Hiking Bright Angel

The Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon National Park follows the fault down to the Colorado River and back up the other side. You can see the switchbacks from Grand Canyon Village. From the south rim, the trail descends 8 miles to the river, with a rest house at one and a half mile and another at 3 miles. We’ve been bringing our children here for over a decade, and it was high time that our hiking went below the rim.

My son was inspired to go further. But graduated steps toward backpacking proved to be a smart decision. With children aged 4 to 9 years, we went to the first rest area. Next year we’ll go down three miles, and the following year to Indian Gardens, halfway to the river. In a few years, we hope to have the entire family at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, a vertical mile below the rim.

We easily made it to the first rest area. This was a good choice for a turnaround. But you must remember, no matter how far you choose to go down in The Canyon, going down as an option. Coming back up is not. Every year there are a dozen deaths on average, and death from dehydration is far more common than falling off the edge. Water is the prerequisite! The people who die, or must be evacuated are usually in better shape than you and I. Often they’re runners who think they can make it to the river and back again and don’t have adequate water supply. Be warned Outside Magazine reader!

If you take enough water, and if you turn around sooner rather than later, this is a wonderful hike for you and your family. For many reasons, this hike was meaningful for our family. We finished with celebration, selfies, and our memories at the trailhead boulder.

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