers hikes to Santa Maria Spring, 5 miles (round trip), and Dripping Springs, 7 miles (round trip). Trail conditions are tougher than the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails. Unmaintained steep trail requires caution. Begins 500 feet west of Hermits Rest. Water from springs must be treated before drinking. For experienced desert hikers. Hiking boots recommended.

Hermit Trail (Map, Details and Mileage)

(Very Steep) The Grandview Trail offers hikes to Coconino Saddle, 2.2 miles (round trip), and Horseshoe Mesa, 6.4 miles (round trip). Trail conditions are tougher than the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails. Unmaintained steep trail requires caution. Begins on canyon side of retaining wall at Grandview Point on Desert View Drive (12 miles east of village). For experienced desert hikers. Hiking boots recommended.

Grandview Trail (Map, Details and Mileage)

Backcountry Permits

Going on a hike is wonderful way to experience some of the canyon’s rich natural beauty and immense size. However, even if you are an avid hiker, hiking the Grand Canyon is very different from most other hiking experiences.

Backcountry Permits are required  when camping anywhere in the park, other than in developed campgrounds on the North Rim or the South Rim.

To obtain the most current information, always visit the NPS Backcountry Information Page

A backcountry permit is required for:

  • overnight camping outside of Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, and North Rim Campground
  • overnight camping in all sites at Tuweep Campground
  • overnight camping anywhere on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park between Nov 1 – May 14 (includes ski-camping)
  • off-river camping by river trip participants
  • overnight camping with private stock outside of Mather Campground or outside of North Rim Campground (May 15 – Oct 31)
  • packrafting, other than that which occurs under a river permit

A backcountry permit is NOT required for:

  • day hikes (this includes nighttime “day” hikes)
  • day stock rides
  • overnight camping at Mather Campground and Desert View Campground (campground reservations for Mather Campground at www.recreation.gov)
  • overnight camping at North Rim Campground between May 15 – Oct 31 (campground reservations at www.recreation.gov)
  • overnight camping with private stock at Mather Campground or (May 15 – Oct 31) North Rim Campground
  • overnight stays at the dormitories or cabins at Phantom Ranch (advanced reservations with Grand Canyon National Park Lodges required)

Permit Cost

$10 per permit plus $8 per person or stock animal per night camped below the rim and $8 per group per night camped above the rim. Denied requests will not incur a charge. Permits cancelled at least four days in advance will receive hiker credit (minus a $10 cancellation charge) valid for one year. Backcountry Information Center charges are NON-REFUNDABLE!

When sending in a permit request, the required method of payment is with a credit card. Indicate the maximum amount you authorize the Backcountry Information Center to charge so that your longest trip alternative can be considered. Do not send cash in the mail.

Permit holders will be responsible for paying park entrance fees upon arrival.

South Bass Trail and Pasture Wash Trail visitors may be charged an additional fee by the tribe for crossing the Havasupai Indian Reservation.

How to Apply

Obtain and fill out the Backcountry Permit Request Form:

Do not forget to include the following with your permit request:

  1. Trip leader’s name, address, and telephone number.
  2. Credit card number, expiration date, signature, date signed, and largest amount you authorize the National Park Service to charge.
  3. Number of people and/or stock in the group (see Private Stock).
  4. License plate numbers of any cars to be left at the trailhead.
  5. Proposed night-by-night itinerary showing use area codes and dates for each night
  6. Organization name if applicable (see Group Size and Commercial Use below).
  7. Alternative proposed itineraries.

Submit the permit request form in one of the following ways:

  1. Fax request to the Backcountry Information Center, 928-638-2125.
    NOTE: You can send a fax 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – HOWEVER the first day of every month we receive many faxes and the number may be busy.
  2. Mail request to Grand Canyon National Park, Permits Office, 1824 S. Thompson St., Suite 201, Flagstaff AZ, 86001
  3. Bring request to the Backcountry Information Center, located inside the park on both the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily, year round, for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time. The North Rim Backcountry Information Center (located in the administrative building) is open daily mid-May to mid-October for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time.

Permit requests are not accepted by telephone or by email.

Permit Responses

Permit requests are responded to via U.S. Mail or email. Due to the volume of requests received, the park cannot confirm receipt of requests until they have been fully processed. Please allow at least three weeks for processing.

When space is available and all fee requirements are met, a permit will be issued to the trip leader. The permit is valid only for the trip leader named on the permit. Overnight hikers are not permitted to enter the canyon without a valid permit in the trip leader’s possession.

If you have been denied a permit, you may want to consider day hikes or attempt to obtain a last minute, walk-in permit.

Last Minute Permit for Corridor Campgrounds

A limited number of last minute walk-up permits are available at the South Rim and/or North Rim Backcountry Information Center for Corridor Campgrounds (Indian Garden, Bright Angel, and Cottonwood Campgrounds). These permits are issued in person only, are for one or two consecutive nights, and cannot be purchased more than one day prior to the start of a hike.

Last minute permits are issued by the Backcountry Information Center, located inside the park on both the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily, year round, for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time. The North Rim Backcountry Information Center (located in the administrative building) is open daily mid-May to mid-October for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time.

View or Download the Introduction to Backcountry Hiking. 

Backcountry Information Center staff answer information telephone inquiries at 928-638-7875 between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays. This telephone number is for information only.

FAX number for permits is 928-638-2125
you can send a fax 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – HOWEVER the first day of every month we receive many faxes and the number may be busy.

Mailing address is:
Grand Canyon National Park
Permits Office
1824 S. Thompson St., Suite 201
Flagstaff AZ, 86001

Use Areas

The backcountry is divided into “use areas”. Each use area has an overnight capacity based upon the size of the area, the number of suitable and available campsites, its ecological sensitivity, its management zoning, and its use history. Use areas range in size from several hundred acres to several thousand acres.

Length of Stay

Camping in designated campsites or campgrounds is limited to two nights (consecutive or non-consecutive) per campsite or campground per hike. Designated campsites include the Corridor (Indian Garden, Bright Angel, Cottonwood), Hermit, Hermit Rapids, Monument, Granite Rapids, Cedar Spring, Salt, Horn, Horseshoe Mesa, South Bass Trailhead areas (SE1, SE2, SE3), Cape Final, Point Sublime, Swamp Point, Fire Point, Tapeats, and Deer Creek Use Areas. One exception is made to this rule, during the off-season (November 15 through February 28), and within the Corridor Use Area only, overnight stays up to a total of four nights per campground per trip are allowed.

Outside the use areas named above, “at-large” camping is permitted, meaning that camps are not limited to designated sites.

Trips are limited to a maximum of seven nights per use area; however, overall trip lengths are not limited.

Group Size

More permits are available for small groups (1-6 people) than for large groups (7-11 people). Because there are only a few large group sites, limiting the size of your group will increase your chances of obtaining a permit.

Larger groups tend to cause a disproportionately higher amount of damage to the canyon, largely due to the effects of “social” trailing. For this reason, the park’s Backcountry Management Plan does not allow groups larger than eleven people to camp in the same campground or use area.

Regulations stipulate that all permits are void when a group obtains multiple permits for the same campground or use area for the same night. The alternative for these larger groups is to obtain permits for smaller groups and ensure the itineraries for these permits never bring more than one of the permits into the same campground or use area on the same night. No more than four large groups or eight small groups that are affiliated with each other may camp within the backcountry on the same night.