The Grand Canyon offers one of the most appetizing Microadventures in the southwest: the Rim to Rim hike. In fact, it’s one of the most requested topic for our team to write about. There’s a lot of questions surrounding this famous hike. In order to get you prepared or to help with some of your burning questions, we’ve compiled this blog answering some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon.
What is the Distance/Miles of the Rim to Rim Hike?
The distance of the Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon is approximately 24 miles. Your mileage may differ slightly, depending on the trails you take and how much walking around you do during your breaks.
You will also have a 10,000-foot elevation change during your Rim to Rim hike, as you climb down into the canyon and then back up again to the Rim you are traveling to. Again, you may find you have extra elevation changes during your Rim to Rim hike, especially if you venture off the trail to see another landmark or attraction along the way.
No matter what, you should prepare for this approximately 24-mile hike well in advance, so you do not find yourself ready to collapse halfway through.
How Many Hours Does the Rim to Rim Hike Take?
The number of hours it takes you to hike from Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon will be dependent on how many detours you make along the way, how slow or fast you are hiking, and whether or not you plan to stop and camp for the night.
Most people can do this hike in 10 or 12 hours when they focus on getting it accomplished in one day. However, in order to do that, you must carry a very light pack, hike quickly, and not make many stops along the way.
If you plan on taking two days or more for this hike, you will find that you are hiking for between 13 and 16 hours. Since you would need camping gear, your packs would be heavier and that would slow you down during your hike.
Do I Need a Permit to Hike or Backpack Rim to Rim?
There is no permit needed to hike from Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon, as long as you are only going to be in the park for a day. If you plan to do this hike over two days and are going to be staying at the South Rim Lodge, Grand Canyon Lodge, or Phantom Ranch, you will not need a permit either. However, you will need to have reservations in place at the lodges or ranch before you will be allowed to hit the trail without a permit.
A permit is required for this Rim to Rim hike if you are planning on camping out during your backpacking adventure. This is to keep the number of people staying out in the middle of the canyon to a minimum each night.
Is There a Shuttle Available?
There is a shuttle to take you between Rims, which is helpful if you are only interested in doing the Rim to Rim hike and not the Rim to Rim to Rim hike. Up in the North Rim, you will find the shuttle station at the North Kaibab trailhead. The shuttle station is at the Bright Angel Lodge and backcountry parking lot D at the South Rim. Most of the time, the shuttle will run long into the night, to accommodate hikers making the Rim to Rim hike in a single day. You can also schedule a shuttle trip for later if you know you will be out on the trails longer.
Should I Take a Hiking Tour for Rim to Rim?
While you can hike from Rim to Rim on your own, it is best to be with a group of people for this intense journey. Therefore, you may want to take a hiking tour to ensure your safety out on the trails.
It is also a good idea to take a hiking tour if you plan on camping out along the trails during your hike. When you take these hiking tours, you won’t be the one responsible for obtaining permits and you will know you are all set when you arrive to head out on the trails. These hiking tours can also secure lodging for you at one of the lodges or Phantom Ranch, which is perfect if you did not think ahead enough to reserve your accommodations well in advance.
Rim to Rim: North to South or South to North?
There really isn’t a best way to do the Rim to Rim hike, but most people prefer to begin their hike at the North Rim and finish at the South Rim. When you begin your hike at the North Rim, you will want to enter the North Kaibab Trail and follow it until you reach either the South Kaibab Trail or the Bright Angel Trail.
The most popular of those two trails seems to be the South Kaibab Trail. You must keep in mind that there is no shade or water along that trail, which can be a miserable experience in the middle of summer. While the South Kaibab Trail is steeper than the Bright Angel Trail, it is also a couple of miles shorter. Those couple miles might actually be the reason why you choose to tackle that trail over the Bright Angel Trail!
If you decide to go the opposite direction of everyone else, you can easily follow these same trails from the South Rim all the way up to the North Rim.
When’s the Best Time to Hike Rim to Rim?
You can hike from Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon at any time of the year, but the best time to tackle this feat is from the month of May through October. You won’t encounter any snow on the trails during those months, although it can get extremely hot during the summer months.
As you plan your hike in the Grand Canyon, you will want to consider the time you are hiking carefully. If you hate hot weather, and cannot hike well in it, then you are better off hiking this route in May or October. However, if the heat is normally not an issue for you, simply pack a lot of extra water and hit the trails whenever you want.
Can I Run Rim to Rim?
It is completely possible to run Rim to Rim, but you must be prepared for all types of situations before you head out on the trail. With a distance of approximately 24 miles, you must be used to running that distance beforehand. However, you must also be prepared for the changes in elevations you will encounter along the way.
The best time to run Rim to Rim is either the months of March and April or October and November because the temperatures are much cooler. There are also fewer people out on the trails, so you will have a lesser chance of running into someone without warning.
It is imperative that you bring enough food and water to keep you going and that you know when you must take a break or simply walk for a few minutes. After all, this is a challenging place to hike, let alone run!
We also recommend carrying a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) if you’re considering running Rim to Rim in case something tragic happens. Better safe than sorry!
The famous Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon is the ultimate Microadventure if you’re looking to push yourself and test your mental strength. Preparation can make or break your experience below the Rim. Hopefully, you’ve gathered some insights on how to plan your Rim to Rim hike so you can make pop out the other side with smiles.
Rim to Rim Resources
- What is the Rim to Rim Hike?
- Rim to Rim: One Day Hike or Backpacking Trip?
- How Long is the Rim to Rim Hike?
- Grand Canyon Microadventures
Nick is the owner and regular content writer for Southwest Microadventures. When he’s not writing, you can find him rock climbing, peak bagging, mountain biking, backpacking, or drinking strong coffee.