How to go about hiking the Grand Canyon South Kaibab Trail.
The Grand Canyon South Rim is one of the most beautiful places I’ve had the privilege of exploring. From the drive to the hike down, the South Rim should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list! The South Rim, unlike the North Rim, is open year round and offers breathtaking sceneries. Serving as The Grand Canyon’s #1 visited location, the South Rim is a must.
*On your drive towards east entrance (South Rim) you will eventually see two buildings to your right. One of them is a small souvenir/snacks shop where you can purchase Grand Canyon and AZ souvenirs for a relatively low price.
*Military present your active duty ID in order to receive a free annual National Park pass.
*On our March 2016 trip, we camped out at the Grand Canyon Camper Village which we had been told was also a tent friendly campground. Unfortunately their tent friendly area was closed for repairs and we ended up having to camp out on an empty RV lot. My advice, start planning your trip a year or so ahead in order to reserve a campsite in Mather Campground or Indian Garden campground.
Within the South Rim are numerous hikes ranging in difficulty.
- Rim Trail
- Bright Angel Trail
- Hermit Trail (Steep)
- Grandview Trail (Very Steep)
- South Kaibab Trail (Steep)
South Kaibab Trail
*Located on the South Rim on Yaki Point Road, access to trail head is by shuttle bus only…& by foot 🙂
*Elevation: 7,260 Ft.
*IMPORTANT: Fill up on water right outside of the trail head for there is no water on the trail!!
*There are mules on this trail.
Now be advised, since we were ticked off at our camping situation and didn’t exactly feel like staying out in the cold doing nothing (we didn’t even have a fire ring provided), we decided to venture off ahead of schedule to our next day’s hike; The South Kaibab Trail. Our intentions weren’t exactly to hike down, they were simply to check it out and to admire the night sky but ultimately we just couldn’t stop hiking. With our headlamps on and our backpacks half full with seldom items we thought we may need during our (at most) three hour venture, we made our way down to the Phantom Ranch unknowingly.
All night, we hiked down the South Kaibab Trail, past the first resting point (& usually about as far as a lot of visitors go), past the second resting point, and eventually stumbling upon the South Kaibab suspension bridge which crosses over the Colorado River. At this point we had absolutely no idea where we were, we were just simply following the trail. Little did we know, we had arrived at the bottom of one of mother natures natural wonders!
7.5 miles and about 6-7 hours later, the sun was rising and revealing exactly where we were. Nestled along Bright Angel Creek lies Phantom Ranch providing cabins and dormitories for hikers and white water rafters of the Colorado River. Unfortunately, these dormitories and cabins are reserved months in advance and have no last minute reservations available. So…we found some benches perfectly placed next to the creek, and passed out for much of the morning. *DISCLAIMER* – It may be illegal to “camp out” on the bottom of the Grand Canyon without an overnight permit… but we were absolutely exhausted and didn’t know what else to do in order to make it back to the top by nightfall.
Fast forward a few hours of napping, and Phantom Ranch was coming alive. Every hiker and over night stayer was waking up and headed to the “hall” where breakfast and snacks are provided during certain times to anyone (at a fee of course). Once finished at Phantom Ranch you can either hike back up, ride a mule up (if rented and reserved) or you can white water raft your way out (also if rented and reserved).
*Before you leave: Make sure to refill on water behind the food hall, next to the bathrooms.
Exiting Phantom Ranch by foot
You have three options:
- Hike back up using the South Kaibab Trail Suspension Bridge and follow the South Kaibab Trail.
- Loop out of Phantom Ranch by crossing the Colorado River using the Bright Angel Suspension Bridge and stay on the Bright Angel Trail ( Walk to the right after crossing the bridge).
- Loop out of Phantom Ranch by crossing the Colorado River using the Bright Angel Suspension Bridge and connecting back to the South Kaibab Trail (Walk to the left after crossing the bridge).
We chose option number 3 and were up and out of the South Rim by late afternoon.
Whichever way you choose to hike, make sure you remember to take as many pictures as your memory card allows, constantly sip on water, and snack on sweet and salty foods! The South Kaibab Trail is a breathtaking and memorable experience that you’ll never forget. Have fun and remember to clean up after yourself and do not alter the trail in any way other than by leaving your footprints. I hope this post aided you with the planning of a potential visit to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Enjoy & safe travels! 🙂
P.S. If you have any personal experiences you’d like to share or tips on how to improve this post, please email or comment below!
For stopping by and allowing me to share the experiences of my very first, out of the ordinary hike! Hiking the South Kaibab is what I believe set me off on my hiking journey and opened my eyes to how beautiful nature really is. Before the Kaibab, I wasn’t aware of hiking as a hobby (Florida doesn’t have many world famous hikes), but after hiking the South Kaibab and experiencing the Grand Canyon with my own two eyes, hiking became one of my top-of-the-list hobbies.
I truly hope that this post has helped inspire at least one person to go check out the Grand Canyon. To me, inspiring just one person to experience such an amazing and breath taking hike, means I’ve successfully done my job as an outdoor blogger. So, thank you.
Safe travels and remember… always leave the hike cleaner than how you found it.