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Rim to Rim

Grand Canyon

One Day 

We did Rim to Rim in one day! 

All the info you need is here.

BUT...instead of shuttling back on a bus, we hiked back and on that return trip, split it into 2 days.  That is included below!

Below is a detailed article.  

For the concise


scroll down past the article.

Typically at the Grand Canyon, you see the expansive, vastness of the canyon--from the edge.  Looking out. 


Rim to Rim, you get to experience the intimacy and both the grand and minute beauty of the canyon. 

We have done two slightly different Rim to Rim trips.  Bryan and Isabella did a backpacking Rim to Rim (I will do a write up about this, coming soon).   Bryan and I did a Rim to Rim to Rim.  Two different experiences, both fantastic.  So, I'll explain.  When you hike Rim to Rim, there are several options.  Some folks do it in one day, some split it up into two days, and others make it more of a backpacking trip spending 3-4 nights along the trail finally ending at the other rim.  In order to do the split trip or the backpacking trip, you need to make advanced reservations to stay along the way/trail at the campgrounds and/or at Phantom Ranch, as well as accomoddations on either or both rims.  Advanced is the key word here.  If you do not make advanced reservations, you are generally out of luck. 


Rim to Rim--one day.  This is an option if you desire to challenge yourself in this way and/or if you are unable to get reservations along the trail which would break the trip up.  Bryan and I are in our mid forties...WHAT!....really?.....yes, Carla it's true.  Holy Lord where did the time go.  Okay, back to it.  We have been focusing on eating healthy and building stonger, healthier bodies.   So, too late for reservations along the trail AND we are physically in active condition.  So, we took on what is more of a physical, and mental challenge, the Rim to Rim in one day.  It is 24 miles one way.  We had been able to make reservations at a South Rim lodge for the night before hiking out and a reservation for a North Rim lodge for the night upon ending the one day journey.  These two reservations locked us into a one day trek and we knew we could handle it.  


So, the Rim to Rim in one day morphed and an addition was made. Read on...


All the months before the trip, we kept saying that the idea of taking a 5 hour shuttle back, the day after the RIM TO RIM HIKE, to our car at the South Rim sounded awful and on any given day we both would rather be out enjoying nature and moving our bodies than sitting in a car.  So we really wanted to hike back to the South Rim but felt pretty certain we would NOT be able to do so in one day, the day after having hiked it already in one day.  So Bryan, knowing how to try and get a last minute reservation kept regularly, daily checking for cancellations.  We had come to the conclusion that unless we could get a last minute reservation in the dorms at Phantom Ranch, we would have to do Rim to Rim and then take the shuttle back to our car.   If  somehow we could get a last minute cancellation, we would hike back, breaking the return trip up into two days!   Low and behold....2 days before flying out to Phoneix, Bryan pressed that magic button "check for availability" and believe it or not, voila...there was one open bunk in the men's and one in the women's at Phantom Ranch.  BAM....RESERVE!  We were going to be able to do it.  South Rim to North Rim (one day), sleep at North Rim and then back to South Rim (return trip broken into two days--one day to bottom @ Phantom Ranch, sleep there, and the next day hike out to South Rim)!  We were so excited.  It was a most amazing trip. 


Here is our 1st day!   RIM TO RIM--ONE DAY--SOUTH RIM TO NORTH RIM

South Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch to North Kaibab trail

--We arrived at the South Rim, checked into our hotel, walked around, enjoyed the awesomeness of the village at the South Rim.  We had an enjoyable dinner talking about packing, leaving our car at the South Rim with all items we didn't need, etc.  Back at the hotel room, we packed our day packs.  The idea here is go LIGHT!  You don't need much because you are not backpacking.  We had brought all our stuff.  Click here for our RIM TO RIM supplies list!  We packed our daypacks, put on our clothes, walked everything we wouldn't need to the car and returned to the hotel.  Got a good night's rest to leave on 5 AM shuttle to trailhead.  To do this in one day, you must leave EARLY to beat the heat and leave yourself as much time as possible in case you are taking it nice and slow.

--We rose early to catch the 5 AM shuttle to the trailhead, the South Kaibab Trailhead.  Ate a granola bar and banana with some in-room coffee (thankfully Keurig pods).  We left the room, knowing we wouldn't be coming back to the room--everything not needed was in the car parked at the Ranger's Station.  It was cool outside and the lightweight down jackets came in handy!  Surprisingly, the number of people!  The shuttle was packed and the driver had to turn folks away at the second stop along the way to the trailhead.  It turned out to be the first weekend you could do the RIM TO RIM because it was the first weekend accomodations reopen on the colder, higher elevation North Rim.  Ah Ha!  I wasn't too keen on the crowds, but hey that's just my reclusive nature...great to see so many people enjoying the parks!

--Get to the trailhead and wait for the crowds to clear out.  We embarked on our journey, into the canyon.  I was in stunned joy and peace.  Taking in all the beauty.  This is what I love to do.  My happy place.  Moving my body and being in nature.  And what a place to be in.

--We hiked and hiked and hiked, switchbacks down the canyon, passing 2 mule trains along the way hauling stuff and people up and down from the bottom, Phantom Ranch.  The hike is stunning.  You clearly see that you are descending into the Grand Canyon, it is a dramatic descent with views and steep cliffs abound.  It is hard on the knees, folks.  

--When you get to the Colorado River, you cross the suspension bridge and meander your way to Phantom Ranch.  It is so surreal, this little Ranch at the bottom of the canyon, flat on the ground after the steep descent.  After passing the campground, you come to the Ranch.  Here, people abound, fueling, hydrating, cooling down, resting.  It was a neat, electic group of people enjoying this truly unique experience.  We had ordered a bagged lunch so we didn't have to carry it.  The employee behind the counter, trying to accommodate the large group of hikers cracked me up when it was my turn and I said "We ordered 2 bagged lunches".  He said, ok, I'll be right back.  When he returned with our lunches, handed them to me, and was ready to help the next guest, I said "do you need to see our reservation or something?" and he said "If you hiked this far for this lunch, God Bless you, no, you're good!"  True!  Bryan and I relaxed and ate a yummy collage of healthy treats.  Then we headed out.

--This next part of the hike to Cottonwood Campground, the next sort of way point, is interesting and different.  You are in the canyon on the bottom with a slight incline for about 7 miles.  This part of the hike is often referred to as "the box" and it is a good description.  It is a HOT part of the trail and thus further emphasizing why you need to start the hike EARLY in the AM so you are not hiking this part in the hottest part of the day!  It is such an interesting part of the hike as you are more intimately in the canyon.  The flora and fauna is magnificent and the views around each bend amazing.  I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the hike but it wore me out.  I felt some intense heat that seemed to be emanating from the inside out.  When you come upon the creek and access points, you must soak yourself.  And we were there late May, I cannot imagine this place later on in the summer.  No thanks!  After dousing your body and head, you're back out there. 


--At Cottonwood Campground was my low point.  I was so HOT and TIRED.  I truly needed to pump myself up, with the nagging feeling/thoughts of the energy and strength I would need to climb up and out of the North Rim.  After resting, dousing, and mental tricks, we got up and up and around to the next way point, the Pump House Ranger Station.  It is beautiful getting there and I found the Pump House a most special spot.  For me, it was the indicator that we had completed the majority of the trail, but ahead was the climb out.  All uphill to the North Rim, approximately 5 miles.  But something inside me said, you got this, 5 more miles to the top and a delicious dinner and cabin.  I so got this!  The last 5 miles were made easier by a delightful breeze coming up from the canyon.  As you get higher, the vegetation changes and you can just feel a change in the elevation and feel of the place.  The conifers are in view.  I loved this part of the trail, albeit, you are hiking up up up and some more.  We were playing "tag" with a few groups of people also doing the same trip as us and it was encouraging, inspiring, and uplifting to keep meeting up with them and exchanging words, glances, grunts, laughs!  This was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  

--We made it to the top to the final stretch under the trees in the near dark to the sound of some ladies cheering the finishers on.  She then asked if we had seen her husband and brother and sure enough with some describing words, I could identify, "yeah, those guys in the blue shirts, they are coming!"  She was delighted.  Our "friends" on the last part of the trail gave us a ride to the lodging as it is a few miles from the North Kaibab Trailhead.

--We checked in to a sweet, comfortable cabin, showered, and went to the lodge to stuff our faces with food.  Full of memories, a day of hard, hard work, full bodies, full minds, full bellies...what a wonderful experience!

--We hobbled our tired, sore, aching bodies to the cabin and crashed into bed with the question in our minds...."how will we feel in the AM?  can we do the next part of the journey?  hike down to Phantom Ranch, sleep over, then hike out the Bright Angel Trai?  Mentally, yes....we want to, Physically, hmmm...tomorrow will tell!"


We slept like stones in a pond.  In the morning, we could barely move!  HA!  SERIOUSLY!  We slowly brushed our teeth, got moving slightly and started discussing COULD WE DO THIS?  We both felt the desire but were being careful to feel our bodies out.  We slowly made our way to get some breakfast and coffee, headed back to the cabin and said, let's just get on the trail and see how we feel.  If we can't do it, we'll turn around....or, we'll keep going down.  We packed up our few belongings, slowly strolled to the pantry shop, picked up a couple of treats and meandered our way to the trail head. 


HAHA...we just started walking ties anywhere, just go, start.  The deeper we got, the deeper we got.  We were going to do this.  Things went well.  I hit a low spot in the box.  We had started late and we actually wound up getting to Phantom Ranch just at dark, around 8PM.  The dinner reservations we had there had passed.  The canteen was still open and the friendly and understanding fellow easily said, "Of course you can still have dinner, even though you missed the dinner, just give me a minute and I will grab you your meals". to our ears....what hospitality.  We slurpped up the delicious stew and cornbread.  We walked to the women and men bunks, kissed goodnight and went our seperate ways for the night.  Showered, crawled into bed, slept. 


In the morning, we met up for a delicious breakfast spread at the canteen, packed up and began the long haul from Phantom Ranch to the South Rim.  Man oh man....I didn't mind the uphill at all.  I hit a stride and just felt like a strong mule.  Just cannot describe the feeling of health and well-being and comradery between Bryan and I.  Another breath-taking adventure through canyons, up and over reefs, through oasis, up and up and up.  Not wanting it to end and sensing the end as we started seeing folks coming down for dayhikes, knowing we were close to the top.  We were finishing a journey where only a few travel ---now passing hikers not wearied and humbled by rugged terrain, heat, mental ups and downs and the simplicity of only carrying what you need  for a long journey.  Hikers coming down for an hour, as far as they can before turning around in thier sandals and makeup and keds.  A sense of peace, contentment, accomplishment, feeling ALIVE.  We had done it.  WANTING TO DO IT AGAIN!!

How to do this trip

Make your reservation in advance!

They can be made 9 months in advance.

Equipment List

Times & Routes

Backpacking Rim to Rim

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