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Trip suggestions sought
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Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
Trip suggestions sought on 10/01/2009 14:01:35 MDT Print View

I'm looking for trip suggestions for sometime between mid-december and mid-january. Trip will be for up to 7 days, including travel time (3 experienced hikers/campers are going).

Hoping to find a place we can fly into and reach without rental car. Would like:

* Nat'l park or Wilderness area
* 4-5 days of hiking, altitude not a problem.
* Snow okay, but will not have crampons or ice axes and would like to get in enough miles per day to see some remote area or a good mix of stuff.


Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
Grand Canyon R2R2R on 10/01/2009 19:06:02 MDT Print View

A friend suggested we consider a rim to rim (and back again) hike of the Grand Canyon from South to North rim and back. If anyone's done this trip, especially in the winter, please comment.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Grand Canyon R2R2R on 10/01/2009 19:20:51 MDT Print View

Very nice setting and winter will be a lot less crowded. If you do the main trails (Bright Angel to North Kabob) its about 47 miles S-N-S, with over 11,000 ft of elevation gain & loss. Great workout.
North Rim is offically closed that time of year so there there won't be any amenities, and the water may be turned off along the North Kabob trail. But you are allowed to hike there, and there is a stream/river much of the way.
May be some snow/ice requiring instep crampons.
I did this trip last April as a long day hike/run. Would be nice to take it slower. In early April there was still snow on the upper 1000 ft of the north rim.
An airport is about 7 miles from the South rim. a train goes right to the South rim (not sure about winter). South rim is open all year.

There are also more rugged/remote trails available if thats what you're after. Research them.
The official Grand Canyon NPS site has lots of good info.

Edited by asandh on 10/01/2009 19:36:00 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Trip suggestions sought on 10/01/2009 19:34:46 MDT Print View

I won't comment on the double RtoR Grand Canyon hike other than to say it will probably be very snowy at the North Rim. With roads to the North Rim closed, you can't bail out there, should something go wrong. I would think that down and back from the South Rim would be a better choice. There are connecting trails in the canyon for possible loops, so you'll see a lot more of the Canyon. Check the website for details on trails, permits, etc.

However, there's no public transport to the GC (check the park's website), and the park shuttle busses don't run in winter. You could get a charter flight to the Grand Canyon Airport and then a taxi. If you can somehow get to Williams (does Greyhound stop there?), there is a train to the GC but it's a tourist excursion type thing, quite expensive. You might be able to persuade one of the bus tours from Las Vegas to let you make a one-way trip each way; you'd have to check with the individual tour company to see if this is possible for folks with backpacking gear. (A lot of tours won't take hikers because they "detract" from the tour experience--an example being Gray Line tours to Mt. Rainier.) Renting a car is probably your cheapest option!

The combination of being accessible by public transport, suitable for a 4-5 day hike and snow-free in the dead of winter eliminates about 99.9% of the possibilities. The first criterion, public transport, is by far the most restrictive. Rent a car, and there are many, many possibilities, especially in the Southwest.

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/01/2009 19:36:28 MDT.

Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
Requirements are changing... on 10/01/2009 19:47:34 MDT Print View

Thanks to both of you for the information.

Snow is okay, even ice. But, hoping to avoid a trip where it's constant and snowshoes or ice climbing might be necessary. Instep crampons is probably fine, would Khatoola Microspikes and trekking poles suffice?

We could drive there direct, but aren't sure about leaving the car during the hike. I've done this for more remote hikes, but not for a place that potentially has a lot more traffic.

Appreciate advice to consider not going full South to North. Will keep it in mind, but must admit, idea of rim to rim is appealing.

Sounds like this is do-able. Will research it and hopefully find some winter trip reports.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Requirements are changing... on 10/01/2009 20:11:13 MDT Print View

Cottonwood Campground is 6.8 miles below the North Rim and almost certainly below snowline. If you are set on R-R-R and can hike 13.5 miles with a day pack, you could make Cottonwood sort of a base camp, hike up as close to the north rim as conditions allow, then return to a warmer and snow free base camp after a long day.

The snow/ice level near the north rim varies depending on time of year, but insteps or microspikes and trekking poles are all you'd need.

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
Grand Canyon R-R-R late December? on 10/01/2009 20:45:22 MDT Print View

"WINTER conditions on the South Rim can be extreme. The road into the North Rim is closed from the first heavy snow in November or early December to mid-May."

Hate to see you get all the way there, or close, and find out conditions have blown your trip. We did the R-R-R in March last year, and there was snow pack near and at the top of the North Rim. Scattered ice along the trail as we neared that. Nothing we had to worry about but I could see a "heavy snow" before the melt making those narrow trails inaccessible.

Do some good homework. Call the Ranger Station.

I'm not clear about your driving criteria. Are you worried about leaving a rental car at a trail head? Theft or vandalism?


Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
re: specifications on 10/01/2009 22:04:09 MDT Print View

The only place I can think of that meets the transportation spec is Yosemite - fly into Merced, get on YARTS (limited, but available, check - but once you're in the park you'll have snow, snow, snow. You can rent snowshoes and x-country skis at Badger Pass.

Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
We're planning on calling Monday on 10/01/2009 22:05:02 MDT Print View

The car issue is simply wondering if the car will be safe if left.

We're definitely aware that safety comes first. Trips are sometimes better off canned and the Canyon will still be around for a second attempt.

On first blush, here's a possible itinerary:

Day 1: South Kaibab to North Kaibab, staying overnight at Cottonwood campsite.

Day 2: North Kaibab towards North Rim. If possible, get to North rim, maybe even Lodge. If snow/weather isn't great, stay lower and explore a bit. Either way, back to Cottonwood campsite for the night.

Day 3: Return via Bright Angel trail. Possibly stop at Bright Angel campsite for overnight before climb out.

We're experienced hikers (did multiple, consecutive 12+ hr days at 9,000 to 14,000 ft in Colorado this August. If conditions, or some other factor slows us down, this itinerary allows the option of not going further from Cottonwood Campsite on Day 2, as well as the possibly overnight at Bright Angel Campsite on the way out.


Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: We're planning on calling Monday on 10/02/2009 00:48:30 MDT Print View

I lived for two winters a little north of the Arizona strip in an area of similar snowfall. Mid December might or might not have significant snow. It's hard to forecast. Plan for it though! I'd want some sort of traction devices for the areas near the rim. I've never been to the canyon with snow but I hear that it can be necessary. My brothers did a January trip and had a great time. Said that the ice on the trail was dangerous. People do canyon trips year round, and I suspect that the traffic over patches of snow on the trail turns it in to dangerous ice pretty quickly.

Your car should be safe at the trailhead. It's an immensely popular trailhead that sees thousands of backpackers leaving their cars.

I wonder what camping requirements are during the winter. I suspect that they remain strict (GC has some of the strictest camping requirements anywhere). I'm not sure that you'll be legally allowed to camp anywhere you want on the north rim, or whether you'll "have to" camp in the closed campground up there. I seem to recall there being no decent camping below the rim for a few miles. Plus that'd definitely be taboo.

Enjoy your trip!

Brad Amundsen
(bjamundsen) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: We're planning on calling Monday on 10/02/2009 07:45:11 MDT Print View

I've left cars at the Backcountry Office parking lot numerous times without incident. It is an easy 1.5 miles or so on the Rim Trail (wide and paved part of the way) to the South Kaibab TH. It would then be a short walk back to your car from the Bright Angel TH at the end of your trip.

Have a great time.

Jack Newton
(figster) - F

Locale: Central Arkansas
Big Bend on 10/03/2009 08:23:13 MDT Print View

Big Bend would be my winter destination of choice!

That place is spectacular.

The closest airport is 160 miles away though!


Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Big Bend on 10/03/2009 09:31:41 MDT Print View

Or Big Bend State Park. The Rancherias Loop is supposed to be a nice, 3 day loop.........with water. And the state park has showers, and Rangers who are glad you are using it. You could always ride the train into Alpine and get a shuttle of some kind. If you didn't want to spend the entire time in Big Bend, you could always run up to Guadalupe Mountains NP.

Edited by skinewmexico on 10/03/2009 09:33:37 MDT.

John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F

Locale: Blue Ridge
another vote for Big Bend on 10/03/2009 09:35:09 MDT Print View

+1 on Big Bend as a perfect winter hiking destination

Steven Thompson
(stevet) - M

Locale: Northeast
Re: Trip suggestions sought on 10/05/2009 13:39:17 MDT Print View

If considering Grand Canyon and you have 7 days I suggest hiking along the Tonto Trail vs. a corridor trip. The Tonto generally is snow free although there may be snow at the rim and along the 1st couple miles of the trails you use to access the Tonto.

Entering at Hermit and exiting at Grandview or vice-versa keeps you on popular, well traveled access trails. You can cover this over 4-5 hiking days leaving time for a side trip to Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel Campground.

Alternately you can enter via either trail, visit Phantom, hike out and back to/from Clear Creek and exit via S. Kaibab or Bright Angel (or do this in reverse).

If the Grand Canyon trails are icy, insteps or kathoola cleats are sufficient.

I thru-hiked the Tonto last November and made the side trip to Clear Creek. Pics are here:

and the trip report is here (three large files):

Edited by stevet on 10/05/2009 13:54:48 MDT.