Labor Day weekend 2015 I was traveling to Phoenix for a high school friend’s wedding. I immediately decided this was my opportunity to hike in the Grand Canyon. It was a surreal experience and one I would do again in a heartbeat, next time hopefully with more time to hike to the bottom. Here is my guide to making the most of your one day trip!
I flew into Phoenix and immediately picked up my rental car at the airport. The drive up to the South Rim of the Canyon is about 3.5 hours but is incredibly beautiful for most of the way. There are plenty of convenient exits just off the highway to make a pit stop and grab lunch. https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/directions_s_rim.htm
I chose to stay in the small town just below the park. There are accomodations in the park, but they fill up quickly and were way more expensive. I picked out the Red Feather Lodge which was a clean and well appointed motel it was perfect for the price and I really only spent a few hours there. I arrived just in time for sunset in the park which was amazing! I walked the path near the visitors center and took lots of photos. The other nice thing was that I was still on East Coast time so after dinner I went straight to bed and was up early to hike!
After spending A LOT of time reading through information on the NPS website: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/index.htm#CP_JUMP_2681998 I chose the South Kaibab trail and concluded that I would see how far I could go with the time I had before I needed to hit the road back for the rehearsal dinner. I was able to make it all the way down to Skeleton Point (5,200 feet) it is a 6 mile hike round trip, but it took about 1.5 hours down and essentially twice that to hike back up to the rim.
Trip prep was pretty essential and I would pack a few different items if I do it again. Before I left, I stocked up at REI:
- Mini First Aid kit: Adventure Medical KitsUltralight / Watertight .3 First-Aid Kit
- SUPER intense sunscreen: ThinksportSunscreen SPF 50 – 3 fl. oz.
- Emergency whistle (super important for solo hikers): SOLRescue Howler Whistle – Package of 2
I already owned and packed my day back, hiking boots, a light weight running hat, and my Smith sport sunglasses, my camera, 3 bottles of water (would recommend more, I drank all 3 and then pounded a Gatorade when I returned to the gift shop because I was dehydrated), snack & meal bars (next time I would pack an actual sandwich too). These are my gear recommendations if you don’t already own them!
- My running hat is Brooks, but any lightweight running hat will serve multiple purposes
- Finding a good daypack make all day hikes easier plus for this trip it doubled as my airplane carry on. It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, often the REI brand is really affordable, but you’ll want spots for water bottles and small zip pockets for essentials.
- Good hiking boots are important because the trails are slippery with some dust and very rocky. I have had my Vasques for probably 15 years and they are great. This is probably the closest to my old standbys:
- A nice pair of sports sunnies are a bonus but not essential, you are going to want some sort of a pair though because as the sun comes up it is bright, no trees to block it! I have a pair of Smiths pretty similar to these and they are great for running and hiking:
Finally if you are a craft beer fan, on your way out stop by Grand Canyon brewing! They are located in Williams, AZ about 30mins south of the park. http://grandcanyonbrewery.com/