Tips for Surviving the Grand Canyon

So you want to hike the Grand Canyon? You think 12 miles in the desert heat sounds like a fun challenge? By all means hike your heart away but please listen to these tips I learned while hiking the Bright Angel Trail.

Water is your Best Friend

I mean it kids, make sure and stay hydrated while out in the Grand Canyon. Keeping hydrated should be your number one priority. When choosing a hike make sure and go to the Visitor Center first. Find out which water stations are turned on. If you are lucky they will all be functioning which on the Bright Angel Trail meant a water station every 1.5 miles. Personally I just brought a refillable Camelbak 160z bottle and it was perfect. A Camelbak bladder is also an option but personally I wouldn’t fill it all the way up as that just adds unnecessary weight in the desert heat. (This was meant ONLY if all stations are functioning, you should ask the ranger if they are all on to be sure. If you are worried then keep your Camelbak bladder completely full!)

The Desert heat is not forgiving if you are dehydrated

The Desert trail had no end

 

Dress Appropriately

I know that desert heat may be making you lean towards some skimpy shorts and a tank but don’t forget those heat rays will cause an epic burn if you don’t watch out. I personally wore yoga Capri’s with a light workout tank with a cotton jacket. It came in handy for that early morning hike when it was chilly and it felt great to soak it in water to cover up my burning shoulders.

Vanessa all bundled up in the early morning

Vanessa all bundled up in the early morning

 

Bring Snacks

If the world was in an apocalypse you would want to join my friend Vanessa and I as we are chronic snack over packers. Anytime we go on a hike you would think we were hiking Everest. However when hiking back up the Canyon in the heat of the day you will find yourself slowly dwindling and will be happy you packed some energy boosters. Suggestions for snacks are:

Peanut Butter Sandwich

Granola Bars

Almonds

Trail Mix

It’s great to have variety so you don’t get sick of eating the same thing when your body really needs the fuel.

Grand Canyon

Pack Sunscreen

Sunscreen and I are always at odds since I’m not convinced those nasty chemicals don’t always do harm while doing some good. However when it comes to the desert sun rays and my vampire translucent skin, I’ll take the chemicals until I can come up with a better solution. The last thing you want in the middle of your hike back to the top of that canyon is to start feeling an epic sunburn coming on. Not only do sunburns hurt but they can easily make you sun sick. So pack that SPF 100 and get to moving!

Grand Canyon Desert Sun

Bring a Hat

Sunglasses are great but I promise you nothing will save you from those rays beating down on you quite like a hat. Lucky for me my friend comes dually prepared and had an extra hat for me to wear. I have no idea how I would have survived if she wasn’t so generous! Also maybe don’t wear white in the Grand Canyon, the red dirt will NEVER come out. That goes for your clothes too! My shirt still has a tinge of red!

 

Start Early

The best thing you can do when going on a long hike in the Grand Canyon is to start as early as you can bear. We got to the Canyon around 7am and it made the hike down much more endurable. It also meant we were hiking up around noon so my suggestion is to start as early as 5am.

The Grand Canyon at Sunrise

The Grand Canyon at Sunrise

 

Go at your own pace

Hiking down is quite a breeze and once you get to the cliff you really feel accomplished and on top of the world. However that hike back up can really take a toll on you. It’s about 4000 ft back up and you definitely can feel it. If you are going with a partner my best advice is to go at your own pace. Vanessa is a fitness freak and was able to go much faster than I was so she sped to the top. Instead of trying to keep up with her I went at my own speed taking breaks when needed (which was every 100 feet or so at some points). It’s ok to go slow, it’s better than getting sick!

 

Vanessa ahead of the curve on the downhill and uphill battle

Vanessa ahead of the curve on the downhill and uphill battle

 

 

Take tons of pictures

Trust me when I say “You’ll want your camera for this one”. The Canyon was so breathtaking at the bottom of the trail above the red river. We could have stayed there for hours taking pictures. Take your time and take pictures, you earned it!

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For more information on the Bright Angel Trail check out the link below

http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/Bright_Angel_Trail.pdf

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Showing 8 comments
  • Arnie
    Reply

    Love the sunrise shot!
    Not having enough energy bars and water is always an epic fail for me. I cannot count the number of times that I have bonked and gotten the shakes and what not.
    Gooood tips!

    • brie.goumaz@gmail.com
      Reply

      Haha Thanks Arnie!! Glad I’m not the only one who gets weak at the knees when I see an uphill climb without the proper fuel in my belly!

  • Two Nerds Travel
    Reply

    These are great tips! I’m planning on doing this hike in August with a friend and am really looking forward to it! We’ll probably take 2-3 days to do the complete hike, so the more prepared we are, the better. What amazing views and great pictures! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • brie.goumaz@gmail.com
      Reply

      Oh amazing! Does that mean you are going to camp by Havasu falls? I wanted to hike/camp down there so badly but my friend isn’t into sleeping outside haha

  • Rachal Carrasquillo
    Reply

    You SHOULD fill your water pack completely full every chance you get. I recently did a rim to rim to rim hike and you can’t count on having water ever 1.5 miles. People get in trouble from not having enough water especially in hotter months. It’s not worth it to take that chance.

    • brie.goumaz@gmail.com
      Reply

      Rachel, you are right. I personally had a 16oz bottle and it worked for me but everyone is different. I changed what I put and clarified that you should do what works for you and of course always check with the ranger before going on your hike to see what is happening on the trail. Thanks!

  • Tony White
    Reply

    I am planning a rim to rim hike in near future. My great grandfather Rees Griffith is buried at the bottom. I want to spend at least one night at the bottom.

    • brie.goumaz@gmail.com
      Reply

      Wow Tony! That is so very cool. That would be a great trip for many reasons. Do you know when you are going yet?

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