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.

Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

Bergen, Norway
2 posts
Save Topic
Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

Hi,

We are planning on going to the Grand Canyon in the beginning of August this year.

My initial plan was to head off from the south Rim, going down the Bright Angel trail (or possibly the South Kaibab trail) (starting off in the afternoon to experience the sunset) to the bottom of the canyon, sleeping over at the Phantom Ranch. Then start up very early in the morning (5 or 6am) to go up again the Bright Angel Trail watching the sun rise. Furthermore, I thought it would be best to rest at the Indian Garden for a while and go up the last bit late afternoon.

We will be three; me and my two boys, aged 11 and 15. Coming from Norway, we are pretty used to walking in the mountains; steep hills and challenging trails. But naturally, we are not that used to the heat :)

Are there anyone who has done the same/have any experiences doing this trip with kids and have recommodations to be shared, I would truly appreciate it!

Kind regards, Tine :)

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
Level Contributor
21,382 posts
53 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

Do you have reservations to stay at Phantom Ranch? Or do you have a Backcountry Permit to camp at Bright Angel CG? If not then no it is not possible. Hiking in the late afternoon in August will be way to HOT! And dangerous and not recommended. Keep your hiking plans to part way down the canyon (no more than 3 miles or so) in the early morning and then visit along the rim in the afternoon.

Scottsdale, Arizona
Level Contributor
4,974 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

When I first read this my initial reaction was NO. But then upon much reflection, and the fact that you intend to take an 11 year old down into the low desert in the afternoon in August, my second opinion is NO WAY!!!

You are from Norway. You have no idea what hot is and how fast it can kill an adult, much less an 11 year old. You seriously need to rethink your plans. The low desert in August in nothing to be trifled with. It demands ultimate respect or you will pay the ultimate consequences.

Happy Trails!!!

Edited: 29 June 2014, 01:52
Mesa, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Tempe
Level Contributor
2,037 posts
91 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

Another NO! Please, do not try it.

I would start early in the morning and only go to Cedar Ridge on South Kaibab.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
60,110 posts
243 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

Unless you have reservations already for Phantom Ranch, it's highly unlikely that you'll get them now. Even if you do, I, like the others, would discourage this plan.

I am a firm believer that no one, not even an experienced world hiker, should ever attempt a hike to the river and back on their first time visit to the Grand Canyon. Getting to the bottom of the canyon is NOT an essential element of a great Grand Canyon visit.

Bergen, Norway
2 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

Thanks for all replies, I appreciate it:)

Just to make it clear; The plan was going down to the bottom of the canyon and then go up the next day, not going down nd up the very same day!:)

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Level Contributor
176 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

The "plan" in the face of climate and restricted accommodation needs altered ... to day hikes on the "Rim" ... carracar

Edited: 29 June 2014, 13:25
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
7,724 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

When you say "plan", does that mean you've already secured spots at Phantom Ranch? You cannot hike down without reservations in hand. Phantom Ranch reservations are by phone only -- (303) 297-2757, 7am to 7pm U.S. mountain time. You must also book all your meals ahead of time. Accommodations will be in 10-person single-gender dorms. If you're the mom, be aware that the boys will be in a separate dorm.

The heat is going to be your biggest issue. End of July into August is the hottest time of the year; July temperatures average 106degF (41degC), August 103degF (39degC). Those are the *average* temps, so you need to be prepared for upwards of 110degF (43degC). Have you and your kids ever experienced those kind of temperatures? The risk is that you really don't know how your bodies will react -- it's similar to high altitudes.

The rocks retain the heat from the day, so dawn is much cooler than sunset. I suggest hiking down in the early morning, starting *before* sunrise with headlamps. You want to be at Phantom Ranch by mid-morning. Same thing hiking out. I think you'll find most hikers starting in the dark from Phantom Ranch and the dorms will probably be too noisy to sleep anyway as they get ready to leave.

If you hike at home, plan on drinking twice as much water in the Canyon. Desert conditions mean very, very dry air. You'll probably find that you won't even sweat, which can be deceiving. It's very easy to get dehydrated. Make sure you keep an eye on how much your kids are drinking. Immerse yourselves in water, creeks whenever you get the chance to stay cool. Smaller bodies, less mass, means more easily dehydrated and over-heated. I know someone who lost his wife in the Canyon to heat-stroke. It's a real thing.

My son's been hiking with me in the Canyon since he was 9 or 10 and we go to the southwest every year but, I'll be honest, I would never plan a summer hike in the GC. Risks are too high and it's simply too hot to be fun. I also know what it's like to be injured below the rim and have to wait for help. If it had been 30 degrees hotter, we would have been in serious trouble.

Scottsdale, Arizona
Level Contributor
4,974 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

The long and the short of it is that you can die...very quickly...if you don't know what you are doing.

California
Level Contributor
1,173 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

One of the main problems with hiking in such intense heat, is that the brain stops working. All of your planning goes out the window; you forget to drink, eat, take breaks. Then when you realize trouble is at hand, it is often too late. Your body will be screaming at you, trying to adjust from your weather in Norway. If you do this, lets hope for monsoonal weather/cloud cover.

Edited: 30 June 2014, 01:43
tucson az
Destination Expert
for Tucson, Arizona, Northern Mexico
Level Contributor
16,451 posts
78 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Going all way down to the bottom of Grand Canyon with kids

I hope you are getting the idea that what you propose is not recommended in the heat of summer. The farther you descend, the hotter it will be. If you did this, which I hope you do not, you need to being your hike down at or before dawn. Once the sun is up, the temperature will reach 40 C before you reach the bottom by mid-morning, and will go higher, and remain very hot until evening. When people come back up, they also begin their hike as early as possible. For most people it takes twice as long to hike up as it did to hike down.

Hydration is important but does not prevent overheating. Stuff like Gatorade does not prevent overheating. Once you realize that you are hot, you're in danger. Putting water into you doesn't cool you off sufficiently; you have to seek shade and put water on your body. Children are much more susceptible to overheating than adults.

You can do plenty of less stressful hiking near the rim that will satisfy your desires and give you the feeling of being in the canyon. There are also lots of things for your children to do such as ranger programs.

Please take the advice of everyone replying to you, some of whom are Grand Canyon hiking experts. The advice is please don't take this risk at that time of year.