Can You Get To The Bottom Of The Grand Canyon In One Day?
The Grand Canyon isn't a new name for anyone who's even slightly into travel. It's one of the most popular attractions in the United States, receiving over six million visitors annually. Endless opportunities for exploration await you at the canyon, but what about the most adventurous one of them all? Can you get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in one day?
Short answer: It's definitely possible to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in one day.
Long answer: Journeying to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in a day is possible for anyone who is strong enough to traverse 7–10 miles of rugged terrain. You do, however, have to consider what it's like to make your way back up to the top. Additionally, going to the bottom and back on the same day is not recommended.
If and how you should make the trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon depends on multiple factors. Here are the answers to all of the questions you should ask before attempting the journey.
How to Reach the Bottom of the Grand Canyon
Hiking on Foot
There are several ways to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The first and most common way is by hiking there. Making the descent typically isn't too hard. The upwards return trip is more difficult, though.
There are two trails that will take you to your destination: the Bright Angel trail and the South Kaibab trail. The Bright Angel trail is 9.9 miles (16 km) long, while the South Kaibab trail is 7.1 miles (11.4 km) long..
Riding a Mule
Secondly, you can ride a mule to the bottom of the canyon. The mule rides have to be booked in advance and they're quite popular, so be sure to make your reservation as early as you can. The rides typically cost at least $500.
Another way to get there is by rafting down the Colorado River. The raft ride is very enchanting, though they can be pretty expensive, and your overall experience depends on the individual tour operator.
Most visitors don't know that you can also drive to the bottom of the canyon! You do so by taking Diamond Creek Road. The route starts in Peach Springs, Arizona, a small town on the historic Route 66.
In order to drive on this road to the Grand Canyon, you'll need a permit, as it's on Hualapai land. It's not difficult to get and, in fact, you can get one online.
How Long Does it Take to Get to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon?
Hiking either the Bright Angel Trail or South Kaibab will take you roughly the same amount of time: 4–5 hours. The South Kaibab Trail is shorter in length than the Bright Angel but has more difficult terrain, so they cancel out.
Not enough people ask a very crucial question: how long does it take to get back up to the top of the canyon? The return trip is no joke, and typically takes 7–8 hours of hiking.
For the mule rides, the ride down to the bottom usually takes 5–6 hours. Interestingly, the ride back up is a bit shorter this way, at 4–5 hours.
River rafting excursions vary widely in length. Some will take you within roughly the same time as the methods listed above, while others are multi-day affairs that make several stops along the way.
The drive along Diamond Creek Road, from Peach Springs to Phantom Ranch (the accommodation at the bottom of the canyon) takes about 2.5 hours. If you're coming from Las Vegas, you also need to consider the overall travel time from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.
Factors Affecting the Bottom-Hike into the Grand Canyon
Depth of Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world. At its deepest, it's 6,000 feet (1,830 meters) deep. The average is a bit over 5,000 feet (1520 meters).
The panoramic views from above and the unique perspective at the bottom entice people to revisit, but the sheer depth should make you realize that it won't be an easy journey!
Your Experience Level and Familiarity with the Canyon
Reaching the bottom of the Grand Canyon isn't easy, though it's also not too difficult. That being said, the journey back to the top is a different story entirely.
Some people recommend that visitors get more familiar with the canyon before attempting the trek to the bottom. However, if you're physically fit, well-prepared, and understand clearly what you're up against, even beginners should be fine.
Which Trail You Choose
Both trails — Bright Angel and South Kaibab — take you to the bottom of the canyon in roughly the same time. Their difficulty levels vary, though. The Bright Angel trail is easier to hike and suitable for beginners, while the South Kaibab trail is better suited for hikers with more experience.
Temperature and Time of Year
Average temperatures at the Grand Canyon range from 50 °F to 84 °F (10 °C to 29 °C) in the summer and 18 °F to 43 °F (-8 °C to 6 °C) in the winter.
Most hikers explore the depths of the canyon in spring and fall. These are the best times to make the journey, when the average day temperature doesn't exceed 75 °F (24°C). Between the two, fall is better, as the canyon may experience snow even into early-to-mid spring.
Related Reading: Grand Canyon Tours from Las Vegas
What Is at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon?
So, you've successfully made your way to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in one day. What's next? Truth be told, there's not all that much to do down there! The journey is the bulk of the experience, as it's incredibly rewarding to complete.
One of the best things to do here is to simply bask in the scenery — the towering canyon walls, the flowing river, and the absolute tranquility of the landscape.
You can camp at the bottom of the canyon, either in the backcountry or at the Bright Angel Campground. The former option requires you to have a permit as well as a reservation.
Alternatively, you can stay at Phantom Ranch. They have private cabins here, gendered bunkhouses, and a cafeteria. The ranch is pretty popular, so be sure to make your reservation in advance!
You can swim here, too, including enjoying a dive at the beautiful Havasu Falls. Like many things in the area, you need a permit or a reservation to be able to do this.
Can You Hike to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon and Back in One Day?
The National Park Service discourages people from attempting to hike down to the bottom of the canyon and back on the same day. For most people, the trip down takes about 4–5 hours, and then the return trip can take 7–8 hours.
Experienced hikers, especially those who are already familiar with the Grand Canyon and the trails, can feasibly make a one-day turnaround trip. Beginners shouldn't attempt to go down and back in one day. Rather, stay at the campground or book a stay at Phantom Ranch.
The Bottom Line
The Grand Canyon is teeming with things to see and do, including opportunities to explore it on your own. Making your way to and from the bottom of the canyon isn't a cake walk but it is absolutely possible to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in one day. With a little effort, courage, and preparedness, you can smoothly make the trip!