Some people dream of hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim. That is, hiking from its South Rim to its North Rim, or vice-versa. And some of these intrepid souls will eventually achieve their dream. I was once such a dreamer. I’d first read about people going “rim to rim” in Runner’s World magazine. An avid runner myself, I longed to attempt this feat. After all, it would be quite the adventure.
But life got in the way, as it so often does. I never did get to the Grand Canyon for such a run. Fortunately, many years after I first read about racing through the entire Grand Canyon, I became an avid long-distance hiker. And I was thrilled to discover that if I thru-hiked the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT), I’d be led right through the Grand Canyon. That is, I’d achieve a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon while thru-hiking the AZT. Awesome sauce!
Hiking Rim to Rim
Most visitors to the Grand Canyon will never consider hiking through the entire canyon. In fact, the vast majority of the canyon’s +6 million annual visitors simply view it from up top, namely from its south side. And that’s a shame. Because the best way to enjoy this stupendous site, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, involves your own two feet. Luckily, a growing number of people are now hiking down to the Colorado River – also an exciting undertaking – while many others are trying shorter hikes partway down to the canyon floor.
When I arrived at the canyon’s South Rim in early April 2019, nearing the end of my AZT thru-hike, the weather was nice. It wasn’t too cold or too hot. One of the biggest dangers when hiking in or through the Grand Canyon is heat. It can get super hot on the canyon floor, and water is scarce. So you have to make sure you’re well-hydrated before you start, and that you pack a lot of water (and snacks) for your journey.
My Hiking Adventure
Before I began my hike through the canyon, I spent one day in the national park as a typical tourist. I explored the visitor center and gift shop, hopped on the free shuttles that take you to various scenic overlooks and wandered around wherever I wished. The next day, I returned and boarded the special shuttle that takes hikers to the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trailheads early in the morning. Long before the sun was overhead, I was off!
As you’ll read in my article, I had the time of my life. I hope you will one day have a chance to visit this spectacular place.
Melanie Radzicki McManus has hiked +7,000 miles during the last decade, including thru-hikes of four of America’s 11 National Scenic Trails (NSTs). She hopes to complete the other seven NSTs during the next 10 years.