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Day Hike to Phantom Ranch

updated: February 11, 2022

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

June 7, 2008

I’d been living at the Canyon for less than 3 weeks when I found an opportunity to hike to Phantom Ranch for the first time.

There’s 2 trails that start on the South Rim and converge at the bottom of the Canyon at Phantom Ranch. The Bright Angel Trail (about 10 miles) descends from the South Rim Village, and the South Kaibab Trail (about 7 miles) descends near Yaki Point, east of the Visitor Center.

The South Kaibab has no water sources – nothing at all – so the recommended way to tackle this hike is to descend via the South Kaibab and then to climb out via the Bright Angel Trail. Doing this as a day hike is not recommended. In entails almost 18 miles and almost 10,000 feet of elevation change. Most of all, temperatures can soar over 110 degrees (43 C) in the summer months.

In retrospect, I subjected myself to a number of brutal, hot summer hikes during my first years at the Canyon. I had no way of knowing I’d ultimately live and work in the area for over a decade, and wanted to make the most of my limited time.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

This thermometer sits in Bright Angel Campground at the bottom of the Canyon. It’s often in direct sunlight (I’ve seen the needle buried below 140), but it still serves as a sobering reminder to take precautions.

My employee housing was located at Trailer Village (near Mather Campground), so the South Rim’s shuttle bus system provided logistics to the trailheads. I started shortly after 7am, and according to the time stamps on my photos, the hike took about 10 hours.

The first landmark down the South Kaibab Trail is a place called Ooh Ah Point (the most terrible place-name in Grand Canyon, in my opinion). There was no sign marking the location at the time and I was unaware of its named significance, so Cedar Ridge was the first stop of the day.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

I went all the way out to Cedar Ridge’s distant northern point. This is one of only maybe 3 times I’ve ever been out there. In the ensuing years I’d use hike the South Kaibab more as an avenue to bring me in to or out of the Canyon.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

So much of this environment was still brand new and exciting to me – the lizards, the cacti, and so on.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

As the trail approaches Skeleton Point, it levels out into a scenic section that (I later learned) is called Mormon Flats. I’d never seen an agave cactus before, and here they were in tall, yellow abundance. If hard pressed, I’d still say Mormon Flats is my favorite segment of the South Kaibab Trail.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Near Skeleton Point is where I encountered a classic Grand Canyon mule train for the first time. It’s novel to look back and remember how neat it was take in such an iconic sight when it was new to me, evidenced by the amount of pictures I took (only a handful of which are shown here).

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

This often-missed sign is located at a switchback as the trail descends through the Redwall Limestone. I failed to take note of it on more than half of my ensuing trips, so it’s interesting that I had the eye to spot it during my first time hiking here. There’s something to be said for new experiences.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

I took my next rest stop at place called The Tipoff. From here the trail will descend its final 1,400 feet into what’s called the Inner Gorge, where you find the Colorado River and the oldest rocks of the Canyon.

At The Tipoff the South Kaibab Trail is crossed by the Tonto Trail Trail, which traverses over 80 miles along the length of the Grand Canyon.

I huddled in what little shade I could find near the outhouse located here, which wasn’t quite as gross as it sounds. The temperature increased substantially since I began on the rim. In later years the Park Service would end up constructing a proper shade structure here.

The Colorado River can be seen from some points farther up the trail like Skeleton Point, but it’s below the Tipoff where it really begins to call out for attention. Today it flowed in a shade of emerald green.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

The bright red dirt (Hakatai Shale) and jumbled boulders (Tapeats Sandstone) caught my attention for this photo. Locals call this formation “the trainwreck.”

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

The “Black Bridge” was visible for long before I got to set foot upon it. The approach to the south side of the bridge is via a short tunnel, blasted out by dynamite during the bridge’s construction. For my part the tunnel was a neat, unexpected discovery, and I was thankful for the brief moment of deep shade.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

This excavated Native American site is found between the Black Bridge and Phantom Ranch. Its time of occupation dates to almost a thousand years ago.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

I was stunned by how tame the deer are near the canyon’s campgrounds. This photo did not require much zoom. I’d see several such deer in the vicinity, and also near Indian Garden campground along the Bright Angel Trail. The trend continues to this day, as the deer are still remarkably docile.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Phantom Ranch’s cantina as it appeared on June 7, 2008

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Inside the cantina I rested and enjoyed some goodies, namely a Powerbar and a Budweiser. In retrospect these were totally odd selections, and I doubt I’d remember what I’d ordered unless I had a photo where I’m proudly holding the purchased items (see the end of the post for that one).

I was unaware that the lemonade is “the thing” to get down there and that Tecate is a Phantom Rancher’s beer of choice. My energy bar of choice was still Powerbar (a callback to my epic teenage bicycle rides in the 90s) and I wouldn’t switch over to Clif Bars until later in 2008, or maybe 09.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

There were flush toilets and a pay phone available to the public behind the cantina. Nowadays the toilets are closed (with new composting toilets built a short way up the trail), and the pay phone is gone. I have fond memories of admiring this wall art and even viewing my face in the mirror, as it was often my first access to a mirror over the course of many days, or even weeks at a time.

Is it weird to have such an affection for a public bathroom?

Don’t answer that.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

The “Silver Bridge” is the second of two pedestrian suspension bridges that span the Colorado River near Phantom Ranch. The Black Bridge (seen above in the background) is specially designed to be friendly to mules, whereas the Silver Bridge is for foot traffic only. The Silver Bridge also carries the trans canyon pipeline, which supplies municipal water to the South Rim Village.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

The hike along the River Trail to the foot of the Bright Angel Trail was especially sandy, hot, and tiresome. These days the sand doesn’t seem as deep as it was in the past – I don’t know if this is due to wind erosion or seasonal differences, or if it’s a simple misconception on my part.

As a last stop before starting the journey up and out of the Canyon, I paused at the river access at Pipe Creek and soaked my feet in the river. I even waded out in to the water a bit, probably farther than was wise. Numerous people have drowned after having similar ideas and being swept away by the frigid current.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

The lower Bright Angel Trail ascends via a side canyon called Pipe Creek, climbing up and out of it via a set of switchbacks called The Devil’s Corkscrew.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

I grew weary as I approached Indian Garden, anxious to arrive for my next proper rest stop. I felt that once I began to see the big cottonwood trees lining Garden Creek that I must be close. It seemed farther than anticipated.

Along the way, I was thoroughly impressed by the stature of this singular cottonwood. Today it’s been trimmed by trail crews (or broken by natural forces, or maybe both), so it no longer bears its glory of old, seen below.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

After leaving Indian Garden, I climbed a segment of trail through the Redwall Limestone called Jacob’s Ladder.

The view down the Redwall gorge of Garden Creek always strikes me as being similar to that of Yosemite Valley. The comparison is a bit of a stretch, but it can be hard to shake such an aesthetic notion once stuck in one’s mind.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

After ascending the Redwall I reached the 3-mile rest house, which was the turnaround point for my previous (and first) hike in the Canyon . So the elevation gain (combined with the fact that I had seen the remaining trail before) led me to put my Nikon D40 away for the rest of the hike.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Before reaching the rim I was lucky to see the first bighorn sheep of my life! The were just hanging out here a few feet below the trail, and I managed to grab a few shots with my pocket camera.

Such a cool sighting and a perfect way to cap off my first visit to the bottom of the Canyon, the Colorado River, and Phantom Ranch!

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

more photos from this day:

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

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About Jamie Compos

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Phantom Ranch Hike to Bottom of the Grand Canyon

June 28, 2019.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Have you dreamed about hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon? Me, too. But I had to put off my first Grand Canyon hiking trip an extra year because I didn’t realize how much advanced planning it took to spend a night in the canyon. Luckily, I lived in Arizona, so I eventually had several opportunities to hike from the rim to the river. But many travelers miss out on this bucket-list hike because they start their trip planning way too late for backcountry permits or overnight reservations. Here’s a trip planning guide for hiking down to the Colorado River and back on a loop hike from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch.

South Rim to Phantom Ranch

The most accessible route to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch. The National Park Service does NOT recommend hiking from the rim to the Colorado River and back in one day . I’ve done it, but I agree that a day hike is a probably a bad idea unless you’re acclimated to the desert and have previous Grand Canyon hiking experience. It’s an extreme environment, and even experienced hikers underestimate how much Grand Canyon hiking differs from most other hiking experiences. Besides, if you haven’t hiked down into the Grand Canyon before, why would you want to get out as soon as possible? And why skip the chance to spend a memorable night at the bottom?

If it’s your first hike below the rim, the best choice is to hike from the rim to the river and back in two days, spending a night (or two) at Phantom Ranch.

Phantom Ranch: a backcountry Mecca

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Phantom Ranch is a historic lodge nestled deep in the Grand Canyon. For a century now, it’s been an idyllic rest stop for river rafters, mule trains, backpackers, and day hikers who make it to the bottom of the canyon. The accommodations themselves are nothing special, really. Just a cluster of small cabins and bunk houses. But bunk beds are true luxuries down in the canyon. So are warm showers, cold beer, and ice cream. There’s steak, vegetarian chili, or hikers’ stew for those with dinner reservations. And–most importantly–the location is world-class.

Phantom Ranch is a Mecca for hikers. Avid hikers should try to get here at least once. But you’ve got to overcome two huge challenges to make the pilgrimage:

  • The Hike . It’s a steep and strenuous hike down to the river–nearly a mile in elevation change–with an even harder hike back up to the rim.
  • The Lottery . You must enter a lottery to score an overnight reservation or backcountry permit. For the best odds, you’ll need to start this process fifteen months (Phantom Ranch) or four months (backcountry campsite) ahead of time–see details below.

Let’s start with the hike.

best hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

How do you get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon? Many hikers stick to the Bright Angel Trail for a convenient out-and-back hike from Grand Canyon Village. However, the best hike from the South Rim is a 17.4 mile loop using the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails. The direction is important (especially in summer): It’s best to go down South Kaibab and back up Bright Angel . This loop not only avoids the repetition of an out-and-back hike. It also has the most expansive views going down, reduces your sun exposure, and maximizes your water access on the hard, uphill slog back to the South Rim.

South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail is the most direct route to the bottom of the canyon. The trail begins few miles outside of Grand Canyon Village. To reach the trailhead, hop on the free Hikers’ Express Shuttle Bus (early morning) or orange route bus (daytime) to the South Kaibab Trail stop. There’s a staging area with toilets and a water station (seasonal). There’s no water on South Kaibab Trail . So top off your water, and psyche yourself up for a world-class hike.

Once you step on to South Kaibab Trail, you don’t have to wait long for the first set of switchbacks. There’s no fore play–once you leave the rim, you get right down in it. This trail’s in a hurry to reach the Colorado River.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

South Kaibab’s Panoramic Views

Bright Angel Trail may be the park’s premier trail. But South Kaibab Trail has more open and panoramic views of the Grand Canyon.

You should probably keep your camera handy. Once you’ve cleared the first set of switchbacks, the trail turns toward an open ridge and descends a series of overlooks that are made for selfies, Insta, and Kodak moments.

About a mile into the hike, for example, you’ll want to linger at Ooh Aah Point to savor the expansive views of the inner canyon.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

You’ll drop another 500 feet over the next half mile as the trail descends to Cedar Ridge–another one of the iconic overlooks in the Grand Canyon.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Skeleton Point is your next major landmark. From here, you’ll drop 1200 feet in the next mile or so through a series of steep switchbacks.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

The trail mellows out a bit as it meanders down the Tonto Plateau–the flattest layer of the Grand Canyon. You’ll catch your first glimpse of the Colorado River around the Tipoff (pit toilet and emergency phone). Once you reach the lip of the plateau, the trail makes its final drop down to the river.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Stay on South Kaibab Trail. It cuts through a short rock tunnel and then crosses the Colorado River on the Black Suspension Bridge. Congratulations, you’ve made it to the bottom of the Grand Canyon! Feel free to drop down to the river around the Phantom Ranch Boat Beach (no swimming). To finish the first leg of the loop hike, continue on the Kaibab Trail (now North Kaibab) a half-mile to Bright Angel Campground and another .4 miles to Phantom Ranch.

South Kaibab Mileage & Elevation

South Kaibab Trail loses nearly 5000 feet in elevation on its way to the bottom of “The Big Ditch.” Plan on the hike taking approximately 3-6 hours, depending on your pace and the number of pictures you take.

  • Trailhead to Ooh Aah Point (.9 miles/-600 ft elevation)
  • Ooh Aah Point to Cedar Ridge (.6 miles/-540 ft elevation)
  • Cedar Ridge to Skeleton Point (1.5 miles/-920 ft elevation)
  • Skeleton Point to the Tipoff (1.4 miles/-1220 ft elevation)
  • Tipoff to Black Suspension Bridge (2.1 miles/ -1270 ft)
  • Colorado River to Bright Angel Campground (.5 miles):
  • Bright Angel Campground to Phantom Ranch (.4 miles)
  • Total: 7.4 miles/ ~4860 feet elevation loss

Phantom Ranch by day

Phantom Ranch is a place to relax and mingle with other hikers and travelers. Those with overnight reservations can check in to claim their bunk or cabin. You’ll be sharing the grounds with river rafters, backpackers, day hikers, and visitors arriving on mule trips .

Most people will want to take it easy after the hike down. Maybe a shower and a nap is in order? If you’re feeling social, hang out by the water station or grab a seat in the air-conditioned canteen to swap travel stories (and beers) with whoever trickles in. If it’s hot, consider lounging around in Bright Angel Creek for part of the day–that’s where we headed to keep cool on a 108 degree June day.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Feeling more ambitious? Make your way back to the Colorado River to check out the rapids and whitewater rafts (no swimming). You can also add another day hike if you’ve got it in you. Side trip options will be limited in summer–it gets brutally hot down here. Ask the rangers about shorter hikes. [Note: Ribbon Falls is the signature day hike from Phantom Ranch; however, that hike–an 11-mile round-trip–usually requires a two-night stay, unless the weather is mild and you’re the baddest of badasses.]

Phantom Ranch by night

Evenings are low key. If you ordered dinner in advance (see menu and meal reservations ), you can join other travelers for a well-earned meal. Rangers normally put on evening programs (e.g. Grand Canyon history, geology, wildlife, black-light scorpion walks).

The canyon is pretty mesmerizing at night. Be sure to pack a head lamp. For sunset views, wander back towards the Colorado River–you’ll get better vantage points from the bridges or far bank (River Trail). Its okay to go to bed early–you’ve got a big hike out in the morning. But make sure to spend some time outside after dark to experience the canyon’s eerie silence and unbelievable star-gazing:

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Phantom Ranch up to South Rim

On your return journey, you’ll work your way back up to the South Rim via the park’s main artery trail, the Bright Angel Trail. Eat a big breakfast. Hydrate. And get an early start. The hike up is much harder than the hike down.

Directions: From Phantom Ranch, you will backtrack (towards the Colorado River) to Bright Angel Campground (.4 miles). Look for the Bright Angel Trail sign (to join the River Trail). From this point, it’s a 9.5 mile hike up to the South Rim.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

River Trail to River Resthouse/Bright Angel Trailhead

Your first mile-and-a-half is a relatively easy warm-up on the River Trail: a short, connector trail between Bright Angel Campground and the Bright Angel Trailhead. The River Trail meanders through some National Park buildings and then crosses the Colorado River via the Silver Bridge. You’ll follow the river for a bit, trudging through a mile-plus of sand dunes, until you reach River Resthouse (toilets, no water).

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Bright Angel Trail: Colorado River to Indian Gardens

Bright Angel Trail officially begins at River Resthouse. Here, Bright Angel Trail leaves the Colorado River, gradually working up a terrace along a desert wash (Pipe Creek). Enjoy this last bit of easy hiking–you’ll soon start an aggressive climb at Devil’s Corkscrew, a series of exposed switchbacks that get dangerously hot in the summer sun.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

You won’t experience the panoramic vistas of the South Kaibab Trail on Bright Angel Trail. However, you’ll see considerably more plant life and animal life on the trail’s lower half, thanks to Pipe Creek drainage and Garden Creek, a spring-fed creek that runs for a few miles below Indian Garden.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

This lower section of the hike is pleasant. For one thing, the Tonto Plateau is relatively flat, which makes for easier walking. It’s also surprisingly lush for the desert. With perennial water and trees, this area has long been an oasis for people and animals, especially Indian Gardens–the midpoint of Bright Angel Trail. It’s an ideal spot to get off your feet in the shade of cottonwood trees, refill your water, and refuel for the big push to the top.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Bright Angel Trail: Indian Gardens to South Rim

Most of the elevation gain on Bright Angel Trail is concentrated in the top four miles of the hike. Not far above Indian Gardens, you’ll hit several sets of switchbacks, starting with “Jacob’s Ladder.”

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

From here on, Bright Angel Trail is basically an endurance test. Switchback by switchback, you’ll climb about 3,000 feet over the last four miles.

Thankfully, the National Park Service has built resthouses at the 3-mile mark and 1.5 mile mark, so you can replenish your water (seasonal), bum some shade, and get off your feet. (It’s a good idea to stop a few times, elevate your legs, and pound some salty snacks at this point.) From the last resthouse, you’ll climb the last 1,131 feet on some long switchbacks that will take you up to the crowded overlooks of Grand Canyon Village. It’s a bucket-lister.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Bright Angel Mileage/Elevation

The hike up Bright Angel Trail (8.0 miles) via the River Trail (1.9 miles) is slightly longer than South Kaibab Trail. The hike up generally takes twice as long as the hike down. Strong hikers might average 2+ mph going up; weekend warriors might average 1 mph, given the elevation gain. Park rangers estimate the average time to be 7-8 hours.

  • Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel Campground/River Trail (.4 miles)
  • River Trail to River Resthouse/Bright Angel Trail (1.5 miles)
  • River Resthouse to Indian Garden (3.1 miles/ 1320′ elevation gain)
  • Indian Garden to 3-mile Resthouse (1.8 miles/ 948′ elevation gain)
  • 3-mile to Mile-and-a-half Resthouse (1.5 miles/ 981′ elevation gain)
  • 1.5-Mile Resthouse to Rim/Trailhead (1.6 miles/ 1131′ elevation gain)
  • Total: ~ 9.9 miles/4460′ elevation gain

Phantom Ranch Reservations: Tips & Links

Given the distance and change in elevation, you’ll definitely want to train for this hike. Even then, strong hikers may struggle with the heat, sun exposure, dehydration, elevation, and fatigue–especially if they’re not acclimated to desert hiking. However, the hiking isn’t the only challenge. Most people need to start their trip planning many months in advance to pull off this overnight trek.

If you want to spend the night below the rim, you either need a backcountry permit for camping (backpacker option) or an advanced reservation at Phantom Ranch (day hiker option). Phantom Ranch has the only beds below the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Phantom Ranch reservations are only available through a lottery system . It’s possible to luck out on late reservation requests, especially at less desirable times of year. For the best odds, however, you should enter the lottery 15 months prior to your proposed stay on the first day of the month . For complete details, check out the official Phantom Ranch Lottery Policies and Frequently Asked Questions .

Here are some other links that might also help with your Grand Canyon trip planning:

  • Pre-/Post-Hike Lodging: Lodging on the South Rim
  • Pre-/Post-Hike Lodging: South Rim Campground Reservations
  • Phantom Ranch Reservations
  • Phantom Ranch meal reservations (order at same time as lodging)
  • Hikers’ Express Shuttle (early mornings) to South Kaibab trailhead.
  • Bus routes for South Rim Shuttle (orange route to S. Kaibab)
  • Grand Canyon weather and road conditions .
  • Would you prefer to camp below the rim? See backcountry permit procedures and fill out a Backcountry Permit Request form.
  • To prepare for your trip, browse the National Park Service’s Hiking Tips and Hiking FAQs for the Grand Canyon.

Hiking safely in the desert

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Each year, Grand Canyon rangers respond to more than 300 safety calls from unprepared (or over-confident) hikers. Almost everyone who hikes in the Grand Canyon for the first time finds it more extreme than they expected. Before your trip, study the National Park Service’s Grand Canyon Hiking Tips and prepare for extreme temperatures (that can fluctuate 70 degrees from the rim to the river across the day).

In this environment, you should expect the best, but plan for the worst, to make sure you have a good trip. Here are a few safety tips:

  • Water . Remember, there is no water access on South Kaibab Trail. Other water stations are seasonal (Bright Angel Trail). Always carry extra water–the park’s dated water network breaks down regularly.
  • Falls & injuries . The South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails are the best maintained trails in the Grand Canyon. You won’t be tiptoeing along narrow cliffs with thousand-foot drops–the corridor trails are relatively wide with predictable footing. Still, stumbling at certain spots could result in serious injuries or even death. Be careful, and you’ll probably be fine.
  • Rattlesnakes . Rattlesnakes are common in the Grand Canyon, but they rarely strike unless threatened. Watch where your place your feet and hands–and keep in mind that snakes and scorpions are most active at night during hot parts of the year (pack a headlamp/ flashlight).
  • Mule Trains . Hikers must yield to mule trains (which you’ll meet on both trails). Step off the trail to the uphill side and follow the wrangler’s instructions.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Grand Canyon for “one-percenters”

It’s impressive gazing down on the Grand Canyon from the park’s scenic overlooks. In many ways, however, the canyon is more grand from below as you’re looking up at thousands of feet of layered cliffs towering above you.

The problem is, most people never the leave the rim. According to the National Park Service, just 10% of visitors hike at least a mile into the canyon. Only 1% make it down to the Colorado River. And only 1% spend a night in the canyon. These are the “one-percenters.”

Do you want to be a “one-percenter”? The South Rim to Phantom Ranch Loop is the best option for your first hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. If you plan your trip early and come prepared, you’ll love this bucket list hike.

Happy Hiking!

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

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Phantom Ranch Tips & Tricks

Heading to Phantom Ranch for fun and relaxation? Wondering what to do while there on a layover day? There are some simple but very useful pieces of advice to make your trip to Phantom even more special. Below you will find ideas and tips if you are heading to this little bit of paradise along the banks of Bright Angel Creek. You can view a map here of the Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel Campground area to get your bearings for the topics mentioned below.

  • Bring Credit Card Instead of Cash . Instead of taking cash and having to carry heavy change, bring your debit or credit card. The Ranch takes credit for even the smallest purchases. If you do use cash, leave your change in the tip jar at the cash register. Those folks down there work harder than you could ever imagine, and they certainly deserve more than they make. (And YES, they do walk down. NO, they do not ride mules!) Note: I was reminded that the power can be very fickle at Phantom Ranch, so having some cash might be wise in case it goes down or their internet is running especially slow. Having some cash available is highly recommended!
  • Address Book. Don’t forget to bring your family and friends’ addresses with you. You can mail postcards from the bottom that says “Mailed by Mule from the Bottom of the Grand Canyon” on them! Talk about unique!!! They sell postcards there, but you can also bring your own stationery and use your own stamps. This is also great for international travelers.
  • Mail and Packages. You can mail postcards and letters to and from Phantom Ranch. Please note: packages are no longer accepted in either direction. Stamps are often available for sale at the Canteen, but they do run out at times. So if you want to make sure you can mail a letter or postcard from the Ranch, bring some stamps with you. There is a Post Office on both the South Rim (General Store complex) and the North Rim (Grand Canyon Lodge complex) where you can purchase stamps in advance.
  • Pay Phones. There are payphones at the Phantom Ranch Canteen bathrooms and at the bathrooms near the junction of the Bright Angel and Kaibab Trails south of Bright Angel Campground—right across the trail from the River Ranger Station on the map. I personally never make calls from the “bottom.” It tends to spoil the “getting away from it all” vacation mentality. It’s awful to hear how the kids are fighting each other or other trivial, non-necessary “real life” information. If it is important, your family and/or friends will be able to reach you by calling the Grand Canyon dispatch office.
  • T-Shirts and Souvenirs. Phantom Ranch sells items such as t-shirts, caps, bandannas, and mugs, which can only be purchased at the Canteen. The t-shirt designs change every year, so the design you get will always be associated with the year you were there!
  • Avoid Summer and/or Hike At Night . During the scorching hot months of June, July and August, do yourself a huge favor and DON’T try to hike all the way from the North Rim to Phantom Ranch or Bright Angel Campground in one day. If you have to hike during these summer months, plan on staying at Cottonwood Campground to break your hike up into two halves. It is extremely important to get through the last four miles of the trail, known as the “Box”, before 10:00 AM. If you have to do it in one day during this time, get a start from the trailhead by 1:00 AM to 2:00 AM. No joking! You don’t want to be in the Box once the sun hits the black rock and heats up. It is literally like an oven in there! For those who have never hiked the Canyon, it is nearly impossible to know how hard hiking down (yes, down!) 14 miles will be. It is the longest 14 miles you will ever hike. I guarantee it!
  • Take. Breaks. Often . When hiking down, be diligent at taking breaks and eating and drinking often. One thing happens way too much and needs to be emphasized. If you have dinner reservations at Phantom and find that your hike is taking longer than expected (very common I might add!), DO NOT forego breaks to get down faster. Even if you succeed in making it to Phantom on time for dinner, you’ll be too sick to eat it!!! Phantom Ranch will often save food for someone who comes in late and had dinner reservations. They would rather you not get sick either!

Below is some more useful advice from some readers for those staying at Phantom Ranch.

  • Hike North to South Rim . DOING RIM TO RIM it is much easier to hike down the higher and initially much steeper North Rim to Phantom and then up the comparatively more gradual Bright Angel Trail to the lower South Rim. (The South Kaibab is shorter but steeper and without water.)
  • SURVIVING PHANTOM. Should you hike down from the North Rim to Phantom, make your arrangements to eat at the later of the two meals. You will feel less rushed getting there, signing in, showering, and arriving more civil for supper. In hot weather read the instructions on how to run the evaporative cooling A/C in the bunkrooms and cabins. Be sure that before supper you turn it on and you must have a few windows slightly open otherwise it will not work. The occasional screams that you hear at Phantom are from hikers immersing themselves in the really cold water of Bright Angel Creek—great for foot and knee therapy! FYI, do not bother rushing the dining room door to grab a seat, there are seating assignments for supper and they will call your group by name. “Porter, party of four.” For dessert: “Save your forks, save your forks—lick them clean.”
  • Packing Fewer Clothes. If you are light-packing and wash your socks and shirts in the sink, they will dry very quickly (in about an hour) in the hot, very dry air. The bunkroom railings make a good clothesline, otherwise, bring your own hiker’s clothesline.
  • Phone Locations. There is only one pay phone at Phantom, and if you want a shorter wait to phone home, there is a second pay phone at the south end of the Bright Angel Campground, about 1/2 mi. south of Phantom—if you feel like hiking that far and back.
  • Scorpions . Our evening ranger presentation included a short walk with an ultraviolet light that made the scorpions (that come out at night) fluoresce and glow brightly—we saw an uncomfortable number of them. My first morning at Phantom I panicked, my boots were missing, but near where I had put them, there was another pair, of the exact same brand, model, and size, but a different color (the brown/red of the iron oxide of the dust and dirt in the Canyon).
  • Be on Time . The worst faux pas that we’ve seen done by the guests was when a group of about five arrived about 30 minutes late to the first breakfast seating. We only saw one person setting tables, serving the food—maybe even having done the cooking earlier—then removing the dirty dishes and having to set up for the next sitting. The group’s lateness threw a monkey wrench into this person’s schedule, and he had to hustle even more that morning.
  • Pack the Night Before . The night before hiking out, be packed and ready to go. Have the early breakfast, pick up your trail lunch, and get started as early in the dark as possible. A small penlight helps to check your footing. Later that morning you will be cooler and more comfortable at a higher altitude. For your last, luxurious flush toilet stop after breakfast, plan to visit the toilet just south of the Bright Angel Campground, across the little footbridge.

Annette, Betty, Peggy and Pieter

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Where Are Those Morgans

South Kaibab Trail To Ooh Aah Point, Skeleton Point & Phantom Ranch

By: Author Mark and Kristen Morgan

Posted on Published: February 4, 2022  - Last updated: October 20, 2023

Categories Hiking Blog

South Kaibab Trail To Ooh Aah Point, Skeleton Point & Phantom Ranch

South Kaibab Trail is one of the best hikes at Grand Canyon South Rim and we personally think it just about has the edge over the more popular Bright Angel Trail. In this guide we’re going to explain everything you need to know about day hiking South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Ahh Point, Cedar Ridge, Skeleton Point, The Tipoff and Phantom Ranch.

Now don’t get us wrong, Bright Angel is an amazing trail and you should hike it if you have chance. But South Kaibab has a little more substance to the trail. Views are more open and diverse, the trail itself is more fun and entertaining, and it is a whopping 2.5 miles shorter than Bright Angel to reach Phantom Ranch.

If you’re a hiker with only one day at Grand Canyon South Rim you have a tough decision to make. Let’s see if we can convince you that South Kaibab is the trail for you. You can hike to any of the 5 major turnaround points, but remember – what goes down must come up.

Let’s descend into the incredible Grand Canyon and take a look at 5 landmark turnaround points you can use to set your day hiking goals!

5 Turnaround Points On The Grand Canyon South Kaibab Trail

Before you hike down South Kaibab Trail, consider how much time you have, what the weather is doing and what your current hiking level is to determine which stop is safest for you to use as a turnaround point on your day hike.

Of course you don’t have to use any of the 5 points we discuss, but almost all hikers on South Kaibab Trail will use one as a target. The best part is the landmarks are spread evenly throughout the hike to cater to all hiking abilities.

Here are the distances one way and roundtrip, plus elevation loss (that will turn into gain when you return to the Rim):

  • Ooh Aah Point – 0.9 miles one way / 1.8 miles roundtrip / 790 ft elevation loss
  • Cedar Ridge – 1.5 miles one way / 3 miles roundtrip / 1120 ft elevation loss
  • Skeleton Point – 3 miles one way / 6 miles roundtrip / 2040 ft elevation loss
  • The Tipoff – 4.5 miles one way / 9 miles roundtrip / 3280 ft elevation loss
  • Phantom Ranch – 7.3 miles one way / 14.6 miles roundtrip / 4700 ft elevation loss

Stunning stone path at the start of a hike in arizona leading down through awesome rock formations at sunrise

Can You Hike South Kaibab Trail In One Day?

This is the most important question and it comes with an answer we want to make loud and clear.

Yes, you can hike down South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch in one day. However, it is only advised for very strong hikers and only when hiking on cool or cold days in late Fall, Winter or early Spring.

  • Please do not try to day hike South Kaibab Trail all the way down to Phantom Ranch and the Colorado River if you are not in very good physical condition.
  • If the weather forecast is for a warm or hot day, do not try to hike to the Colorado River in one day.

You don’t want to be that group who has to be rescued out of the canyon because you thought hiking on a hot day was a smart idea!

If you only plan to go as far as Cedar Ridge or Skeleton Point, then yes you can easily hike South Kaibab Trail in one day. After that, you need to be an experienced hiker.

Consider this : If you day hike South Kaibab to Skeleton Point and back, you’ve hiked 6 miles total with an elevation loss and gain of 2040 ft.

How Difficult Is It To Hike The South Kaibab Trail?

South Kaibab Trail is not the most technically challenging day hike we’ve ever done. There are no climbing elements and you don’t need any specialist equipment.

But it is much steeper than Bright Angel. There’s a reason it is 2.5 miles shorter one way to Phantom Ranch. And remember you will be slowly climbing for the entire second half of your hike.

Important – South Kaibab is known to be the steeper trail, but the gradient doesn’t get too intense until after Cedar Ridge.

How hard it is depends on your hiking ability and how far you want to descend into the canyon.

Looking for hiking inspiration? Check out our popular guide to the 50 best hikes in the US next!

Why Is It Not Recommended To Day Hike Phantom Ranch?

The major cause for concern boils down to heat exhaustion and lack of preparedness among hikers.

Crucial – Something very important to remember is that there are no reliable water on the South Kaibab Trail . You have to carry all of the water you will need for your hike, which depends on how far down you plan to go.

You may be able to drink at a newly built water source once you reach The Tipoff but it is non-potable, requires treating and it may not have any water available. Do not rely on this source.

Between May and September the temperature can be extremely high on South Rim.

  • But you have to remember Bright Angel trailhead on South Rim is at 6840 ft elevation.
  • When you descend into the canyon, the temperature is going to increase exponentially.
  • It will be on average around 20°F (11°C) warmer at Phantom Ranch than at South Rim in Summer.

So, if it’s hot on the rim, do not hike to the river and Phantom Ranch. You will burn through your water and will have to wait until you reach the canyon floor for another source you can use to refill.

How Long Does It Take To Hike Down South Kaibab Trail Into Grand Canyon?

Let’s take a look at the official NPS suggested times for day hiking to each of the major turnaround points on South Kaibab Trail:

  • Ooh Aah Point : 1-2 hours
  • Cedar Ridge : 2-4 hours
  • Skeleton Point : 4-6 hours
  • The Tipoff : 6-9 hours
  • Phantom Ranch : 2 days

Technically if you want to hike South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch and back up to South Rim, you are recommended to spend the night at Phantom Ranch or Bright Angel campground.

However, these are guidelines and they are directed at the average hiker. If you are an experienced hiker and you have prepared correctly, you can hike to the River and back in a day.

Hiking Tip : Please follow the timeframes above as listed by the National Park Service if you are not a very strong hiker.

Bright yellow sunrise making the grand canyon glow with a hiker walking down South Kaibab trail

Our Grand Canyon Hiking Experience

After a fleeting first visit to Grand Canyon South Rim in 2019, we were blown away and couldn’t wait to return one day to hike down to the Colorado River.

It took us until December 2021, but we finally made it. We gave ourselves 2 days on South Rim, one would be to day hike and the other to sightsee and photograph more amazing Grand Canyon sunrises and sunsets .

We chose to visit Grand Canyon in Winter because we wanted to give ourselves the best chance at safe cool or cold weather conditions for day hiking. The first day was perfect so we took our opportunity.

We descended to Phantom Ranch via South Kaibab Trail and ascended back to the Rim via Bright Angel Trail. Steeper on the way down, more gradual on the way up. It was an epic hike and one we would do again.

Read all about our amazing day hike from South Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail if you plan to take on the classic Grand Canyon hike during your visit.

The next day it snowed all day and we couldn’t see into the canyon from South Rim.

Need help organizing your visit to Grand Canyon South Rim? Our popular 30+ page Grand Canyon South Rim Guidebook can help you with planning every aspect of your trip.

Tips For Planning Your Hike

Here are some things you should consider when planning to hike South Kaibab Trail.

  • Hiking South Kaibab in Summer is not a good idea. Spring, Fall and Winter will provide safer conditions.
  • Just be aware of daylight hours if you do hike in Winter as we did.
  • Hydrate and eat healthy wholesome meals in the days leading up to your hike.
  • Try to get a solid 8 hours sleep the night before. That means going to bed early for an early start.
  • If you want to reach Phantom Ranch, be at the trailhead right at first light.
  • Food, snacks and plenty of water are paramount. Remember to take more for each extra stop you will hike.
  • A head torch is important both for the morning and for later in the day if you are not back at South Rim by sunset.
  • Wear strong and robust footwear you are comfortable in and that you have used before.
  • We always carry a LifeStraw water filter in case of emergencies. Take your preferred water treatment method but remember there are no reliable water sources on South Kaibab Trail . We typically carry an electrolyte drink as backup.
  • Know your limits. Choose one of the stops as a goal but always keep an eye on time. Have a cutoff time that you will use to turn around regardless as to how far you hiked down.
  • Track your hike down South Kaibab using one of the best hiking apps like Gaia GPS or All Trails.

Important – Going up is much more time consuming than going down. Plan for your ascent to take twice as long as your descent. So, after 2 hours of hiking down, you will hike back up for 4 hours and a total of 6 hours.

Resources you can use to check conditions in the days leading up to your hike.

  • Drinking Water – Important backcountry hiking updates including drinking water
  • Live Weather – National Park live weather and road updates for Grand Canyon
  • Live Webcams – See the park from various webcams for live conditions

Path leading into a sunrise at grand canyon national park arizona

How To Get To South Kaibab Trailhead

Ahh the South Kaibab trailhead. Why do you have to be such a pain in the neck to reach?!

One of Bright Angel’s wins over South Kaibab is how convenient and easy it is to access Bright Angel trailhead. Here’s how you can reach South Kaibab trailhead:

  • Take the orange Kaibab shuttle from the main visitor center near Mather Point.
  • Park a mile away from the trailhead on Desert View Drive and walk to reach South Kaibab trailhead.

Neither are attractive options because you’re either adding on 2 miles to an already mammoth day hike, or you’re waiting around for a shuttle bus.

We parked at the main visitor center lot, walked a few meters to the shuttle stop and waited for the “Hikers’ Express”. That is the first shuttle of the day from Bright Angel to the visitor center and on to South Kaibab Trail.

In December when we took it, the shuttle was at 7am but it leaves earlier in Summer. Here’s the NPS hikers’ express schedule .

Note – On the schedule it says 8am is the first shuttle in December. Always ask the rangers on site for current and updated information. We were informed there was a shuttle at 7am, which gave us an extra hour hiking time in the canyon.

Day Hiking South Kaibab Trail Into The Grand Canyon

Now you know what you can expect on the hike and how to get to the trailhead. Remember if you are planning to go down to Skeleton Point or beyond, try to start as early as possible.

Let’s get stuck into our complete walkthrough of the South Kaibab Trail and each of the major stops along the route as you descend into the Grand Canyon.

Stop 1 – South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point (0.9 miles)

Hiking South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point on a cold morning in december at grand canyon south rim right at sunrise

One of our favorite aspects of choosing South Kaibab over Bright Angel is that your views during the descent are comparable to some of the best viewpoints on Grand Canyon South Rim .

The very first section of descent on South Kaibab as you hike down to Ooh Aah Point is incredibly scenic. Not just views into the canyon, but the trail itself is like something out of a fantasy movie.

If you start early enough you will be walking this first section at sunrise and it is something you’ll never forget. We were fortunate enough to see booming rays of sun blasting into the canyon as we turned each corner.

The first mile to Ooh Aah Point begins by descending a series of short but steep switchbacks. You will then hug a wall tightly to your right side and it seems that you will never get an open view into the canyon.

But you will! And you can tell Ooh Aah Point before you reach the sign marker. That wall to your right ends at the bottom of a staircase and opens up a mind blowing view.

Many people only hike to Ooh Ahh Point and some will do it for sunrise to get away from the crowds on the Rim.

  • Elevation loss : 790 ft.
  • Hiking : Turn around here if you just want a taste of hiking into the canyon or you are short on time.

Stop 2 – South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge (1.5 miles)

Hiker stood next to a dead tree inside grand canyon national park

You can see the flat shelf on Cedar Ridge and its nearby submarine-like rock formation (called O’Neill Butte) from Ooh Aah Point. It is only a further 0.6 of a mile from Ooh Ahh Point and we do strongly recommend you consider going further if you feel up to it.

As you walk down cobble stone paths surrounded by towering cliffs, look at the astounding geological layers of rock and sediment, buttes, spires and temples encircling you.

Cedar Ridge is the first real stopping point and there are restrooms available. From the ridge you can look back up at South Rim and gain an appreciation for mother nature.

This is a great place to use as a day hike turnaround on South Kaibab if you also want to hike down some of Bright Angel in the afternoon so you can say you’ve done both famous Grand Canyon trails.

But if you have the time and you’re feeling good, let’s get back on the trail!

  • Elevation loss : 1120 ft.
  • Hiking : Turn around here if you’re short on time and want to hike some of Bright Angel later.

Stop 3 – South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point (3 miles)

Hiking South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point Grand Canyon sign and hiker with camera in arizona

The first part of your descent from Cedar Ridge to Skeleton Point is to switchback down the canyon until you’re standing at the base of submarine looking O’Neill butte.

From there it’s a straight shot descent hugging a wall to the left tightly until you open up one of the best views on the South Kaibab Trail.

The wall to your left ends and the trail also takes a sharp left. You are stood on the edge of this rock layer. Straight ahead over the edge is a dramatic wide open drop to the next layer below.

Look left and you will see South Kaibab Trail extends far out into the canyon in a long and ever so slightly curving line along a narrow ridge. Follow that line and look down to see a significant series of switchbacks dropping onto the layer below.

It’s an easy walk from this viewpoint to Skeleton Point right before those switchbacks begin. Don’t expect much once you finally reach Skeleton Point, there’s nothing but a sign marker and two metal frames for the mules.

If you take on the switchbacks after Skeleton Point, you are really getting into the thick of the South Kaibab Trail action. They aren’t fun to hike back up so be sure you want to continue!

  • Elevation loss : 2040 ft.
  • Hiking : You’re 3 miles in, which means total time back to South Rim will be between 4-6 hours. This is as far as we recommend for a reasonable day hike without taking too much on, even for the more experienced hiker.

Stop 4 – South Kaibab Trail to The Tipoff (4.5 miles)

The Tipoff with mules surrounded by huge rock formations

The good news is that once you’re down the zig-zag trail, you are getting up close and personal with those flat and arid looking plateaus you can see from the Rim.

Remember seeing those tiny cracks in the Earth from South Rim? Well, they look enormous and immense from here. Turn around to look back up at the Rim before continuing as the trail turns left.

The next section is flatter, easier and wide open. That means you can really pick up the pace here and make up time. Just be careful on hotter days with no shade or protection. Sun hats and sunglasses are a must on this section.

You can see The Tipoff from afar. It is a very flat area that looks like it’s about to fall over a cliff and into the River below. You will pass a crossroads at Tonto Trail West, which serves as a shortcut to Bright Angel Trail.

The Tipoff has restrooms and a recently built shaded open-air seating area with potable water that you have to treat before using. Do not rely on this water source and only drink if you can filter properly.

  • Elevation loss : 3280 ft.
  • Hiking : This is the last place to turn around unless you are serious about day hiking to Phantom Ranch and back. Consider that you still have to drop drop 1,400 ft over a further 2.3 miles to reach the Colorado River.

Stop 5 – South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch (7.3 miles)

Switchbacks leading down to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch

This final section is amazing. We loved hiking down into the gaping crack we had been looking at the entire hike. So far it’s been sandy and rocky underfoot, but now you will notice a maroon colored fine dirt all around.

Not long after leaving The Tipoff you will get your first close-up of the Colorado River. You’re almost at the canyon floor, but you still have a lot of hiking left to get there so get a move on!

After a long straight stretch you will reach another series of switchbacks and these ones take you all the way down to Black Bridge crossing the mighty Colorado River. The view of these switchbacks is awesome so get your camera ready.

Walk through a tunnel and stand on Black Bridge. Congratulations, you are at the end of South Kaibab Trail at the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

Either turn right around and head back up if you are pushing it for time. But if you’re doing well, follow the riverside (now on North Kaibab Trail) for one more mile to reach Bright Angel campground and eventually Phantom Ranch.

Enjoy your success but not for too long, you now have to climb 4,700 ft out of the Grand Canyon.

We would suggest you take Bright Angel back to the Rim for a change of scenery and a less steep incline. But South Kaibab will be quicker if you can keep up a good pace.

  • Elevation loss : 4700 ft.
  • Water : You will find water, with a selection of hot and cold drinks available in Phantom Ranch.
  • Hiking : End of the road for a day hike. Time to turn around and go right back up!
  • Camping : You can camp here but getting a permit is very competitive. You can also stay at Phantom Ranch.

Climb Out Of The Grand Canyon

Awesome switchbacks descending into Grand Canyon national park at south rim on South Kaibab Trail

We have to admit it is both a wonderful and terrifying feeling to be stood at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Such a sense of achievement but also dread because you can see the Rim and you know you have to hike up there.

You’ve probably been going for 3 or 4 hours already. But the way back is going to be much longer. Think along the lines of 5 or 6 hours. Get plenty to eat and drink before setting off.

If you do go back up South Kaibab you already know the trail so you know exactly what to expect. Use those same markers to gauge your time and speed.

We can tell you from experience you will start to feel it around Skeleton Point with 3 miles left to climb. Fatigue will naturally start and you know it’s not too far to go, so your body will stop releasing as much adrenaline.

Keep looking at those views into the canyon for motivation, remember you are hiking an insanely beautiful trail and keep your mind focused on that cold refreshing pint of beer waiting for you at the top.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Need Help Planning A Trip To Grand Canyon South Rim?

Grand Canyon is one of the most visited National Parks in the US and it’s a stunning landscape that will genuinely blow you away.

But we also know how important it is to get your trip off to the best possible start by planning in advance.

We have been lucky enough to visit Grand Canyon South Rim twice, at different times of year and with different goals:

  • First to sightsee, shoot sunrises and sunsets and see the canyon from every single viewpoint on the Rim.
  • Second to day hike Rim to River, South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel in one day.

If you are planning a trip to Grand Canyon South Rim and want to know:

  • Where to stay and eat
  • How to get there and use the shuttles
  • The best hikes in the area
  • Which overlooks to visit
  • Where to watch sunrise and sunset

Our 30+ page Grand Canyon South Rim Guidebook with 4 example itineraries will tell you all this information plus more so you can plan the perfect trip to Grand Canyon South Rim National Park.

South Kaibab Day Hiking FAQ’s

Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about day hiking the South Kaibab trail at Grand Canyon National Park.

The South Kaibab Trail is harder when compared to the Bright Angel trail because even though South Kaibab is a shorter trail, it is much steeper. If you are hiking up from Phantom Ranch, the Bright Angel Trail will be easier because you will experience less elevation gain over a longer hike.

The South Kaibab Trail at Grand Canyon is a strenuous hike with a length of 7.3 miles and an elevation loss of 4,700ft if hiked one way to Phantom Ranch. The National Park Service does not recommend the entire length of South Kaibab as a day hike and encourages visitors to turn around at various points along the trail.

The South Kaibab trail has a restroom facility at Cedar Ridge which sits about 1.5 miles from the trail head. There is little shade and you will be exposed for the most of this hike.

The South Kaibab trail is not scary, but it can be dangerous because you are completely exposed to the elements and the hike is quite steep. You need to be correctly prepared and hiking in good weather conditions. One of the most common problems along this trail is heat exhaustion.

Our Popular Grand Canyon Guides

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  • Bright Angel – Day hiking Bright Angel at Grand Canyon
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Want more Arizona content? Head over to our Arizona Travel Guides to explore the best of Grand Canyon, Sedona and beyond.

We hope this day hiking guide to the incredibly scenic South Kaibab Trail helps you plan your hike at Grand Canyon National Park!

Please let us know if you have any questions about South Kaibab trail or hiking at Grand Canyon National Park in the comments below.

Happy Travels ,

Mark and Kristen

Enjoy This South Kaibab Trail Guide? Pin It For Your Visit!

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

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how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Mark and Kristen Morgan are travel, hiking and photography experts. Over the last 6 years traveling full time, they have explored more than 40 countries and 30 US states.

Where Are Those Morgans has been featured in USA Today, Gestalten, Get Your Guide, CityPASS and Condé Nast Traveler along with various other publications. Read more about us .

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Sunday 1st of January 2023

A wonderful adventure. Started before sunrise and as we descended, the canyon lit up with the sunrise. Once you have conquered this round trip experience of a lifetime, train for a rim to rim hike. North rim beautiful as well. Fewer tourists and traffic. Spend the night on the North rim and then, rim to rim back to South rim the following day. Then you deserve a T-shirt from gift shop saying Rim to Rim Grand Canyon. Incredible. Wish I was young enough to do it again.

Mark and Kristen Morgan

Thank you, Jeri. Rim to Rim and back again is exactly what we plan to do next time we are at the Grand Canyon. South Rim is amazing but it is so busy and we know North Rim has very few visitors. Watching a sunset and then a sunrise from North Rim is very high on our wishlist!

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How To Hike South Kaibab, Phantom Ranch, & Bright Angel In One Day

South Kaibab Trail at sunrise in the Grand Canyon.

This Grand Canyon bucket-list hike is one you’ll remember for years afterwards. The South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails are the best kept, well known hiking trails on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Combining these two for an all day hike is a challenge many people dream of accomplishing. While it may be one of the most difficult hikes of your life, the reward of reaching the bottom and dipping your feet into the Colorado River is high greater than any pain you’ll endure.

While there are multiple ways to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the route covered in this post begins at the South Kaibab Trailhead, brings you to Phantom Ranch, past Pipe Creek Beach, and back up the Bright Angel Trail.

This guide has been intently crafted to help you plan and complete your South Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail hike. Today it sits as my most challenging and favorited hike to date, and I can’t wait to share it with you. I hope you’re ready to plan one of the best hikes of your life!

South Kaibab To Bright Angel Trail In One Day

*Disclaimer:   the below links may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through my links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Please see my  d isclosure  for more info.

Hike Stats & Overview

Below is a quick overview of what you can expect from this epic Grand Canyon day hike.

Distance | 18.19 miles round trip Difficulty | Difficult & strenuous Elevation Gain | 4,639 feet Elevation Change | 7,000 feet at the South Rim to 2,400 feet at Phantom Ranch. Begin & End | Begin at South Kaibab Trailhead and end at Bright Angel Trailhead, both on the South Rim. Total Time | 10 hours & 25 minutes Permits Needed | None unless you plan on camping at the bottom. Best Months | October-April

I knew this could be the only time that I ever got to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, so I wanted to make the most of it and experience all that I could fit in.

While a good majority of hikers hike South Kaibab to Bright Angel Campground and back up Bright Angel Trail, I opted to take a short detour to Phantom Ranch before heading up the Bright Angel Trail with a stop at Pipe Creek Beach along the way.

The above stats include my two small detours, and if you choose to opt out then your total distance will be closer to 16.5 miles.

why visit phantom ranch

You may only reach the bottom of the Grand Canyon once so I highly suggest taking a detour to Phantom Ranch and visiting the canteen.

The Phantom Ranch canteen is a small store and restaurant that sits on the floor of the Grand Canyon- how cool! You are able to order meals ahead of time so they are prepared upon your arrival, or just visit for a daily snack and drink.

My group and I took a lunch break at one of the picnic tables outside the canteen. We brought our own food but I did buy a small glass of wine, a sticker for my cooler, and a much needed chocolate snack. They also have potable water here so we were able to refill our hydration packs and bottles.

Phantom Ranch is 0.5 miles out of the way, adding an extra 1.0 mile to your hike. But honestly how often will you be able to sit at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and order a drink!? Worth it in my book.

why visit pipe creek beach

A short spur trail off the Bright Angel Trail will take you down to Pipe Creek Beach. This detour is roughly 0.25 miles, adding no more than 0.5 miles to your trip. Is it worth it? Heck yes!

How many people get to say they put their feet in the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon? To me, this is an experience many people dream of, myself included. Dipping your sore feet into the cold water is so satisfying and helps give them life for the difficult climb out.

Caution: The currents in the Colorado River are extremely powerful and dangerous. Do not attempt to swim, only wade in far enough to submerge your feet.

Preparation saves lives.  Know where you are going ahead of time and always have a way to keep yourself on trail. One way to do this is with a GPS system or app like Gaia GPS .

You can download my South Kaibab to Bright Angel track and gain access to my library of all tracked hikes. Once downloaded, you can load it into your own trusty device for ease of mind!

Grand Canyon National Park.

Planning Your South Kaibab to Bright Angel Hike

Before all the fun can begin a level of preparation is extremely necessary. Hiking the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails is not an easy feat for any hiker. While the trails are some of the best maintained in the park there are other things to consider- your abilities, weather, water, restrooms, etc.

Below are some very important questions you should have answers to before attempting this hike!

can i do this as a day hike?

Every Grand Canyon National Park official will warn you to not attempt this day hike due to liability. There are even signs posted that urge hikers to hike no more than 4.5 miles down, totaling 9 miles round trip in one day. This is because it is a strenuous hike and too many people are rescued every year, putting the rescuers in danger themselves.

Still, many hikers take on the challenge. Do not take this hike lightly, however. It is extremely important you assess your abilities and even train beforehand if necessary. You should be an experienced hiker and in great physical condition before attempting to hike down and back up in one day.

If you are questioning your abilities, or at all concerned, consider the following:

Are you or do you…

  • Able to be on your feet for 10+ miles
  • Able to carry a 20L or larger pack for 8+ hours
  • Know how to read a map, follow a GPS, and stay on trail
  • Have (or willing to get) the proper gear needed (keep reading for packing list!)

If this is your average weekend or even once a month outing then I think you’ll be just fine. However if any of this makes you nervous, then consider training or gaining more hiking experience beforehand.

How Many Hours Is This Hike?

Of course this depends on your pace and how many stops you make along the way, but I think it is safe to say it will take you anywhere from 8-12 hours.

If you don’t stop often and move quickly you can hike from South Kaibab to Bright Angel in 8 hours. But if you’re slower paced and want to take breaks, then plan for 12 hours total.

It took my group and I 10 hours and 25 minutes which included a nice long lunch at Phantom Ranch, a dip in the Colorado River (feet only), and lots of photo stops. We kept a fast pace while hiking, though!

when is the best time to hike the grand canyon?

Now it is time to plan when you’ll hike from South Kaibab to Bright Angel! Planning your hike during the right months will either make or break the total experience. I’ve broken the months down for you below.

May-September

Not Recommended

The Grand Canyon can experience extremely high temperatures during these months with average high temperatures between 71 and 85 degrees. When you pair heat, sun exposure, and strenuous activities it can be a recipe for heat related illnesses. This needs to be taken very seriously because the Grand Canyon is so rugged and remote.

At the bottom of the Grand Canyon temperatures can be anywhere from 10-20 degrees warmer than back up at the rim where you began. This means as you’re hiking down you will be warming up and as you’re working your muscles to climb back out it will be much warmer.

That is not to say these months aren’t great for vising the national park. You can still visit and it will be beautiful, but a strenuous hike like this shouldn’t be part of your itinerary.

October-April

Recommended- perfect time

I highly suggest planning this hike between these months! The average high temperatures range from 45 to 65 degrees. Mornings will be very chilly but if you layer properly you’ll be comfortable. As the sun rises and you make your way down into the canyon you’ll end up shedding your layers anyways!

Chances are there could be snow at the South Rim and at the top of the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails. Always check the weather conditions ahead of time and have a pair of microspikes with you to be safe.

WHERE CAN I REFILL MY WATER?

18+ miles is a long way to go and packing your entire water supply is nearly impossible. You will have to re-fill your water bottle and hydration pack at least once during your hike. Luckily the Grand Canyon has water pipelines available throughout the park.

These pipelines are fed from Roaring Springs which is a natural spring located about 3,500 feet below the North Rim. Unfortunately this pipeline suffers multiple breaks a year which means some (if not all) water stations may be shut off.

It is very important to research and plan which potable (already treated) water stations you will refill at, as well as check the national park website the day before for statuses.

Potable Water Stations Between South Kaibab to Bright Angel

There are plenty of potable water stations available along this hiking route. I put an * by the ones I refilled at and found most convenient.

  • South Kaibab Trailhead
  • Bright Angel Campground
  • Phantom Boat Beach
  • Phantom Ranch Canteen*
  • Havasupai Gardens (formerly Indian Gardens)*
  • Plateau Point
  • Three Mile Resthouse
  • Mile and a Half Resthouse
  • Bright Angel Trailhead

Important note: Potable water means already treated water. The park does have some untreated water stations so make sure to read the signs before drinking the wrong water!

Water Safety In The Grand Canyon

On the off-chance that you’re not able to refill your water at the water stations you’ll be left with filtering from natural water sources like the Colorado River or other streams.

Water treatment is imperative for your health in the outdoors and isn’t something you want to skip out on. Contaminants of all sorts can get into the water especially when wildlife, livestock, and humans can reach it. For this reason it is very important you have a trusty water filtration system with you!

The Sawyer Filter Kit is an extremely lightweight and effective filtration system perfect for the backcountry. You won’t even notice the extra weight in your pack.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

where can i use the restroom?

Another helpful thing to note ahead of time is the restroom availability along your route. Luckily the Grand Canyon has some options when hiking South Kaibab to Bright Angel, listed in order below:

  • Cedar Ridge
  • River Resthouse
  • Havasupai Gardens (formerly Indian Gardens)
  • One and a Half Mile Resthouse

Helpful fact: Not every pit house has toilet paper or hand sanitizer available. Sometimes they run out. Consider this when packing for your hike!

Cleanliness In The Grand Canyon

I can be a bit of a germ freak when it comes to using pit toilets, especially the ones deep in the backcountry that most likely don’t get cleaned often. These types of restrooms can transmit many different illnesses including the Gastrointestinal illness which is common every year in the Grand Canyon.

To stay clean and safe I religiously carried and used my own hand sanitizer as well as these antibacterial wipes . One pack holds 10 wipes which is plenty for two to three people during this hike.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Parking & Getting To The Trailhead

We’ve covered a lot of trip planning and now it is time to figure out where to park. The South Kaibab Trailhead is not accessible by private vehicles so you will have to take Grand Canyon’s free shuttle bus. Luckily their shuttle system runs at convenient hours year-round so you should have no trouble getting to and from trailheads.

It is always best practice to check the NPS website for current shuttle routes and updates before your visit.

There are essentially two ways you can utilize the shuttle system for your South Kaibab to Bright Angel hike. Let’s break it down below.

Park At The Visitor Center

The first option is to park at the Grand Canyon visitor center parking lot and hop on the orange shuttle route. The orange route picks you up from the visitor center and takes you to the South Kaibab trailhead after a couple stops along the way.

This option can guarantee you a parking space since you’ll arrive before sunrise and most other visitors. The only drawback is that when you finish your hike at Bright Angel trailhead you’ll have to hop on a series of shuttle routes to get back to your car. It can be tiresome after a long day of hiking and you have to be at the trailhead in time for the last shuttle of the day- usually 30 minutes past sunset.

If you miss the last shuttle you will have to hike the extra miles to the visitor center where your car is parked. As long as you are confident in your abilities and timing then this shuttle route is a great option to choose!

Park At bright angel trailhead

A second option is to park at the Bright Angel trailhead and ride the series of shuttle routes to South Kaibab trailhead first. The blue route will take you from here to the visitor center, where you’ll then hop on the orange route to South Kaibab. You may be wondering why in the world you’d do this?

One reason is to get the long shuttle series out of the way first so you don’t have to do it on the way back. But most importantly you will end your hike right where you car is parked. This way, if you do arrive later than expected, you’ve still got wheels. It is also nice to be able to hop in your car and drive off immediately after a hike like this.

It may be a race for parking in the morning so be sure you are getting a very early start to your day. The parking lot at Bright Angel trailhead isn’t very big so if all of the parking spots are full you can try the Back Country Information Center just down the road. The shuttle also stops here!

South Kaibab to Bright Angel.

Hiking South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel

Your hike will begin at the South Kaibab Trailhead. I suggest arriving and beginning your hike just before or right at sunrise to ensure enough daylight for your adventure. Not only that, but this trail during sunrise is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced! The beginning of South Kaibab Trail is extremely scenic and the colors during sunrise are unreal.

South Kaibab Trail

It is essentially all downhill from the rim to the Colorado River, so some will think it is easy-going while others may feel the brunt of the downward force on their knees. South Kaibab begins with a series of steep switchbacks, descending quickly for roughly the first mile.

Along the way you’ll pass OOH-AAH point , the first viewpoint along South Kaibab. This is an iconic viewpoint with a sign you must get your picture taken at! It provides the first distant views into the Grand Canyon and fills hikers with pure excitement.

Ooh Aah Point, South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon.

After OOH-AAH point the trail continues to descend to Cedar Ridge , the next viewpoint. There are restrooms here for use and is a nice resting place to de-layer if need be. As you hike deeper into the canyon the temperatures will rise and the sun will be most likely be beating down on you at this point.

Another 1.30 miles and you’ll arrive at Skeleton Point , the last viewpoint along the South Kaibab Trail. This is the suggested turn-around point for day hikers and a great time to assess your health before continuing on.

South Kaibab to Bright Angel.

From Skeleton Point you’ll continue descending switchbacks (pictured above) with outstanding views all the way to the Tip-Off. This point is where the Tonto Trail intersects the South Kaibab Trail on the Tonto Plateau.

The Tip-Off allows you to loop over to the Bright Angel Trail early, intersecting right at Havasupai Garden (formerly Indian Garden). This is a good option if you need to cut your trip short for whatever reason, but it will not take you all the way to the Colorado River.

Continuing along the South Kaibab Trail there is one last steep descent to reach the Colorado River! As you continue hiking down into the Grand Canyon you’ll be able to get your first glimpse of the mighty river and famous suspension bridge.

South Kaibab to Bright Angel.

Just as you near the suspension bridge there will be a fork in the trail providing you with the option to take the River Trail to connect with the Bright Angel Trail. If you don’t want to visit Bright Angel Campground or Phantom Ranch then you’ll want to turn left onto the River Trail.

But if you wish to visit Phantom Ranch (+1 mile round trip to your daily mileage), you’ll continue on to cross the Colorado River . Before crossing the suspension bridge you’ll hike through a tunnel that opens up to it- talk about a ‘wow’ factor!

Check out Hiking South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon- Complete Guide for a full guide to hiking just the South Kaibab Trail.

Bright Angel Campground, Grand Canyon.

Phantom Ranch & Canteen

Once across the bridge it is 0.5 miles to reach the Phantom Ranch Canteen. At this point you’re walking on the bottom of the Grand Canyon! Along the way you can stop at Boat Beach for river level views of the suspension bridge and to dip your feet in the water. I opted to skip Boat Beach and head straight to the Canteen, saving my beach visit for Pipe Creek Beach later on.

As you head towards Phantom Ranch you’ll hike alongside Bright Angel Creek. This area is extremely lush and beautiful. It is like an oasis at the bottom of the Grand Canyon that you wouldn’t expect. Temperatures can be 10-20 degrees warmer here than up on the rim. When I visited it was so warm I had to de-layer even more!

If the Canteen is open you can order yourself a Grand Canyon sticker, drinks, or a snack from the window. There are picnic tables to rest at and potable water to refill your supply before heading to Bright Angel Trail.

Once you’ve had your lunch and are ready to get back at it, you’ll head out on the same trail, but this time cross the Silver Bridge to connect with the Bright Angel Trail .

South Kaibab to Bright Angel Trial.

Bright Angel Trail

From the Silver Bridge you’ll turn right onto the Bright Angel Trail and the ascent out of the Grand Canyon begins. In roughly 1.2 miles you’ll hike upon restrooms on the right and a trail that leads down to Pipe Creek Beach.

Pipe Creek Beach

The beach isn’t far off the main trail and is worth visiting to dip your feet in the cold water. After soaking my feet in the water for a few minutes any pain I had went away and and I quickly felt refreshed, ready for the miles that lay ahead.

Pipe Creek Beach at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Enjoy a quick rest here and soak in the last views of the Colorado River, because from here on out it is strictly business! Not really, but it sure felt like it.

The section between Pipe Creek Beach and Havasupai Garden is a gradual incline through another lush area of the canyon that included a mini waterfall just off the trail. It was actually quite pleasant.

South Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail.

Havasupai Garden will be the next point with restrooms and water you’ll come across. Once you reach this area I suggest filling up your water for the last time and taking a rest if needed. From this point on it is a steep climb back to the rim and I don’t suggest stopping much in order to prevent leg cramping and muscle tightening.

Continuing along the Bright Angel Trail the elevation gain slowly becomes steeper and steeper until you reach the switchbacks, and from there on it gets difficult and feels like the switchbacks never end. If I’m being honest I blurred a lot of this section out and didn’t take many pictures because I was focused on my breathing and just trying to not give up.

But at one point I did stop to take a look down at all we had just hiked. It is pretty impressive when you look at how far you’ve come!

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon.

There will be two more viewpoints and rest stops between this point and the rim- 3 Mile Resthouse and 1.5 Mile Resthouse. Both have restrooms and potable water. Once you reach these it is a huge relief inside because you know you are so close, but you still have to put a lot of work in because it is arguably the steepest section.

Eventually you will make it to the top of the rim marking the end of your South Kaibab to Bright Angel trail hike! It is surely something to celebrate and I’ll never forget the feeling.

What To Pack For Your Grand Canyon Hike

If you’re wondering what all you should pack for a big hike like this, don’t worry. Below is a list of essentials I packed with me and recommend you do as well.

Typically I am one to urge others that they don’t need top of the line gear for a hike. But because of the difficult nature of the South Kaibab to Bright Angel hike, I highly recommend investing in certain durable and reliable gear.

The non-negotiables to me would be the things that will make a huge difference in your comfortability and performance during the hike- shoes, backpack, and hydration pack. Most other pieces of gear are less in cost and don’t have to be ‘name brand’.

Below is a list of the top gear I recommend for your hike, but to see all of my gear plus cost effective beginner options I began with, visit my Gear Page!

South Kaibab to Bright Angel Gear Packing List

  • Durable hiking shoe or boot | Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX
  • Supportive backpack | Osprey Skarab 30
  • 3L hydration pack | Osprey 3L

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

  • Wool socks | Darn Tough Wool Socks
  • Synthetic layer | U nder Armour 1/2 Zip Longsleeve

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

  • Water filter | Sawyer Water Filtration
  • Water bottle | 20 oz Hydroflask
  • Liquid IV | Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

  • Medical kit | Mountain Series Hiker Medical Kit
  • Microfiber towel | 2 Pack Microfiber Towel
  • GPS device | Garmin inReach Mini 2
  • Headlamps | LED Rechargeable Headlamp

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and/or hat
  • Protein bars, snacks, and/or sandwiches- more than you think you’ll need!
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Portable battery pack
  • Bag to carry out trash

Tips For Your South Kaibab To Bright Angel Hike

  • Arrive at least one day before you plan on hiking to acclimate and get proper rest.
  • Visit the park information center the day prior to confirm operating potable water locations.
  • While at the visitor center be sure to ask for a paper trail map! It is always important to have a paper map of the area you’ll be hiking in.
  • Hydrate more than normal 1-2 days before your hike.
  • Eat more than you think you’ll need throughout the hike.
  • When climbing back up Bright Angel Trail try to pace yourself and refrain from stopping during the steep parts. This will help prevent muscle tightening and cramping.
You may also enjoy 16 Expert Desert Hiking Tips you need to know

Suspension Bridge, Grand Canyon.

Recap: South Kaibab, Phantom Ranch, and Bright Angel Trail In One Day

Phew! We sure covered a lot during this guide and I hope you feel well prepared to hike South Kaibab to Bright Angel by now. Completing an adventure this big is an accomplishment and experience you will always remember. Words can’t describe what I was feeling inside during and post hike…but I can tell you it was amazing.

Please remember that even if you end up having to turn around, it is okay! A challenge like this will give us all an idea of where our abilities are and uncover what we can work on.

Regardless of what shape you are in, this day hike is challenging for all. I was sore for two days afterwards but loved every minute of it because the pain reminded me of what I had just accomplished. I can’t wait to go back and hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon again, but this time maybe follow a different route.

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you hiked South Kaibab to Bright Angel before, or planning to in the future? Share in the comments below!

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5 thoughts on “ How To Hike South Kaibab, Phantom Ranch, & Bright Angel In One Day ”

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My wife and I have done this hike several times. It is, in a word, grueling, especially the last three miles up Bright Angel trail to the rim. But it is also well worth it. Be sure to start the hike as early as possible. It may be cooler on the rim, but it quickly gets hot at Phantom Ranch. The stretch from the River Rest house to Havasupai/Indian Gardens is through the Vishnu schist, which is almost black, so this stretch gets very hot and is always in the sun. Take lots of water and orange juice, along with a bunch of food. Be sure to buy souvenirs at Phantom Ranch, as you can only get the ones that say Phantom Ranch at the store at the bottom of the canyon. Bring plenty of sunscreen, too. When you are hiking, remember that the trails were built in the Great Depression in the 1930s by young men from the CCC and think of what they had to go through in order to build these trails.

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Im a 73 years young male and kind of overweight. I have 4th stage prostate cancer and have been to the canyon many times but never to the bottom. This is my bucket list hike. I have two sons and two grandsons (all adults) that will join me. I want to hike South Kaibab to Phantom ranch and back up the Bright Angel in one day. I’ll be in no hurry and prepared to leave very early and make final assent in the dark. We will be hiking the last 2 days of September. Please give your thoughts.

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Hi James, so sorry to hear about your prostate cancer. Hiking to the bottom of the canyon and back up is a huge feat and I truly believe only the most healthy and fit individuals should attempt it. I would not suggest this for you or your family. However you could look into renting mules and riding them down and back up? I haven’t looked into it before so I don’t know much, but every time I’ve been in the canyon there have been groups/tours given where people ride them into the canyon. This is a great alternative so it isn’t as physically strenuous for you. And I’m sure it’ll be much more enjoyable. I wish you all the best and if you’d like other suggestions for things to do around the canyon without having to hike in it please let me know! I have a post on biking the grand canyon south rim and am working on a 2 day itinerary post to provide more ideas 🙂 September will be a beautiful time for a visit.

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October 2019-I did a 5 night rim-to-rim-to-rim backpacking trip of the Grand Canyon. Down the Bright Angel, up and then down the N Kaibab, then up the S Kaibab. 62 miles total with side trips to Plateau Point, Phantom Ranch Overlook and beyond, and Ribbon Falls; an average of 10 miles per day. I trained for 4 months ahead of time, hiking progressively longer and steeper hikes with progressively more and more weight on my back. I had no problem. I soaked in every minute of it! But you must be in shape! I had plans in 2022 to day hike S Kaibab, stay for 3 nights in a cabin at Phantom Ranch, explore the canyon, then hike back up the Bright Angel. It took me years to get the cabin, and again I trained, but at the last minute my back went out, and I had to bail, knowing I likely will never get this opportunity again. My co-hikers know I am a capable and experienced hiker, but had not hiked the Grand Canyon as I had. They encouraged me to try. Knowing the Grand Canyon as I did, I refused, telling them I would put myself and them at risk. They didn’t get it. Until their return, when they thanked me for staying behind. The Grand Canyon is beautiful, but it will kick your butt – even if you are prepared! If you are not in shape and prepared, please don’t attempt it.

Hi Julie, thanks for reading! Your R2R2R2R trip sounds like an amazing experience. I hope to be able to accomplish that one day! Good for you for listening to your body and knowing your limits. As hard as it was to not go on the cabin trip, it seems like it was the best decision to make. The Grand Canyon is rough terrain and I agree, anyone entering needs to be well prepared and in good shape!

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How Hard is the Hike to Phantom Ranch

The hike to Phantom Ranch is a thrilling and challenging adventure that attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Situated deep within the iconic Grand Canyon National Park , Phantom Ranch offers a unique opportunity to experience the rugged beauty of the canyon floor. In this article, we will explore the details of this hike, including the trail options, difficulty level, and tips for a successful journey.

Phantom Ranch , located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon , is a historic oasis nestled along the banks of the Colorado River . It offers rustic lodging, a small campsite, and a canteen where hikers can enjoy a hot meal and rest before continuing their journey. The unique location of Phantom Ranch provides an immersive and unforgettable experience in the heart of one of the world’s most breathtaking natural wonders.

The hike to Phantom Ranch offers different trail options depending on your preference and fitness level. The most popular routes include the South Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail , each with its own set of challenges and rewards. The South Kaibab Trail is known for its steep descents and stunning panoramic views, while the Bright Angel Trail offers a slightly more gradual descent with access to water at periodic resthouses.

Before embarking on the hike, it is important to assess the difficulty level and prepare accordingly. The hike to Phantom Ranch can be physically demanding, requiring a good level of fitness and stamina. It is recommended to engage in regular physical activity and conditioning exercises to build strength and endurance. proper gear and equipment, such as sturdy hiking boots, a backpack, and plenty of water, are essential for a safe and enjoyable hike.

During the hike, hikers can expect various challenges and considerations. The elevation change from the rim to Phantom Ranch can be significant, with steep descents and ascents along the trail. Weather conditions within the canyon can be unpredictable, with extreme heat in the summer and potential rain or snow in the winter. It is crucial to be prepared and aware of these factors to ensure a safe and comfortable journey. Water availability is also limited along the trail, so hikers must plan accordingly and carry enough water or utilize water refill stations at designated points.

To have a successful hike to Phantom Ranch , it is important to maintain a suitable pace, take regular rest breaks, and listen to your body’s needs. Proper hydration and nutrition are essential to sustain energy levels, especially in the challenging conditions of the canyon. navigation skills and awareness of safety protocols are crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience.

By understanding the details and challenges of the hike to Phantom Ranch , hikers can adequately prepare and make the most of this incredible adventure in the majestic Grand Canyon.

Key takeaway:

  • The hike to Phantom Ranch offers a challenging adventure in the Grand Canyon: With stunning views and a variety of trail options, hiking to Phantom Ranch provides a unique and exciting experience for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Proper preparation is essential for a successful hike: This includes ensuring physical fitness, engaging in training and conditioning, and having the appropriate gear and equipment to tackle the trail’s difficulties and changing weather conditions.
  • Tips for a successful hike: Maintaining a steady pace, taking regular rest breaks, staying hydrated, and properly nourishing yourself are crucial for an enjoyable and safe hike to Phantom Ranch. Being familiar with navigation techniques and prioritizing safety precautions is important for a smooth journey.

What is Phantom Ranch?

What is Phantom Ranch? - How Hard is the Hike to Phantom Ranch

Photo Credits: Jasonexplorer.Com by Noah Perez

Hidden deep within the Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch is truly a mesmerizing wonder. Prepare to embark on an adventure as we uncover the enigmatic essence of this remote sanctuary. From its awe-inspiring location to its unique features, we will delve into the secrets of Phantom Ranch . Discover the captivating beauty it holds, and the incredible experiences that await those who dare to venture into its rugged embrace. Get ready to be spellbound by the tale of Phantom Ranch .

Location and Features

Phantom Ranch is in the heart of the Grand Canyon National Park, offering breathtaking views and unique features for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

Exploring Phantom Ranch is an unforgettable adventure for those who venture there. Its remote setting, natural beauty, and historical significance make it a must-visit destination in the Grand Canyon National Park.

The Hike to Phantom Ranch

Embarking on the hike to Phantom Ranch is no ordinary feat. With its magnificent trails and diverse difficulty levels, this adventure promises an unforgettable experience. In this section, we’ll dive into the heart of the journey, exploring the different trail options and the varying levels of difficulty. Get ready to uncover the exhilarating challenges and breathtaking landscapes that await those who dare to take on the hike to Phantom Ranch.

Trail Options

– The South Kaibab Trail : This trail is an excellent option for hikers looking to hike to Phantom Ranch . It offers breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon and features a steep descent. With a length of 7.3 miles and an elevation change of approximately 4,780 feet, this trail provides a challenging and adventurous experience.

– The Bright Angel Trail : Another popular choice among hikers, this trail is longer but less steep compared to the South Kaibab Trail . Stretching for 9.6 miles with an elevation change of approximately 4,460 feet, it offers stunning canyon views and more shaded areas. It is a great trail for those seeking a slightly easier route with additional amenities.

– The North Kaibab Trail : Considered the longest and most demanding option for hiking to Phantom Ranch , the North Kaibab Trail covers 14.2 miles and involves an elevation change of about 5,770 feet. This trail, less crowded than the others, takes hikers through a variety of landscapes, including waterfalls and forests. It is ideal for experienced hikers who are up for a longer and more strenuous journey.

When contemplating which trail to choose, factors to consider include your fitness level, experience, and available time. The South Kaibab Trail is a suitable choice for those seeking a more adventurous and challenging hike, while the Bright Angel Trail is perfect for hikers looking for an easier route with more amenities. The North Kaibab Trail is highly recommended for experienced hikers who are prepared for a longer and more demanding adventure.

Pro-tip : Regardless of the trail you choose, remember to pack ample water, snacks, and sunscreen. Starting your hike early in the morning is advisable to avoid the heat and crowds.

Difficulty Level

The hike to Phantom Ranch can be challenging due to the difficulty level associated with various factors. These factors include trail conditions, elevation change, length of the hike, weather conditions, availability of water, and physical fitness. The rugged terrain and steep inclines make the hike particularly demanding. The hike entails descending about 4,780 feet (1,457 meters) from the South Rim to the Colorado River, followed by ascending back up on the return trip. The round trip hike covers approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the South Rim, which can be physically demanding, especially for those who are not accustomed to long-distance hikes.

The weather at the Grand Canyon can be extreme, with hot temperatures in the summer and cold temperatures in the winter. Therefore, it is vital to be well-prepared and knowledgeable about the trail and weather conditions to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike to Phantom Ranch . It is also important to carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout the hike, as water sources along the trail are limited.

A certain level of physical fitness and endurance is required for this hike, making it advisable to be in good health and have hiking experience before attempting the hike to Phantom Ranch .

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience at Phantom Ranch , it is crucial to be well-prepared, physically fit, and knowledgeable about the trail and weather conditions. Starting the hike early in the day is advisable to avoid extreme heat. The hike offers breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon and the unique beauty of Phantom Ranch . With proper preparation and caution, hikers can have a safe and enjoyable experience at Phantom Ranch .

Preparing for the Hike

Preparing for the Hike - How Hard is the Hike to Phantom Ranch

Photo Credits: Jasonexplorer.Com by Harold Walker

Preparing for the hike to Phantom Ranch is essential to ensure a successful and enjoyable journey. In this section, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get ready. From physical fitness to training and conditioning, we’ll help you understand the level of preparedness required for this challenging adventure. We’ll provide insights on the gear and equipment necessary to tackle the rugged terrain and unpredictable weather. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable hiking experience !

Physical Fitness

Before the hike to Phantom Ranch , assess your physical fitness level. Take into consideration factors such as endurance , strength , and cardiovascular fitness .

  • To enhance your fitness level and prepare your body, incorporate regular exercise such as hiking, walking, jogging, or cycling.
  • If you have underlying health conditions or concerns, consult a healthcare professional for guidance based on your circumstances.
  • To prevent injuries and improve your hiking experience, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
  • Improve balance and stability by strengthening your core with exercises like planks , Russian twists , and mountain climbers .
  • Promote well-being and physical performance by maintaining proper hydration. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after hikes.
  • During training and the hike, pay attention to signs of fatigue, pain, or discomfort. Take breaks as needed and avoid exceeding your limits.
  • Prior to starting the hike, warm up with light stretches and movements. Afterward, cool down with stretches to aid in muscle recovery.

By assessing your physical fitness and adequately preparing, you’ll ensure a more enjoyable and successful hike to Phantom Ranch .

Training and Conditioning

Preparing for the hike to Phantom Ranch requires essential training and conditioning for a successful and enjoyable experience. Consider the following:

1. Build cardiovascular endurance: Engage in activities like running, cycling, or swimming to improve aerobic fitness . Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio workouts, three to five times a week.

2. Strengthen lower body muscles: Focus on exercises that target leg muscles, such as squats, lunges, step-ups, and calf raises . This helps endure the steep and rugged trail terrain .

3. Incorporate uphill hiking: Find local trails or inclines to practice hiking uphill, as this prepares muscles for the ascent to Phantom Ranch . Gradually increase intensity and duration of uphill hikes.

4. Train with a backpack: When approaching the hiking date, include a loaded backpack in training sessions. Gradually increase the weight to mimic trail conditions .

5. Practice hiking on uneven terrain: Besides cardiovascular and strength training, familiarize yourself with hiking on varied terrain . Seek trails with steep ascents, descents, and uneven surfaces to improve balance and stability.

Remember, training and conditioning are vital for a safe and enjoyable hike to Phantom Ranch . Start preparations well in advance to allow your body to adapt to the trail’s physical demands. Always listen to your body and consult a healthcare professional before starting any new fitness routine.

By diligently training and conditioning, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the challenges of the hike to Phantom Ranch and make the most of your adventure.

Gear and Equipment

When preparing for a hike to Phantom Ranch, it is crucial to have the right gear and equipment. Here is a list of essential items to consider bringing:

1. Hiking boots : Invest in sturdy and comfortable boots that provide ankle support and traction on rugged terrain.

2. Backpack : Choose a large backpack that can carry all your essentials, including water, snacks, extra clothing, and other necessary gear.

3. Clothing layers : Dress in layers to adapt to changing weather conditions. Wear moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a waterproof outer layer.

4. Water bottles/hydration system : Stay hydrated by carrying enough water. Consider using a hydration system like a bladder or hydration pack for easy access.

5. Navigation tools : Carry a detailed map of the trails and a compass or GPS device to stay on the right track. Familiarize yourself with the route beforehand.

6. First aid kit : Pack a well-stocked kit with bandages, antiseptic ointment, pain relievers, and blister treatment.

7. Headlamp/flashlight : For hikes during early mornings or late evenings, bring a reliable headlamp or flashlight for trail visibility.

8. Sun protection : Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with a high SPF. Consider a lightweight, breathable long-sleeve shirt for added protection.

9. Snacks and meals : Carry lightweight, high-energy snacks like trail mix, energy bars, and dried fruits. For longer hikes, pack meals that are easy to prepare and require minimal cooking.

10. Emergency whistle and communication device : Carry a whistle to alert others in emergencies. Consider bringing a communication device like a satellite phone or personal locator beacon for added safety.

Remember, the specific gear and equipment may vary depending on personal preference, hike duration, and the time of year. Pack thoughtfully and be prepared for any unexpected situations that may arise during the hike.

What to Expect on the Hike

Planning a hike to Phantom Ranch ? Wondering what to expect on the trail? Here’s what you need to know about the hike. We’ll cover the elevation change , weather conditions , and water availability along the way. Get ready to tackle this adventure as we dive into the specifics of each aspect, giving you a glimpse of what awaits during your journey. Lace up those hiking boots and let’s hit the trail!

Elevation Change

The elevation change on the hike to Phantom Ranch is a crucial factor to consider. It plays a substantial role in determining the level of difficulty and endurance required for the journey. To give you an idea of the elevation changes at important milestones along the hike, here are the details:

– South Rim Trailhead : -4,500 feet

– Cedar Ridge : -1,120 feet

– Skeleton Point : -2,000 feet

– Tonto Plateau : -2,400 feet

– Bright Angel Campground (Phantom Ranch) : -4,800 feet

In total, the elevation change from the South Rim Trailhead to Phantom Ranch is approximately 4,500 feet . Descending such a significant distance can put strain on the knees and legs, so it is crucial to be mindful of this change and pace yourself accordingly.

Not only does the elevation change affect the physical demands of the hike, but it also has an impact on the climate and temperature. Due to the lower elevation, the temperature at Phantom Ranch can be considerably warmer compared to the South Rim . It is important to be prepared for these fluctuations by bringing appropriate clothing and gear.

Being aware of the elevation change is vital for a successful journey to Phantom Ranch . Maintaining a proper pace, taking necessary rest breaks, and staying hydrated are all essential practices that will help hikers reach their destination safely.

Weather Conditions

The weather impacts your experience and safety on the hike to Phantom Ranch. Consider the following factors:

Temperature: The temperature in the Grand Canyon can vary greatly, with summer temperatures reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and winter temperatures dropping below freezing. Check the weather forecast before your hike and dress accordingly.

Sun Exposure: Protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Wear sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.

Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms are common in the summer months and can bring heavy rain, lightning, and flash floods. Be aware of the weather forecast and avoid hiking during thunderstorms. Seek shelter if you encounter a storm on the trail.

Wind: The Grand Canyon has strong winds, especially along the rim and exposed sections of the trail. Be prepared for gusty winds and secure loose items.

Visibility: Rain, fog, or dust storms can reduce visibility, making it challenging to navigate the trail. Use caution and consider postponing your hike if necessary.

During your hike to Phantom Ranch, prioritize your safety and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Stay informed of the latest forecasts, dress appropriately, and bring adequate gear for a safe and enjoyable experience.

In the late 19th century, weather conditions played a significant role in the exploration and settlement of the Grand Canyon region. Early pioneers faced extreme heat, unpredictable thunderstorms, and harsh winter conditions, making their journey challenging and perilous. The unique weather patterns of the area have since shaped the ecosystem and landscape of the Grand Canyon, creating a truly awe-inspiring natural wonder.

Water Availability

Water availability varies on the hike to Phantom Ranch. The South Kaibab Trail has no water sources, so bring enough water for the entire descent. On the Bright Angel Trail, water is found at Indian Garden, about halfway to Phantom Ranch. Refill your water supply at Indian Garden before continuing the hike.

In the inner canyon, there are no water sources, so have enough water until Phantom Ranch. At Phantom Ranch, drinking water is provided to refill your bottles for the remainder of your stay.

Proper hydration is crucial for a safe and enjoyable hike. It is recommended to carry enough water to drink at least one liter per hour or more, depending on weather conditions and personal needs. Stay hydrated to avoid dehydration risks, especially in the desert environment of the Grand Canyon.

Note that water availability can change due to weather conditions or maintenance issues. Check with park authorities for updates or alerts regarding water availability before starting your hike to Phantom Ranch.

Tips for a Successful Hike

Tips for a Successful Hike - How Hard is the Hike to Phantom Ranch

Photo Credits: Jasonexplorer.Com by Sean King

Looking to conquer the hike to Phantom Ranch ? Here are some essential tips for a successful journey. We’ll cover everything from setting the right pace and taking effective rest breaks to staying hydrated , nourished , and safe along the way. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, these insights will ensure you have a memorable and enjoyable experience on this epic adventure. Lace up your boots and get ready to tackle the trails like a pro!

Pace and Rest Breaks

Start the hike at a comfortable pace , incorporating regular rest breaks to allow your muscles to recover and prevent fatigue. During these rest breaks, be sure to stretch your muscles to release tension and increase flexibility. It’s important to adjust your pace and rest breaks based on your energy levels, considering trail conditions and elevation changes. Stay hydrated by drinking water during your rest breaks and replenish your energy levels with energy-rich foods. Use your rest breaks as an opportunity to appreciate the beautiful scenery and surroundings .

To ensure a successful hike, it is vital to maintain a steady pace and take adequate rest breaks. Listen to your body and adjust your pace accordingly. Taking regular breaks will help prevent muscle fatigue. Stay hydrated and remember to fuel your body with nutritious snacks during your rest breaks. Don’t forget to take in the beauty of your surroundings and thoroughly enjoy the journey to Phantom Ranch .

Hydration and Nutrition

Hydration and nutrition are essential components of a successful hike to Phantom Ranch. It is vital to stay hydrated in order to maintain energy levels and prevent dehydration, particularly in the arid environment of the Grand Canyon.

To ensure adequate hydration, it is recommended to drink 1 liter of water every 2-3 hours while traversing the trail. This will help replenish fluids lost through sweating. It is important to carry a sufficient amount of water based on the length and difficulty of your hike. Bringing water purification tablets or a water filter will ensure access to safe drinking water throughout the journey.

In terms of nutrition, it is advisable to pack lightweight yet high-calorie foods such as trail mix, energy bars, jerky, and dried fruits. These options provide sustained energy to fuel your hike. Strive for a balanced intake of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Avoid consuming sugary snacks and opt for whole, unprocessed foods instead.

Timing and breaks are crucial aspects to consider during your hike. Take regular breaks to rest and refuel. Hydrate and consume snacks throughout the trail to maintain optimal energy levels. It is also important to listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry, even if it deviates from designated break times.

A pro-tip for maintaining hydration is to continuously sip on water rather than waiting until you feel thirsty. Thirst is an indication of dehydration, so by proactively staying hydrated, you can enhance your performance and well-being on the trail. Be sure to pace yourself and plan your water and snack consumption strategically to avoid running out before reaching Phantom Ranch.

Navigation and Safety

When hiking to Phantom Ranch, prioritize navigation and safety for a successful and enjoyable experience. Here are important considerations:

1. Familiarize yourself with the trail: Study maps and guidebooks to understand the route and trail markers. Be aware of potential hazards or areas requiring caution.

2. Always carry a reliable navigation tool: Bring a compass, GPS device, or a map and compass app on your phone. These tools will help you stay on track and find your way in case of unexpected detours.

3. Dress appropriately and prepare for changing conditions: Layer clothing according to the weather forecast and bring essential items like a rain jacket, hat, and gloves. Conditions can change rapidly, so be prepared.

4. Stay hydrated and nourished: Carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout the hike, as water availability may be limited along the trail. Pack energy-rich snacks to maintain your energy levels.

5. Hike with a buddy: It’s safer to hike with a partner or a group. If hiking alone, inform someone about your plans and expected return time.

During my hike to Phantom Ranch, a sudden thunderstorm with heavy rain and reduced visibility occurred. Due to my navigation skills and preparedness, I quickly found shelter and waited out the storm safely. This experience emphasized the importance of being well-equipped and knowledgeable about navigation techniques while hiking in unpredictable environments like the Grand Canyon. By prioritizing navigation and safety, I successfully navigated challenging conditions and reached Phantom Ranch without any issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to hike down to phantom ranch and back up the bright angel trail.

Hiking down to Phantom Ranch from the South Kaibab Trail can typically take 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The trip back up the Bright Angel Trail can take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours.

Is it recommended to hike to the river and back in one day?

No, it is not recommended to hike to the river and back in one day unless you are an ultra-distance hiker. The round trip is about 16 miles and can take anywhere from 9 to 17 hours.

What is the total distance and elevation change from the Kaibab trailhead to the Bright Angel trailhead via Phantom Ranch?

The total distance from the Kaibab trailhead to the Bright Angel trailhead via Phantom Ranch is around 19.5 miles with an ascending elevation of 4,500 feet. This would take over 12 hours of hiking time.

What are the recommended turn-around points for those who cannot hike the entire Bright Angel Trail?

Along the Bright Angel Trail, there are several rest houses and destinations that serve as turn-around points for those who cannot hike the entire trail. These include the 1.5 Mile Rest House, 3 Mile Rest House, Havasupai Gardens, Pipe Creek Beach, Bright Angel Campground, and Phantom Ranch.

Can hiking to Phantom Ranch and back up be done in one day?

While it is possible to hike to Phantom Ranch and back up in one day, it requires being in great shape and can be exhausting. It is recommended to stay overnight at the Ranch or Bright Angel Campground before making the return trip.

Are there any alternatives to hiking down to Phantom Ranch and back up the Bright Angel Trail?

Yes, another option is to descend down the South Kaibab Trail to the Tonto Trail, then go west to Indian Gardens and ascend the Bright Angel Trail to the top of the South Rim. This is a less difficult hike but still challenging.

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Jason is a seasoned explorer and avid hiker, having traversed hundreds of trails worldwide. His blog is a testament to his passion, offering readers detailed guides, tips, and personal tales from his hiking experiences. His aim is to inspire and equip all hikers, beginners to experienced, for their adventures. So, lace up your boots and join him in exploring the beauty of the great outdoors!

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Plan Your Stay at Phantom Ranch

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Bright Angel Trail will be closed approximately 1/2 mile from the Trailhead to Silver Bridge, including Havasupai Gardens Campground, from Dec 1, 2023 – Apr 14, 2024. Those hiking to Phantom Ranch must take the South Kaibab Trail both to and from Phantom Ranch. Please note that there are no water fill stations on South Kaibab so pack plenty of water. Visit the NPS page for more information regarding the Inner Canyon Trail closures.

Nestled at the Bottom of Grand Canyon

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Phantom Ranch is a historic oasis nestled at the bottom of Grand Canyon. It is on the north side of the Colorado River tucked in beside Bright Angel Creek. Phantom Ranch is the only lodging below the canyon rim, and can only be reached by mule, on foot, or by rafting the Colorado River.

Have questions about the lottery process? Click here for the lottery schedule, additional information and/or FAQs regarding the Phantom Ranch Lottery.

Accommodations at Phantom Ranch

All Phantom Ranch reservations must be made in advance. Space is extremely limited. Additional individuals cannot  stay under your reservation, and guests are prohibited from doubling-up in the bunks or sleeping on the floors.

Our cabins and dorms do not have phones or televisions.

Children are welcome at Phantom Ranch; however, we discourage young children from hiking to Phantom Ranch due to extremes in temperatures in the summer and winter, and the remoteness of the location. Families with children 5 years of age or younger are limited to cabin use only.

Overnight accommodations at Phantom Ranch consist of dormitory spaces and cabins. Cabins and dormitories are heated in winter and cooled during the summer months.

Dormitories – currently unavailable

These accommodations are available to hikers only. There are 2 male dorms and 2 female dorms. Each dorm has 5 bunk beds, a shower, and a shared restroom. Bedding and towels are provided for each guest occupying a dorm bed. Children must be at least 6 years old to stay in a dormitory.

These accommodations vary in size and accommodate from 2 to 10 guests. Cabins are equipped with bedding, cold water sink, toilet, liquid soap, and hand towels. Showers, bath towels, hot water sinks, and liquid soap-shampoo combination are provided at a central location. Pricing for cabins is based on double occupancy; additional guests may stay with an additional charge.

If you are hiking the canyon or meeting/departing on a whitewater trip, and wish to stay at Phantom Ranch in a cabin or a dorm, you must call our Central Reservations Office.

Dining at the Phantom Ranch Canteen

The Phantom Ranch Canteen is currently open, for meal service (breakfast and dinner) only and with only for guests with reservations. Beverages and snacks are available from the Canteen’s side window from 8 a.m.– 8:00 p.m. Alcohol sales are limited to three beverages per person and may be consumed at your cabin area or outside the Canteen, within a designated area. Should a cabin guest arrive outside of window hours for check-in, they will need to ring the bell at the side window.

Contact Central Reservations

Central Reservations Hours of Operation Daily – 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Mountain Time (observing daylight savings time) Toll-free within the U.S. 888-29-PARKS (888-297-2757) Outside the U.S. 303-29-PARKS (303-297-2757)

NOTES: The reservations office is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Each caller will be limited to making one new reservation per phone call. Additionally, each reservation may include up to a maximum of nine guests for up to a maximum of four consecutive nights. Additionally, if a caller/guest has reserved multiple reservations via multiple phone calls, the maximum consecutive nights cannot be exceeded for that guest. As of Wednesday, November 1, 2017, Phantom Ranch requests will be processed using an online lottery system. Use the buttons above to enter the lottery or check for current availability.

What time is it?  Time is confusing out here! Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, and does not follow daylight savings as it is in the Mountain Standard Time Zone. However Denver, Colorado, where our Central Reservations Office is located, does follow DST as it is in the Mountain Time Zone. Click here to check what time it is at our Central Reservations Office.

For overnight stays at Phantom Ranch, a minimum of 10 to a maximum of 20 Hikers is designated as a Group. Learn more about groups here . For overnight mule rides, parties of 10 Mule Riders may book their reservation by calling our Central Reservations office at 888-297-2757, or by entering the lottery  online .

Mule Riders

One night or two night mule trips can be booked with the Central Reservations Office. These trips are sold as a package. For more information, view Mule Trips .

Hiking is one of the most rewarding ways to see the Grand Canyon, and is also the most difficult. The walk to Phantom Ranch is approximately 7.5 miles down the South Kaibab Trail (average hiking time is 4-5 hours down) and 10 miles on the Bright Angel Trail (average hiking time down is 4-6 hours, average hiking time up is 6-10 hours). A good rule of thumb is for every hour it takes to hike down, it will take two to hike up. Summer temperatures can reach 120° F (49° C), while winter conditions can be icy and treacherous. Take a hike – but be prepared!

Duffel Service Information

Weight and dimensions.

Weight limit is 30 pounds per duffel. Maximum dimensions per duffel are 36” x 20” x 13”. Gear must be packed inside your own duffel bag with no outside attachments such as walking sticks, fishing poles, canteens, etc. We cannot carry external frame packs. Gear can be transferred to a duffel and the empty pack and frame carried out by hikers. Duffels that weigh over 30 pounds will be charged the full price for a second duffel.

When Packing Food in Your Duffel

  • There are wildlife and critters that will try to get to the food packed in backpacks/duffels
  • If packing food, we encourage to place food in very sturdy plastic containers
  • Please place a label that says “FOOD” on the exterior of the duffel
  • Guests may not want to use new backpacks/duffels to pack food, as wildlife/critters may try to get into their bag
  • We have limited storage to protect duffels and will not guarantee their protection from wildlife/critters

In-bound Duffel Procedures

In-bound duffels are duffels being taken down to Phantom Ranch. They must be presented at the Xanterra Livery Barn by 3:30 p.m. the day prior to the day they are to go down to Phantom Ranch. (Late Duffels are not encouraged. Duffels can be delivered to Phantom Ranch or to the boat beach (if rafting out).

Out-bound Duffel Procedures

Out-bound duffels are duffels being taken out of the canyon up to Grand Canyon Village. They must be presented at the Phantom Ranch Loading Dock no later than 6:30 a.m. – on the day they are to be taken up out of the canyon. The weighing, measuring and loading occurs only at Phantom Ranch.

Duffels may be claimed between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. at the Xanterra Livery Barn the day they are brought up from the canyon (between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. in the winter) or between 6:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. the following day.

Late duffel procedures

Late pickup of duffels coming up from Phantom Ranch is accommodated between 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Delivery of late duffels going down to Phantom Ranch must be arranged for prior to midnight the day/evening prior to delivery at Phantom.

A $10 additional charge (late fee) will be collected for late duffels per call (not per duffel). Guests should call the Xanterra switchboard at 928-638-2631 so the operator can arrange for an employee to handle the late duffel request.

Reconfirming your Phantom Ranch hiker reservation

If you have made advance reservations for Phantom Ranch, YOU MUST RECONFIRM YOUR RESERVATION 2 DAYS PRIOR TO YOUR HIKE. To reconfirm, call the Bright Angel Transportation Desk at 928-638-3283. This allows us to deal with any questions or problems you may have more effectively. It will also allow us to notify you of any recent changes with trail closures, pipeline breaks, inclement weather, or other items that may impact your hike.

Additional Information:

  • Accommodations for rafting trips must be booked through the outside vendors.
  • Dorm accommodations (currently unavailable) are twin size bunk beds. Cabins will have either two sets of twin size bunk beds, or one queen size bed.
  • The Phantom Ranch Canteen serves breakfast and dinner, which must be reserved in advance. If you have special dietary needs, such as glucose intolerance or food allergies, please advise the reservation agent at the time of booking. Phantom Ranch will do their best to accommodate all special requests.
  • The Canteen is available for all visitors during specific hours, with snacks, beverages and sundries for purchase. For more information view Phantom Ranch Canteen.
  • All rates quoted in U.S. Dollars and do not include applicable taxes.
  • A National Park Service campground is located nearby and requires a backcountry permit. A backcountry permit is not required for guests staying in Phantom Ranch dorms or cabins. Backcountry permits may be obtained by writing to:

Grand Canyon National Park Backcountry Reservations Office PO Box 129 Grand Canyon, AZ 86023 or via fax: 928-638-2125

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how far is the hike to phantom ranch

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Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch - Grand Canyon National Park Forum

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I know that the N Kaibab Trail is 14 miles and a mile drop in elevation from trailhead to the river. We are considering hiking from rim to river in September next year and have done research on conditions, water, etc.

I would like to hear comments from people who have made this hike in a day, please. How long did this take including stops? Were you prepared for the trip? Would you do it again knowing what you know? Any tips, etc.

Thank you, in advance, for commenting only if you have done this hike, attempted it or have other personal knowledge or experience.

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I have hiked on this trail a number of time but never the 14 miles in one day! One of the most gorgeous trails I have been on! The first 7 miles (North Kaibab trailhead to Cottonwood campground) is beautiful and steep! The elevation change will be 8000 ft. to approx 4280ft.

The second leg (from Cottonwood to the River) is pretty but be aware that if you get caught in the area knows as "the box" during high sun it will be hot!!! There is no piped water on this part of the trail but the Bright Angel Creek is there and as long as you have a purification system with you, you can pump!!

Not much elevation change on this part of the trail!

If you are in good physical condition and know what you are about to take on it can be done! Get an early start in the morning (4:00 if you can) and you should be at Phantom by noon!

http://www.hitthetrail.com is a great site for loads of info on the trails and other things!!

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

I was the only regular hiker in the foursome. One other had done this as a backpack three years earlier, but was generally a tennis player moreso than a hiker. The other two upped their usual walking and bicycling for about six months before, but they weren't really hikers either. So everybody was at least relatively fit, but just as important we knew what we were getting into and were mentally ready as well. That was my 50th birthday celebration, and the others were 46-49 years old.

We had a cabin at Phantom, so our packs were small and light, needing only water, snacks, and a bit of clean clothing. I don't think there was anything that would have deterred any of us from doing it again had the opportunity arisen. After all these years, I'm sure I could still do it in around seven hours, but I might prefer to start earlier and string it out longer just to maximize the enjoyment.

I am definitely concerned about the length of both these hikes and will consider alternatives now that we have the ranch booked. We are early 50's and there is a good range of fitness levels in our group of six.

We have almost thirteen months to prepare. I am not as concerned with finishing as I am that we will enjoy the trip and not be miserable or risk injury. I have reviewed several excellent sites from the park service as well as Hitthetrail.com.

Thanks again for your comments.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

14 miles is alot to try in one day, but if you are ready you should really enjoy the hike. I took the mules on a full day trip a few years ago to Roaring Springs and have been looking forward to seeing that part of the trail again. We will be taking it in two days though as I know my feet will need the break.

Rim-river-rim was easy for us - but we ARE highly experienced hikers and also trained athletes (marathoners). So to come back to your original question. yes, you absolutely HAVE to be prepared, or you'll end in misery (or on a stretcher)!

Tips ... make absolutely sure your shoes and socks fit perfectly! No wrinkles to cause blisters, no hard edges to chafe your feet sore and bloody. Make equally sure you wear pants that won't rub you sore between your legs with hard seams. Thsi may not happen when you walk from the parking lot to the store, but it sure might when you walk for hours on end - so make sure everything you wear has been 'hike-tested'.on your body.

Since you're staying at PR you can take your time. Hubby and I did a R2R as a day hike so we started from the North Rim at 6am, got to PR by noon and finished our hike at the South Rim at 7pm that nite. We were moving along pretty good. You should plan on taking 7 or 8 hours or even 9 hours to get to Phantom Ranch since you have the time.

I led a group of 12 on a Rim to Rim hike in 2008. We hiked the 14 mile North Kaibab Trail(downhill) in one day, with no difficulty. My time of 7 hours was in the middle of the pack---some did it in 6 or less, but they are fast hikers. We ranged in age from 55 to 74 years, but all are esperienced at hiking.

I actually do not like hiking downhill, but I did not find the trail steep enough to be troubling in any part. You lose over 2/3 of the elevation in the first half, going to Cottonwood Camp. The last four miles, along the creek, are nearly level. This is the part that can be tiring, but it is so beautiful there we enjoyed every step.

Hiking poles definitely help, and you really want to pay attention to the fit of your boots, so the toes don't hit the front. I've never experienced "canyon toe" myself, but I know from others that it is vary painrful and unpleasant.

September is a great time for this hike. Ccongratulations on scoring space at Phantom!

Thanks, everyone, for the responses. These will definitely help us to prepare. Our group of six ranges from triathletes to slightly north of slugs (I put myself in that category). We are extremely excited to make this trip and we will take these comments and suggestions under advisement.

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how far is the hike to phantom ranch

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Plan A Trip To Phantom Ranch

Annemarie Kruse

Where is Phantom Ranch?

In Grand Canyon’s inner gorge, on the north side of the Colorado River, sits the only place in Grand Canyon National Park where lodging is available below the rim of the canyon. This lodge is called Phantom Ranch. It’s a small and rustic historic lodge on the north side of the Colorado River near the mouth of Bright Angel creek, nestled among lush towering cottonwood trees. Phantom Ranch hiking tours are one of the best ways to experience the wonder of the Grand Canyon.

Getting to Phantom Ranch

Phantom Ranch is the only lodge in the bottom of Grand Canyon and therefore is the only way to stay overnight inside Grand Canyon National Park without embarking on a self-sufficient backpacking trip (where you would carry all of your own gear including tent, sleeping bag, food, and water). Any visitor to Grand Canyon can make a reservation to stay at Phantom Ranch but the reservations are very hard to get and they are required. Additionally, the hike into Phantom Ranch is not for the faint of heart. If you’re hoping to plan your own Phantom Ranch hiking tour you will need to start planning your trip more than a year in advance to get reservations and train adequately.

Reservations at Phantom Ranch

Making Reservations : You will need to get reservations at Phantom Ranch well in advance of your planned hiking trip. The Grand Canyon concessionaire that manages Phantom Ranch, takes reservations for the lodge in a lottery system that begins 15 months in advance of your desired travel dates.

What to Reserve : When you make a reservation, you’ll have to decide whether you hope to sleep in the dormitory or get a private cabin (much more competitive), which meals you’d like to eat at the Phantom Ranch canteen, and whether you need a sack lunch prepared. If you don’t plan for all of these details well in advance, it’s unlikely you’ll have the chance to add them on later.

Staying at Phantom Ranch : This remote outpost offers two accommodation options for visitors to the inner canyon. You can either attempt to reserve a private cabin or you can stay in the cozy gender-segregated Phantom Ranch dormitories. Each dormitory room has 10 beds (5 bunks), a bathroom in the dormitory, and bedding and a towel for your stay. The meals you can reserve are hearty and delicious and all the ingredients are brought in by mule train! If you don’t reserve meals, you can still buy a candy bar, lemonade, beer, coffee, or tea in the canteen.

Hike To Phantom Ranch from the South Rim or on a Rim to Rim Trek

There are only a few route options for your Phantom Ranch hiking tour. All three of the canyon’s “corridor trails” lead to this spot in the inner canyon. Most hikers either plan their trip as a loop hike beginning and ending on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon or hike across the canyon from rim to rim. The most popular rim to rim hike is beginning on the north rim and finishing on the south rim. This is only an option in the summer however, because the north rim closes in the winter months due to snowfall.

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how far is the hike to phantom ranch

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Phantom Ranch Tour

South rim village, az, trip highlights.

  • Historic Backcountry Lodge
  • Famous Trails
  • Mighty Colorado River
  • Layover Day (3-day Trip)
  • Hike without Overnight Gear
  • Wonderful Lodge & Picnic Meals

Description

Fantastic for families, small groups, or solo travelers, this Grand Canyon hike is a classic choice. Our Phantom Ranch hiking tour combines great hiking, phenomenal views, two nights at historic Phantom Ranch (can cool off in summer, warm up in winter), and time to explore the bottom of the Canyon. We spend 2 nights on many tours, allowing us to day hike and explore the bottom of the Canyon on Day 2. Some tour dates feature one night trips. Either way, this classic Grand Canyon trip does not disappoint!

You’ll hike down the famous South Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch (carrying your clothing and personal items), where you’ll spend two nights. We include a layover day to go on a day hike led by your guide, simply relax, and/or enjoy interpretive talks at Phantom Ranch. On the last day you’ll hike back to the South Rim via the Bright Angel Trail, hiking past Havasupai Gardens (a desert oasis where Native Americans planted crops for centuries) along the way. Give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information or to begin the process of creating a trip!

$2010 Per Person

$1650 per person, private cabin option.

In some cases (somewhat rare) we are able to offer groups of 1-4 a private cabin. The cost is four times the scheduled rate, regardless of how many people are in your group. This option does not make the trip private, as the second cabin will be utilized for the guide(s) and additional guests.

Please feel free to call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to inquire about this option.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 3

Scale of 1-5. 1 is least difficult; 5 is most difficult

Hiking Distances:

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Up to 9.5 mi

Backpack Weight:

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Lightly Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Heights Exposure:

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Please Note: Terrain, Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure ratings reflect the section or day of the trip with the maximum difficulty of each. Much of the trip is at easier levels. See the trip itinerary for more detailed information.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS OF THIS TRIP

  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 15-25 lb backpack for 8-12 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on variable, uneven terrain
  • Hiking in 105+ degree farenheit ambient temps may be required in the warmer months (May-Sept). Learn more about desert heat .
  • Hiking with moderate heights exposure

SOLITUDE LEVEL 2

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Grand Canyon hike a solitude 2 because it follows two of the most popular trails in the Canyon (South Kaibab and Bright Angel). You can expect as much as an hour of solitude at a time once we’re several miles into the Canyon.

Private Trips

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Travel in perfect company by booking a private trip exclusively for your group!

Our sliding scale for private trips is based on the final number of guests in your group. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax, national park fees or guide gratuity. The final rate is based on the actual number of guests on the trip and may adjust based on cancellations or additions.

Please Note: you can also enjoy a private trip at our normal scheduled rates by filling any empty tour to capacity. However, if group members drop from the tour those spots will automatically become available on our website for instant booking. By purchasing a private trip at the rates listed below, your trip will remain exclusive to your group regardless of cancellations. 

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 5+ People: Rate x 1.15.15

*all rates are per person and single supplements apply

Learn About Our Private Trips

  • Shuttle to the South Kaibab TH: 15 minutes
  • Hiking Mileage: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 4,800 feet
  • Accommodations: Phantom Ranch Lodge

This famous Grand Canyon hiking tour begins on the South Kaibab Trail, a popular hiking route that offers spectacular views both up and down the Grand Canyon. It’s seven miles of well-maintained hiking to Phantom Ranch. The scene surrounding the Ranch is one of the most charming in the Park as it’s situated at the bottom of the Grand Canyon near the Colorado River and adjacent to Bright Angel Creek. The stream-side setting makes for a true oasis in the desert.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Day 2 (3-day Itinerary Only)

  • Hiking Mileage: 0-7 miles day hiking
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: < 1,000 feet

This is a layover day and a chance to relax and absorb the magic of the Canyon or go on a memorable day hike. Remember your swimsuit for a soak in the cool waters of Bright Angel Creek, catch up on that book you’ve been wanting to read, spend quality time with your family exploring the area, or join your guide for a customized day hike. Hiking options include an off-trail trek up a side canyon with cascades, pools and oases; a breathtaking hike paralleling the Colorado River a thousand feet above it on the Clear Creek Trail; or a relaxing walk on the River Trail.

Important: this trip is operated as either a 2-day or 3-day itinerary, and is confirmed as such in advance. Variation of trip length does not mean guests can choose to leave a trip or early or extend it a day.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

  • Hiking Mileage: 9.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet

Today we’ll pack up and make an early departure for the South Rim. Hiking on the Bright Angel Trail along the Colorado we’ll arrive at Pipe Creek after a couple miles. From here we’ll continue our hike up Pipe Creek to Garden Creek and Havasupai Gardens – a spring that watered seasonal Havasupai garden plots for centuries. From Havasupai Garden it’s a 4.5 mile hike to the South Rim, where we’ll look back over our route and contemplate this once-in-a-lifetime Grand Canyon adventure.

Please Note : We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes. Normal  terms and conditions  apply to trips with itinerary changes.

Trip Dates & Booking

Trip dates & booking.

Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

AVAILABLE TO BOOK

This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

REQUEST A RESERVATION

This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

Trip details, what's included.

  • 1-2 nights of lodging in the dorms at historic Phantom Ranch
  • Dinners and breakfasts at Phantom Ranch, lunches prepared by your guide
  • Use of a day pack, trekking poles and Microspike crampons during winter months
  • Trained hiking guide(s) with years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. See  Guide Bios .
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and communication device (InReach Explorer or satellite phone)
  • Mandatory 5% national park fee that passes through directly to Grand Canyon

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear ( see recommendations )
  • National park entrance fee
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about what to pack.

Meals: What To Expect

Dinners and two breakfasts will be eaten at Phantom Ranch. Meals at Phantom Ranch are served family style and may require that the group eat at different times. Dinner options will be determined by what is available at time of booking and may include vegetarian chili, steak dinner or beef stew. If you have food allergies or dietary restrictions please discuss with Adventure Consultant prior to booking.

We provide the first breakfast and lunches for the trip. For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables. In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Microspike crampons when necessary
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone

Guest Packing List

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with a detailed packing list specific to this trip ( click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, a recommended clothing system, a headlamp or flashlight, a hydration system (water bottles and/or bladder) and other items specific to each trip.

Grand Canyon Conservancy

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Trip Logistics

How do i register.

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can  click here  to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you’re ready to register we’ll email you a link to a registration profile. You’ll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit.

Feel free to call us for more info – we’re here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

Unless we tell you otherwise, you will meet your guide and group in the lobby of the Bright Angel Lodge at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at 5:00 PM the evening before your trip begins. For Private Phantom Ranch Tours your guide can meet you at your hotel in Tusayan or at the South Rim at an agreed upon time.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Travel to the South Rim

All Phantom Ranch trips begin and end at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The South Rim is located 60 miles north of Williams, Arizona (via highway 64) and 80 miles northwest of Flagstaff (via highway 180). You can fly into Phoenix, Flagstaff, or Las Vegas and either rent a car or take shuttles to reach the South Rim.

Groome Transportation  provides 9 trips daily between Phoenix and Flagstaff, and 3 trips daily between Flagstaff and the South Rim. The majority of our Phantom Ranch Tour participants, however, find it most convenient to rent a vehicle and drive from Phoenix or Flagstaff to the South Rim.

Feel free to give us a call at  1-800-715-HIKE (4453)  for more information on getting to the South Rim.

Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day’s rendezvous time and location at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 4 and 7 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will be back to the South Rim normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time) on the final day.

Safety Precautions

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. Guides adhere to standardized risk management protocols in case of any potential or actual incident, and all tours carry an emergency communication device and comprehensive first-aid kit. Additionally we have a “24/7” system through which guides or guests can reach Wildland support personnel at any time.

If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at  1-800-715-HIKE (4453)  for more information.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Essential Eligibility Criteria (“EEC”) have been specifically identified to help you understand the skills and abilities necessary to participate on each Wildland trip, and they apply uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability.

Once you identify a trip in which you may be interested, please carefully review the EEC and itinerary details. If after reviewing the EEC that apply to your desired trip, you determine you need an accommodation in order to meet the EEC, please contact us prior to registering to discuss your requested accommodation.

The EEC exist for your own safety and the safety and enjoyment of all participants. If you are unable to meet the EEC for the trip, with or without an accommodation, you are not eligible for that trip. If you register and arrive for a trip for which you do not meet the EEC, you will be disqualified from participation on the trip and will be dismissed or evacuated from the trip without a refund.

Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time…etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides’ off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.

Age Restrictions

Age restrictions on this trip are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 8 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in the Grand Canyon

The weather in the Grand Canyon varies tremendously from the rim to the canyon floor, with as much as a 30 degree Fahrenheit difference. For this reason, the Canyon is truly a year-round hiking destination. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). Read below for average high and low temperatures at the South Rim and the Canyon bottom:

  • Accommodations

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

Phantom Ranch Lodge

The historical significance and backcountry location of this amazing, rustic lodge at the bottom of the Grand Canyon offers guests an unforgettable inn-based hiking experience! (10-bed gender-specific dorms, bathrooms, showers, heat, A/C)

*These exact accommodations are not guaranteed. In some instances alternative accommodations of similar quality and location may be used

Trip Reviews

Average customer ratings:.

  • 5.0 (55 reviews)
  • Most recent

Outstanding

The hike to Phantom Ranch has been a goal of mine for many years. I was very impressed with the care and attention Wildland put into making sure the hike was a safe and memorable one. Our guide Steve was outstanding. He was knowledgeable about the history, terrain and geology of what we were hiking through and he put a great deal of effort into making sure we enjoyed the hike. I look forward to using Wildland again and have already selected them for a long day hike in Rocky Mountain National Park in the next couple of weeks.

Spectacular

This trip was spectacular. Doug is a phenomenal guide. He shared lots of stories about his travels and explained the history and geology of the Grand Canyon throughout our trip. He also took care to explain the dangers we faced and made sure we were all aware of hiking/camping etiquette. Thank you for a terrific experience.

Trip of a Lifetime

Our trek to Phantom Ranch was a fantastic experience. Our guide, Doug was an excellent leader and his knowledge of the history and geology of the area made for an enriching experience. We were captivated by the beauty of the canyon. What a wonderful trek it was! Thanks to Wildland Trekking. We hope to trek with you again.

See All Guest Reviews!

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Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls via North Kaibab Trail

how far is the hike to phantom ranch

The North Kaibab Trail is the most thrilling of the three maintained routes in the Grand Canyon, and the hike to Ribbon Falls on this route is an adventure you’ll remember for years to come. This route begins and ends at Phantom Ranch so it’s perfect for campers and backpackers who’ve arranged to stay in the canyon. This is a hard hike, so bring lots of water, avoid the heat of the day, and use good gear. Expect heavy traffic.

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Route Description for Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls via North Kaibab Trail

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a less-visited gem for hikers who want all the scenery with far lighter crowds. Those intrepid enough to make it down to Phantom Ranch beside the Colorado River can enjoy the hike to Ribbon Falls on North Kaibab Trail. You’ll be led through unforgettable scenery to a beautiful waterfall tucked into the canyon.

While Phantom Ranch enjoys more stable weather than the upper North Rim, you should still prepare for variable conditions. Summer can be very hot and winter can be cold and snowy. While you can filter water at the turnaround point, you should have a large reservoir with you.

From Phantom Ranch, take North Kaibab Trail as it winds its way north along Bright Angel Creek. There are no junctions to consider, so it’s smooth sailing as you steadily climb through the canyon. As you near Ribbon Falls, you’ll take a left over the Ribbon Falls Bridge. Stay left up the creek towards the falls, watching for the signs. At the falls, take some time to enjoy the view and recuperate before retracing your steps back to Phantom Ranch.

Getting to the Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls via North Kaibab Trail Trailhead

The trailhead for the hike to Ribbon Falls from Phantom Ranch is just north of Bright Angel Lodge.

Backcountry Campground

Phantom Ranch

October-May

Pets allowed

Family friendly

Route Signage

Crowd Levels

Out and back

Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls via North Kaibab Trail Elevation Graph

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Nearby Trails

  • South Kaibab Trail to Tip Off
  • Pipe Creek Vista Hike
  • Cottonwood Campground via Phantom Ranch
  • Phantom Overlook via Phantom Ranch
  • Phantom Ranch via South Kaibab Trail
  • Yavapai Geology Museum to Verkamp’s Hike
  • Grand Canyon Rim Trail
  • Skeleton Point via South Kaibab Trail
  • Yavapai Point via Rim Trail
  • South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point
  • South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge
  • South Kaibab Trail

Nearby Regions

  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Moab and Arches National Park
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Tonto National Forest
  • Zion National Park

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IMAGES

  1. Grand Canyon Hike

    how far is the hike to phantom ranch

  2. Phantom Ranch Hiking Tour in the Grand Canyon

    how far is the hike to phantom ranch

  3. The Phantom Ranch Hike

    how far is the hike to phantom ranch

  4. The Phantom Ranch Hike

    how far is the hike to phantom ranch

  5. Phantom Ranch Hiking Tour in the Grand Canyon

    how far is the hike to phantom ranch

  6. The Phantom Ranch Hike

    how far is the hike to phantom ranch

VIDEO

  1. Hiking to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon! South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel Trail

  2. A Slice of Paradise ... Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon

  3. GRAND CANYON day hike

  4. Grand Canyon

  5. Grand Canyon Cowboy Loop

  6. Grand Canyon NP, South Kaibab Trail (down) SK456D

COMMENTS

  1. The Phantom Ranch Hike

    The Hike Down: The South Kaibab Trail. Distance - 7.1 miles. Elevation - approx 1500m descent. The South Kaibab Trail on paper sounds like a slog. It's not the distance (7.1 miles) but the fact that the hike has 1,500 metres of elevation change between the canyon rim and Phantom Ranch.

  2. Hiking The FULL Bright Angel Trail To Phantom Ranch

    Whether you plan on cutting your trip short or hiking the full distance from Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch it is important to know the main destinations along the way and how far it takes to reach them. Below are the points listed in order as you're hiking down into the Grand Canyon. 1.5 Mile Rest House | 1.5 miles down / 3 miles round trip

  3. South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch

    South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch. Hard • 4.8 (1527) Grand Canyon National Park. Photos (17,231) Directions. Print/PDF map. Length 14.3 miElevation gain 4,872 ftRoute type Out & back. Explore this 14.3-mile out-and-back trail near Grand Canyon, Arizona. Generally considered a challenging route.

  4. Backcountry Trail Distances

    Corridor Trails Distances. South Kaibab Trail: The trail begins on the South Rim near Yaki Point, and descends to the Colorado River. Elevation change from rim to river is 4860 ft (1480 m), along a 6.3 mile (10.1 km) trail. Because of the unavailability of water and steepness of the South Kaibab Trail, rangers recommend hiking down this trail only - and recommend using the Bright Angel Trail ...

  5. Day Hike to Phantom Ranch

    Day Hike to Phantom Ranch. updated: February 11, 2022. June 7, 2008. I'd been living at the Canyon for less than 3 weeks when I found an opportunity to hike to Phantom Ranch for the first time. There's 2 trails that start on the South Rim and converge at the bottom of the Canyon at Phantom Ranch. The Bright Angel Trail (about 10 miles ...

  6. Hiking to Phantom Ranch, the Jewel in the Grand Canyon

    If you are lucky and spend two nights at the base, there are three great day hikes to consider. Leaving from the Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel Campground area are the River Loop (1.5 miles), the Clear Creek Trail (9 miles each way) with plenty of scenic stops, and the hike to Ribbon Falls (13 miles round trip).

  7. Phantom Ranch Hike to Bottom of the Grand Canyon

    Directions: From Phantom Ranch, you will backtrack (towards the Colorado River) to Bright Angel Campground (.4 miles). Look for the Bright Angel Trail sign (to join the River Trail). From this point, it's a 9.5 mile hike up to the South Rim.

  8. Phantom Ranch Tips & Tricks

    Avoid Summer and/or Hike At Night. Take. Breaks. Often. Below is some more useful advice from some readers for those staying at Phantom Ranch. Hike North to South Rim. DOING RIM TO RIM it is much easier to hike down the higher and initially much steeper North Rim to Phantom and then up the comparatively more gradual Bright Angel Trail to the ...

  9. Hiking to Phantom Ranch on South Kaibab Trail

    The hike to Phantom Ranch via South Kaibab Trail is one of the best ways to enjoy the mighty Grand Canyon from the South Rim. South Kaibab Trail is the second-most visited trail in the canyon after Bright Angel Trail and there are a variety of viewpoints along the way. Phantom Ranch is a set of lodges on the canyon floor, so use this route as ...

  10. Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch Rim-to-Rim Hiking

    This trip is rated Strenuous [5].Trip members will carry their large daypack weighing 15-25 pounds 14 miles (6,000' elevation loss) from the North Rim down to Phantom Ranch and 10 miles (4,300' elevation gain) up to the South Rim of the canyon, maintaining a 2+ mile per hour pace which allows the distance to be completed safely and within the allotted timeline.

  11. South Kaibab Trail To Ooh Aah Point, Skeleton Point & Phantom Ranch

    Hiking: This is the last place to turn around unless you are serious about day hiking to Phantom Ranch and back. Consider that you still have to drop drop 1,400 ft over a further 2.3 miles to reach the Colorado River. Stop 5 - South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch (7.3 miles)

  12. How To Hike South Kaibab, Phantom Ranch, & Bright Angel In ...

    Below is a quick overview of what you can expect from this epic Grand Canyon day hike. Elevation Change | 7,000 feet at the South Rim to 2,400 feet at Phantom Ranch. Begin & End | Begin at South Kaibab Trailhead and end at Bright Angel Trailhead, both on the South Rim. Permits Needed | None unless you plan on camping at the bottom.

  13. Hi, How long to hike down to Phantom Ranch? Do...

    Hiked down South Kiabab to Phantom Ranch and back up Bright Angel Trail on 3-20-19, hiking time was 6 hr 12min total time was 6 hr 42 minutes, by the way I was 1 week away from age 73. Hiking conditions were perfect. I have previously hiked up and down South Kiabab trail to river 2 different times. over a year ago.

  14. South Kaibab, Phantom Ranch, and Bright Angel Trail

    South Kaibab, Phantom Ranch, and Bright Angel Trail. Hard • 4.9 (4537) Grand Canyon National Park. Photos (34,308) Directions. Print/PDF map. Length 16.6 miElevation gain 4,747 ftRoute type Point to point. Proceed cautiously on this 16.6-mile point--point trail near Grand Canyon, Arizona. Generally considered a highly challenging route, it ...

  15. How Hard is the Hike to Phantom Ranch

    - The South Kaibab Trail: This trail is an excellent option for hikers looking to hike to Phantom Ranch. It offers breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon and features a steep descent. With a length of 7.3 miles and an elevation change of approximately 4,780 feet, this trail provides a challenging and adventurous experience.

  16. Phantom Ranch

    The walk to Phantom Ranch is approximately 7.5 miles down the South Kaibab Trail (average hiking time is 4-5 hours down) and 10 miles on the Bright Angel Trail (average hiking time down is 4-6 hours, average hiking time up is 6-10 hours).

  17. Phantom Ranch Information

    Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, is a popular destination for both hikers and mule riders. Overnight hiker dormitories and cabins can be reserved and meals are available for purchase. Advance reservations for meals and lodging at Phantom Ranch are required. Reservations are made through Xanterra via an on-line lottery 15 months ...

  18. Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

    One of the most gorgeous trails I have been on! The first 7 miles (North Kaibab trailhead to Cottonwood campground) is beautiful and steep! The elevation change will be 8000 ft. to approx 4280ft. The second leg (from Cottonwood to the River) is pretty but be aware that if you get caught in the area knows as "the box" during high sun it will be ...

  19. Plan A Trip To Phantom Ranch

    Phantom Ranch hiking tours are one of the best ways to experience the wonder of the Grand Canyon. Getting to Phantom Ranch. Phantom Ranch is the only lodge in the bottom of Grand Canyon and therefore is the only way to stay overnight inside Grand Canyon National Park without embarking on a self-sufficient backpacking trip (where you would carry ...

  20. The Complete Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Hike Guide

    Gradually build up to a hike of 20 miles and 5000 feet of climbing. If you're starting from scratch, increase your mileage by about 2 miles (roughly 1 hour) a week. Do it with the same pack and weight that you'll be using in the Grand Canyon. Hike up mountains that climb about 800 feet per mile.

  21. Phantom Ranch to Phantom Overlook via Clear Creek Trail

    This trail begins from Phantom Ranch and is best done as a day hike starting from the campground. You will need to hike into Phantom Ranch first. From here, the trail leads north along the North Kaibab Trail until the intersection with Clear Creek Trail. The Phantom Overlook showcases beautiful views of the canyon from all directions, and over to the Phantom Ranch campground.

  22. Phantom Ranch Hiking Tour in the Grand Canyon

    Our Phantom Ranch hiking tour combines great hiking, phenomenal views, two nights at historic Phantom Ranch (can cool off in summer, warm up in winter), and time to explore the bottom of the Canyon. We spend 2 nights on many tours, allowing us to day hike and explore the bottom of the Canyon on Day 2. Some tour dates feature one night trips.

  23. Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls via North Kaibab Trail

    This trail begins from Phantom Ranch and is best done as a day hike while staying at the campground. The route leads through a spectacular canyon along Bright Angel Creek to the stunning Ribbon Falls waterfall. The walk to Phantom Ranch is approximately 7.5 miles down the South Kaibab Trail, or 10 miles on the Bright Angel Trail respectfully.

  24. Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls via North Kaibab Trail

    Route Description for Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls via North Kaibab Trail. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a less-visited gem for hikers who want all the scenery with far lighter crowds. Those intrepid enough to make it down to Phantom Ranch beside the Colorado River can enjoy the hike to Ribbon Falls on North Kaibab Trail.