Peak(s):  Grand Canyon
Date Posted:  11/18/2011
Modified:  11/21/2011
Date Climbed:   11/09/2011
Author:  Tory Wells
 A mountain in reverse...running the Grand Canyon   

Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim
Down the Bright Angel Trail, up the South Kaibab Trail
16 miles roundtrip, 4600' vertical gain, 4.5 hours

Like climbing a mountain in reverse. That's the Grand Canyon.

My November roadtrip started in Denver and my first stop was Zion National Park. After a nice 18 mile run there, I drove down to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, slept at the South Kaibab Trailhead in my Jeep, then started my run about 9am from the Bright Angel TH. To make things easier, I left my Jeep at the South Kaibab TH, took the shuttle to Bright Angel, then down from there.

There was quite a bit of snow on the South Rim which extended down about a thousand feet. After that there was some mud to deal with, but not too bad. My Microspikes made running on the snow and ice very enjoyable.


Looking down from the Bright Angel TH.

From the Bright Angel TH, it is about 8 miles down to the river. I ran this and was lucky to only get stopped once (for about a minute) by a mule train coming up. I love long runs that cover a lot of vertical gain, especially ones that pass through many different ecosystems. It was awesome starting in pine forest and descending down to Sonoran desert, not to mention the many different geological layers one passes through.

It took me about 1h45m to get down to the river. I thought it was pretty cool to dip my hands in water that started up high in Rocky Mountain National Park and had made the journey through Colorado and Utah to here. In a way, I had kind of made the same journey.


Rafters and kayakers on the Colorado.


One of two bridges at the bottom.


At one of the bridges, with nice, clear directions.


The bridges are solid and the railings are high. I ran across the bridges.


The view from the bridge.


The muddy Colorado and the ancient rock at the bottom.

The climb back up the South Kaibab is about 6 miles and 4600' vertical gain. The trail is often steep....I was happy to hike. Obviously I didn't go for the R2R2R. Maybe next time, we'll see.


Didn't see any condors, but plenty of ravens.


Love this view.


Hikers on the South Kaibab Trail.


Snowy switchbacks on the South Kaibab.


View from the South Kaibab TH.


Funny sign...doesn't say to not run it in a day.

After the Grand Canyon, I stayed two nights in Flagstaff, with sidetrips to Sedona and some of the national monuments nearby. After that, I stayed 3 days in Tucson, with plenty of time spent in Sagauro National Park. In all, I ran 77 miles this trip.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

Big ups
11/19/2011 21:15
Mountain running is where its at, even if its in reverse! Nice job


11/21/2011 17:40
Beautiful pics, looks like a blast! That bridge pic reminds me of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom! : )

Also looks a lot safer than the they guys who just climbed Pyramid!

Jon Frohlich

Same day
11/21/2011 18:47
A group of 5 of us started backpacking down South Kaibab about 11am that day so I'm sure we passed each other somewhere along the way. We spent 2 nights down in the canyon and hiked out Bright Angel on Friday. The snow on the South Rim made going down (and coming up) fun but it was great after that. Great weather that day! I'd like to try it your way one day without the heavy pack. Nice time too!


11/22/2011 15:10
I've hiked the GC in a day, but old knees would not cooperate with that! Good job


That dude in the sign....
07/29/2013 18:29
doesn't look very prepared. Doesn't seem like he's got any of the essentials on him.

Good job on the running, 16 miles, 4.5 hours, with snow seems like a pretty healthy pace. And you got some good pics too!

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