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Grand Canyon National Park: Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point

This 10.7-mile out-and-back dives more than 3,000 feet to a photogenic perch offering five-star views of the Colorado River and the second deepest canyon in the United States.

Trip Tools

From the Bright Angel Trailhead, zigzag your way down 3,195 feet to Indian Garden, an oasis smudged into a crease in the canyon wall. From the rim, nearly 100 switchbacks snake down the canyon, etched into the red rock, cutting a thin ribbon of matted red dirt. Resthouses, complete with shade, water and an emergency telephone, are spaced in 1.5 mile intervals along the trail. At Indian Garden, veer left and head out into the canyon to Plateau Point. The point, a spectacular overlook with views of the Colorado River, and the inner canyon’s depths, is worth every bit of sweat. To return, simply make a U-turn and head back up the canyon to the South Rim and one of the best ice cream cones ever, at the Bright Angel Lodge.

-Mapped by Chelise Simmons


GUIDEBOOK AND MAP Hiking Grand Canyon National Park, 3rd Edition, Ron Adkison and Ben Adkison ($19, Trails Illustrated Grand Canyon ($12, Plan other trips in the park using BACKPACKER’s Grand Canyon National Park page.

CUSTOM TOPO MAPS Download tracks and waypoints, print or order custom topos, from the map tools menu on the web version of the trip report.

SEASON March to May and October to November. From June to September, inner canyon temps from are often above 100°F. Start early to beat the midday heat. Also, don’t forget it is much easier to descend into the canyon than climb back up. Expect to spend at least double the time climbing than descending

KEY GEAR Wide-brim hat and six liters of water storage.

PERMITS $10 per permit, plus $5/person per night. Apply on the first of the month four months prior to your hike date (e.g., June 1 for a hike beginning in Nov.) and fax it to (928) 638-2125

CONTACT Backcountry Information Office: (928) 638-7875 (from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday to Thursday),

STOCK UP Canyon Village Marketplace, South Rim. (928) 638-2262

FREE TRIP PLANNERS Get news on vacation deals and lodging at

10 Summer Hiking Essentials

Water – Plain and some with electrolyte replacement.
Food – especially salty foods. Eat twice as much as normal.
First Aid Kit – bandaids, ace wrap, antiseptic, moleskin, etc.
Map – while many trails are well-marked, maps are helpful tools.
Pack – to carry the essentials.
Flashlight/Spare Batteries – allows you to hike out during the cool of the evening.
Spray Bottle – fill with water for your own personal air conditioning system.
Hat/Sunscreen – to keep the sun off you and protect your skin.
Whistle and/or Signal Mirror – for emergency use.
Waterproof Clothing – poncho or jacket; especially usefull during monsoon season (mid-July to early September).

The South Rim: Open All Year
The South Rim is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All visitor services: camping, lodging, and restaurants are available year round.Reservations are strongly recommended during the busy summer season. Some facilities are closed during the winter. A free shuttle bus system operates in the Grand Canyon Village area. Make your visit easier by parking your car at the Visitor Center and using the free shuttle buses to get around the village.

Market Plaza is the Business Center of the Village. Here you will find a general store and deli, a bank, post office, and cafeteria at Yavapai Lodge. Market Plaza has a large parking lot (B) and is in a central location. It is a good place to park and access the park’s free shuttle system.

To Trailhead

From Flagstaff, take I-40 W/Purple Heart Trail to exit 165. Turn right onto AZ 64 N toward Grand Canyon National Park. In 54.7 miles, turn left onto Center Rd. In 1.6 miles, turn left onto Village Loop Dr. and park in lot on right. Walk across lot to acce

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