Hiking the Bright Angel Trail is one of the most popular activities in Arizona. This trail leads to the Grand Canyon and ends at the Colorado River. Another popular trail leading to the Grand Canyon is the Kaibab Trail. The Bright Angel Trail is a long 24.6 km (15.29 miles) roundtrip hike which can be completed in a day. Camping is allowed on the site. It is the only trail leading to the Grand Canyon that has multiple water stops.
The Bright Angel Trail Includes a river, several streams, encounters with donkeys, and spectacular views of the Grand Canyon. This is what Native Americans used as a trail. While being a popular activity and destination for hikers, the trail is known to be difficult and steep.
The Bright Angel Trail
The Bright Angel Trail can be completed in six to seven hours. As a popular hiking trail, it is easy to navigate—the main concerns would be the steep elevations and the length of the trail. It is a 15-mile hike on well-maintained dirt trails. Some areas have shade, but hikers are advised to wear hats and sunglasses. Take several breaks during the hike and bring water.
Below are some of the stops:
- Tunnel #1
- Switchback #1
- Tunnel #2
- 1.5-mile rest house
- Switchback #2
- 3-mile rest house
- Indian Garden
- Plateau Point
Climate In The Gran Canyon
Arizona is known to be a “dry” state because it is in a desert. However, the Grand Canyon itself gets cold because of the high altitude. The temperature gets warmer while going down the canyon. Seasons for the area are as follows:
- Summer: June to August
- Fall: September to November
- Winter: December to February
- Spring: March to May
The best time to visit is Spring (March to May) or Fall (September to November) because the weather is milder (fewer crowds, the heat of the sun is more manageable). If possible, avoid going during the summer as it gets too hot, thus increasing the likelihood of heat-related accidents and health concerns.
Pack light and monitor the weather forecast before heading out. Since the Bright Angel Trail is a popular hiking site, the trail is well maintained and developed without disturbing the natural habitat. There are various pit stops and look-out points. Save some energy because the trail becomes significantly more difficult towards the end of the trail.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan your hike:
- Wear a hat and other protective gear for protection from the heat. Reapply SPF every couple of hours.
- Wear sturdy hiking shoes due to the varied trail and streams. Some parts of the trail are muddy and can be slippery.
- Snacks and drinks. Before starting the hike, have a hearty, protein-rich meal to keep your body fueled. Bring snacks like trail mix, which you can eat at any of the pit stops on the trail. Bring a water bottle; there are several water refilling stations on the trail.
- Check the weather and other announcements on the days leading up to the hike.
Camping At The Bright Angel Trail
Those who wish to go camping can stay at the Indian Garden Campground or the Bright Angel Campground. Overnight stays are allowed. Hikers need to secure a permit and pay a fee to be allowed to stay. Permits can be secured through the NPS website.
As you prepare for your hike, beware of the following potential hazards:
- Dehydration. It gets hotter as you go down the canyon. Insufficient water intake can lead to dehydration, and when combined with the long, exhausting hike, can lead to dizzy and fainting spells.
- Heat strokes are not uncommon during summer. Wear the appropriate hiking gear and drink water frequently. If possible, bring electrolyte drinks.
- Falling debris like rocks and branches.
- Hypothermia. The water in the river is very cold. Do not attempt to jump in!
- Ice and snow during winter until early spring can cause hikers to slip on the trail. Encounters with donkeys – always give donkeys the right of way.
Over 200 people are rescued from the Bright Angel Trail every year for various reasons. There are park rangers roving around the trail to assist in an emergency or urgent event.
There is a free shuttle service that takes hikers directly to the Bright Angel Trailhead. The trailhead can be accessed through the South Rim and is at eh west of Bright Angel Lodge. There are parking lots at the backcountry office and the Maswik Lodge.
Where To Stay
Here is a short list of accommodations near the Bright Angel Trail:
- Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon: From $129 per night
- The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon: From $150 per night
- Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn: From $135
- Canyon Plaza Premiere Studio Apartments: From $200 per night
- Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel: From $119 per night
The Bright Angel Trail is a very popular hiking destination. It is highly developed. Although the hike is long and difficult, the trails are safe and easy to navigate. Looking at the view from the Bright Angel Trailhead is something truly unforgettable and almost romantic (and, in fact, has been the site for many marriage proposals!). Those traveling to Arizona should include the Bright Angel Trail in their itinerary.