Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
7,080.00 ft (2,157.98 m)
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
20.40 mi (32.83 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Rim to Rim hike in Grand Canyon National Park is an epic hike that should be on everyone's bucket list. As amazing as the canyon views are from the South Rim, there is simply no better way to experience the magnitude and remarkable intricacies of this place without exploring below the rim. And the best way to do this is to hike straight through from the South Rim to the North Rim. Although there can be some red tape to deal with (more on that later), it is undoubtedly worth it.

From the South Rim, there are two options for getting into the canyon: the Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail. The latter is a bit shorter and the common choice when descending into the canyon. From the village, catch a free shuttle bus to the South Kaibab Trailhead. Be sure to top off on water here before beginning your hike.

From the get-go, you'll be met with stunning views. The South Kaibab Trail switchbacks its way steeply down before arriving at Ooh-Aah Point. Amazing views of O'Neill Butte and the canyon are to be had as you make your way to Cedar Ridge (there are restrooms here). After 3 miles, you'll reach Skeleton Point and have your first glimpse of the Colorado River, still thousands of feet below. There isn't much shade on the South Kaibab Trail, and as you lose elevation the temperature will increase noticeably. Even in the winter, temperatures can be surprisingly warm.

As you near the bottom, you'll be met with increasingly better views of the Colorado River. Excitement grows until finally reaching the Black Bridge. Be sure to soak in the views upstream and downstream (toward the Silver Bridge) as you cross the river. After perhaps taking a short break to soak your toes in the mighty Colorado, you'll walk by Bright Angel Campground. This is one of two campsite options if you are looking to make it an overnight trip. Please note that a permit is required. Reserving well in advance is the best option, but you can also stop in to the Backcountry Information Center at the South Rim to obtain a permit. Please note that it can be very difficult to get a permit this way.

Just past mile 7, you'll arrive at the storied Phantom Ranch. Be sure to at least stop in for a refreshing lemonade. Phantom does offer lodging and meal options, but these must be reserved well in advance.

After leaving Phantom Ranch, you’ll hop onto the North Kaibab Trail. For the next few miles, the trail closely follows Bright Angel Creek as it winds its way up through appropriately named Bright Angel Canyon. As you walk through the Inner Gorge, you’ll be boxed in on both sides by rocks that are an estimated 1.7 billion years old. It is striking how different the scenery is here compared to the South Kaibab Trail. There is something incredible about being so close to the high walls in this small canyon and to be able to observe the intricacies of the rock. The trail steadily gains elevation throughout this section, but it is rather easy hiking.

A popular short side trip to Ribbon Falls is a must-do. Please note that, as of June 2019, the bridge to Ribbon Falls is out. It is possible to ford Bright Angel Creek, but it can be a dangerous crossing. Approximately 7 miles after Phantom Ranch, you'll come to Cottonwood Campground. This is the second overnight option (permits required).

After passing Manzanita Rest Area (restrooms and water available) the trail will begin to climb steeply. From here it is only 5.4 miles to the North Rim, but over 3,600 feet of elevation gain. Soon you'll see Roaring Springs. This powerful spring is the source of Bright Angel Creek. A pipeline close to the trail delivers water from Roaring Springs to the South Rim. All of the water used by Grand Canyon National Park comes from this one amazing spring.

After Roaring Springs, the North Kaibab Trail continues to travel through jaw-dropping terrain, and parts of the trail having been blasted into the rock. As you near the North Rim and the end of this journey, you'll encounter trees and an amazing viewpoint called Coconino Overlook. From here, you’ll be able to see how far you've come up the Bright Angel Canyon and even glimpse Humphreys Peak near Flagstaff on a clear day. After leaving the overlook, it is only a short distance to the North Kaibab Trailhead and the end of your journey. Congrats—you just Rim to Rimmed!

Things to Consider

  • Weather extremes: Spring and fall are the best times of year to hike the Rim to Rim. Temperatures at the bottom of the canyon are always warm and can be downright brutal during summer. Also keep in mind that winter conditions can exist, especially on the North Rim where snow can be present through May.
  • Crowds: Large crowds of day hikers can be annoying, especially on the South Kaibab Trail. As you get farther from the rim, the crowds begin to thin out. Getting an early start also helps.
  • Water: Check with the National Park Service to see which water stations within the canyon will be turned on during your visit.
  • Permits: Reserve your permit (if staying overnight in the canyon) well in advance. Permits are not required for day hikes.
  • Getting back: Perhaps the biggest logistical problem is how to get back to the South Rim after your hike. Assuming you don’t want to hike back, you’ll need to arrange for a shuttle of some sort. There are companies that offer shuttle services for hikers. Keep in mind that these will likely be expensive as it is over 200 miles to drive from the North Rim to South Rim. Also keep in mind that North Rim roads are closed from December 1 to May 15. If hiking during this time of year, your only option will be to hike back to the South Rim.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Entrance Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Days

2

Pros

World-class hike. Spectacular views of the Grand Canyon.

Cons

Lots of elevation change. Temperature extremes. Difficult to obtain overnight permits.

Trailhead Elevation

7,190.00 ft (2,191.51 m)

Highest point

8,230.00 ft (2,508.50 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Potable water
Native artifacts
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Near lake or river

Typically multi-day

Yes

Permit required

Yes

Permit self-issue on site

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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