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blueBlack Plateau Point From South Rim

  4.8 ( 35 ) Favorite

Trail

12.4 mile 19.9 kilometer loop
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 3,208' 978 m
Descent: -3,208' -978 m
High: 6,820' 2,079 m
Low: 3,699' 1,128 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 40% (22°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Megan W

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

Megan W

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

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Check-Ins

May 21, 2019
Austin Gilbertson
May 17, 2019
Emily Freed
12.4mi
May 14, 2019
Zach Raffa
13mi — 5h 55m
Apr 25, 2019
Nicola Copsey
5h 02m
Mar 31, 2019
Chris McCloud
Done as part of VSA training at GRCA 2019, with Ty/Tish/Bethany/Chris/Andrea.
Mar 26, 2019
John Baker
6h 45m
Mar 14, 2019
Noah E
Jan 14, 2019
Ben Logel
12.3mi

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 35 votes

#5

in South Rim

#146

Overall
  4.8 from 35 votes
5 Star
86%
4 Star
11%
3 Star
3%
2 Star
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1 Star
0%
Rankings

#5

in South Rim

#9

in Arizona

#146

Overall
172 Views Last Month
4,132 Since Jun 22, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

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