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  1. #1

    Default Planning Grand Canyon Trip

    Hi,

    I am thinking of hiking rim to rim of GC next year. I am open to do it any time in spring or fall. Summer would be too hot for me. Problem is, I don't know how to plan this trip. I'm seeing Phantom Ranch lottery is closed, you need a permit, etc.

    Where do I even start? Can you drive and park your car while you hike? I want to take my time and enjoy it. I don't mind if it takes 4 or 5 days. Right now, it's just me but 3 others have expressed interest in joining me. I'm just planning the trip for me and if they want to join, they can.

    I'm not worried about the hike itself. I'm already preparing now for the physical part and I'll be ready when I go. It's just the logistics of planning that I'm worried about. I don't care when I go but it seems like you need to pick specific dates. I don't want to pick a date that's not available when another date is available.

    Any advice is appreciated and I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks.

  2. #2
    GoldenBear's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Some help

    > Where do I even start?
    https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/hiking-faq.htm
    https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvis...try-permit.htm

    > Can you drive and park your car while you hike?
    "South Rim: Hikers can park at the Backcountry Information Center (parking lot D). It is a short walk over to the Bright Angel Trailhead. A free hikers' shuttle goes to the South Kaibab trailhead from the Backcountry Information Center"
    "North Rim: There is a parking lot at the North Kaibab trailhead"

    > I'm just planning the trip for me and if they want to join, they can.
    When you get your back-country permit, including your EXACT itinerary, you MUST specify the number of people in your group. Your friends can't just join you after you arrange your schedule.

    NOTE: The Grand Canyon, due to the number of people who visit, and the delicate nature of its environment, is one of the most difficult parks to plan & prepare a back-country hike. If you want desert back-country with stunning scenery, but without a lot of hoops to jump through, you may be better off doing so at Canyonlands National Park.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks. I should have clarified the permit part better. When I apply for the permit, I'm going to say there are 4 of us. I'll then tell my friends the dates and they can decide if they want to join. I have a very flexible schedule for the trip. I don't care when I go, other than summer. But the others may not have the same flexibility.

    I already emailed the office to ask for better clarity on the process.

  4. #4
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    Cottonwood CG is difficult to get reservations, not many sites. South Kaibab trail has much better vistas and less traffic, except for mules. Bright Angel trail is littered with tourist in penny loafers trying to kill themselves on the way to the River.
    Dont underestimate the physicality of the trail. In May, south rim morning temperatures in the 40’s at 7 am. Phantom ranch 5 hours later 104*. The trails are steep, slippery, and the steps are very rutted from mules. Hiking poles are a real necessity, as is great conditioning.
    Hikernut’s Grand Canyon Companion is a great resource
    The park service does have an allocation of FCFS permits daily but it’s a hit or miss if you’ll get one

  5. #5
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    I hiked north to south in the Grand Canyon last fall (actually thru-hiked the AZT). There is parking on both rims and there is a shuttle that goes between the rims. I know of this one shuttle, but there may be others. You do have to pay for parking and if you camp before going into the canyon, you have to pay for camping space. You can't sleep in your car.

    As a thru-hiker, I went up to the back country office and got a permit for the Bright Angel Campground the next day. I don't know of any thru-hikers that had to wait more than a day or two. Nevertheless, it's better to ensure your dates by getting permits beforehand.

    As for my hike, I went through the Canyon the first week of October. It was HOT in the canyon. There is a huge temperature difference between the rims and down in the Canyon. I came up the Bright Angel trail to the south rim instead of the South Kaibab trail. Bright Angel is longer but not as steep and there is water on the trail. No water going up on the South Kaibab trail. There were a lot of day hikers on Bright Angel and they really got in the way. If I had it to do over, I would have gone up the South Kaibab Trail to the south rim.

    By the way, there are two reasons the permit asks for the number in your group. One is the obvious (ie. keep the number of hikers within a limit for the environment). The other reason is for search and rescue. If you go missing, the SAR's teams know how many hikers they are looking for. If you can nail down your friends as to whether they are going or not for permitting purposes, it would be to your advantage.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
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  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks everyone. The back country office responded to my email. I think I am going to hold off a few years. A lot of changes are coming next year.



    We are anticipating quite a few changes to the permit process for next year. However, I am not sure when these changes will take effect. For right now, we have a four months in advance lottery that takes place. Currently there is no application fee, but that may change in the future. We are planning to go online to recreation.gov, but again, we are not sure when this will happen as we are currently working on the very long transition process. From the lotteries I have personally applied for, you have to pay a fee each time you apply whether you get the permit or not. Most of the time, the best place to park overnight is here at our Backcountry Information Center, also known as Lot D on most maps. The other big change we are expecting next year is a major construction project on the water pipeline that runs across the canyon from North Rim to South Rim and provides the entire South Rim with their drinking water. This pipeline is almost 100 years old and has new breaks almost everyday. Next year major sections of the trails and campground will shut down completely, so just continue to keep your eyes on our main park website for any updates. There is currently no timetable for closures yet. If you were to book a trip that is later cancelled due to this project, I am almost certain you would get a refund, so there should be no worries there.

    Respectfully,
    Kody


    Backcountry Permit Office
    Grand Canyon National Park

  7. #7
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    Well, if you still want a Colorado Plateau experience, Golden bear is on mark with Canyonlands NP. The Needles area is wonderful, Salt Creek, hundreds of ancient Indian relics, reliable water source. Elephant Hill, beautiful landscape, interesting geography, water more scarce.
    South of Canyonlands is Grand Gulch is full of Basketweaver and Anasazi Indian ruins. House of Fire on Combs Ridge is very nice too, but a day hike.

  8. #8
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    The biggest problem with timing, is the North Rim facilities are only open from may 15 to oct 15. So your best tomes will be late may or early Oct. But it will likely be very hot at the bottom even on the earliest and latest dates.

    So lets assume you want to go the last two weeks of May. You submit a permit request after Dec 20 so it arrives before Dec 31. On the permit you want to be as versitile as possoble. For example you could just enter "2 or 3 night rim to rim hike starting may 15 to may 31". You could state that 3 nights are a first choice. Being more specific (dates, itineraries) will lower your chances of success in the lottery that starts on Jan 2.

    Lets suppose you get a permit for Cottonwood, Bright Angel, Indian Garden. You could show up to the South Rim, book the shuttle to take you to the North Rim. Hike back to the South rim. You could book lodge or camping spots on either rim for the nights before or after the hike. There is group campsite avaiable without reservation for people who don't show up by car.

  9. #9

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    Yea I'm going to wait until after renovations are done. I was told trails will be closed next year. I'll go somewhere else.

    Mods, can you lock this thread please. Thanks.

  10. #10
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    There are other canyon hikes. You could d a Hermit loop or out and back Hermit with stays at Monument Creek, Hermit Creek, granite rapids, or hermit rapids. These would not be affected by trail closure and are acessible for a longer season.

  11. #11
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Don't wait ! So many things to do there... It's my favorite place on the Planet, and I keep going back. I've been there 3 times this year, and most years I go at least twice. (I do live a 12 hour drive away, it's not like I'm a local or anything).

    Doing a rim-to-rim seems like the natural thing to do, it's so obvious, and it's very worthy in a lot of ways, so of course that's what most folks want to do there. I get that! (I've done 17 rim-to-rim-to-rims, over and back from the south rim. So I suppose that means I've done 34 rim-to-rims.... so yeah, I get it !).

    But as noted already, the logistics are kind of tough for an R2R. YEah, it's the permits if you need to camp along the way, but it's that pesky May-October thing for North rim access.

    First some basics: The lower canyon from mid-April through early October is hot-hot-HOT. Dangerously hot many times. Think 110-120F. Do not think of going there June-August, and be reluctant from mid-May through September. So a "classic" R2R (start one side, finish on the other) is effectively limited to mid may or early/mid october when the North rim is open.

    There are work-arounds, like if you manage to cruise through the lowest part of the canyon at night, camping at Cottonwood and Indian Gardens, avoiding the Bright Angel campground at the river (near Phantom Ranch) during the day. That would make September feasible, and all of May, trickling into June. It's not at all a huge hike from Indian gardens to cottonwood. 12 miles or so, and the grade (heading north) to Cottonwood is gentle. The north side gets way steeper north of Cottonwood.

    So, one good itinerary would be to get camp permits at Indian Gardens the 1st night then Cottonwood camp the second night, voila, done. Or the reverse. Lots of shuttle folks out there carry folks from the south rim parking to the north rim trail head, this is very common. It ain't cheap! it's quite the drive, over 200 miles and many hours (if I remember correctly). $300 or so? Maybe that's for a whole car load. check into it.

    Dare I say it: have you thought about an R2R2R ? sure makes things easier... no shuttle! One common itinerary is: start on the south side, hike down to Indian Gardens and camp. Next day hike through Phantom 12 miles to cottonwood camp. If it's really hot, get a very early start and get through the bottom before the day heats up. Make camp for two nights at Cottonwood... get a good rest the first night, get up fairly early, hike the 14 miles roundtrip to the north rim and back. Yeah, those last couple of miles to the north rim are tough, but once you turn around, it's a cruise back to Cottonwood. Gorgeous hike, the best part of the entire R2R route, easily. Roaring springs, the Red Wall, the waterfalls (sometimes), the Supai tunnel, it's fantastic. Get a good night's sleep and reverse course back to the south rim. 45 miles, 4 nights and 5 days of hiking.

    BUT: all that R2R stuff being said, there's sooooo much else to do there, as Odd Man Out mentions. One fantastic first loop would be going down the Hermit, camp at Hermit Rapids (on the river) or Hermit Creek (short of the river), go across the Tonto then up the Bright Angel. Lots of camp sites along the tonto, plus good old Indian Gardens when you get to the Bright Angel.

    Permits are way easier to get for non-corridor trails, by the way. Especially if you avoid April through October. February/March is wonderful there, as is November (though days are short then).

    Renovations? They are always doing renovations lots of places. Those damn water pipes break all the time. But there's plenty of water everywhere along the corridor. There is no need to wait for anything to get any better.

    BTW, I have GPS tracks for most of the trails, I'd be glad to share. And holler with any more questions. I'm guessing I've hiked the GC 50 times or so??? Never gets old.20220214_104008.jpg

    For the record, I always go for the 4-person permit thing too, and most of the time fill it with my peeps.

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