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Grand Canyon -rim to rim itinerary help needed

Grand Canyon -rim to rim itinerary help needed

Old Mar 12th, 2007, 06:23 PM
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Grand Canyon -rim to rim itinerary help needed

We are in the planning stages of a rim to rim hike in July. We are a party of 4 - 2 adults & two kids - 12 & 13. A couple of questions:
Which direction provides better scenery? Which direction is less strenous?
Any itineraries to share?
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Old Mar 12th, 2007, 07:53 PM
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Before answering your questions, I'll say that the official NPS website has a lot of pertinent info. You should spend some time looking at it (specifically the weather and backcountry hiking sections) while you're still in the planning stages.

I say this because July is the hottest month at the Grand Canyon, with an average high of 106 at the bottom and average low of 78. The rim to rim hike is about 24 miles and you should plan on taking at least 3 days/2nights, if not 4 days/3 nights. The suggested route is N. Rim to S. Rim, and the itinerary is pretty much standard based on the campgrounds (N. Rim to CCG (1 night), CCG to CBG (1 night), then either CBG to the S. Rim OR CBG to CIG (1 night) and then up to the S. Rim).

July is also one of the most popular months to visit because of summer vacation, which means it will be exceedingly difficult to get a backcountry permit at the backcountry campgrounds you'll need to stay at. Permits for July became availabe on March 1st, so you're already almost 2 weeks behind there, and I'd be surprised if you were able to secure permits.

How much experience do you have hiking (in general, and in the desert) and backpacking (in general, and in the desert)? If this is your first major backpacking trip in this kind of heat, I'd suggest you take it easy and consider hiking from the N. Rim to CIG, spend 1-2 nights there, and then hike back up. The bottom of the canyon is a pretty rough place to be in mid-summer.

 
Old Mar 13th, 2007, 05:57 PM
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Thanks for the advice. We are aware of the challenges of hiking in the Grand Canyon during July. We did a backcountry overnight on Horseshoe Mesa last July. We are trying to determine our permit requests now.

Do you recommend the North to South because of the difference in rim elevations? We are looking for the most spectacular scenery and will definitely overnight between Bright Angel & whichever rim we choose.
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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This URL has a few trip reports on rim to rim hikes:

www.kaibab.org/bc/gc_trips.htm
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 08:38 PM
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The scenery is the same, in that you can always stop and look around. And you should. I think it depends on whether you prefer hiking uphill or down. The North Rim is 2,000 feet higher. Add that to the 4400 or 4800 foot gain or drop from the South Rim, and the elevation difference is considerable. I've carried a full pack down and back up to the South Rim, and would not have wanted to descend the extra 2000 feet. Going up would have been OK.

So I would choose a route from south to north, with an overnight stop at the bottom, and another halfway up to the north rim. But that might not work for everyone.

Whatever you do, make sure the kids carry and drink enough water. They tend not to pay attention to the warnings.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 09:07 AM
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<Do you recommend the North to South because of the difference in rim elevations? We are looking for the most spectacular scenery and will definitely overnight between Bright Angel & whichever rim we choose. >

My thoughts on North to South hinge somewhat on whether you do this as a 2 or 3 night trip.

I think the most scenic trail is S. Kaibab, but I'd only recommend doing this to descend to Phantom Ranch. Bright Angel and N. Kaibab are generally in side canyons so the views are limited a bit, whereas S. Kaibab is along a ridge part of the way and gives you a 180 degree view of the canyon. However, it's shorter, steeper and more exposed to the sun than Bright Angel, so I wouldn't want to use it to hike out in mid-summer.

Enzian is correct that N. Rim is at a higher elevation (about 1000 feet higher than the S. Kaibab trailhead, and about 1400 feet higher than the Bright Angel trailhead). If you go N to S, you have less of a climb to get back out.

So taking that all into consideration, if you have 3 nights and plan 1 night each at CIG, CBG and CCG I think it only makes sense to go N to S. Your first day then would be about 7 miles and 4200 feet down to CCG, then day 2 is another 7 miles and 2400 feet down to CBG. Day 3 is about 5 miles and 1400 feet up to CIG while day 4 is about 4.5 miles and 3000 feet up. You can make the side trip to Plateau Point while you're staying at CIG.

If you reverse that itinerary for 3 nights, to me it doesn't make sense to hike only 4.5 miles to CIG on the first day. That would take you maybe 3 hours or so, and would mean you'd save the longest, toughest 2 days of hiking for the end of the trip when you're not as well-rested.

If however, you have only 2 nights, it probably makes more sense to go S to N, starting at S. Kaibab with one night at CBG and one at CCG. You'll still have that long, tough hike out from CCG, but I'd rather hike out from there mid-summer than have to hike out from CBG in one day.

I don't really consider it an option to go from the N. Rim to CBG in one day, so the only way I'd do a rim to rim as a 2 nighter is starting at the S. Rim and making it to CBG that first day. I don't think 2 nights leaves you enough time to enjoy the hike.
 
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