Grand Canyon National Park

The Best National Park Campsites: Hance Beach

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

hance beach
Following the steep New Hance Trail Photo by: John Hayes

We like to think of the Grand Canyon as a work in progress, subject to the whims and strength of the Colorado River. But there’s one area where it seems like the river saw its work was perfect and declared it done, and that’s Hance Beach. This long stretch of sand forms a wide peninsula alongside Hance Rapids (class 7 to 8 on the Grand Canyon scale), forcing the river to churn through a narrow stretch of boulders. Red sandstone walls rise sharply from the opposite side of the river, broken up occasionally by dark slot canyons, while grasses fringe the beach. Get there by hiking 6.5 miles from rim to river along the New Hance Trail, which many consider to be the toughest trail on the South Rim. Expect scrambles, downclimbs, and some routefinding as you drop through Red Canyon. Make your way back up via an 8.5-mile hike up the Tonto and Grandview Trails, which combine for 4,860 feet of climbing to the rim. Trailhead New Hance Trail has no parking, so you’ll have to park at Moran Point, a mile east on Desert View Road. Shuttle Use park buses from the Grandview trailhead Season Spring, to avoid boaters Permit $10 plus $8/person per night. Reserve up to four months before your visit.