Bright Angel Trail Day Hike

Grand Canyon National Park

Colorado River Grand Canyon, Arizona

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Bright Angel Trail Day Hike

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  • Great views and relatively easy going on the way down.- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
  • Tunnel through the Kaibab Limestone near the top of Bright Angel Trail.- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
  • You have to save energy for the way up!- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
  • A window in the wall near the top of Bright Angel Trail.- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
  • One of many switchbacks on Bright Angel Trail.- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
  • Dropoffs like this are not required on the trail, but they are easy to reach for the more adventurous.- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
  • Scrambling (carefully!) up for a better view.- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
  • Parts of this trail stay fairly shady.- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
  • You'll already be very far below the rim after hiking 1.5 miles into the trail.- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
  • Pausing at the 1.5-mile rest house.- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
  • Toilet with a view near the 1.5-mile rest house.- Bright Angel Trail Day Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Easier route in and out of the canyon. Backcountry camping options.
Cons: 
Very steep. Can be crowded.
Region:
Colorado River Grand Canyon, AZ
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
-4,400.00 ft (-1,341.12 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
9.50 mi (15.29 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,850.00 ft (2,087.88 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Bright Angel may be considered the premier hiking trail from the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park. Together with South Kaibab, it is one of the two corridor trails that are maintained to lead people and pack mules to the Colorado River in the bottom. Hiking to the river is only recommended if you are spending the night in the canyon, but day hikes of varying lengths are possible by turning around partway, and Bright Angel Trail provides good options to do so with its well-spaced rest houses and water availability.

Bright Angel is slightly more popular than South Kaibab because it is a friendlier trail, at least as far as those below the rim can be. It begins in a somewhat sheltered alcove rather than the exposed ridgeline of South Kaibab, and is less steep overall. It also has water, which South Kaibab does not. You do sacrifice some field of view over the Inner Canyon by choosing this trail, but the vista is far from disappointing.

The trail begins near Bright Angel Lodge and drops immediately below the rim. Shortly it reaches a fun photo op at a tunnel blasted through solid rock, and a natural window in the cliff nearby. Another tunnel awaits 0.75 miles into the hike. This marks a good turnaround point for casual hikers and families with small children because the trail steepens beyond this point, and the downhill always belies how difficult the return trip will be.

The switchbacks continue and take you deeper, and you gradually gain perspective on the true immensity of the canyon. At 1.5 miles you will reach the first rest house, toilet, and water spigot; note that the water source is not guaranteed, so fill up at the trailhead and pack more water than you think you will need. Another rest house, toilet, and seasonal water supply is located at the 3-mile point, which has especially good views. As you descend, always be conscious of your energy level, water, and food supply, and remember to save plenty of steam and for the hike back up, which will probably take twice as long.

Below 3-mile rest house the trail continues to steepen and the canyon becomes hotter the lower you go. At 4.5 miles you will reach Indian Garden, a true oasis with plenty of shade under big cottonwood trees, comfortable tables and benches, and a reliable water supply. Take time here to rest up and refuel. This marks the furthest that you should travel as a day hike during the summer, though during cooler weather the extra trip across the long and exposed, but relatively flat Tonto Plateau is worth it for a spectacular view at Plateau Point.

To prepare for this hike, bring plenty of water and about twice as much food as you would for another hike of the same distance, and remember to eat it. You need electrolytes and calories just as much as you need water when hiking in the Grand Canyon. For more information, see our page How to Hike the Grand Canyon: Tips for Beginners and Experts.

Note: This trail is open year round, but water is not available above Indian Garden in the winter, and the upper mile or two of the trail is usually covered in ice and snow, so trail crampons and trekking poles are recommended.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(7 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(18 within a 30 mile radius)

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