Grand Canyon Hiking

Grand Canyon HikingTrails in the Grand Canyon may follow along the Colorado River

Grand Canyon Hiking is the type of trek people may dream of when coming to the Grand Canyon state! Have you thought about it? Preparation and knowledge is always important before arriving there and beginning that hike.

We've been to the Grand Canyon. We've seen its vastness and wonderful scenery. We've gone on miniature hikes along its rim. But we've never ventured much beyond that. Not that we won't plan an undertaking or two at some point, ourselves. Grand Canyon recreation is something we have continuous plans for in our own future!

We do know those who have gone into the canyon by various routes. Here are their tips and guidelines. We want you to have a safe, yet thrilling adventure for any hikes you may plan. So here we go!

Safe Hiking Tips

Remember that as you hike, you begin at approximately 7000 ft. above sea level at the South Rim. The North Rim is over 1000 ft. higher yet, but normally less crowded.

At these levels, the air pressure is lower than at sea level. This results in less oxygen being absorbed into your body from your lungs. Therefore when hiking, you're exerting yourself.  Your muscles will start to demand the oxygen they need for the exercise they're doing. To get the oxygen, your body will tend to make you breathe faster. But if you breathe too fast, and shallow - the oxygen will not get to where it can be absorbed.

So the answer is to pace yourself. Don't make it a race or a contest. When you're walking, think of your breathing. Make sure to take deep breaths from time to time. You'll find that Grand Canyon hiking will be somewhat more difficult than expected. Ask anyone  who has done a hike into the Grand Canyon, they'll likely tell you this. With preparation - it's really do-able!

Here's some other important Grand Canyon hiking tips...

Grand Canyon Park Hiking TrailsGrand Canyon Park Hiking - Colorado River View

Always prepare for a safe hiking experience. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Do not hike alone - be sure to inform others: who will be hiking, your trail and duration plans. Have maps with you. Remember that going down in to the canyon will take 1/2 the time that coming back up will take. Plan for that. The canyon itself is 1 mile deep!
  • Have enough water! So important to stay hydrated. Pre-hydrate before starting out by drinking 1 Liter of water within an hour before beginning your hike. Then plan on at least 1/2 Liter for each hour of the hike, more if the hike is strenuous - or the weather is hot.
  • Prepare for the weather - layers are ideal. Temperatures at the higher elevations may be cool. As you descend, it will warm up. The time of the year will play a role. Summer temperatures can climb into the low 100s. In winter it gets down to the freezing range at times. Within just 1 day - many temp variations can occur! Remember storm safety tips - especially regarding lightning: see them when clicking here.
  • Have nourishing snacks to eat along the way during breaks. It helps keep your energy level - maintaining blood sugar stability. Plan a short rest break about every hour. 
  • Remember to pack out any wastes - leave nothing behind. That includes your own body waste - prepare for that by bringing zip-lock bags. Feces can be buried in 6 inch deep holes. The toilet paper must be bagged and taken out. Rest-room facilities are very infrequent - and normally only at hiking trail-heads.
  • Bring essential items - but no more. If on a day hike, only what is needed for the day. Emergency items like a small first aid kit, compass and a flashlight, your water & snacks. If it's a backpacking trip - be efficient in your packing also. [See tips here>] Add in water purification tablets and your cooking & sleeping needs.
  • Watch for animals! You may encounter large wild ones, such as Elk. Keep your distance, and wait for them to pass by. You may see smaller ones you want to avoid, such as rattlesnakes They will warn you, if you inadvertently advance toward them! Just slowly back away, and wait for them to slither off. Animals most often seen will be pack mules on the trail. Let them pass by with-out distraction on the outer trail-side. If you leave equipment on the ground for any length of time - shake it out to be sure scorpions haven't taken up residence.

Grand Canyon Hiking Trails

Grand Canyon National Park divides its trails into zones which relate to use and maintenance. There are four different zones:

  • Corridor Zone - These Grand Canyon hiking trails are maintained, and can be accessed easily - drive to the trail-heads. Campgrounds are also available at  trail-heads. Ranger stations are located here. Trail-heads have drinking water and rest rooms. These trails are recommended for hikers new to the area, newbie hikers, or those seeking a short or minimal Grand Canyon hiking experience.
  • Threshold Zone - These Grand Canyon hiking trails are not maintained, but have dirt road access to trail-heads. Pit toilets are there. If you have some Grand Canyon hiking trips under your belt - you can be successful and have a good experience here. Some water sources can be located along these areas.
  • Primitive Zone - Trails are not maintained. The roads to the trail-heads are only 4-wheel drive suitable and not maintained. Thus these trails are only suggested for experienced wilderness hikers. These trails are not for summer usage, as heat is high, with water scarcity.
  • Wild Zone - Route finding is required, as trails are nearly indistinguishable. These fully undeveloped areas are suitable for only the most Grand Canyon environment experienced, survival-type hikers. Summer is not the time for trying out the Wild Zone. There's no water and heat is in the hundred degree range.

As you can see, Grand Canyon recreation and hiking has something suitable for all ranges of fitness and experience levels. For further details on all of the trails that can be trekked at the Grand Canyon - see their website:

  • www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/campsite-information.htm