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Plateau Point From South Rim

Difficult
 4.9 (46) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This strenuous day trip to a spectacularly scenic viewpoint is guaranteed to exhilarate and exhaust!


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Map Key

12.4

Miles

19.9

KM

Out and Back

6,820' 2,079 m

High

3,699' 1,128 m

Low

3,208' 978 m

Up

3,208' 978 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

40%

Max Grade (22°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views · Wildlife

Overview

This is the best choice if you're looking for a scenic, challenging route that takes you into the canyon but not all the way down to the river. This out-and-back adventure is convenient to the South Rim and has 3 places to replenish your drinking water along the way.

Need to Know

Get an early start! It is very arid and there is little shade. This trail is very crowded and also used by mule trains. Follow the mule drivers' instructions and watch out for droppings.

Description

Reaching the Plateau Point viewpoint as a day trip from the south rim is a serious undertaking - the whole trip is 12 miles round trip from the Bright Angel Trailhead.

Begin this excursion from the signed Bright Angel trailhead on the western side of Grand Canyon Village. Descend a series of dusty switchbacks at a consistent gradient through cliff bands and ledges. Keep an eye out for fossils and petroglyphs at the first tunnel. After a noticeably steeper section, pass through another tunnel and enjoy improving views. At the 1.5 Mile Resthouse, there is an emergency phone, toilets and seasonal drinking water.

At a prominent switchback 2 miles from the trailhead, there are more petroglyphs on the rocks above the trail. Drinking water is available seasonally at the 3 Mile Resthouse. A side path behind the resthouse leads to a great viewpoint and debris from an old tram that used to deliver supplies to Indian Garden.

After the 3 Mile Resthouse, another set of short, steep switchbacks traverses the Redwall limestone cliff band. From here the grade mellows and the trail follows Garden Creek all the way to Indian Garden Camp. This area used to be a Native American settlement and farmland. Now it has restrooms, a ranger station, campground, emergency phone and year-round drinking water supply. This shady oasis is cooled by a stand of cottonwoods and a spring-fed creek.

The Plateau Point Trail starts from the north end of Indian Garden, just past the ranger station and mule corrals. Head west on the Plateau Point Trail, crossing Garden Creek and leaving the shade behind. Contour around a series of ravines and across a parched plateau formed by Tapeats sandstone. There is no shade here, instead the mostly level desert landscape is covered by cacti and scrub.

At the fork junction with the West Tonto Trail take a right, heading northeast. From here it is a nearly straight shot to the viewpoint, ascending gently across the Tonto Platform. Pass a water tank and mule hitching post to reach a flat top rock and viewing platform. Take in the amazing views and see if you can spy rafters braving Horn Rapid (so called by the two huge protruding rocks at the beginning of the rapid, making this an easy place to get stuck).

Keep kids away from the edge! Mules are allowed on this trail so beware of their droppings. Save energy for the hike back from the viewpoint, the distance and elevation gain is considerable.

Flora & Fauna

Prickly pear cactus, yucca, California condor, deer, bighorn sheep.

Contacts

Shared By:

Megan W

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 46 votes

#5

in South Rim

#161

Overall
  4.9 from 46 votes
5 Star
89%
4 Star
9%
3 Star
2%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#5

in South Rim

#11

in Arizona

#161

Overall
80 Views Last Month
6,158 Since Jun 22, 2015
Difficult

0%
0%
10%
0%
85%
5%

Photos

Coming down Bright Angel.
Apr 7, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ
Bighorn Sheep crossing the Bright Angel Trail on our way to Plateau Point.
Jun 11, 2016 near Grand C…, AZ
Grand Canyon National Park: Bright Angel Trail - Sunset
Apr 1, 2020 near Grand C…, AZ
Bright Angle Trail- South Rim
Jan 25, 2016 near Grand C…, AZ
This trail is STEEP!
Apr 7, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ
Viewpoint along the South Rim Trail.
Nov 5, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 73 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

May 15, 2021
Mark McQueen
Great hike through many of the canyons ecosystems with plenty of wildlife. 15mi — 10h 40m
Apr 25, 2021
Colleen Gebauer
Aug 19, 2020
Douglas Chipponeri
13mi — 8h 00m
Jul 16, 2020
David Detweiler
Twisted my ankle at plateau point — 7h 20m
Jan 18, 2020
Kenneth Noll
7h 46m
Dec 14, 2019
Carolyn Lotus
7h 39m
Sep 29, 2019
John Dean
Sep 29, 2019
Jordan Close