Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

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chikbog
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Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by chikbog » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:16 pm

Hi, a friend and I are planning to hike the Grand Canyon in October, descending via South Kaibab and coming back via Bright Angel. We were fortunate enough to get two nights reserved at Phantom Lodge and will be flying into Las Vegas.

Some questions we have:

1. What hotels would be most convenient to stay at and for the shuttle, but also not too expensive
2. what else should we do either in the area or near by? we have a total of 6-7 days including travel from the east coast.
3. since we won’t need a car for the two nights we’ll be at Phantom Ranch should we catch a bus or something else from Vegas?

Thanks!

livesoft
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by livesoft » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:25 pm

I cannot help you because I drove my car there. But you should be able to hike up from Phantom Ranch north to Ribbons Falls back.

I don't know if you will be able to hike out to Plateau Point on the way back up to the South Rim, but I highly highly recommend the additional 3 miles. Since you have to get from the river to the rim in one day (you didn't say you have a camping permit for India Garden), I suspect you won't be able to do this.

Oh, if you stay overnight in Flagstaff, I suggest you hike up to the top of Humphreys Peak and back. It is a 10 mile round-trip to the highest point in Arizona. I'm sure you could get a shuttle from Flagstaff to the GC and stay overnight in one of the lodges there for the hike down to the river the next day.
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shunkman
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by shunkman » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:36 pm

I have hiked to the bottom twice. I cannot really help you with your specific questions but here are a couple of other suggestions. Let the mules carry your gear. I did it once without the mule service and once with. The hike back up was much more relaxed without the burden of a heavy backpack. Also, be sure to make reservations for dinner at the Phantom ranch. The food is great and its a fun way to share a meal and mingle with other hikers.

livesoft
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by livesoft » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:07 pm

With modern equipment, I don't see why one's backpack including all gear and water would weigh more than 10 pounds for the OP's itinerary. They are staying at Phantom Ranch and would not need a stove, sleeping bag, dinner, breakfast, nor tent. I met a couple in their 70's hiking down to Phantom Ranch. They had day packs with just some water and trail mix with them. They did just fine.

Of course, for the whole trip they will want more. To that end, I suggest considering a car rental and just paying for 3 non-driving days. I have paid for 7 days of a parked rental car at a trailhead. It would only be a few hundred dollars split with the OPs travel companion and no shuttle from Las Vegas would be needed. OTOH, maybe the OP is young and unable to rent a car.
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applejack123
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by applejack123 » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:17 pm

Sedona?

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chikbog
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by chikbog » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:41 pm

livesoft wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:25 pm
I cannot help you because I drove my car there. But you should be able to hike up from Phantom Ranch north to Ribbons Falls back.

I don't know if you will be able to hike out to Plateau Point on the way back up to the South Rim, but I highly highly recommend the additional 3 miles. Since you have to get from the river to the rim in one day (you didn't say you have a camping permit for India Garden), I suspect you won't be able to do this.

Oh, if you stay overnight in Flagstaff, I suggest you hike up to the top of Humphreys Peak and back. It is a 10 mile round-trip to the highest point in Arizona. I'm sure you could get a shuttle from Flagstaff to the GC and stay overnight in one of the lodges there for the hike down to the river the next day.
Yes we don’t have a camping permit. We have two nights at the Phantom Ranch and plan on ascending in one day.

We are planning to catch the sunrise on the way down which means we’d wouldn’t want too long of a drive I’m guessing flagstaff would be a couple of hours away.

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chikbog
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by chikbog » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:45 pm

livesoft wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:07 pm
With modern equipment, I don't see why one's backpack including all gear and water would weigh more than 10 pounds for the OP's itinerary. They are staying at Phantom Ranch and would not need a stove, sleeping bag, dinner, breakfast, nor tent. I met a couple in their 70's hiking down to Phantom Ranch. They had day packs with just some water and trail mix with them. They did just fine.

Of course, for the whole trip they will want more. To that end, I suggest considering a car rental and just paying for 3 non-driving days. I have paid for 7 days of a parked rental car at a trailhead. It would only be a few hundred dollars split with the OPs travel companion and no shuttle from Las Vegas would be needed. OTOH, maybe the OP is young and unable to rent a car.
Agreed, we’d be carrying a daypack for the reasons you mentioned. If we were camping that would be a different story. We are definitely renting a car but I was wondering if there was a way to save us money since we would t. E using the car for two days but that might be more trouble than it’s worth

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carorun
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by carorun » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:58 pm

I did this exact trip in 2017, except I flew into PHX and camped at the bottom.

Any of the lodges in Grand Canyon Village are fine. Honestly, all NPS hotels are pretty basic, so I just choose the cheapest one since I won’t spend much time in the room anyway.

I stayed in Yavapai Lodge which is close to the South Kaibab trailhead. No matter where you stay, I recommend a dinner at the Arizona Room in the Bright Angel lodge. Make a reservation for shortly before sunset. You’ll be glad you did.

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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by livesoft » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:03 pm

chikbog wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:41 pm
We are planning to catch the sunrise on the way down which means we’d wouldn’t want too long of a drive I’m guessing flagstaff would be a couple of hours away.
Flagstaff is 90 minutes away. If you stayed the night in Flagstaff you could drive up to Backcountry office and park, then take the first shuttle bus (6 am) to the South Kaibab trailhead. I don't know if that will be early enough for sunrise. You have to know where the Backcountry office which is tricky for first timers.

If you stayed the night in the park before heading down the South Kaibab trail, then it would be much easier to get that morning shuttle because you would have figured things out the night before. If you get there the day before you can also spend time hiking along the South Rim.

Although I drove, my family flew into Phoenix where I picked them up. Unless you have reason to fly into Vegas, I think Phoenix would probably be better.
Last edited by livesoft on Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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chikbog
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by chikbog » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:04 pm

carorun wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:58 pm
I did this exact trip in 2017, except I flew into PHX and camped at the bottom.

Any of the lodges in Grand Canyon Village are fine. Honestly, all NPS hotels are pretty basic, so I just choose the cheapest one since I won’t spend much time in the room anyway.

I stayed in Yavapai Lodge which is close to the South Kaibab trailhead. No matter where you stay, I recommend a dinner at the Arizona Room in the Bright Angel lodge. Make a reservation for shortly before sunset. You’ll be glad you did.
Very helpful thanks. Appreciate the specific recommendations especially

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chikbog
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by chikbog » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:09 pm

livesoft wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:03 pm
chikbog wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:41 pm
We are planning to catch the sunrise on the way down which means we’d wouldn’t want too long of a drive I’m guessing flagstaff would be a couple of hours away.
Flagstaff is 90 minutes away. If you stayed the night in Flagstaff you could drive up to Backcountry office and park, then take the first shuttle bus (6 am) to the South Kaibab trailhead. I don't know if that will be early enough for sunrise. You have to know where the Backcountry office which is tricky for first timers.

If you stayed the night in the park before heading down the South Kaibab trail, then it would be much easier to get that morning shuttle because you would have figured things out the night before. If you get there the day before you can also spend time hiking along the South Rim.

Although I drove, my family flew into Phoenix where I picked them up. Unless you have reason to fly into Vegas, I think Phoenix would probably be better.
Agreed, I think staying in the park the night before makes the most sense.

Only reason we’re thinking of Vegas is that flights would be cheaper.

I’ll check out zphoenix. You think Phoenix is better because it’s more convenient?

CJC000
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by CJC000 » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:15 pm

Well done! You scored one of the most difficult reservations in the US – Phantom Ranch…
I highly recommend changing up your itinerary if possible. You didn’t mention when in Oct you are going, but if it is before the 15th do this: Two nights at the North Rim lodge – fantastic place and the food is awesome. Take the first shuttle to the trailhead and hike down the North Kaibab trail. Stop at Ribbon falls. Very worthwhile -- have lunch there. On to Phantom. Have steak dinner one night, stew the next, both are great. Buy a carafe of wine and share. On your free day hike the river trail, go across the Black Bridge, come back on the Silver one. Watch the mules if your timing is right. Spend time by the river. Hike out Bright Angel and stay the night at El Tovar to celebrate. Use the mule service down or up or both. We sent down boxed wine, food, snacks, clothes, etc. The lunches at PR are boxed and iffy so we sent down food. Breakfast and dinner are worth the hike! That will take 5 nights…
Be aware that that time of year is HUGE Rim to Rim running season. They had 850 registered runners in one day last Oct. The record holder lives in Flagstaff. Good thing is they start early and pass you so you won’t see many.
You’ll have to take the shuttle from S to N or figure out how to shuttle a car. With all the R2R runners, check their blogs for a ride. You can only send #50lbs down on the mules from the S side.
Was an amazing trip, I going again for my 70th B-day…

livesoft
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by livesoft » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:17 pm

chikbog wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:09 pm
I’ll check out zphoenix. You think Phoenix is better because it’s more convenient?
It is certainly closer to Flagstaff & Sedona and the hiking around there.
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livesoft
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by livesoft » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:27 pm

CJC000 wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:15 pm
Well done! You scored one of the most difficult reservations in the US – Phantom Ranch…
But the week after Thanksgiving, I met many people who got Phantom Ranch reservations just a few days before because of all the cancellations. These were mostly locals who could get to the GC easily. It is a apparently a "thing" to benefit from these cancellations each year.

Also for folks who want to camp, the campgrounds I was in all had empty tent sites at that time of year. I think walk-up reservations would be easy to get, though I would not bet on it.
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chikbog
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by chikbog » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:40 pm

CJC000 wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:15 pm
Well done! You scored one of the most difficult reservations in the US – Phantom Ranch…
I highly recommend changing up your itinerary if possible. You didn’t mention when in Oct you are going, but if it is before the 15th do this: Two nights at the North Rim lodge – fantastic place and the food is awesome. Take the first shuttle to the trailhead and hike down the North Kaibab trail. Stop at Ribbon falls. Very worthwhile -- have lunch there. On to Phantom. Have steak dinner one night, stew the next, both are great. Buy a carafe of wine and share. On your free day hike the river trail, go across the Black Bridge, come back on the Silver one. Watch the mules if your timing is right. Spend time by the river. Hike out Bright Angel and stay the night at El Tovar to celebrate. Use the mule service down or up or both. We sent down boxed wine, food, snacks, clothes, etc. The lunches at PR are boxed and iffy so we sent down food. Breakfast and dinner are worth the hike! That will take 5 nights…
Be aware that that time of year is HUGE Rim to Rim running season. They had 850 registered runners in one day last Oct. The record holder lives in Flagstaff. Good thing is they start early and pass you so you won’t see many.
You’ll have to take the shuttle from S to N or figure out how to shuttle a car. With all the R2R runners, check their blogs for a ride. You can only send #50lbs down on the mules from the S side.
Was an amazing trip, I going again for my 70th B-day…
Thanks, but we are descending via South Kaibab and coming back via Bright Angel because that’s what NPS recommends.we also want to explore another area aside from GC during the time we are there

heyyou
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by heyyou » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:43 pm

Check with Greyhound and with the Las Vegas tour companies for to-and-from the GC on different days, but that puts time constraints into the days that you are hiking.

The extra days on the rental car are far cheaper than any lodging at or near the GC, and the car gives you more flexibility for an early start. Note the low overnight temperatures at the Rim for starting your hike into the canyon. The South Kaibab trail's exposure is wonderful for the views and may well be very chilly if there is a breeze.

Check about parking at both of your trailheads (TH) since the Bright Angel TH often has full lots near the Rim lodges, so the available spaces are a few hundred yards away, south of the train tracks. The South Kaibab trailhead has limited overnight parking and one extra-early hiker's shuttle bus to it from the lodge area, but with regular shuttles throughout the day.

The park's Backcountry Reservation Office (BRO) for overnight backpackers, would know how many cars are scheduled to be overnight at the South Kaibab TH. You might need a sticker from the BRO to leave a car there for two nights.

livesoft
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by livesoft » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:47 pm

There was no daytime nor overnight parking at the South Kaibab TH allowed at all when I was there in late November-early December.

The BRO parking lot is a short 15 min walk from the Bright Angel Trailhead if you go the most direct way, but you will probably want to stop for lunch at one of the lodges along the way before getting back to a parked car.
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by letsgobobby » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:00 pm

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fortfun
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by fortfun » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:30 pm

If you are in good excellent shape, you could start at North Rim, hike 14 miles to Phantom. Stay the night there. Hike up Bright Angle, eat lunch at the South Rim and hike back down Kaibab (15 miles). Stay at Phantom. Hike back out to the North Rim on the last day (14 miles). This is probably the route I'd take but you would need to be in excellent condition, pack light, and start early each morning. I've done rim to rim and backpack the Grand Canyon with my son each fall but I've never had the luxury of a cabin in Phantom Ranch (jealous).

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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by livesoft » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:53 pm

fortfun wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:30 pm
If you are in good excellent shape, you could start at North Rim, ....
Yes, one could do that. It would even be "epic" or better yet "epically masochistic" which may be what one wants.

There are youtube videos of folks who hike South Rim to River then up to North Rim in one day, then all the way back the next day. They need to start before sunrise and finish after sunset.

I'd suggest making one's first trip to the Phantom Ranch area most enjoyable and comfortable. One can always do another later trip if they want to blow out their knees.
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letsgobobby
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by letsgobobby » Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:35 am

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fortfun
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by fortfun » Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:13 am

letsgobobby wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:35 am
fortfun wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:30 pm
If you are in good excellent shape, you could start at North Rim, hike 14 miles to Phantom. Stay the night there. Hike up Bright Angle, eat lunch at the South Rim and hike back down Kaibab (15 miles). Stay at Phantom. Hike back out to the North Rim on the last day (14 miles). This is probably the route I'd take but you would need to be in excellent condition, pack light, and start early each morning. I've done rim to rim and backpack the Grand Canyon with my son each fall but I've never had the luxury of a cabin in Phantom Ranch (jealous).
It'd be even more epic in October, when the north rim roads are usually closed for the season.

Backpacker did an article years ago about a couple who did south rim to North rim and back, in one day.
Roads don't usually close till Nov 1 :)

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chikbog
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by chikbog » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:52 pm

heyyou wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:43 pm
Check with Greyhound and with the Las Vegas tour companies for to-and-from the GC on different days, but that puts time constraints into the days that you are hiking.

The extra days on the rental car are far cheaper than any lodging at or near the GC, and the car gives you more flexibility for an early start. Note the low overnight temperatures at the Rim for starting your hike into the canyon. The South Kaibab trail's exposure is wonderful for the views and may well be very chilly if there is a breeze.

Check about parking at both of your trailheads (TH) since the Bright Angel TH often has full lots near the Rim lodges, so the available spaces are a few hundred yards away, south of the train tracks. The South Kaibab trailhead has limited overnight parking and one extra-early hiker's shuttle bus to it from the lodge area, but with regular shuttles throughout the day.

The park's Backcountry Reservation Office (BRO) for overnight backpackers, would know how many cars are scheduled to be overnight at the South Kaibab TH. You might need a sticker from the BRO to leave a car there for two nights.
Okay, we are definitely renting a car. We don’t have that much time that we would need for other options.

Are you saying that we could park at the SK TH? I didn’t realize that was an option. I thought we’d have to park at the GC Visitor Center and catch the hiker express shuttle

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chikbog
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by chikbog » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:59 pm

letsgobobby wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:00 pm
livesoft wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:27 pm
CJC000 wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:15 pm
Well done! You scored one of the most difficult reservations in the US – Phantom Ranch…
But the week after Thanksgiving, I met many people who got Phantom Ranch reservations just a few days before because of all the cancellations. These were mostly locals who could get to the GC easily. It is a apparently a "thing" to benefit from these cancellations each year.
This changed in January 2019 because the penalty free cancellation period went from 48 hours to 45 days. So that is the time to look for cancellations now.

Assuming you got a dorm, keep asking and looking for a cabin. It is a much better experience. We were upgraded to a cabin the day we arrived so it can happen at the last minute.

Most people just want a rest day at the bottom. Even if you're in good shape you'll feel the 5000 foot drop in 8 miles. Some people do go to ribbon falls but it is rare for the Phantom set. Clear Creek is more common.

You know you have to reserve your meals right? Late breakfast the first morning, early breakfast the second. Steak dinner is much better than stew in my opinion so get that both nights. The sack lunches are a bunch of prepackaged food so if you want something better you'll have to bring it.

We normally stay at Maswik on the rim, it's cheaper. Agree with Arizona Room, as El Tovar has not been good the last two times. Yavipai has a little tavern with decent food and beers.

We were at Phantom in November and nothing has really changed over the twenty years we've been going, except the prices.
Will check out Maswik. Has anyone used Airbnb or vrbo.com? That’s what I normally prefer using but there aren’t many choices near the park

Yes, we did reserve our meals when we confirmed our reservation. Stew all the way :) Good to confirm my feelings about lunch being not great. I am planning to carry some stuff anyway. Thanks

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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:33 pm

Be ready for all this hiking. Especially the hike up. You are from the east coast. Got any hills near you? It will be a slog up. Carry water. Plenty of water. Indian Gardens has water on the way up. Out west here is much much drier than the east coast, you will need that water. Minimum, minimum a 3 liter camelbak.
Do your homework on both hiking for hours and shoes and socks. You need to be able to hike, once again, for hours and hours. Not for two hours, for many more. There is no catching an Uber along the way. If you get blisters, you will suffer. Blisters might be more apt to occur on the ascent, due to the slant forward in your shoes. More heel slipping.
You have a long time before you go. Find a long hike near you and do it. At least 10 miles. And, after you do that hike, do it again once more before you go.
Do your physical homework.

If you want reservations at the G.C. itself, you had better reserve them now if you can even get one.
Yes, rent you car for all your,days and drive to the G.C. Hopefully arrive the day before early enough to scope out the S Kaibab trail which you can see from the first view of the canyon. It will be a thin faraway line in the distance. Plus to arrive early enough the day before you can scope out things. The G.C. roads are little confusing when you get the park and you can waste time if you only arrive to get your early bus to the trailhead.
Stay in Tusayan the night before if you can't get a G.C. hotel. It's close enough to pop into the park.
Have fun but be prepared.

livesoft
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Re: Logistics help needed with Grand Canyon trip

Post by livesoft » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:39 pm

chikbog wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:52 pm
Are you saying that we could park at the SK TH? I didn’t realize that was an option. I thought we’d have to park at the GC Visitor Center and catch the hiker express shuttle
You cannot park at the SK TH. Park at the huge lot at the Backcountry Information Center by Maswik just a short jaunt from the Bright Angel Trailhead where you intend to come out. Take the Hiker Shuttle to the SK TH. Besides you can get a special Corridor trail map at the BIC. The BIC is not the Visitor Center.
Private automobiles are not allowed to access the South Kaibab trailhead.
I am sure you already looked at FAQs: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/hiking-faq.htm

But you have plenty of months to figure this all out and even to get in shape or to stay in shape.
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