One of the things that has been on my travel Bucketlist for awhile now is to visit every National Park in the US. I was recently able to check off 10 more from my list making my total count to 14 out of 59 parks!
In April, I found a killer deal for airfare from the Bay Area to Vegas for $50 roundtrip (thanks, Frontier!) and decided to rent a car for a week to visit the Grand Canyon and all of the National Parks in Utah. I was able to snag a bed for 2 whole nights at Phantom Ranch, a lodge at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the week of my trip. Most people have to book a year in advance for a bed here. This is another reason why I love traveling by myself! If I were with someone, I wouldn’t have been able to get a bed for the 2 nights I did.
The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is a mile deep, 227 miles long, 18 miles wide and the Colorado River runs through it. The Grand Canyon was carved into a canyon by the Colorado River over the past 70 million years.
I arrived at the South Kaibab trailhead at the Grand Canyon around 5PM. I made a pit stop in Sedona for some crystals and because I heard it was beautiful. It was totally worth the stop! But arriving 2 hours before sunset meant I had to literally run down the Grand Canyon to ensure I wouldn’t end up hiking in the dark. South Kaibab trail is over 7 miles long and so steep my legs got all shaky on the way down the canyon! The views were so incredible and the canyon was vast and huge. I was totally in awe the entire time. Unfortunately, I lost my warm puffy jacket which completely fell off my carabiner on my backpack! But, I eventually got to the bottom at 7PM and walked to Phantom Ranch.
Out of the 6 million people who visited the Grand Canyon in 2017, only 1% made it to the bottom. Being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is like another world. No one is really there so you are able to explore and enjoy the Colorado River that runs through it.
The following day, despite my legs being sore and useless, I decided to hike to Ribbon Falls, a beautiful terrarium-like waterfall at the base of the canyon. I talked to a girl in my cabin about it the night before and she said it was only 6 miles but it was actually 6 miles one way! So, I ended up hiking 12 miles the day after I ran down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The hike was pretty flat and mellow until you get closer to Ribbon Falls. I stayed at the waterfall for an hour because I was the only one there enjoying the incredible beauty of it!
After I got back to Phantom Ranch, I headed to Boat Beach, a small beach you see when you cross the bridge to get to Phantom Ranch. It was perfect and I was the only one there for awhile. I kept walking into the Colorado River, trying to tolerate it for as long as I could before running out. I knew it would be good for my feet to submerge them in ice cold water especially because I was hurting after the hike to Ribbon Falls.
I ended up going to sleep really early that night to get an early start climbing up Bright Angel Trail the following morning. I left Phantom Ranch around 5AM and started the almost 10 mile ascent up the Grand Canyon. The depth of the Grand Canyon is 1 mile deep so hiking up is a huge accomplishment for anyone!
Bright Angel Trail was even more beautiful than South Kaibab! The views were absolutely breathtaking! This trail was also more popular and busier especially closer to the Rim where tourists will wander down a bit and then trek back up.
I stopped at Indian Garden to rest for a bit and refilled my water. This was only about halfway up with the hardest climb yet to come. I thought the grade up until this point wasn’t too bad. The panoramic views were a great distraction from the steep climb but I didn’t drink enough water and became dehydrated. The last 2 miles were hell but I managed to get to the South Rim by noon.
After I hiked my way up the Grand Canyon, I still had to drive to Page which was 2 hours away. Before I left, I stopped by the Backcountry office to see if anyone had found my jacket but no luck. I also had to stop at the Visitor Center to buy myself a patch. I am buying a patch from every National Park I visit and am going to sew them onto my backpack that I use for traveling around the world.
Hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up was amazing, bigger than you could ever imagine and one of the hardest hikes I have ever done. Would I do it again? Yes, I would! I might even attempt the Rim to Rim hike which is 24 miles one way from the North Rim to the South Rim! But next time, I would plan it out so I wouldn’t have to run down and rush my way through and spend more than 2 nights adventuring through the bottom of the canyon. The Grand Canyon was so peaceful and the colors of the rock and sand were just incredible. You could literally see the colors change on the trail as you were walking! I highly recommend you visit the Grand Canyon but make sure you hike to the bottom of the canyon for the best once in a lifetime experience you will never forget.