The Best Hikes in Grand Canyon National Park

Evening sun in the Grand Canyon
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Exploring national parks on foot is one of the best ways to experience the natural landscapes and ecosystems. Carved out by the Colorado River millions of years ago, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited parks in our country. And it’s easy to see why. Travelers here are rewarded with multi-hued ravines, fast-flowing rivers, rugged crests, and chiseled and weather-worn rock formations that showcase how time has shaped the land.

Venturing into the canyon, below the rim, is a special treat for the intrepid few as most folks never leave the top. You’ll feel like you’re hiking into an upside-down mountain, a topsy-turvy experience, as you pass strata of limestone, shale, and sandstone. Even the weather patterns change as you descend into the belly of the canyon.

Whether day hiking or multi-night backpacking, you’ll need to be prepared mentally and physically for dipping below the rim and hiking into the canyon. In many cases, backcountry permits are required for overnight camping or off-river camping. Permits, however, are not required for day hikes. If hiking in the summer, be sure to review the Summer Hiking guidelines and if exploring in the winter, be sure to review the Winter Hiking safety tips. There are weather dangers and safety concerns that you’ll need to be aware of. Keep reading to learn about all of the best hikes in Grand Canyon National Park, as well as what to expect when you’re out exploring.

01 of 08

The Trail of Time

Finally Winter Clears the Air at Grand Canyon
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Address
Rim Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, USA

Family-friendly and ideal for all, even for those with mobility issues, The Trail of Time, which begins at Yavapai Geology Museum, is a great way to see the canyon from above on a 2.8-mile paved path. You’ll have views of the canyon all along the way, and you’ll be able to read interpretive displays to further educate yourself on what you’re seeing. The trail is segmented by bronze markers at each meter, which correlates to the millions of years of the canyon’s geologic history. Give yourself plenty of time to wander thoughtfully through and stop in the Village afterward or continue your journey toward Hermits Rest.

Pro Tip: You may want to consider joining a park ranger talk or presentation to learn more about the canyon. Ranger Programs happen regularly throughout the day and night in the South Rim Village.

02 of 08

Beamer Trail

Sunset at Desert View Point
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Named after a pioneer, miner, and farmer, Ben Beamer, the Beamer Trail, located between the Tanner Trail and Palisades Creek (2.9 miles), is the place to go for rock lovers that want to see the colorful strata, known as the Grand Canyon Supergroup, on full display.

Pro Tip: Bring plenty of water with you as the Colorado River is the only reliable source for water. You’ll want sturdy hiking boots and sun protection as well.

03 of 08

Bright Angel Trail

Backpacker On The Bright Angel Trail In The Grand Canyon, Sunlight On The Upper Canyon Walls.
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Address
Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, USA

The Bright Angel Trail, with its gigantic cliff views, vegetal and animal life, is one of the park’s most popular trails. While you’ll need to be relatively fit for the duration of this hike, you can expect the trail to be well maintained, with drinking water and covered rest huts along the way. You’ll pass two ranger stations—one at Indian Garden, the halfway point oasis, and one at the bottom of the canyon, Bright Angel Campground.

Travel just west of Bright Angel Lodge and park at the Backcountry Information Center to access the trailhead. You’ll walk a few minutes to the trailhead. Or park at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and ride the free shuttle bus to the trailhead. Expect a series of switchbacks and elevation changes.

Pro Tip: If you’re planning on staying at Indian Garden, hike to Plateau Point, which is a mile and a half side trip with incredible canyon and rim views.

04 of 08

North Kaibab Trail

Coconino Overlook Looking down on the North Kaibab Trail - North Rim Grand Canyon
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Address
N Kaibab Trail, North Rim, AZ 86052, USA

Challenging and beautiful, the North Kaibab Trail is situated nearly 1,000 feet higher at the trailhead than the South Rim trails. Rewardingly, you’ll pass through diverse ecosystems mirrored in landscapes from Canada to Mexico. You’ll see riparian and desert vegetation, cool off at Roaring Springs and Ribbon Falls, and see gargantuan cliffs of Redwall Limestone. Access the trailhead 41 miles south of Jacob Lake on Highway 67 (1.5 miles north of the Grand Canyon Lodge). There’s a small parking lot. However, transportation is available from the Grand Canyon Lodge.

Pro Tip: Hiking the entire trail in one day is not recommended in the summer due to the heat, which is impossible to avoid between 10 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Plan to camp at Cottonwood Campground, located near the trail’s halfway point.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

South Kaibab Trail

Hikers descend the South Kaibab trail
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Address
S Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA

Located near Yaki Point, South Kaibab Trail may be accessed with the help of the park’s free shuttle bus. A popular route for most backpackers is to hike down the South Kaibab Trail, camp at Bright Angel Campground, and then hike up the Bright Angel Trail the next day. The trail starts with many tight switchbacks, continues across a slope, and reaches the top of Coconino Sandstone at Ooh Ah Point. You’ll hike to Cedar Ridge, flow below O’Neill Butte, and reach Skeleton Point, three miles from the rim. Stop here if you’re day hiking, or if backpacking, continue down to the Tonto Platform and Tipoff before descending toward the Colorado River. The only camping option along the South Kaibab Trail is at Bright Angel Campground, located next to the Colorado River at the canyon's bottom.

Pro Tip: There’s not much shade or water access on this trail, so plan accordingly. You can book a stay, through a lottery system, at Phantom Ranch, 7.5 miles down the South Kaibab Trail. Mule trips may be booked as well.

06 of 08

Rim Trail

Grand Canyon national Park, Arizona, USA
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Address
Rim Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, USA

Day hikers can easily explore the Rim Trail, adding on as many miles as makes sense. Much of the trail is paved, and there’s some shade along the way. This relatively easy hike, with minimal elevation change, is a fan favorite. Start in Grand Canyon Village, or along Hermit Road, where you’ll hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead west to Hermits Rest for 13 miles (or less if you choose). You’ll pass Pipe Creek Vista, Mather Point, Yavapai Point, Trailview Overlook, Maricopa Point, Powell Point, Hopi Point, Mohave Point, Monument Creek Vista, Pima Point, and Hermits Rest.

Pro Tip: Bring plenty of water and hydrate along the way. Keep in mind where the shuttle stops are as well if you’d like to exit the trail and head back to where you started.

07 of 08

Grandview Trail

Grand Canyon Aerial
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Address
Grandview Trail, Arizona 86023, USA

Extreme drop-offs, cliffs, and uneven steps make this steep and challenging trail ideal for seasoned hikers only. You’ll travel to Coconino Saddle, 2.2 miles round-trip, and Horseshoe Mesa, 6.4 miles round-trip. Take Desert View Drive, 12 miles east of the Village, and park at Grandview Point to access Grandview Trail. Your adventure begins on the east side of the stone wall at Grandview Point.

Pro Tip: No water is available to Horseshoe Mesa on this difficult trail. You’ll need sturdy hiking boots for this desert terrain.

08 of 08

Bright Angel Point Trail

Grand Canyon sunrise sunlight streaming across Indian Gardens panorama Arizona
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Address
Bright Angel Point Trail, North Rim, AZ 86052, USA

For a great North Rim day hike, consider Bright Angel Point Trail, 0.5 miles round-trip. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to complete this easy walk on a paved path, where you’ll find a stellar canyon view. Being the trail at the log shelter in the parking area, near the Visitor Center.

Pro Tip: Visit as early as possible to avoid crowds. Listen to the Hike Smart podcast recommended by the national park system for hiking tips and expert advice. Learn about self-rescue tips, how to hike with babies and toddlers, and get suggestions on how to prepare for weather, illness, injury, or fatigue.

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The Best Hikes in Grand Canyon National Park