Hiking in the Grand Canyon National Park is the quintessence of what Slow Travel is.
Our stay in USA lasted 11 days. We couldn’t extend this time due to the inflexible, but very cheap flight offer caught on Secret Flying webpage (read how to buy cheap plane tickets here). We had many discussions what to do within this 11 days, but one thing was clear – we are not able to see “everything” in such short period of time.
We considered several routes, from Los Angeles to San Francisco with Yosemite National Park, to Death Valley and Las Vegas or to San Diego and south border with Mexico – California has a lot of things to offer. We knew that instead of covering all of it in a hurry and speeding car, we have to choose two or three places and try to get to know them better.
Suddenly, browsing internet and jumping from one page to the other, we found offers for trekking in Grand Canyon. It was love at first sight and visitng Arizona immediately became the goal of our trip. 😍
We had no doubts to dedicate half of time in States for this adventure (4 days for trekking and 2 days for travelling go and back), because we are sure that Slow Travel is our way to discover the world.
The Grand Canyon was established as a national monument by Teddy Roosevelt in 1908. The Congress upgraded the monument to a national park in 1919 – almost 100 years ago. Is valued for its combination of size, depth, and exposed layers of colorful rocks dating back to Precambrian times! It’s 446 km long, up to 29 km wide and attains a depth of almost 2 km.
This wide terrain is a home for many wild and unique animals, such as Mountain Lion, California Condor – the largest North American land bird, unfortunately listed as critically endangered, or Grand Canyon Rattlesnakes – poisonous, but rather not dangerous, as they don’t attack people until they are too close (a rattlesnake will avoid humans and it rattles to warn people that they are getting too close).
More than 6 million people visit Grand Canyon National Park each year. Only few percent of them decide to go down for a one day walk. Majority just come to the rim, take a picture and go back.
According to the statistics from nps.gov a little over 1% of visitors get to the bottom of the Canyon and spend a night below the rim. Our dream became to join this prestigious group of people.
So this is why we went there. Grand Canyon expedition 2018 was confirmed! 4 days without civilization, internet, electricity and phone (lack of signal in the entire canyon). No pollution, no lights, no noise, no shower and soap as well. Just us and this outstanding, breathtaking, incredible nature 😀
But how we organised such trip? At the end of this post you will find some Q&A how to plan it. I hope that my pictures and advices will inspire you to act and maybe get this one, or your own “canyon” during your next trip.
1. Alone or with the guide company?
Both ways are possible. If you want to plan it by yourself, remember that to spend the night below the rim you need a permition. Due to that you should plan all at least 6 months before your trip. For more tips join Facebook group Grand Canyon Hikers. Other option is a travel agency. I truly recomed you Wildland Trekking. They will provide you all what is needed, including permitions, gear, food and most important – best guides on the world. We were hiking with Tiffany, who is guiding people in the Grand Canyon National Park for 14 years. What a lady! No doubts she made this trip unforgettable for us, taking care of us, sharing the knowledge, experience and answering all the questions.
2. One or few days?
Although the park management does not recommend going down to the bottom of the Canyon and returning the same day, yes, it is theoretically possible. But please do not consider it even you are in great shape! You will have to be in hurry and this beautiful place requires to slow down and enjoy it without haste. Please respect it – if you have only one day to visit Grand Canyon, I would suggest you to skip it and plan other things. Come back here, when you have few days free!
3. Spontanious trip or organised adventure?
Definietly second one. To visit Grand Canyon National Park you need to be in good physical condition. The fitter you are the more fun you’ll have. You need to prepare as well the gear, plan the route, buy suitable clothes and comfortable footwear. More about all this technical preparation you can find in this trip packet, which we received from Wildland Trekking, but is also available for everybody on their website.
4. You use a toilet or you poop in the nature?
Both. On maintained trails you have some wooden toilets where you can even leave your toilet paper. While pooping in the nature, remember to be far away from any water source (minimum 50 m), dig a hole that’s at least 20 cm deep and after all take your paper with you. You can’t leave it in the ground!
5. You take a shower or you forget about the hygiene? 😉
You won’t take a shower during your whole trekking. When you reach Colorado River, you can take a bath, but water is extremly cold (because of the Glen Canyon Dam constructed just before the canyon). Wet wipes and a dry hair shampoo can solve this issue. They were very useful during my trip. Remember one thing – Arizona is so dry, that it doesn’t even seem like you sweat that much during trekking. Especially if you wear breathable and light shirts.
6. Maintained trails or extreme conditions?
Hiking in Grand Canyon National Park is very safe. You have very good maintained trails, but lovers of wildlands will find something for themselves too. We did Hermit Loop – excellent for people looking for a more remote and diverse tour of the Canyon. The first day took us down the famous Bright Angel Trail past Indian Garden. We took a side trip out to Plateau Point, one of the most scenic viewpoints in all of Grand Canyon, before hiking to our first camp. From there we hiked west across the Tonto Trail, paralleling the Colorado River a thousand feet above it. The breathtaking views on this trip are punctuated by side hikes down narrow canyons to two impressive rapids on the river. We spent the second night by the Colorado river. Last day we climbed back to the rim by Hermit Trail.
Summarizing, we spent almost two weeks in the United States visiting 3 places: Los Angeles, Grand Canyon National Park and San Clemente. This plan worked very well for us, because we know that choosing less in fact we choose more!