Hiking in the Grand Canyon


Hiking in the Grand Canyon was the highlight of my Trek America journey. Taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon was amazing but being inside the canyon, touching the rocks and seeing it transform as we hiked lower was incredible.

It’s that moment when you’re exhausted and sweating, your heart is pumping so hard it might burst through your chest, you’re gasping for water, you’re covered from head to toe in orange sand and then you look up and see this…Sunrise at the grand canyon

You suddenly realise how tiny you are and how incredible the world is.

The size of the Grand Canyon made me feel small and insignificant, like a tiny ant who appears to have so little impact on the world around him. I started thinking about the millions of people who had stood where I stood and the billions of years it took for our world to evolve like this. I felt like a drop in the ocean. I don’t mean this in a morbid ‘what’s the point’ way, more in a ‘live for the moment’ way. We are all so small but we let tiny problems weigh us down. Our tiny, insignificant thoughts won’t change the world so why not just concentrate on making yourself and those around you happy?

The Grand Canyon is thought to be somewhere between 6 million and 70 millions years old. It’s a bit of a difference, I know, but it gets you thinking about your place in this enormous world.

Trek America at the Grand Canyon

Trek America group at the Grand canyon

The Travel Hack at the Grand Canyon

Hiking in the grand canyon

Grand canyon hiking trails

Grand canyon hiking

Grand Canyon photography

Grand Canyon hikes

Trek America group hiking

Choosing a Grand Canyon Hiking Trail

You can see many of the different trails along the North Kaibab, South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails here.

The trail you choose will come down to how much time you have, how fit and experienced you are and the time of year. Some trails are closed during the winter and many only have water during the busiest periods.

I hiked along the South Kaibab trail to Skeleton Point and this took 4 hours in total. This trail begins at the trailhead and the first point is Cedar Ridge. We walked to a viewing point where you can see the Colorado River and then you walk back the way you came. This is a great trail for a group of mixed abilities because everyone can walk to where they feel comfortable and either wait or turn back when they’re tired.

Grand canyon ooh ahh point

Grand Canyon Cedar Ridge

Skeleton Point Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon | The Travel Hack

What to take when hiking in the Grand Canyon

Water! And lots of it. Take as much water as you can comfortably carry.

People have died when hiking in the Grand Canyon and this is mainly due to heatstroke and dehydration.

Salty snacks. Salty snacks will help your body to retain water. Something like trailmix with salty nuts is perfect. The shops around the Canyon and in the visitor center have plenty of suitable snacks. I went for a salty trail mix with chocolate chunks.

Packed lunch. Due to the heat I didn’t feel hungry but it’s important to keep your energy levels up when hiking. Fruit, sandwiches and energy bars are perfect.

Comfortable shoes. You may need walking boots depending on where you’re hiking to. I wore my normal running trainers and was fine.

Blister plasters. You may want to pop a few plasters in your bag just in case.

Sun cream, sun hat and sunglasses. It’s going to get HOT! Most of the trails are not shaded so keeping your head, eyes and skin protected is vital.

Layers. The canyon is freezing first thing in the morning but sweltering by 10am. Take plenty of layers to stay warm or cool.

Camera. You’ll definitely want to get snappy happy.

The Travel Hack

Dusty feet

Tips for hiking in the Grand Canyon

Tips for hiking in the Grand Canyon

Start early. We left our campsite at 4.30am and arrived in time to watch the sunrise. As soon as it was light enough we then began hiking, which was probably a little after 5.15am.

The reason you need to start so early is because by 10am it is almost unbearably hot. It also means the trails are quieter and you get the amazing opportunity to see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon.

If you’re hiking alone or in a small group and won’t have anyone waiting for you to return, let the rangers know you’re going and your estimated return time.

Take plenty of breaks.

Be aware that when you normally hike, you start with the hard part and go UP the mountain. Then when you’re tired you have the easy part and come down. When you hike in the Grand Canyon you have the opposite. You begin feeling fresh and eager and the temperature is cool so it’s pretty easy. Then when you turn around to come back up you’re suddenly exhausted, it’s boiling hot and you have to climb up. Save your energy for the return journey and try not to begin the hike back up at midday.

MOnica Stott

Elk at Grand Canyon camping ground

Elk drinking from the water pump at the campsite.



Read More:

Jaunting Jen hiked alone in the Grand Canyon and shares her experience. I love her beautiful photos and she proves that if you’re sensible you can have a great time hiking solo.

2Backpackers talk about camping in the Grand Canyon and some different trail options available.

Damian C. Koshnick took a 3-day hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. It looks tough but incredible and his story is well worth a read.

If you’re interested in the geological history of the Grand Canyon then this documentary is amazing. Prepare to have your mind boggled.

I visited the Grand Canyon during my Westerner 2 Trek America journey. You can check out all my Trek America posts here.

  1. Scarlett 8 years ago

    Oh my god these photos are AMAZING! I’ve always wanted to visit the grand canyon! x

    • It is indeed a beautiful place. We hiked through the Grand Canyon (I’m from New Zealand) but we also took a helicopter ride which was absolutely mind blowing. Quite a contrast to our Kiwi glacier heli ride which is like the moon. The Grand canyon has beautiful red layered walls and we just dropped over the side!
      If you have the chance to visit the Grand Canyon go do it – its a magical place on foot and from the air!

  2. Lauren 8 years ago

    Incredible photos! This really makes me want to go there. I’m glad that you provided some helpful tips about hiking there and I can see how you would need lots of extra water. I’m going to watch that Youtube video later as well – I’m sure it will make me want to go there even more!

  3. Renuka 8 years ago

    Amazing! I loved the way you have referred to life’s tiny problems that keep looming large…and when we experience such awesome beauty of nature, we realize how small we are and how big are the things that really matter! Great photos!

  4. I have a travel plan that def includes the grand Canyon. One day. For now I will just watch your pictures with a whole load of envy.

    • TheTravelHack 8 years ago

      And I’ll drool over your recipes with a whole lot of envy!

  5. Emily Ray 8 years ago

    WOW! It’s always been a dream of mine to do this but, naively, I had never actually considered the logistics, like when’s best to hike and all the essentials to take. When I do (eventually) go, I’ll be printing this off as my guide 😀

    p.s. WONDERFUL photos 🙂

    • TheTravelHack 8 years ago

      Thanks Emily! I was the same, I’d never thought about the fact that you hike down before you hike up and that it gets SO hot down there!
      I hope you make it to the Canyon and have an amazing time.

  6. Maddie 8 years ago

    Gorgeous! I never understand why people visit the Grand Canyon and don’t venture (even just 20 minutes) below the rim., you get such a different perspective. We hiked the rim to rim last october and it ranks as one of my favourite hikes of all time.

  7. Charley 8 years ago

    Great post Monica! You took me right back to when my Trek America group visited the Canyon. We didn’t get to do a proper hike so I’d love to go back some day and have a go. I’ll remember those tips 🙂

  8. How amazing is the sunrise over the Grand Canyon?! I was there in October so it was freaken freezing but so incredibly beautiful. I hiked part of the way into the canyon but would love to go back one day and hike in and stay overnight in the canyon. Great pics 🙂

  9. Jen 6 years ago

    Great article & thanks for the compliment!

  10. […] took a helicopter ride over the grand canyon and also hiked the South Kalibib Trail. The helicopter was amazing (obvs!) but I much preferred the hike as you’re right in the […]

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