Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim: You Can Do It in One Day But Don’t Have to

Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible; and I guess I am one of those persons; the ones who don’t understand what impossible goals are, or maybe, my God of luck is just as close as a hard earned cup of tea is to the nose.

“The idea,” he said is to hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim.  “I’m in,” I said, not thinking what a really hard hike this actually was. But oh well, I’m always up for a challenge, and my buddy and I had heard that hiking the Grand Canyon from rim to rim was too hard for most people.  Well, that was all we needed to make the decision to do it!  You have to know us; we are two tough and  determined dudes.   You know the type; the easy-going type with no fear.  So, we did it. I must say it was one of those wild adventures, but it’s not a feat for the faint of heart. You don’t have to be in top shape but you do have to be fit, and you gotta prepare for this hike. So  here are our tips for those of you with the guts to try to hike the entire Grand Canyon from rim to rim.

  1. Start out in the spring, when the weather isn’t that hot. Go in mid May or wait until September. Even in May, the temperature is in the 90s, so man, you definitely don’t want to do this in the summer. Even the spring and fall can be a bit tough, but it’s still doable within some semblance of comfort.
  2. We didn’t really need to do any special training because, hey, we are always training. But you might need to get into shape for this hike, so get started on it now.  You’ll need to be fit enough to run a marathon without stopping.  Once you start this hike, there is no quitting part way, so you better make sure your quads are up for it.
  3. Naturally, you’ll need supplies. Take sunscreen, extra socks, a hat, electrolyte capsules and two water containers.  Lots of protein foods, too.  Things like trail mix and protein bars are great and aren’t heavy in your backpack.  Don’t forget to bring something to pick up your garbage and take it with you; nobody wants your litter in the canyon.  And don’t be a dweeb, make sure your boots are broken in and roomy enough for your feet if they swell. This is not the place to break in new hiking boots.
  4. Leave your cell phone at home; it probably won’t work there anyway. But you might want a camera, and a spare shirt since you’ll be sweating for sure. You might want to take one of those satellite phones as these tend to work best in areas where there is no cell phone signal.
  5. My buddy is laughing cuz I almost forgot about the beer! At Phantom Ranch, you can get a box lunch and beer.  But, hey, don’t overdo the food or the beer cuz the next part of the hike is the worst. Remember, you are here to commune with nature.
  6. At the beginning, you are hiking downhill, but at the end, it’s uphill all the way. This part is why you need to be really fit and toned.
  7. We did the whole thing in just one day, but we heard that lots of people take 4 days to do it. We met up with a bunch of guys who called themselves the “overweight, over 40, guys).  Was kind of funny, but also true.  Anyway, I guess you don’t have to do it all in one day like us.
  8. Take it slow if you aren’t used to that much exercise.

Exploring the Wondrous Beauty of the Big Bend National Park

I recently and reluctantly, made the trek to Big Bend from San Antonio. I was thinking “how much fun can hiking in the desert be?”  Well, I was totally wrong. The Big Bend offers some of the most spectacular hiking opportunities I’ve ever seen. The desert is not an empty, dead and lifeless body of earth,  it’s beautiful and full of life at every turn.

However, it is the desert, so there are a few things you should know before you go. Not being prepared can be very dangerous and at the very least uncomfortable. So get prepared and hopefully these tips will come in handily.

Map it Out

First, map out your hike, clearly. Have topography maps and a compass and know how to use them. Plan your route thoroughly. Be sure to carry a GPS and even a more traditional compass, just in case.

The Right Equipment

No matter whether you are planning a day hike or overnight camping trip, be sure you have the right equipment. A good start lies in getting the proper foot wear. Read about different hiking boots and shoes. Reviews come in handily when looking for the right hiking equipment, especially when it comes to Big Bend hiking. Remember it is Texas, so no matter what time of year you decide to go, the weather can change. Be prepared for these changes by taking both warm and cool weather clothing.

How Much Food and Water Do You Take?

Most importantly you need to stay hydrated. A good rule of thumb is, for a full days hike, a gallon of water per adult is good. Food and snacks are also important. Consider taking protein bars and trail snacks. These don’t take up a lot of room and give you enough energy for the hike. If camping overnight,plan your meal service carefully. You don’t want to make your supplies a burden, pack as light as possible and divide the weight between your friends.

For Emergencies

Remember to take an adequate first aid kit. Rattlesnakes are common in summer. Wear tough clothing and carry a flashlight after dark.  Also there are cactus and all kinds of prickly bushes and shrubs. Band-aids and antibiotic creams are a must. Carry tweezers in your first aid kit, for pulling thorns.

Rain gear and heavier clothing a must, it can get chilly at night and rain comes suddenly.

Easy Hiking in the Big Bend

Despite the name Big Bend, the hiking trips are relatively easy, ranging from 50 ft., to 33 miles.

There are guides that you can hire or you may go it alone, remember to let someone aware of your route.

The following are some guidelines that you need to make yourself aware of.

Special Conditions

Hiking is fun but you have to make sure you meet all of the requirements. Be sure you carry all permits and meet all park regulations.

1. Big Bend does require permits for overnight hikes.

2. Be careful with campfires. These are highly restricted. Check with the park Ranger to make sure you meet current regulations.

3. Don’t leave any of your trash behind.

4. Avoid smoking on the hiking paths.

5. Cars are only allowed on designated roads.

6. Pets are not permitted on the trails or anywhere in the backcountry.

7. Avoid using soap in springs or streams.

8. Horseback riders need to check in at the park offices for special regulations

For Your Safety:

1. Do not rely on finding water in the Big Bend park. Always carry adequate water.

Off Trail Routes

There are lots of vast areas in the Big Bend, and some are areas where few hikers go, even though there seem to be old roads or trails that lead around them. These were trails used in the late 1800s. If you do take these hikes be sure to map it out and use your compass.

Additional Exploring

There are a number of canyons, arroyos, expanses and open desert in the Big Bend, and that means lots of places to explore, but just be careful and check with Park Headquarters before taking on an unexplored route.

I hope this information will help you when going and planning your trip to beautiful Big Bend!

Sturdy Boots for Hiking in the Desert

When you’re hiking in the desert, you’re going to want to get some sturdy boots.

Below is a list of the things you should be looking for.

  • High Tops:  You need to have plenty of ankle support since you’ll be walking on loose rocks that will tend to make your ankles want to twist.
  • Durable Bottoms:  You dont want the tread to be too soft.  It’ll wear too quickly.  You need the bottoms to also not have too much give.  You can hurt the arch of your foot otherwise.
  • Light Colors:  Don’t buy black boots.  They will absorb the harsh UV rays from the sun and bake your feet.  You don’t want your feet sweating all day.  This could lead to trench foot, and also cause your feet to swell.
  • Snug fit:  Especially in mountainous terrain this is important.  As your climbing up or down a hill, you don’t want your feet sliding back and forth in your boots.  This can cause painful bruising and potential injury to your feet.

Hiking Clothes for the Desert

When you’re hiking in the Desert Southwest, you need to dress differently than if you were hiking in other cooler, wetter climates in the United States.

When you are hiking in milder, wetter climates, you want you’re sweat to evaporate off of your body as quickly as possible, especially if temperatures are below freezing.

By allowing the sweat to stay on your body, you can get hypothermic very quickly.  You need to stay as dry as possible.

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When hiking in the hot part of the year in a dry desert climate, your sweat can evaporate so quickly that it negates the natural cooling effect that sweat has on your body.  You’ll want to wear cotton desert hiking clothes because cotton acts almost as a sponge, soaking up and holding your sweat.

By holding your sweat and not letting it immediately evaporate, you’re giving it enough time to stay on your body and perform it’s natural function of cooling your body through evaporation.