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HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

SW Oklahoma
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HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

There is a group of 10 of us hiking down South Kaibab, spending 2 nights and hiking up Bright Angel in March.

I have serveral questions:

* If we get 2 permits, will we be able to camp next to each other if we camp at Bright Angel campground?

* If we choose to not camp at BA campground, is there another camping area (maybe with a better view of the river?)

Possibly towards the Bright Angel trail?

* If we choose an alternative area to camp, can we still get sack lunches or meal at Phantom Ranch or is that reserved for BA and Phantom Ranch campers?

* What about restrooms?....dig a hole? ick! :0)

* We are training, reading, studying and reading more....but please share any "best kept secrets" and must do's/don'ts while we are at the bottom for 1 day....or hiking down/up!!

Grand Canyon or bust!!

Jerome, Arizona
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1. Re: HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

There are 2 really nice group sites at BA Campground, either of which would take 10 people. You should specifically ask for a single group permit. The rest of the campground is first come/first served, so you might or might not get two of the general camp sites together. The group sites are a bit separated from the rest of the sites, which is good for a group since you will generally make a bit more noise.

South Jersey, USA
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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2. Re: HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

HI KellS,

I'll see if I can answer some of your questions!!

First of all...You cannot camp anywhere below the rim without a backcountry permit! These must be applied for 4 months in advance of your trip. Not everyone is awarded a permit so have a plan B as back-up

1.) There are 33 campsites at Bright Angel Campground with two of them being group sites! As mentioned above they are first come, first serve. You are reserved a site, just not a specific site!! Some of the sites are along the Bright Angel Creek some are not. Of course the ones by the creek goes first!!

2.) There is not another campground besides Bright Angel in that area! There are two other campgrounds....Indian Gardens 4.5 miles down Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim and Cottonwood Campground approx 7 miles from Phantom Ranch on the North Kaibab Trail. You must camp at the campground that is specifically stated on your backcountry permit if you are lucky enough to be awarded one!!

3.) Yes you can still reserve meals at Phantom Ranch even though you are not staying in a cabin or dorm space. The dinners and breakfasts are harder to reserve then the sack lunches!

4.)There is a rest house at Bright Angel Campground with flush toilets and sinks! No hot water or showers here. Both Indian Gardens and Cottonwood have pit-toilets only with no sinks. You do have access to the creek from Bright Angel and Cottonwood to wash up in. Please...NO soap of any kind here!!

www.nps.gov/grca and www.hitthetrail.com are great sites to go into for loads of info along with the "top questions" on the right hand side of this page!

SJG

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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3. Re: HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

Regarding rest rooms. You have been advised where they are. Any other place you use must remain as you found it. No waste can be buried. You need to be prepared to carry everything out with you. I know it sounds gross, but that's the way it works. Otherwise, the pit you dig today could be the tent site or picnic spot for someone else tomorrow. Or maybe the other way around.

There are bags and products that make this easier, but please, don't leave anything behind you in the canyon.

Oklahoma City
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4. Re: HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

Be prepared for a big swing in temps going down SK in March. Last year we started out in the upper 30's and by the time we got to PR the temp was in the low 80's. Also be ready for the very real possibility of hiking out in snow and ice especially coming back up Bright Angel. Last year there was a mile and a half of ice on Bright Angel so we came back up SK whuich had very little and is several miles shorter. Also another thing you might want to consider is using a mule duffel to take some of your equipment down or back up. About $65.00 but they will take up to 30 lbs. Well worth the money in my opinion. Also don't short yourself on your water--take plenty. Dress in layers, use sunscreen and wear a hat. On another note you should check out La Posada in Winslow, Az. Great place to stay and eat.

Hudson Valley
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5. Re: HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

We did the same route this March (with an extra night at Indian Gardens) and carried Microspikes with us. We used them (especially since we were carrying our daughter in a few of the icy places), but many people didn't have them. They weren't 100% necessary, but I felt better having them.

We mostly had good weather - it was gorgeous in the canyon, but did hike out from Indian Garden in snow flurries and it was very cold.

We reserved dinner one night at Phantom Ranch, which was good (be sure to reserve early, the more popular stew seatings go faster). Some other campers we talked to weren't too impressed with the sack lunches, but we never did lunch or breakfast.

You are going to need both the group sites - not sure how competitive it is for that in March - but being flexible with your dates should help. We were late in applying for our permits and got them no problem. We were surprised the campground wasn't full when we were there. I'm not sure what their policy is on groups occupying multiple regular sites, but you might want to consider that too if you can't get the group sites.

Good luck! You'll have a great trip!

Seattle
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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6. Re: HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

To summarize some of the points above, with ten people you should reserve one of the group sites. You could also apply for two separate permits for two spots in the regular camping area, but there is no guarantee you would get both permits. With just one regular campsite you would be limited to six people.

You could also apply for the group cabin at Phantom; it sleeps ten people. You are all in one room so this arrangement is for good friends or family.

You are not allowed to camp anywhere other than the designated campground ( Bright Angel). Rangers do patrol and there are heavy fines for violation.

Anyone can reserve meals ( breakfast and dinner) at Phantom. That must be done through the Phantom reservation process ( telephone Xanterra). They are limited and do sell out, but you can keep calling back until you get spots. We have always been able to get five dinners, but ten would be a bit more work.

Lunches are sack lunches that you can order once you are there.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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7. Re: HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

Please read the GROUP SIZE and LEAVE NO TRACE rules for the Grand Canyon backcountry here:

nps.gov/grca/…backcountry-permit.htm

In general, the park dscourages large groups from camping below the rim, citing evidence that large groups have a disproportionately bigger impact. Regular backpacking permits limit the group size to 6 person. Large groups are required to apply for a LARGE GROUP permit (7-11 people). Larger groups are not allowed. An important note is that large groups are NOT allowed to apply for two permits to accommodate the group. Obviously, this is a difficult rule for the park to enforce and relies on the honesty of the hikers.

A maximum of 2 large group permits are issued for Bright Angel campground each night. Your group must apply for and obtain one of these. The expectation is that large groups will occupy the two group campsites. You're technically not allowed to obtain 2 regular permits if you're actually hiking together.

Flush toilets are provided at Bright Angel campground. There are solar toilets along the corridor trails. Otherwise, the rules require that you dig a cathole and bury solid human waste but you MUST pack out all used toilet paper and all other trash.

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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8. Re: HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

Thanks for that post DTF. I think it deserves permanent status and will link it to the Top Questions.

So much of the permitting process depends on applicants being honest and reliable. And likewise, the future of the canyon and hiking and camping there depends on hikers and campers being the same. Personal responsibility reigns and those who abuse the privilege will ultimately make it worse for others.

SW Oklahoma
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9. Re: HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

Thank you for all of the great information! We anxiously await this new adventure!

10. Re: HIking down South Kaibab up Bright Angel in March!

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