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blueBlack Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R)

  5.0 ( 41 ) Favorite

Trail

47.5 mile 76.5 kilometer out and back
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 10,919' 3,328 m
Descent: -10,919' -3,328 m
High: 8,178' 2,493 m
Low: 2,454' 748 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 61% (31°)

Dogs

Unknown
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Map Key

Trail shared by Cyndi Wyatt

Hike across one of the Seven Wonders of the World... TWICE!

Cyndi Wyatt

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall

Something to be mindful of when in the canyon is that the Park Service "turns off" the water in the Colorado River from mid October to mid May and at the same time, the North Rim Lodge will be closed. Shuttles around the South Rim village change on on/off peak times. Stop at the Visitors Center to get all the facts.

Overview

This is a must do hike! You'll be propelled to get to the next mile by the beauty the canyon possess.

The unique aspect of crossing the Grand Canyon is that you first descend 9 miles, then hike across the floor for 7 miles, before hitting the steepest part of the North Kaibab Trail where you'll climb 7 miles up a 15% - 20% grade. Pacing yourself is the key to finishing R2R2R.

The views in the canyon as the sun kisses the walls change with every hour. Take your time to enjoy all that the Grand Canyon has to offer.

Make time to visit Ribbon Falls just off the North Kaibab Trail. Take a dip but don't stay too long as you have a long day ahead of you. The falls are about a mile off the trail. Take the bridge exit off of the trail to get there.

The trail is about the width of 1/2 a fire road and is very technical with big exposed drop-offs. There are big steps (depending on your height), and the puddles of mule pee are wide spread so watch you step and don't face plant.

Watch the weather. During this trek, we were caught in a flash flood and experienced lightning, rock slides, and crossed 7 muddy, fast, rushing (new) streams.

Need to Know

Fall and spring are the perfect time for this crossing. The Bright Angel Trail is two miles longer (4 if it's an out and back) than the traditional route of South Kaibab. But having your car a few feet away after hiking 48 miles and climbing 14K feet is invaluable. You are soaked from sweat or rain, and it's freezing at both Rims.

Description

Starting with the Bright Angel Trail allows you to park close to the trailhead and not rely on shuttles or parking restrictions. A 4am start allows you to be in the dark a little on the front end of your journey and a little on the back end, which is preferable to hiking through the night.

Descend the Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River, through Bright Angel Campground, and then head up the North Kaibab Trail.

Views on the Bright Angel Trail are framed by massive cliffs. The majority of this trails elevation change takes place in the upper four miles of trail via a series of switchbacks that can seem endless. Be sure to utilize the resthouses and seasonal water sources along the way (there are composting toilets at Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse, but no toilets at Three-Mile Resthouse).

Approaching Indian Garden, the trail flattens out considerably as it crosses the shaley and desolate Tonto Platform. Indian Garden is an oasis in the canyon that was used by Native Americans up to modern times. Below Indian Garden, the trail follows a creek through a meandering gully of water sculpted stone and shimmering cottonwood trees. The trail becomes steep once again where this gully empties into the broad, bowl-shaped Pipe Creek drainage. This section of trail, affectionately referred to as the Devils Corkscrew, is brutally hot during the summer months and should therefore only be attempted during the early morning or late evening hours.

There are no potable water sources between Indian Garden and Bright Angel Campground. A composting toilet is located near the River Resthouse. From the Pipe Creek/River Resthouse area to Bright Angel Campground, the trail traverses exposed sand dunes for over a mile until reaching the silver bridge across the Colorado River. From here head cross the Silver Bridge and start on the North Kaibab Trail.

The North Kaibab Trail is the first challenging ascent as you'll climb 7 miles up a 15% - 20% grade. Pacing yourself is the key to finishing R2R2R. Along the North Kaibab trail you have the option to take a short spur trail to Ribbon Falls or Roaring Springs.

Now you are at the half way mark! Go back and cross the same way that you came.

Flora & Fauna

Keep your eyes out for big horn sheep, as that will be your special gift if you see one. Elk are everywhere on the rim, but remember to admire them from afar.

History & Background

The Grand Canyon is the oldest geological wonder of the world. Looking down on it from the rim is not fully understanding it's amazing beauty - you have to venture below the rim for the full experience.

Contacts

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Check-Ins

May 30, 2019
Shelly Xu
May 28, 2019
Shihao Zhou
48mi — 9h 00m
May 7, 2019
Chris McCloud
Done while working at GRCA 2019. Three days, with two nights at Cottonwood.
Apr 29, 2019
Seung Yun Lee
Apr 17, 2019
Anthony Thomas
11h 00m
Nov 13, 2018
Jason Anderson
Oct 3, 2018
Paul Bain
Just completed Rim to Rim in one day. Beautiful weather day after hard storm. Traveled North Rim to South Rim. 24mi
Sep 16, 2018
Randy Farber

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 41 votes

#2

in South Rim

#43

Overall
  5.0 from 41 votes
5 Star
95%
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Rankings

#2

in South Rim

#3

in Arizona

#43

Overall
2,378 Views Last Month
66,253 Since Nov 9, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

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