Rafting th Grand Canyon with Outdoors Unlimited

Hiking the Bright Angel Trail

For Those Leaving the Upper Trip or Joining for a Lower Trip


One of the most popular and beautiful hikes in the American southwest, the Bright Angel Trail extends from South Rim Village of Grand Canyon National Park to Phantom Ranch. As the trail descends 5000 feet to the river it passes through climate zones starting from the Ponderosa forests on the rim, through the Pinon-Juniper scrub, to the Sonoran Desert below. Each turn of the trail affords stunning vistas and numerous photo opportunities.

The route is approximately eight miles long. At the mid-point lies the oasis of Indian Gardens where Garden Creek babbles below overhanging cottonwood trees. Below Indian Gardens the trail follows Garden Creek for a short distance before cutting through the layers that comprise some of the oldest exposed rock on earth.

If you are hiking into the Canyon (Lower Trip), your plans would include spending the night prior to your river trip at the South Rim Village. An orientation meeting with your OU Hiking Escort will be held in the Maswik Lodge cafeteria at 8:00 p.m. The escort will tell you where to meet for your hike the next morning and at what time. You would need to eat prior to the hike and carry snacks and water for the hike. You should begin your hike early (no later than 6:00 a.m.) so you can reach Pipe Creek Beach by noon. As you near the river, after passing the rest stop with an emergency telephone, the trail separates. The trail to the left leads directly to the river and Pipe Creek. As you walk to the river’s edge you will see our rafts. Lunch will be served at approximately noon.

[Trail photo]

If you are hiking out of the Canyon (Upper Trip), you will have finished the river portion of your adventure the morning the rafts reach Pipe Creek about a mile below Phantom Ranch. Your guides will provide a lunch spread from which you will prepare a pack lunch for the trail. Accompanied by your OU Hiking Escort, here is where you start your journey back through geologic time, ascending first through the ancient bedrock up through the progressively younger layers that you were introduced to on the river. You should plan to spend the night at the South Rim where you can find a bed, hot shower and one last sunset view from the rim!

Note: Hiking either in or out of the Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail can be quite strenuous and this should be taken into consideration when choosing which Grand Canyon trip length option you'd wish to do.

As a service to you, Outdoors Unlimited provides each person with Sleeping Gear free of charge. Your Sleeping Gear consists of: a lightweight sleeping bag, a full-length pad, ground cloth, cloth sleeping bag liner, waterproof river bags, utensils, plate and a cup.

[Trail photo]

Mule Services
Mules to carry your pack into or out of Phantom Ranch can be arranged by contacting Grand Canyon National Park Lodges and costs approximately $65. For those wanting out-bound pack mules plan an extra day at the Phantom Ranch or the South Rim since packs won't be available for pickup until the afternoon of the next day. It has been our experience riding mules can be reserved a year in advance of your trip. They must be reserved in strings of five and are quite expensive. Check out Grand Canyon Lodges for details.

Overnight at Phantom Ranch
For those using pack mules (or if you just want to spend an extra day) you might want to stay at Phantom Ranch and hike up in the morning. These accommodations are fairly inexpensive but difficult to get due to high demand. Contact Grand Canyon National Park Lodges (888) 297-2757 or FAX (888) 297-3175.

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