We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
1,809 posts
11 reviews
Save Topic
Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

My trip report follows in the next few posts.

CAVEAT: Yes, I hiked to the river as a day hike. It can be very enjoyable if you're properly prepared. It can also be the most miserable experience of your life if you're not. There are already enough threads on that topic, so I won't belabor the point here.

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
1,809 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

This was part of a larger, three week vacation. It included two days at Grand Canyon National Park (my fourth visit), followed by a visit to the Grand Canyon at Supai. By the time I was done, I had hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon twice in three days (or to brag as much as possible, I had arrived at the bottom twice in just under 48 hours).

My itinerary for this part of the trip:

**May 15: drive from Zion NP to Grand Canyon NP (South Rim). Stay at Bright Angel Lodge for 2 nights.

**May 16: hike Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab Trail.

**May 17: rest-my-knees day; drive from GCNP to Peach Springs; spend the night at Hualapai Lodge.

**May 18: drive to Hualapai Hilltop; hike to Supai; stay at the Supai Lodge (2 nights).

**May 19: full day at Supai; enjoy the waterfalls.

**May 20: hike out of Supai; drive to Kingman.

I'll cover May 15 and 16 here; the rest will be covered in the Supai forum.

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
1,809 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

**May 15

Embarrassing admission: I spaced out during the drive from Zion NP through Kanab, and ended up taking 89A instead of 89/89T. It takes a little longer, but isn't such a bad way to go.

I stopped at Cameron Trading Post for a late breakfast; they have excellent fry bread. I ordered it as part of the Warrior Surprise: a Navajo taco with a scrambled egg on top. However, the fry bread is so good (and so large) I'd be tempted to order it by itself next time. From there, it's a quick jaunt to GCNP's east entrance; I like starting my visit from this direction.

My cabin at Bright Angel Lodge was everything I had hoped for. My reservation was for a partial rim view cabin -- views are not guaranteed. However cabin 6146 had great views. Here's a picture of the canyon I took looking out my window: …comcast.net/%7Elgott3141/…29View_LR.jpg . One evening, I sat on my front porch (which consists mainly of some big rocks on a little hill), just staring at the canyon. What a life!

The room itself is modest, with a tiny closet and limited dresser space. There's no A/C, but there is a large ceiling fan. Parking is convenient, albeit somewhat limited. In addition to the great view of the canyon, the local residents are fun. One morning, I walked out my back door to find two deer feeding on the plants just a couple of feet from where I was standing.

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
1,809 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

**May 16, part 1: the hike down

I had done the South Rim to river to South Rim hike before -- in the month of May, even. However, that time temps had been about five degrees below normal. This time there was a heat wave, with temps about 10 degrees above normal -- a 15 degree difference from my previous hike.

My knees hate going downhill, so I decided to hike down Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch, then back up South Kaibab Trail -- the exact opposite of what most people consider sane, but it works for me. Bright Angel is longer, but not as steep, with slightly less elevation change. I don't mind going uphill, so South Kaibab saves time and distance.

I started before sunrise at 5 am. The hike down was uneventful. Bright Angel doesn't have the views offered by South Kaibab, but you do get to walk along the Colorado River for quite some time before crossing at Silver Bridge. I must have looked pretty comical going down hill on the steep sections: putting both hiking poles in front of me, leaning into them, using them almost like crutches. Progress was slow; it took me four and a half hours to get to Phantom Ranch. The last mile of the hike, in full sun, was pretty warm. Given that high temperatures would reach 100+ in the inner canyon, it might have been smarter to take the South Kaibab down, and apologize to my knees later.

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
1,809 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

**May 16, part 2: Phantom Ranch; the hike up

I'm not sure what to say about Phantom Ranch. As a day hiker, there's little of interest other than the canteen. However, I did manage to spend an hour there. First order of business: lemonade and M&M's. Second order of business: stamp my letters and place them in the "mail" bag (since Xanterra, and not the USPS, picks up the letters, it's technically not mail service, and that stamp isn't a postmark). Third: buy a t-shirt and a cap. Fourth: talk to some of the other hikers, and generally goof off. Last: look around a little bit; there were a number of deer feeding by the creek.

Having spent an hour at Phantom Ranch, I was really rested, and started off the hike up South Kaibab fast...too fast. The first half took me just one and a quarter hours, and I felt great. However, the heat was taking its toll; despite drinking I lot, I was sweating tons. Pretty soon thereafter, I had to take a break for about 15 minutes. Thereafter, I definitely slowed down; including the rest break, the second half took me two and a quarter hours. Total time: three and a half hours; as usual, faster going up than down.

It's worth noting that I encountered a number of people who looked to be really suffering, from leg cramps to apparent exhaustion. This is not a hike to try unless you already know you can do it.

Made it to the top! There's a water fountain at the trailhead, with water that was a lot cooler than what was in my pack; definitely appreciated. On the shuttle from South Kaibab trailhead, I talked to a guy who had done a true R2R that day (North Rim to South Rim). It was his first time to the Grand Canyon. He was part of a group from Phoenix. Arrangements included a bus from Phoenix to the North Room, overnight at the lodge, the R2R hike, then a bus back to Phoenix the very same day as the hike. Whew!

Overall hike statistics:

Hike down Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch: 9.9 miles, 4.5 hours.

Time at Phantom Ranch: 1 hour

Hike up South Kaibab: 7.2 miles, 3.5 hours.

Total water drunk: about 5 liters.

What I should have done differently: left even earlier; spent less time at Phantom Ranch; hiked back up at a slower pace in the beginning.

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
1,809 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

**May 16, part 3: post-hike; dinner at El Tovar; views at night

Either due to the heat (maybe) or advancing age (of course not ;-) ), I had no energy for an afternoon hike. By dinner time, my left knee was pretty stiff and aching; thank God for ibuprofen. I was smart in that I intentionally made the following day a rest day to allow for such an occurrence.

Dinner at El Tovar was predictable: not very good by big city standards, but very good by national park standards. Portions were large. A paté appetizer consisted of two large slices. It was low fat (relatively speaking) and somewhat lacking in spice, but still decent. The entree -- Natural Schnitzel -- consisted of two large but overly thick slices of veal with heavy breading, plus spätzle and a fried egg. Not bad. For dessert: peanut butter chocolate layer cake a la mode. It was pretty much what you'd expect.

I spent my last evening at the park walking east along the Rim Trail. Once away from the cluster of hotels, there are surprisingly few people. I'm not sure I appreciate sunsets as much as most people, but it's still a nice way to end the day. Bring a flashlight; I was able to navigate sans light even 30 minutes after sunset, but the flashlight made it a lot easier to find my cabin.

That's it! Next on the agenda: Supai. I'll post a trip report in that forum in a few days.

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
1,809 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

I've posted a few pictures on Facebook. I believe this link allows anyone to view them:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/…

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
57,507 posts
231 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

Aggressive and fitting for your name, but as an experienced GC hiker you had a better idea than most of what you were in for. Glad you made it safely. Also glad to see you post cautions and truths about the pain and the danger.

Urbandale, Iowa
Level Contributor
2,176 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

Great pictures, thanks for sharing.

B

Jervis Bay...
Level Contributor
2,465 posts
79 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

It looks beautiful. I'm about to do a 4 day walk in pretty hilly terrain. Can't imagine doing anything strenuous enough to get my knees aching. Worth the excellent photos, though. You must be very fit! Thank you.

Wellington, New...
Level Contributor
169 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Trip Report (Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch to South Kaibab)

Enjoyed reading your report and your photos are great - thanks for sharing.