Hiking the Grand Canyon: Tips for an Easier Trek

view from the south rim of the grand canyon
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

One of the first things you notice while hiking through the Grand Canyon’s inner canyon is the advanced age of many of your fellow hikers. It is not uncommon to see men and women in their 70s and 80s hiking along at a good clip, packs on their backs and big smiles on their faces.

At the same time, all over the South Rim you’ll see warning signs about overexertion, each featuring a buff young man in incredible shape suffering from heatstroke or exhaustion, with the warning that most of the people who die in the canyon—and people die every year—are people like him. You need not be a wilderness expert or marathon runner to enjoy even a long, 27-mile, rim-to-rim hike through the inner canyon. Don’t let your fears hold you back from what is often a life-changing trip.

There are several strategies that can make a canyon hike much easier than a forced march with a 30-pound pack of gear on your back:

  • Don’t go in the summer; wait until September or October, when it’s cooler, though still quite warm, in the inner canyon.
  • Try your best to book a cabin or a dorm room at Phantom Ranch rather than camping. That way, you’ll need less equipment, you’ll have all or most of your food taken care of, and there will be a shower and a beer waiting for you upon your arrival.
  • For about $70 you can hire a mule to carry up to 30 pounds of gear for you, so all you have to bring is a day pack, some water, and a few snacks. This way, instead of suffering while you descend and ascend the trail, you’ll be able to better enjoy the magnificence of this wonder of the world.

Note: If you’re interested in hiring a mule, you can find the information in the Grand Canyon chapter of Moon Southwest Road Trip.

Travel map of Grand Canyon National park
Grand Canyon National Park

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