The Colorado River, the only reliable water source in the Grand Canyon, is a mile up in the air. It’s essential to know where you can get water and how much you’ll need for the duration of your trip. Cotton mouth can be deadly if you don’t have enough to eat.
Traveling through the Grand Canyon should be as easy as possible on your feet. However, if you’ve never been to the Canyon before, you may find it difficult to prepare for the climate and terrain.
Footwear Recommendations for a Grand Canyon Hike
Here are a few things to remember:
Put on sturdy, comfortable shoes.
Even in the most developed area of the Grand Canyon, the South Rim, the terrain can be rocky and unpredictable. Hiking boots, sport sandals, and running shoes are all good options. High heels, flip-flops, and brand-new shoes are not acceptable footwear choices.
Wear a mid-weight boot with plenty of ankle support if you intend to hike into the Canyon. Running shoes with good tread are recommended for the Rim trail.
Light, loose-fitting clothing is best for this.
The best way to adapt your outfit to the changing weather conditions in the Canyon is to wear light layers. The best way to deal with the cold is to bundle up in the morning or evening, and then take them off as the day heats up as you trek.
Put on a light jacket or sweater over your shorts, t-shirt and running shoes in the summer. In the winter, dress warmly in trousers and a long-sleeved shirt with a jacket or sweater and comfortable shoes (or boots — it does snow in the Grand Canyon!).
The tour description should be carefully studied if you’re going on a guided tour, in case you’ll need to pack or wear something particular, such as closed-toed shoes or a swimming suit.
Wear a hat!
The West Rim of the Grand Canyon, for example, does not offer much in the way of shade. A wide-brimmed hat is a necessity no matter which part of the Rim you visit if you want to avoid burning your head off in the scorching heat.
If you’re planning a trip between November and April, you may want to bring a hat to keep your head warm while you’re out and about.
Sunglasses are an absolute need!
Regardless of the season you visit the Grand Canyon, pack shades to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays. You may want to leave your luxury sunglasses at home in case they become damaged or destroyed.
Bring a mask with you
Face masks are needed in all NPS buildings and facilities, as well as on NPS-administered grounds when physical separation cannot be maintained.
Face masks are required for everyone above the age of two, with the exception of those who are actively eating or drinking in the following places:
To include but not be limited to: visitor centers, administrative offices, hotels, gift stores and restaurants that are managed or operated by the National Park Service.
All bus stops, Hopi Point, the Greenway Trail from Verkamps to Bright Angel Trailhead, and all entrance stations on the Grand Canyon Visitor Center Plaza where the superintendent has determined that physical distance (staying at least six feet apart) cannot be reasonably maintained when others are present.
It all comes down to context. Depending on your route, how many kilometers you’re hiking, what season you’re in, and how well you’ve adapted to the desert, your water calculation will be different. At the very least, prepare to pack 3 liters of water every day, and more if you’re camping in the desert.
Only the Bright Angel and North Kaibab routes in the Grand Canyon have water spigots. Otherwise, the Colorado River and springs (some of which are seasonal) are your main options for getting water.
Take note: There are several instances where the Bright Angel pipeline has malfunctioned. Check the trail board before you trek to determine if any spigots have been switched on along those trails and make your plans based on that information.
Filters for water
Regardless of where the water comes from, it must be treated. Drops and UV wands are worthless when the Colorado River and its tributaries get muddy. For the river’s chocolate-milk conditions, real filters — those that push water through a physical barrier — are preferable (more common July through September). Before filtering, you may wish to bring a handkerchief and a second container to remove sediment. When added with murky water, alum, which may be found in the spice section of your local grocery store, aids in the sedimentation of particles.
Containers that collapse to save space
Backpacking necessitates the use of a water bladder for extra storage. Two liters may enough one day, while six liters may suffice another. When you don’t need them, collapsible water bottles are a lifesaver since they are lightweight and small. Bring enough water containers to last you for the entire day, plus an additional liter or two.
Take care not to be stabbed.
The Grand Canyon’s vegetation is razor-sharp. With these pointers, you can avoid getting into sticky situations.
Tweezers: Having a pair on hand in case you accidentally come into contact with a cactus is highly recommended.
Pillows and sheets: One hole in one of these ultra-light blow-up sleeping pads can destroy your hopes of a restful night’s sleep. Your air mattress may be patched if you carry a foam cushion to lay under it.
Shoes with blisters
Warm temperatures, sweaty feet, and sandy pathways make hiking in the Grand Canyon a formula for blisters. Bandages, ointment, tape, moleskin, and dry socks are all things you should have on hand in case you suffer a blister.
Where should I get my shoes?
Traditional hiking boots are available, as well as trail-runners. Make certain they’re broken in before you plunge into the canyon (the Grand Canyon is NOT the place to try new shoes). Also, it should go without saying that high heels are inappropriate footwear for a visit to the Grand Canyon. Some of what we’ve seen along the Bright Angel Trail…
There are issues with my toenails.
Attempting to descend a mile in shoes that don’t fit properly might result in massive toe jams. Preparation is the key to avoiding hours of agonizing hammering downhill.
Make sure you include enough salty items for your meals and snacks. You’ll perspire more than you think, so replenish your salt and electrolyte stores. Take advantage of the chip aisle while stocking up on supplies for your next vacation! Pretzels loaded with peanut butter, anyone?
- Watch out for dehydration.
- Too much water consumption is an issue.
- In the middle of nowhere
No matter how much you adore chocolate, if it’s too hot outside, your candy bar may turn to mush. Stick with M&Ms instead if you don’t want to make a mess.
Desert hiking has the drawback of requiring you to carry an additional ten pounds of water. What’s the upside? You may be able to leave your tent behind.
It’s awe-inspiring to sleep under a swath of stars, nestled in the Grand Canyon’s bowels. Most of the time, when no rainfly or mesh veil is in the way.
Tents and hammocks
Hammock camping is a lot of fun, but only if you can find some trees to hang your hammock from. Cottonwoods can be found along creeks, although tamarisk and Russian olives are the dominating flora in the river corridor and are not hammock-friendly. ‘ A beach or bare rock provides the backdrop for the vast majority of campgrounds. You can use pebbles if you need to, but free-standing tents work best since the hard ground bends stakes.