With over 5.9 million visitors annually, there’s no denying that the Grand Canyon is one of the US’s best tourist destinations. In case you’re interested in visiting the steep-sided canyon located in Arizona, it’s worth knowing that you can experience it in four central locations, namely the South Rim, Grand Canyon West, Grand Canyon East, and the North Rim. Regardless of which one you’re choosing, the canyon offers excellent features for breathtaking panoramas and incredible sceneries.
Furthermore, the Grand Canyon is more extensive than many people believe. Indeed, it extends to 277 miles (446 kilometers) in length and 18 miles (29 kilometers) in width. This means you are more likely to visit the Grand Canyon without reaching every one of its multiple locations. For instance, because of distances and road networks, many adventurers end up not hiking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, which hosts a lot of attractions.
Right at the canyon base is a Phantom Ranch — a location that packs several features, including accommodation. In case you’re interested in visiting the ranch, one question that you’ll surely need an answer to is, how exactly can you get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon?
You have three main options if you’re planning to visit the base of the Grand Canyon. The first is to hike through the many inner-canyon trails. Apart from that, you can also travel using a mule, which requires reservations. The last option requires traveling with a river raft through the Colorado River.
In this post, we’ll be exploring everything that you need to know about visiting the bottom of the Grand Canyon, including what to expect from the destination.
Whether you’re going on a quick day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip, you’ll need a reliable hiking backpack to help you carry and store your hiking gear. If you’re not sure about which pack you should get, check out our article about the best hiking backpacks to see which ones are our favorites.
How Deep Is the Grand Canyon?
The Grand Canyon is the deepest canyon in the United States of America. According to reports, it occupies the fifth spot on the list of the world’s deepest canyons, which lists Mexico’s Urique Canyon, Peru’s Cotahuasi Canyon & Colca Canyon, and Tibet’s Yarlung Tsangpo and the Grand Canyon in the fifth position.
That said, how deep is the US’s Grand Canyon? The Grand Canyon is approximately 6,000 feet (1,857 meters) deep, at its deepest point.
However, when we factor in other depths in the Grand Canyon, the average depth is 5,280 feet (1,609 meters).
How Long Does It Take to Hike to The Bottom of the Grand Canyon?
As mentioned earlier, journeying to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is no child’s play as it requires several months of planning and training for hikers.
That said, hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, which offers several beautiful sceneries, including the Phantom Ranch, might take you up to 10 miles (approximately 16 kilometers), with an elevation change. However, this depends to a large extent on which trail you’re using for the trip.
For instance, if you’re planning to hike down Bright Angel Trail, it’ll take you up to 9.9 miles (16 kilometers) to reach the Grand Canyon’s floor. However, if you’re considering hiking through the South Kaibab Trail, this can take you up to 7.1 miles (11.5 kilometers). However, it’s worth mentioning that the latter involves much more elevation change — about 4,300 ft (1310 meters).
Unarguably, seeing the Grand Canyon from the bottom is fun. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that hiking through any of the inner canyon trails — Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail — is not easy. It can take up to five hours to reach the Grand Canyon’s ground.
Furthermore, it would be best not to consider hiking back on the same day. Since you’ll have to climb your way back up, it’ll require an even longer time (up to 9 hours) to reach the top. Thus, the best option is to get a lovely accommodation down the canyon and sleep there overnight, before heading back to the top on the following morning.
How to Get to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon?
As previously stated, you have three popular options if you’re considering going to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. They include hiking, using a mule, or rafting through the Colorado River.
The first option is to hike through one of the many inner trails that leads to your destination — the bottom of the canyon. You can either choose to use the Bright Angel Trail or go through the steeper South Kaibab Trail. However, if you want to go on this trip, it would be best to know the best time to use each trail.
So, here’s a quick question you should ask yourself before the trip: what is the best time to hike through the trails to the bottom of the Grand Canyon?
You can visit the canyon’s floor during the spring when the temperatures are between 32 and 92°F. Or you can also hike down any of the trails during the fall when it is between 27 and 97°F. However, if you have all it takes to hike in the winter, then you can consider the trip at this time as well. Although, it’s not advisable to walk through the inner-trails in the summer because of the weather conditions.
2- Raft trip
Your second option for an adventure at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is to raft through the Colorado River, which runs through the canyon.
However, to embark on this floating trip, you need to consider a few factors, such as the time of the year and your budget. Furthermore, you can either decide to go with a commercial raft or to use a private raft. Of course, the latter requires that you have all it takes, such as first-aid training, whitewater skills, and necessary equipment.
Using a commercial raft is a better option if you don’t have the mandatory skills to lead the trip. The only thing that you need is to pay an experienced rafting outfit company to plan the trip for you. By doing that, you won’t have to worry about a lot of things, such as a tent and pillow, accommodation, and other necessary items. However, you’ll have to plan your trip ahead of time as there are only 16 outfitters that guide trips.
That said, depending on your budget, commercial raft service providers may provide you with dories, oar rafts, paddle rafts, or motorized raft models.
As far as a paddle raft trip is concerned, it offers a lot of fun. Also, it requires a guide to steer and give directions. Of course, it also requires the efforts of all passengers to paddle the raft. As for Dory’s trip to the Grand Canyon’s floor, it requires the service of an experienced guide.
A motorized raft trip, which offers some of the best experience, requires S-rigs or J-rigs powered by outboard motors.
3- Mule trip
Your third option for an adventure to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is to use a mule. Currently, only a few mule saddles transport travelers daily to the bottom of the canyon for better sceneries and an overnight stay at the Phantom Ranch.
Going on a mule trip to the Grand Canyon floor requires you to make reservations in advance because of the few mules (about 10 of them) that saddle and work daily. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that this option is a little bit expensive. Indeed, it costs at least $500.
Besides, a mule trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon takes about 10 miles (16 kilometers), which could last up to five and a half hours. During the trip, you can always stop for lunch at Indian Garden. From there, the mule saddle will take you through the Inner Gorge to the Bright Angel Canyon, located on the north side of the Phantom Ranch.
Choosing the right footwear for your hike is very important. Wearing the wrong footwear could lead to sore feet and blisters which will prevent you from enjoying your hike to the fullest. Lucky for you, we have a list of the best hiking shoes for men, women, and children all in one article.
Can You Drive to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon?
Many people believe that no road leads to the floor of the Grand Canyon, but there is one. The only route that takes you there is known as the Diamond Creek road. It starts from Peach Springs, a small town located in Arizona, on historic Route 66.
Therefore, the answer to the burning question above is, yes, you can always drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon through the Diamond Creek road.
However, you might wonder how the road trip works. Well, to go on a Diamond Creek drive trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, you’ll need to get a permit as the road sits on Hualapai tribal land.
After successfully getting your permit, all you need to do is proceed on the Grand Canyon road trip, and start enjoying the different sceneries that come along your way. To carefully pass through the route, you’ll need a well-balanced vehicle, such as a high-clearance 4×4.
It’s worth noting that as soon as you start nearing the Colorado River, many streams cross the Diamond Creek road. Besides, you’ll also experience small waterfalls at the side of the road.
Furthermore, it can take up to an hour or more to complete the Diamond Creek road trip, starting from the Hualapai Lodge.
What to Do at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon?
You’ll agree that the main reason to visit the Grand Canyon’s bottom is to have a view of the steep-sided canyon from its ground. While that’s true, it’s also worth knowing that you can do many things while exploring the bottom of the canyon.
One of the many things that you can do at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is camping. This activity offers a lot of great experiences. That said, you can camp at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in several ways. Let’s take a quick look at some of them.
- Bright Angel Campground
At the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the only officially recognized campground is Bright Angel. Located about half an hour away from the Colorado River, this campsite offers a great experience. Besides, it’s significantly close to the canyon’s Phantom Ranch.Interestingly, the Bright Angel campground also packs a host of things, including toilets and drinkable water.
- Backcountry camping
Apart from the Bright Angel campground, you can also camp in the backcountry. However, this requires a permit. Thus, you need to make reservations in advance.This type of camping involves walking along the backcountry trails and then camping at a lovely campsite.
2- Phantom Ranch
You can do a lot of things at the Phantom Ranch. First, you can get lovely accommodations to rest overnight before continuing your adventure the following morning. You can either go for private cabins or opt for one of the gender-separated bunkhouses.
Furthermore, there’s a canteen for you to buy many things, including snacks, beer, lemonade, or chips. You can also enjoy both breakfast and dinner at the Phantom Ranch, however, you need to make reservations.
Another thing to do at the base of the Grand Canyon is swimming under the Havasu Falls, which display turquoise blue waters. However, once again, to swim in those waters, you’ll need to get a permit.
There are two different ways to get one. First, you can reserve a spot at the campground. The only problem, however, is that you need to make reservations in advance as many people are also looking to visit the location. Furthermore, every year, reservations open in February. You can make yours on the internet.
- How Do You Get to Havasu Falls?
You can get to the Havasu Falls, at the Grand Canyon base, by driving through Route 66, then turn onto Indian Road 18, and continuing driving until you reach the Hualapai Hilltop parking lot.From here, you can either pursue your trip to the Havasu Waterfalls by taking a helicopter ride or hiking. The first option involves an $85 fee to transport you to the location. The only problem, however, is the timing. Indeed, copters only work on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays.
The Grand Canyon is indeed one of the best sights to see and explore in the United States. Most visitors will enjoy the views of the canyon from above, but if you want an entirely different experience, you can travel to the bottom and explore the Grand Canyon even further.
Getting to the bottom of the Grand Canyon may seem like a difficult task, but it’s not. You can even take your car. If you want to travel and be closer to nature at the same time, you can opt to hike, go on a raft trip, or ride a mule to reach the bottom of the canyon.
Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll be greeted with an entirely different view of the already amazing Grand Canyon. There are also a few activities that you can enjoy such as camping and swimming under a waterfall. Travelling to the bottom of the Grand Canyon truly is a worthwhile activity that we recommend you to try the next time that you’re in the area.