I love the wildlife around the Grand Canyon. Last May I was hiking down the South Kaibab trial and a mature Desert Big Horn ram crossed in front of me. Tons of mule deer, sheep, condors, scorpions, snakes, elk (don't ever lift up any rocks) can be found in the Grand Canyon. Keep an eye out for some great encounters with the wildlife the canyon has to offer.
Please remember to leave the animals alone and do not feed them.
If you are willing to put a little effort into your hike you can be rewarded with some astonishing views and areas where a lot of people haven't gone.
Last year I went down the South Kaibab Trail with my son (see my home page for more details) to spend the night at the Phanton Ranch. If you don't want to go all the way to the bottom you can see the Colorado River and the Phantom Ranch from a little over half way down. It will give you a different perspective on the Grand Canyon and most people never go that far.
If you are going to the bottom of the Canyon you can camp out or make reservations for the Phantom Ranch through Xanterra. If you are planning to camp I think you will need to get a permit. The mules can carry your tent and other supplies down for you at a cost of around $80 or so. Check with the NPS or their website for more information.
Make sure and take plenty of water and some snacks so you don't run into trouble on the trail. No water, shade or phones on the South Kaibab Trail.
For an usual, off the beaten path, the South Kaibab Trail is a sure bet. Just be careful and tell someone when and where you are going.
Not that the angel trail is off the beaten path, well it is if you hike down far enough. The trail head is crowded towards the top, but if you hike a mile or more down, the crowd virtually thins out to a ghost town, I don't think too many people are committed to hiking 3 or more miles down and then back up, but we were and we had a great time doing so. It made for a nice and easy day hike. I wanted to get a feel for the canyon, it wasn't enough to just look at it, I wanted to experience it too, and hiking the angel trail was an excellent way to do it. Being young helped us a lot, somehow it only took us 3 hours down to the 3 mile marker house and 50 minutes back up, which is a testament to the traffic on the way down, although we did hike pretty hard on the way back up.
Take a dare and close the distance between South and North Rim, by walking the Bright Angel and Kaibab trails. However, take the time to do so, then you will enjoy the splendour of the Canyon and maybe even learn some secrets that no-one else experienced before.
Hike the South Kaibab Trail. This one also decends into the canyon, but is less travelled and somewhat harder than Bright Angel. I've hiked this one part way as a warm-up the day before hiking farther down on Bright Angel. Anyway, it was raining this day and was kind of chilly in the canyon. Here's a view of the trail... you'll see a very similar thing on both trails! :) Actually, I think the colors are a little bit different in this part of the canyon, so if you want some variety... well, take this one! :)
Hike the canyon! :) If you're used to hiking, this will be quite different because you use some energy going down, but it's not that much. You keep telling yourself you can go farther, but at the end you have to eventually hike back out! Yeah, that's the killer, and it's pretty tough to come back up. See my danger section.
Anyway, the best route is probably the Bright Angel Trail. It's the 'easier' of the two main trails and the most widely used. There are a couple water stations before rechaing the semi-bottom, where there's another small station at Indian Gardens (which has a small ranger station). At any rate, you'll get great views inside the canyon, of course. When I was coming back up the first time I hiked this trail (I've done it twice now), we had a hail storm near the top, while at the bottom is was raining... weather varies drastically between different points in the canyon!
In this photo, this is the Bright Angel Trail where it starts to level off somewhat... very close to the Indian Gardens waypoint.
Go for one of the walking trail down into the Canyon. There are hikes of different lenghts. You can go just go half way or choose the longest one which is really strenuous but goes all the way down where you can see the Colorado River. If you go for the latter start early as it takes quite some time. Also take some litres of water with you, you´ll need it. And the rangers won´t let you go any further if they catch you without or an insufficient amout of water. There are several places to start your hike but the ones i did were all very scenic and i enjoyed them all.
There also is a bus system that takes you around to several lookouts.
For sunset the park is crowded at several places, but it a beautiful event.
The shower!!!! Yes, the camp site has a public shower block. After a six hour walk, it was the best shower I ever had in my entire life! Take a plentiful supply of quarters, because they're coin operated and you don't get nearly enough time for your money.