Grand Canyon Hiking Tips In Grand Canyon National Park, sweeping red cliffs, forested plateaus and rare fauna make hiking a must for nature lovers and those in search of adventurous things to do outdoors. Sculpted by millions of years of geological activity and erosion, the raw marvel enticed prehistoric man and, later, 19th-century western explorers, into its chiseled depths. Today, more than 5 million trailblazers annually find solace and adventure in the biologically diverse region, embracing its jaw-dropping landscapes via more than 400 miles of park trails.
Prepare for the Heat
Arizona hiking poses certain health risks; each year more than 250 visitors are rescued due to their unpreparedness for the Grand Canyon's rough terrain and extreme weather conditions. In the words of one park ranger: “There are only two kinds of hikers in the inner canyon in high summer—fools and rangers. And one's there only because of the other.” Nearly 6,000 feet below the rim, hikers roast in the dry valley bed, with summer temperatures often exceeding 110 F.
While the inner gorge presents its own unique challenges, heat exhaustion and heatstroke can occur anywhere. A top priority on any hiker's list is staying hydrated; drinking water and eating salty snacks replaces vital electrolytes the body sweats out. Good scheduling also averts illness and fatigue; avoid oppressive afternoon temperatures by staying off trails between 10 and 4 and, accordingly, don't walk uphill in direct sunlight.
Loose, neutral-colored and lightweight clothes work for some; others prefer to limit sun exposure by layering with synthetic fibers that dry quickly, keeping moisture at bay. Experienced hikers skip cotton fabrics, particularly when choosing socks. Avoid painful foot problems and prolong the outdoor experience by wearing cushioning wool socks over a thinner polypropylene or nylon pair—along with comfortable, broken-in hiking boots. Layering is especially important during colder winter months.
Whether the agenda calls for a short hike or an overnight backpacking trip, knowing what to bring is essential. While a first-aid kit and good map (USGS topos are a must for backcountry hikes) are key, lugging a cooler to the canyon floor is not a good idea. Balance your load by centering heavier gear close to your back, with similar items grouped into color-coded stuff sacks. Plastic containers keep animals away from food and prevent crushed provisions. Keep the basics handy; don't spend the whole trip searching for your sunglasses or camera.
Make room for sunscreen, extra food and a compass (a handheld GPS unit is great, but reception is unreliable in the inner canyon and batteries don't last forever), but remember that anything brought in needs to be carried out. In addition to preserving the locale, be courteous to others by giving uphill hikers the right of way and by talking on cellphones only in emergencies. Always travel in groups, setting the pace according to the party's slowest member. As naturalist John Muir put it, “People ought to saunter…not hike!” Take in the beautiful sandstone canyons and rumbling waterfalls along North Kaibab Trail , remembering to enjoy one of Mother Nature's grandest gifts.
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
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Save 5% or more when booking AAA/CAA rates plus earn bonus points with the AAA Preferred™ BWR ProgramBest Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn
74 SR 64. Grand Canyon National Park - South Rim, AZ 86023
Members save up to 10% and earn Honors points when booking AAA/CAA rates!Hampton Inn & Suites Flagstaff East
990 N Country Club Dr. Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Members save 5% or more and earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points when booking AAA/CAA rates!Courtyard by Marriott-Flagstaff
2650 S Beulah Blvd. Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Save 5% or more when booking AAA/CAA rates plus earn bonus points with the AAA Preferred™ BWR ProgramBest Western Plus Inn of Williams
2600 W Route 66. Williams, AZ 86046
As a AAA member, you'll save even more. Your AAA Travel Agent will check to see if AAA Vacations is combinable with other AAA member benefits, plus cruise and tour past passenger discounts and benefits.