What You Need To Know To Hike The Rim Trail At Grand Canyon National Park
The Rim Trail at Grand Canyon National Park stretches from the South Kaibab Trailhead west to Hermits Rest. It covers a distance of around 13 miles with around 500 feet of elevation gain.
It’s a family and pet friendly hike with amazing views of one of our country’s most amazing natural wonders. The trail is mostly paved and wheelchair accessible from Lookout Studio to South Kaibab Trailhead.
Markers let you know how far you have traveled along the trail. Most of the trail has you close to the edge of sheer cliffs with no guardrails so watch your pets, children and where you step as well.
Water is available at Hermits Rest, South Kaibab Trailhead and at the Bright Angel Trailhead in the Grand Canyon Village, but no where else along the way. There are multiple places to stop and rest during your hike as well as areas of shade. Restrooms are available at a couple of the viewpoints located along the trail.
The options for hiking this trail are endless. You can hike the whole thing or take the shuttle system and only stop at the viewpoints and check them out.
From March 1st to November 30th you must use the shuttle system to access the seven mile section of the rim trail from Hermits Rest to Bright Angel Trailhead. No cars are allowed on the road during this time.
Shuttle buses start running one hour before sunrise and continue one hour past sunset and come about every 15 minutes. The red shuttle bus makes nine canyon overlooks stops on the way out to Hermits rest, but only three on the way back. You can board the red shuttle bus at the stop near Bright Angel Trailhead.
The canyon overlook stops are Trailview, Maricopa, Powell Point, Hopi Point, Mojave Point, The Abyss, Monument Creek Vista, Pima Point and Hermits Rest. Each overlook offers unique and incredible views of the Grand Canyon.
During the return trip, buses only stop at Hermits Rest, Pima, Mohave, and Powell Points. Plan your hike accordingly or you may end up doing more hiking than you planned.
If you decide to ride this shuttle bus without getting off at any stops, the entire loop will take you approximately 80 minutes to return to where you started. Face masks are required while riding the bus and no pets are allowed on the bus.
You may also ride your bike on this section of road. For all South Rim shuttle bus schedules and stops visit NPS.
The orange shuttle bus will take you to the other end of the trail. It covers the Grand Canyon Village section and makes stops at Yavapai Point, Mather Point, Pipe Creek Vista and South Kaibab Trailhead.
Be sure to stop by the Verkamps Visitor Center and Yavapai Geology Museum. Mather Point is one of the most popular viewpoints in the park and should not be missed.
The section of trail between Verkamps Visitor Center and Yavapai Point is known as the Trail of Time. This exhibit showcases large specimens of rocks found within the Grand Canyon. I’m a huge fan of rocks and there are some really cool pieces on display along the trail.
It took us two days, but we hiked the entire rim trail. The first day we jumped on the red shuttle near Bright Angel Trailhead and rode it all the way to the end at Hermit’s Rest. No pets are allowed on the buses so we left them at home for this part of the hike.
We spent the next few hours taking our time hiking the seven miles back to where we started. You are literally walking on a four foot path right on the rim of the Grand Canyon the whole way. I don’t know how many times I said the word wow during our hike, but I’m pretty sure it was at least over 100 times.
We took our time to really admire the views at every designated canyon overlook, but that just scratches the surface of the views available on this trail. There are so many places in between that are just as breathtaking. Multiple spots offer the opportunity to climb a little further out into the canyon to get some amazing pictures.
Always use caution while hiking the rim or getting a little adventurous for those incredible shots though. There are no guardrails and if you fall, well you DO NOT want to fall. Admire this natural wonder, but be safe as well.
If you’re not into hiking and just want to check out the viewpoints you won’t be disappointed. The park made these designated stops for a reason and the views are spectacular. Get off the shuttle and spend as much time as you want at each location then wait for the next shuttle to transport you to the next overlook. No hiking required!
If you do want to do a little hiking I recommend hiking the trail between Powell Point and Hopi Point. Only 0.3 miles separates these two overlooks. The dirt path is easy to hike and the experience of hiking on the rim of the Grand Canyon in this section is one you won’t forget.
We had a blast hiking this section of the rim trail and it was super easy, because it was mostly down hill. If you are physically able I highly recommend hiking at least a portion of the trail here. The whole hike is just breathtaking.
As I mentioned before though, if hiking isn’t you’re thing you should still hop on the bus and check out all the canyon overlooks. Incredible views of the canyon greet you at every stop and I swear you’ll be in awe at each location.
On day two we loaded up Dexter and Everest (cat and dog) and headed back to Grand Canyon National Park to finish hiking the rim trail. No buses were required this time so I was excited to share the experience with our pets. Not many national parks have pet friendly trails so we always take advantage when we find ones that allow our fur babies to join us.
We started at Bright Angel Trailhead again and headed in the opposite direction making our way to the end at the South Kaibab Trailhead. The beginning of this section takes you through Grand Canyon Village with the visitor center, museum, and all the historic buildings. We visited all of these places on a separate day since pets aren’t allowed inside buildings.
We hit all the overlooks along the way and sat in awe more than once at some of the viewpoints. The animals had a blast and since pets are pretty uncommon most of the time in national parks they received a lot of attention from other visitors.
We made it to the end, turned around and headed back to our starting point.
It was a pretty awesome day.
The rim trail is the easiest trail in the park and one of the most popular. I cannot recommend this trail enough to any visitor to Grand Canyon National Park. Views of the canyon from the trail just in Grand Canyon Village alone will blow you away.
We enjoyed the trail from Hermits Rest to Bright Angel Trailhead the most, but plan on hiking the whole thing again on our next visit.