I'm seriously considering a solo hike, rim-to-rim, across the Grand Canyon, coinciding with the annular eclipse on May 20th. I want to challenge myself, and figure this one could do it.

I have read that one can, if they are very fit, do rim-to-river and back in a day, but I haven't found what hiking from one rim to the other and back is like. I was thinking that I, as an FOF (Fat old fart, who loses pounds from the hair loss only. turned 40 last month, and feeling every bit of it) should budget a lot of time.

Is four days excessive? Is this too big a challenge? Does anyone have any experiences to help me gauge this trip?


2 Answers 2


Pretty fit! The US National Park Service (NPS) doesn't recommend rim-to-river-rim as a day hike, for instance.

My father did several rim-to-rim trips in a day when in his 40s, but he was an avid runner (but not a marathoner), hiked, and had a job that had him outside part of the time. He would usually fly or have my mom drop him off at one rim, and we would meet him at the other. He would arrive terribly dirty, tired, and usually blistered, and would have to rest the next day (at least). He would travel very light, so more like an adventure racing trip.

I believe he also did several overnights, probably staying at Phantom Ranch.

There are several websites that talk about rim-to-rim trips like this one:

Planning a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike

The NPS has a Trip Planner document that gives some general times for various trails.

It may be too late to get backcountry permits for May, particularly in connection with an eclipse.

  • Thanks! These links gave me great expected durations and estimates of terrian. Feb 14, 2012 at 19:23

For reference from another 40-something: my husband and I just got back from a 3-day Grand Canyon hike. We went to Bright Angel Campground at the bottom near the river from the South Kaibab trail in about 8 hours, stayed one night, went up to the Indian Garden campground the next day in about 5 hours, stayed one night, and then out where you end up at the Bright Angel trailhead the next day in about 5 hours. We were pretty spent.

Our calves are still a little sore (after 9 days)! This is mainly from going to the bottom in one day. We did not do as much training as we should have. We are not overweight and have been on several other treking adventures. In general, we do some sort of 30 min aerobic workout 2-3 times a week, but doing some more hiking before the trip especially with our full packs would have benefited us.

One thing to consider when comparing these stories is that a day hiker will not be carrying nearly as much of a load with them as a backpacker. A tent, sleeping bags, food, clothes, cooking gear, etc. will have a big effect on what your muscles need to accomplish.

We saw all ages on the trail and were amazed at how fit some of the older people were. We did not see a lot of overweight people (except riding the mules!) Definitely plan on bringing a lot of water, snacks and sunscreen. We always hike with hiking poles as it helps a lot, especially for knee joints on the downhill. Hiking boots, synthetic clothing, and layering are also a must. A hat or sun visor with a brim is recommended.

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