Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike in One Day

Completing a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon National Park in one day is a very challenging feat, but achievable for very experienced hikers. It’s important to be aware of the risks and prepare meticulously before attempting this ambitious trek.

There are two main routes for a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike in one day:

  • South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Trail: This is the most popular route, starting on the South Rim and descending to the canyon floor via the South Kaibab Trail. Hikers then connect with the Bright Angel Trail to ascend to the North Rim. The total distance is approximately 21 miles (34 km) with an elevation change of over 6,000 feet (1,800 m).

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  • North Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Trail: This route starts on the North Rim and descends via the North Kaibab Trail before connecting with the Bright Angel Trail to ascend to the South Rim. This route is slightly longer at 24 miles (39 km) due to the higher elevation of the North Rim.

The hike can be completed in one very long day (12-14 hours) by very experienced hikers, but most people choose to backpack over 2-3 days. This allows you to enjoy the scenery and wildlife at a more leisurely pace.

Important things to consider before you hike rim-to-rim:

Distance and Difficulty

The total distance for this route is approximately 21-24 miles (34-39 kilometers) with a significant elevation change of over 10,000 feet (3,000 meters). This challenging hike requires a good level of physical fitness and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. Be prepared for long days on the trail with steep sections and hot temperatures, especially at the bottom of the canyon.


Expect to be on the trail for 12 to 14 hours, depending on your pace and the number of breaks you take. This is a strenuous trek, so factor in enough time to complete it comfortably, especially considering the heat.


A backcountry permit is not required for a day hike, but it’s always a good idea to check with the Grand Canyon National Park Service for any closures or restrictions before you set out. You can find up-to-date information on the park website or by calling the park rangers.

Best Time of Year

The best time to attempt a rim-to-rim hike on this route is during spring (April-May) or fall (September-October) when the temperatures are more moderate. Avoid summer when the canyon floor can be sweltering, reaching well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

Important Considerations

  • Be honest with yourself about your abilities. This hike is not recommended for casual hikers.
  • Train properly in advance, focusing on building endurance and strength for long distances and significant elevation changes.
  • Pack plenty of water (at least 4 liters) and electrolytes. Dehydration is a serious risk, especially in hot weather.
  • Bring high-energy foods and snacks to fuel your long hike.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather conditions, including sun protection (sunscreen and a hat) and sturdy hiking boots.
  • Let someone know your itinerary and estimated return time in case of emergencies.
  • Be aware of the dangers of heatstroke, sunburn, and dehydration. Take breaks in the shade, replenish fluids regularly, and wear sunscreen.

The Beauty of the North Kaibab Trail

The North Kaibab Trail is known for its breathtaking views of the canyon and is considered to be the more scenic route. The trail winds through a forest of ponderosa pines and Douglas firs, offering glimpses of the Colorado River far below.

The Challenge of Bright Angel Trail

The Bright Angel Trail, while offering stunning views as well, is a challenging climb out of the canyon. The trail is steeper than the South Kaibab Trail and has several switchbacks.

Bright Angel Trail hike

With careful planning and physical preparation, a rim-to-rim hike on the North Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Trail can be a truly rewarding experience. Remember, safety is paramount. Be prepared for the elements and turn back if you don’t feel well or weather conditions deteriorate.

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