Grand Canyon Rim Trail (Grand Canyon National Park)

In February of this year, Ashley and I had a chance to visit the Grand Canyon National Park and Hike the Grand Canyon Rim Trail.  The Grand Canyon Rim Trail offers spectacular views of the Grand Canyon.  It is a total of 13 miles long one way and is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Grand Canyon National Park.  The trail is well traveled because it offers the easiest access to amazing vistas of the Grand Canyon. This hike is located on the Grand Canyon's South Rim. For more pictures of our hike on the Grand Canyon Rim Trail, make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: The Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim (which is open all year) is located approximately 60 miles north of Williams, Arizona (via route 64 from Interstate 40) and 80 miles northwest of Flagstaff (via route 180). The Grand Canyon lies entirely within the state of Arizona and is roughly a 7 to 8 hour drive from Southern California. Multiple commercial air carriers provide options to fly into Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas. There is also limited air service into Grand Canyon Airport (7 miles/ 11km south of the park) from Las Vegas and elsewhere.  From Los Angeles, CA, the trip is approximately 500 miles to the Grand Canyon.  From the Los Angeles area, take the I-15 east to Barstow, CA; from Barstow, CA take the I-40 east to Williams, AZ; and from Williams, AZ take Highway 64 north to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The cost to enter the Grand Canyon National Park per private vehicle is presently $25. The fee pays for 7 days access and is good for both the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon. For more fee information of the fees charged at Grand Canyon National Park, click Here.

Description of Trail: The Grand Canyon Rim Hiking Trail stretches from the South Kaibab Trailhead all the way west to Hermits Rest; a distance of approximately thirteen miles. The overall hiking trail elevation is at approximately 6,800 feet and varies by approximately 200 feet over the 13 mile distance.  Most of the Rim Trail is paved, however portions of the hiking trail are dirt. The Rim Hiking Trail is well travel and extremely popular for visitors. Between Pipe Creek Vista and the Bright Angel Lodge, a few short sections of the trail have grades that exceed handicap accessibility standards. West of Bright Angel Lodge, the Rim Trail narrows and climbs the Bright Angel Fault to viewpoints along Hermit Road. Between Powell Point and Monument Creek Vista the trail is a three foot wide dirt trail. The section of the Rim Trail between Monument Creek Vista and Hermits Rest is also known as the Hermit Road Greenway Trail.

The Rim Trail is excellent for those seeking quiet views of the inner canyon and for Grand Canyon visitors who desire an easy hike with minimal elevation change. In winter surfaces may be slippery or icy when snowy. Beware of lightning during summer thunderstorms. Leashed pets are permitted on the hiking trail but not on park shuttle buses. Please note there is no water found along the hiking trail.  Water is located in the Grand Canyon Village area and at Hermits Rest.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed our visit to the Grand Canyon National Park. We spent the long presidents day weekend in February of 2014 at the national park and stayed at the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn in Tusayan, Arizona.  Tusayan, Arizona is located just 7 miles south of the Grand Canyon Visitor Center off of Highway 64.  We really enjoyed our stay at the Best Western and this is a great option for those of you who cannot get a room within the Grand Canyon Nation Park, or if you are looking to save money on your trip. We would highly recommend the steak house restaurant at the Best Western, as well as the food at the El Tovar Hotel inside Grand Canyon National Park.  We ate at both locations and were were extremely happy with our choices.

Ashley and I hiked just over 6 miles of the Rim Canyon Trail. We walked all the way from the South Kaibab Trail to the Bright Angel Trail.  We came back at night one of the evenings and hiked a portion of the Rim Trail under the light of the full moon while we visited. The timing of our trip was perfect because it was during a bright full moon which easily provided enough light to hike at night as well as see a different view of the Grand Canyon. At night you can easily see the lights from the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

One of the neat things about the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is that there are free Shuttle Buses which allows you to travel quickly and efficiently throughout the park. During the winter season there are only two bus routs that are open.  The blue line takes approximately 50 minutes for each bus to complete the round-trip.  The blue line runs through the heart of the south rim and goes between the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, hotels, restaurants, and campgrounds. Buses run every 30 minutes from 6 am to 8 am; they run every 15 minutes from 8 am to 6 pm; and they run every 30 minutes from 6 pm to 9 pm.  The orange line  runs from Yavapai Point and the Geology Museum to Yaki Point, buses run every 30 minutes from 6 am to 6:30 am; and they run run every 15 minutes from 6:30 am to to one hour after sunset.  It take approximately 50 minutes for each bus to complete the route. The red line runs only from March 1 to November 30 and it takes each bus 80 minutes to complete the rout which runs from hermits rest transfer center all the way out to hermits rest.  Buses run at similar 15 minute and 30 minute intervals. For a detailed map of the Grand Canyon Bus system make sure to click Here.

Ashley and I utilized the free bus system while on our hiking trip to Grand Canyon National Park.  We had two full days at the park and found the buses very convenient and an easy way to travel to get to different locations portions of the Grand Canyon Rim Hiking Trial. The one nice thing that we really enjoyed was getting to meet other park visitors while riding the bus. We had a great chance to discuss and interact with several different people during our bus rides in the park. During the summer time, expect the buses to be virtually full for every trip.

One portion of the Grand Canyon Rim Trail is known as the "Trail of Time." The Trail of Time is an interpretive walking timeline trail that focuses on Grand Canyon vistas and rocks to guide visitors to ponder, explore, and understand the magnitude of geologic time and the stories encoded by Grand Canyon rock layers and landscapes which was opened in 2010. The trail of time is located between the Yavapai Geology Museum and Grand Canyon Village.  It is a 1.3 mile hike backwards in time detailing the Grand Canyon's entire geologic history. You will start by walking the "Million Year Trail", which transitions from human time scales to geologic ones. The "Million Year Trail" is immediately followed by the main Trail of Time where each meter equals one million years of Grand Canyon's geologic history. This fully accessible hiking trail provides breath taking vistas of Grand Canyon and allows you to ponder and understand the depths of geologic space and time. For more information on the "Trail of Time" make sure to click Here.

Any visit to the Grand Canyon National Park will incorporate a hike along the Rim Trail. Make sure to plan your visit far enough in advance as the Grand Canyon National Park is the most popular of all the National Parks and was visited by more than 4.5 million people in 2013.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 400 ft. (Easy), Distance: 13 miles one way (Strenuous for entire hike, however the trail can be broken up into Easy Segments).

Time to Complete Hike: Varies depending on which segment you hike.


Grand Canyon Rim Trail (This Post)

View Grand Canyon Rim Hiking Trail in a larger map


  1. Friends and I are planning a hiking trip to GC for September 2015 but are wondering about temperatures in the canyon at that time of year. Can anyone share their experience with late September temperatures on the trails from South Rim to Phantom Ranch?

  2. Great read! My friends and I just ran R2R2R. It was the best adventure!

  3. Hiking in the Grand Canyon is one of the most adventures part of the trips. You have provided such useful information for the people who search for Grand Canyon Rafting Trips.

    Thanks for Sharing!!


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Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.