South Kaibab Trail
South Rim to Phantom Ranch

We flew from BWI to Phoenix, then drove to the South Rim.  Stayed overnight in the Yavapai Lodge.

Next morning we headed to the backcountry permit office to get a camping permit for Indian Gardens.

I know many people want to hike/camp in the Grand Canyon but don't know how to go about getting reservations/permits/ etc.  I've created a page that will at least tell you what I know.  Click here for the How To Get Reservations Page.
The South Kaibab Trail starts at Yaki Point and is the most direct route to the bottom. 

That's me in my full backpacking regalia.
Mike is ready to start the adventure.
The trail is very steep.  In this picture you are looking down the switch backs to people on the trail below. 

The Grand Canyon can be said to consist of the outer canyon, the Tonto Plateau, and the inner gorge.  The outer canyon starts with a vertical face of Kaibab Limestone which is about 300' thick.  This formation limits access to the canyon as trails can only be built in a few places where this formation has collapsed a bit as a result was water erosion.
Looking across the canyon you see the North Rim and looking into the canyon you see the plateau and the inner gorge.
Looking back toward the South Rim is the steep wall of the outer canyon.  You can also see snow on the upper part of the slope. 

It's March 19 but there were still scattered patches of snow.  If you plan a Grand Canyon trip in March, check on the snow cover before you go.
The first stop on the Kaibab is relatively small protrusion known as Cedar Ridge.  This stop is about 1.5 miles from the start and about 1,200' below the rim. 
Mike posing in front a a dead cedar tree.  I took this picture because almost 39 years ago Peggi and I hiked to Cedar Ridge.  I took a picture of her in a cedar tree.  I was hoping it was the same one, but apparently it's not.
Peggi resting after our hike to Cedar Ridge in August 1970.
From Cedar Ridge the trail makes use of this side mesa to drop more elevation and work its way down to the plateau.
The trail off the back side of the mesa is also very steep. 

Below a freight-only mule train is heading up the trail.


Finally we reach the Tonto Plateau, which is also referred to as the Tonto Platform, as it's technically not a plateau. The Plateau is a broad terrace which forms the major lateral route through the lower reaches of the Canyon. It is located approximately 3,000 feet below the Canyon's south rim.

The plateau is by no means level but it is relatively less steep than the outer canyon or the inner gorge.  It also is surprisingly wide once you actually get on it, as compared to looking down on it from 3000' above.
Once across the plateau we get to the inner gorge and finally get a view of the Colorado River and the day's destination, Phantom Ranch about 1,200' below.

The Bright Angel campground and Phantom Ranch are located in the trees you see a little ways up Bright Angel Canyon.

As the picture shows, the inner gorge is massive in its own right.  It just looks small from the rim in comparison to the overall size of the Grand Canyon itself.
The tunnel leads onto the mule bridge that crosses the river to Phantom Ranch.

The hike down was hard.  The Kaibab is steep and there is no water.  The temperature got quite high.  That evening the range said it was around 100F.  I don't think it was that hot but I was definitely a little dehydrated by the time I got there.
Mike doesn't look any worse for wear as he begins crossing the mule bridge.
The trail continues up Bright Angel Creek through the Bright Angel Campground.
Finally we arrive at Phantom Ranch.  We got there around 2:30 pm It took about 5 hours to get to the ranch.

Mike and I watched a lot of younger people trudge into the ranch that afternoon and throw themselves down on their bunks. 

I guess we didn't fare too badly for a couple of old coots!

Go to Phantom Ranch and Indian Gardens

Go to the beginning page