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Grand Canyon permit failure

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby Scott P » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:50 am

Second, a Rim-to-River-same-Rim is about the effort of middle difficulty 14er: 14 miles, 5,000 feet and class 1 trails (the outer trails have class 2 scrambling). Crossing rims is longer, more like 21 miles or a long 14er hike like San de Christo in one day or Longs.


In the cool season, I would certainly agree, but not in early June. On June 1 the average high is 99F at Phantom Ranch and it is 100F by June 4 (and well over that as the summer progresses).

99-100F may not seem that hot, but when climbing uphill for hours in the sun it can be brutal (and 100F is just an average; it can be way hotter than that). From a physical standpoint rim to rim in early June is going to be way harder than climbing Longs Peak, assuming you do Longs in non-technical conditions.

Of course a rim to rim day trip can be done then (and many people have done it), but it will be harder than climbing a 14er, at least for most of us. One plan many do is to leave early in the morning, soak in the creek throughout the day and hike back out at night. It would be much better than trying to hike out in the afternoon.

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Despite the fact that they are easy trails, far more people have died on the Bright Angel and Kaibab Trails than they have on any mountain in the United States. In fact, the seemingly benign Bright Angel and Kaibab Trails have killed more people than Denali, Mount Washington, Mount Hood, and Rainier combined.

Just use common sense and you should be OK.
Last edited by Scott P on Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby elhombre » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:47 pm

The way it worked for us was show up and get a number for the next morning. Show up the next morning, got a permit for Phantom ranch the next day with another night at Indian Gardens 2 days later. They seem to have this planned out with the avalible walk-up permits following this 2 day schedule. The south rim has more of these walkup permits for Phantom ranch than the North side because more people visit the south. We had tried it from the north side a while back, but they only had one 2-day permit avalible for walkups/day to hand out.
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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby ex-coloradan » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:34 pm

Sounds like you already have the date picked out, but, I have been there several times. I usually go in the fall when its not so hot and have NEVER not got my 1st choice on a permit. Just a suggestion. It is a great time, although I am not a big fan of the crowds at Indian Garden or Phantom Ranch, but I have met some pretty cool people on the corridor trails.

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby Mtn Geek » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:37 pm

I'm with Scott here, TOO HOT! I did Hermits, Tonto and up the Bright Angel in the end of September and it was in the mid-upper 90's. I also did it in December and the bottom was about 75. Less People and MUCH cooler in the winter. We also got our permits 3 months in advance with no problem.

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby SummitKathy » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:24 am

I have to agree that the winter months are nicer because of the lower temperatures. However, it seems as though your interest is doing Rim to Rim and ending at the north rim. The north rim closes in the winter, so you'll have to schedule it around the warmer months if Rim to Rim is your objective.
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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby Scott P » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:51 am

I have to agree that the winter months are nicer because of the lower temperatures. However, it seems as though your interest is doing Rim to Rim and ending at the north rim. The north rim closes in the winter, so you'll have to schedule it around the warmer months if Rim to Rim is your objective.


True. October is the best time to do the Rim to Rim (one way) because the temperatures aren't so hot (but can still be 100+ on occasion) and the roads are open. Plus, the fall colors are really nice on the north rim.

North Kaibab is still probably the most reasonable hot season trail to the bottom in the park, though it can still be long and brutal.

Still, for anyone who has read George Steck's book, I find his conversation with one the park rangers at Phantom Ranch both interesting and humorous. He was teasing the ranger who took the temperatures for liking nice round numbers because there were a bunch of 120F temperatures in the book, but none higher. The ranger explained that "Oh no, it doesn't mean that at all. It's only that our thermometer only goes to 120F".
Last edited by Scott P on Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:57 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby gearhunter » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:53 am

Don't go in June. You can't imagine hot hot it gets. You are taking a huge risk with your life. It just isn't worth it. It just isn't fun.

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby SummitKathy » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:57 am

Scott P wrote:

North Kaibab is still probably the most reasonable hot season trail in the park, though it can still be long and brutal.


I hiked Rim to Rim from the north in August one year. It was 110 degrees in the shade coming down North Kaibab. Did I still enjoy the trip? Yes. Just be prepared for heat!
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”-John Muir

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby jet » Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:51 pm

My wife and I just returned from the Grand Canyon. We were able to get 4 nights camping at the Bright Angel Campground. One night only one other site was being used. Something that could affect getting a walk up permit would be if the main water line would break. Apparently this has been happening a little more regular. The Phantom Ranch was not filling any cancellations while we were there due to a break that limited water supply. I'm not sure about backcountry permits though. The break was on the North Kaibab trail about 30 minutes from the ranch. Bad weather prevented crews from repairing it for a few days. We hiked past it as we headed north for a day hike. Later in the day the trail was getting eroded enough that if not fixed would take out the trail. Another break last year took out a whole section of trail north of Cottonwood campground. The ranger did say that the campground was booked solid starting after the 1st of March.

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby climbing_rob » Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:35 am

Just another opinion on the "time of year" thing, from someone who has done 20 Rim-to-Rims... (yes, 20) plus a ton of rim-river-rims and other GC hikes at all times of year.

Sure it gets hot down at the bottom, sometimes really hot, but there are so many ways to cool off, swim in the sub-50 degree CO river springs to mind, nice little swim beach where the BA trail hits the bottom. The BA creek has some wonderful pools (choose carefully though!).

October is a great time in the Canyon, but April/May is much better because there is so much more daylight. October is relatively dark (check sunrise/sunset tables at the USNO web site). The GC is best seen, er... in the light! (though night hiking there is wonderful as well.. we did an all-nighter rim-to-rim once, fantastic!)

Plenty of water taps, dunk your head often, including your hat and shirt and enjoy your built in air-conditioning for 15-20 minutes. Hydrate like crazy BUT include lots of electrolytes, of course.

I personally don't much care for the Phantom Ranch scene. Indian Gardens and Cottonwood are nicer places to camp, IMHO, plus significantly cooler air temps.

This all being said, May, right after the North rim opens, is better than June.

Another option, done often: go even earlier (April), hike all the way to Cottonwood camp (7 miles downhill, 7 gently uphill), sleep, hike to the North rim and back for a nice day hike, sleep again, hike back to the south rim, staying at Indian Gardens on the way out. rim-to-rim-to-rim, three nights in April. If by chance you choose this, I'd descend the Kaibab trail (much better shape these days than the BA, only 7 easy miles to Phantom), then ascend the BA (easier to ascend a rutty trail than descending it, plus Indian Gardens is a perfect rest/camping spot). Just a thought.

I wish you luck in your quest!

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby MuchosPixels » Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:02 am

Every system has its pros and cons obviously.

I have noticed that some people reserve a campsite and never show up. That happened to me last september on several campgrounds on Maroon Creek, Aspen. Some campground spots had the tag with the name and dates and the people never showed up. The first night I said screw this and just took one spot. Given it was already 10PM and nobody was on it I figured no one will show. I was right. I did put money in the self service box. But man what a waste. And that was not the only one. I checked online and nothing was available but yet there were several spots free.

If you have the flexibility regarding dates then just go and see what the deal is. Some great alternatives have been suggested also.

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Re: Grand Canyon permit failure

Postby peter303 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:59 pm

jet wrote:My wife and I just returned from the Grand Canyon. We were able to get 4 nights camping at the Bright Angel Campground. One night only one other site was being used.

For most people the cost of obtaining a car camping or backcountry permit is low compared to the total cost of the trip - maybe 10% if airfare is involved. And some of the vendors dont even want to bother with a cancelation notification system - it costs more than its worth.
To its credit I like what Denver-based Xantera vendor (most western national parks) does - they allow cancelation up 48 hours or reservation date.

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