Grand Canyon corridor / cover -up or shorts and tee shirt?

10:02 a.m. on August 22, 2011 (EDT)
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To anyone with experiential knowledge on the subject: what is the better approach to staying cool on the GC corridor trails? I’ve read that loose fitting long sleeves and long pants will keep a person more comfortable in the sun than shorts and tee shirt. That seems counter intuitive but I just don’t know.

PS I know the time of year for this trip isn’t ideal but couldn’t be helped…



3:31 p.m. on August 22, 2011 (EDT)
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I have hiked the canyon every month but May,June,July,August and September (summer) so I could not tell you whats coolest to wear in over 100 degree desert heat. My favorite months are December and January when the inner canyon temps are in the 40-60 range. I have not been in the canyon since January 2003 as permits are so hard to get anymore other than by restervation. I used to get mine via standby when I would get to the canyon between October and April and never had to wait more than two days for a permit.

If you are going in soon, hike early as possible from the rims, drink plenty of water and stay near water. Maybe do a day hike up Phantom Creek where being or near flowing water will be easiest. Its about a mile upstream of Phantom Ranch up the Bright Angel Creek in the lower end of the Box.


This is the way to get up to and up Phantom Creek Canyon from the Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch.  The "Y" at the upper end of the canyon is where Haunted Canyon (right) splits from the main Phantom Canyon. There are indian ruins up Haunted Canyon. Its about 3 miles from the junction of Bright Angel Creek and Phantom Canyon to Haunted Canyon.

Another good dayhike is go up Bright Angel Creek to Ribbon Falls


This is the trail to Ribbon Falls. There is also a Upper falls and a Upper Upper Falls.


On this map there is a bridge over Bright Angel Creek at lower center of the map where it says footbridge. Go straight and follow the main trail into the alcove of Lower Ribbon Falls. Go back toward the bridge and look for a faint trail leading to the NW towards the cliff on the right of the lower falls..


The faint trail is near where the "Y" jct is just across BA Creek footbridge on the west side (left). I used this aerial view to show closer detail. Follow the trail to the cliff and then up the talus  slope to the SW and up to and above lower Ribbon Falls.(there is a spot where you can look down to see the lower falls.) Then stay on the route NW and it will come into Ribbon Creek and evenually come to the upper falls.


Upper Ribbon Falls are in the shadow on lower right where my red trail begins. Go along the cliff face to the left of the falls and there is a indian grainery in the cliff. Then continuealong and go up the slope and over the top to get to upper upper ribbon creek. You can walk down the U.U canyon to come to the brink of the middle upper falls. Continue up U.U. Creek to the first large "Y" just NW of my red arrow above and take the right fork to U.U. Ribbon Falls. Tho in summer it will be dry. The left fork goes to a dripping spring way up in the cliff face.

Soory I got off your topic, but I figure if you are hiking in the month of August to October in the inner canyon, its good to know routes and trail where there is water or interesting things like ruins to see.

I should write book with maps of places,routes and trails I followed over the 20 years (1983-2003) that I spent in the Grand Canyon, October to April.

5:44 p.m. on August 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Awesome Gary , Thanks very much. Yeah, I'm going pretty soon; I know it will be crazy hot once I lose the elevation but this couldn't be avoided and still make the trip this year.

9:07 p.m. on August 22, 2011 (EDT)
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So you applied for a reservation and your name came up for a hike when? Where is your hike going to be, how long? What trails,routes,campsites. Going in from the South or North rim? What is your itinerary? I can probably tell you more things to see and look for along your way. Email off site at as my is not working right now, my password was comprimised last week.

After 20 years of hiking the canyon I miss it a lot. But it taught me a lot about desert canyon hiking and geology. My next plan is to spend time around the Escalante in Utah. Like the GC thers plenty of side canyons to get lost in exploring, but no park rangers to tell me I can not go with out a permit or need a reservation, (Yet!).

I do plan to go down the Little Colorado next spring from Cameron to the Confluence with the main Colorado. And there I need a permit from the Navajo Indians in Cameron.

My profile picture is in lower Phanton Canyon climbing on of a few waterfalls. It is easy and if you do it on your hike the water will feel very refreshing!

I actually did one hike in the canyon in 1986 when my nephew came out from Arkansas and wanted to do the canyon. It was mid July and was 119 in the shade at Bright Angel Camp at the bottom. We and everyone else spent the day we were down there sitting in BA Creek. We started back out of the canyon up the BA Trail at 4 am and at my nephews pace didnt get out till 11 pm that evening. It felt hotter than Tucson did where I was spending part of the summer. After the hike and we returned to Tucson and he home, I left and went back to Jackson Hole for the rest of the summer. I would never hike there again in May to September!

11:07 p.m. on August 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Unfortunately my only GC experiences were in May and late August.  I found the best way to stay cool is not wearing a hat, but using a sun umbrella to provide a personal area shade.  Golite makes a great parasol for this purpose, but the cheap ones that clamp to lawn chairs will do fine too, at a fraction of Golite’s price.  Armed with said umbrella, my on trail fashion is shorts, a cheap Hawaiian shirt, and sun screen lotion.  Take along a wide brim hat for times when you can’t be bothered holding the parasol.  Shade can be a hard thing to find in the canyon, depending on your venue.  Consider taking a cheap cotton bed sheet, which can be used both as a sun awning at day in camp, as well as something to sleep in, when it is too warm to use anything else.   

Gary mentions early starts as one way to avoid the heat.  Another approach is starting late in the day, hiking into the night.  In either case try to be under way as first or last light is hitting the buttes; that is when the canyon is at its best.  Both have their merits and both worth experiencing, especially if the moon is out. Make sure you have a bright flashlight (e.g. cree led) if night hiking, some of the trails are quite rugged, and a misstep can break an ankle, or worse, send you over the edge.


10:11 a.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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I think the idea behind the long sleeves and long pants is to provide shade. If the clothing is white or light colored and very light weight it is better than bare skin. I personally have never seen a pair of pants light weight enough. I have used long sleeves with fishing on the ocean in Florida. The parasol that Ed mentioned may look a little goofy but would probably be the best option. Like he said there is little shade and take PLENTY of water.

The national park service recommends wearing cotton because it holds on to sweat and cools you better since it is usually dry and evaporative cooling works well.  I think this is mainly for tourists that have no clue and would take off down bright angel with a liter of water in a nylon polo.

11:37 a.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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The first time I hiked in the Grand Canyon was in October 1983, after a summer in Jackson Hole WY it felt very hot even in October. After a single overnight hike and out I opted not to carry my tent or sleeping bag. I just used a tarp to sleep on with my ensolite pad for comforst and as whomeworry said, I just used a regular bed sheet to cover up in at night. My second trip that October was a one week below the rim trek. I carried my multi-day pack with above said gear and water bottles/food. My pack weighed about 30 lbs going in, 9 lbs coming out.

Even in October all the way thru mid November when the North Rim usually gets its first snow falls, it can be quite warm inside the canyon.

Figure at least 7 degree's for every thousand feet as you descend into the canyon. It might be 70 on the south rim and 105 at Phantom Ranch. In midwinter when I spend 90% of my time in the 20 years after 1983 Dec/Jan were about 0-30 degrees on the south rim with 1-3 feet of snow average. At Phantom Ranch the temps were in the 40-60 range. I would start out in all my winter clothes on the rim and be down to shorts and a Tshirt by midday at the bottom. And visa-versa coming out.

In January 1999 I did a 256 mile trek in the canyon going down whats called the Bass Trail in the west and coming out 28 days later up the Tanner Trail in the east. Once I was in the canyon it was shorts and Tshirt weather most of the days and dropped to the 30s at night. I carried a 20 degree bag, didn't carry my tent as it rarely rains or snows in the canyon during the winter.  I placed 4 food and water caches in the canyon before the hike. Each had about 7 days of food in them. I started with 3 days worth before the first cache at Hermit Camp.

In September it can rain almost anyday and be quite hard making waterfalls in places where its usually dry otherwise. There is little shade when you get away from the main campgrounds like Indian Gardens, BA Camp, Phantom Ranch and Cottonwood. Most plants in the bottom are yucca and agaves,desert scrub and the only places other than estabished camps are in canyon drainages with cottonwoods. Occasionally you'll find a rock overhang or large enough boulder to make shade in midday.

The north side of the canyon is warmer in winter, while the south sides Tonto Trail has more shade in the fall, winter and spring because of the winter sun being lower in the sky. Shade often lingers to Indian Garden till around 9 am in November, while in summer its gone by 6 am.

3:35 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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hey thanks guys...

I've decided to go with Ed's suggestion and bring, but henceforth I'll refer to it as a "Trekking Umbrella".

Actually this will allow me to pull the rain jacket (probably won't need it anyway) and shave a half pound or so. I’m not a UL guy but certainly have nothing against a lighter load. I’m pretty bad about last minute “toss-in” items anyway.

I had contemplated using UPF rated (which I learned doesn't necessarily mean "treated", as the rating may be attributed to thread count) long sleeve shirt and pants etc… that stuff is really expensive and 99% of the time I’m under tree canopy.

3:36 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Has anyone here ever gone down the South Kaibab trail?

I happened across this link. It's a "virtual hike" down the South Kaibab and up the Bright Angel trails.

Another interesting link to speed records for rim to rim, rim to rim to rim etc.

The R2R record is apparently held by Allyn Cureton, 3h06m47s set in 10/4/1981, starting on the North Rim. 

Wow you could do that in the summer. Just start at 5am. You'd out by 8am and probably be seated at the Bright Angel lodge by 9 for breakfast with the tourists.

3:41 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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We’re doing the “standard” route of North Rim Campground (first night), Cottonwood camp (2), Bright Angel Camp (3), Indian Gardens camp (4), South Rim camp (5 and final). Our plan is to get to Cottonwood early, chill out during the sunny part of the day, and make a early evening side trip. Which would be the better side trip Transept Canyon or Ribbon falls (or something else?)?

3:44 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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That's neat stuff.

No speed records for me. I'm certainly going to take my time on this one....I've never acutally bought a plane ticket for a hiking trip before, so I'm gonna savor this as much as possible.

5:10 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Patman asks: Which would be the better side trip Transept Canyon or Ribbon falls (or something else?)?

For a side trip I would say Ribbon Falls, you could easily stand beneath the falls to cool off. Plus the alcove its in is east/west in area, so it would have more shade. And maybe do the upper falls and see the ruins I mentioned above.

Be sure also to check out Plateau Point from Indian Gardens. And spend time up and down the Colorado between the old Black Mule Bridge and the new Silver Foot Bridge. Up stream from the Black Bridge there is the original way the miners crossed the Colorado, a cable car still hanging on the original cables. There is also a small Indian ruin on the way to the Black Bridge new the Boat Beach (Where the rafters and river dories beach to visit Phantom Ranch).

Grab a bear or a hot cooked meal if you have the money and buy and send a postcard from Phantom Ranch. The mail is taken out by Mules daily, one of the last places where the mail is sent by an animal (at least to the South Rim)

I met a runner who used to work at the Grand Canyon Library on the South Rim who could run R2R in 3 hours in the late 90s.

Also on the north side of the canyon just a few hundred feet above the Colorado current dam fed waterline, look for the ancient flood waterlines marked by hundreds of years old driftwood. Some are low as 150 feet above the river.

Along the Bright Angel trail as you get to the Tapeats Formation look for a mine hole in the lower Pipe Spring Cliff. This was an exploritory mine shaft. Jusy past it on the trail the switchbacks start up whats called the Devils Corkscrew making its way up to the Tonto Platform above where Indian Gardens sits. Near the mine shaft is an old route the miners in the late 1800s used before the modern trail was built. It climbs the same elevation the Devils Corkscrew switchbacks do in 1.5 miles, but in 1/4 mile. Mules ,donkeys,and horses carried the loads so no thought was made to make it easier.

5:48 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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This map shows where the high waterline driftwood is (With a red marker flag NW of the silver bridge left and the red line across the river right of the other bridge (right) where the miners cable car is.


This map shows where the mule trail goes up just before the BA Trail goes up and the mine (lower left center).

In 1983 on my first hikes in the canyon I found an arrowhead below the tapeats Sandstone just below the Tonto Platform Trail.


The trail out to Plateau Point from Indian Gardens. At the point its 1400 feet down to the Colorado directly below. Very good views up and down the Colorado too.

Ribbon Falls, the green part below is 60 feet high.

View of the South Rim from Indian Gardens, the BA Trail goes thru the break in the grey cliffs right of upper center.


A Big Horn Sheep Ram shares the trail

5:54 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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If you need reservations at one of the hotels at the canyon hotels there are usually cancellations a week or two out.  We went 3 years ago and had no problem getting reservations.  You just have to call often or check the website for availability.

The only hiking we did was down Bright Angel a 1/2 mile or so and around the rim.  I hope you have a full moon. The Canyon is spectacular with a full moon. 

Is anyone going with you or are you soloing?

6:24 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Woooo Weeee! Dats gonna be a hot one!

Sorry I cant help you with CG info but just thought Id throw in my 2 cents on clothing. Everybody has their own choice for whats most comfortable in the deserts. Best would be light colored long sleeve cotton shirt, long lite cotton pants and wide brimmed hat. The idea being to get as most coverage and moisture evaporation possible.

What Im most comfortable in is a short sleeve cotton tee, shorts and wide brimmed hat. Besure to use plenty of sun screen on unprotected areas like the back of your neck for sure. Always take advantage of a shade spot for a cool down.

Cant agree enough with DRINK LOTS AND LOTS OF WATER.

Have a safe trip and Im looking forward to your trip report.

8:02 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Wow Gary, that’s good stuff and much appreciated.

Ocala, I'm going with a friend this time actually; I typically hike solo so this is a somewhat new realm for me. J


Yeah, I’ve been trying to mentally prepare for the heat as much as possible, but you really can’t. I know I’m gonna get sun-zapped at some point. I guess I’ve just given into it and accepted it …lol. I’m pretty excited to find out what it’s like out there regardless; the anticipation is a fabulous feeling before hiking somewhere new for the first time isn’t it?

8:50 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Ive never hiked down into the canyon, just along the trail that runs along the south rim. Its an amazing place. At high noon views kinda become 2 demensional. But early morning and later in the afternoon when you get shadowing creating depth its totally awesome! Heat aside, I dont see how you couldnt enjoy that trip.

8:55 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Well going down the North Kaibab Trail you will have plenty of places to get water. The first one will be at the Roaring Springs pump station about 2/3rd the way down to Cottonwood. Then You will cross the BA Creek about a mile before getting to Cottonwood. If you carry a filter you can drink BA Creek. 

At Cottonwood which has a ranger staion there is filtered water from Roaring Springs. In fact all the water you drink in the canyon will come from Roaring Springs, as its pumped to the North and South rims as well as all the piped drinking water in the inner canyon.

After Cottonwood you will cross Wall Creek on the N Kaibab Trail which can be filtered. Then at Ribbon Falls the same. The BA Creek flows all the way to the Colorado at BA Camp below Phantom ranch. The next in coming creek is Phantom Creek about 2 miles north of the ranch.

At BA Camp there are flush toilets as well as at Phantom Ranch 1/2 mile above it.

The Colorado is said to be drinkable without filtering and I have done this at all the places where it is possible to come to the river in the whole canyon that I have hiked.

On the way up from BA Camp about 2 miles after the Silver Bridge you will come to a place where you can get to the Colorado River one last time before turning nsouth on the BA Trail. There is a so called resthouse near the River Trail and BA Trails jct. Then you will be following Pipe Creek up to where I told you about the mine shaft above and the old mule trail. After the switchbacks on the Devils Corkscrew you will come to Pipe creek again and follow along it to the Tonto Platform on the tapeats Sandstone and then Indian Gardens.

From I.G. the will be a resthouse with water every one and a half miles. The first one going up is called the 3 miles resthouse. It is 4.5 miles from I.G. to the south rim. The 3 mile R.H. is 3 miles from the rim. Then there is the mile and a half R.H.. You will cross Pipe Creek one last time tho usually in summer the upper parts are dry above ground. But if you were to follow Pipe Creek which is about 2 1/2 miles from the south rim upstream away from the trail there are some more indian ruins consisting of grainaries on the east facing walls of the upper drainage and cliff dwellings on the west facing walls.

Watch for Big Horns all along the trail from I.G. to the South Rim, also deer,Turkeys (they can be seen anywhere in the grand canyon), Ravens, ground squirells and chipmonks, rattle snakes may be in the bushes trying to stay cool.

In Cottonwood Camp and BA Camp there are spotted skunks (have white spots on black instead of stripes) Ringtailed cats (look like skinny raccoons), Ravens will take anything left outside if they can carry it.

There is a section on the North Kaibab Trail just above the section called the Box where there are river or so called Bank beavers. Instead of building a lodge they dig into the edge of the stream bed for shelter, there are a few dams along the trail making it swamplike.

About half way down the Box before Phantom Canyon look high above in the cliffs for a natural rock formation called the Phantom. Looks like a silouette of the Grim Reaper.

Phantom Canyom was called that because when the trail surveyors were walking up BA Creek on the soon tbe N. Kaibaba trail they past the so called side canyon without noticing it. On the way back down they came  acrossed it and sore it had not been there on the way up the creek, so then naming it Phantom Creek. There once and then gone!

The Black Bridge was built for the mules in 1909, the silver bridge downstream about a mile was built in 1996 for the tourists. The mules will not cross it as it has a view of the river and I guess they dont like to see thru the ground they are walking on?

Cables 1500 feet long were carried down on the backs of men and mules stretched out over 1500 feet. By the time one end came to the bottom the other end was still on the Tonto Platform 1000 feet above.

9:25 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Ever wanted to be a time traveler? Well hiking in the canyon you will sorta.

The North Rim which is 1000 feet higher than the South Rim, composed of Limestone and used to be beneath a sea floor has Tribolite fossils in it and dates back to about 280,000 years ago, while the very bottom around Phantom Ranch to the Colorado is 2.4 billion years old and is made of a rock called Vishnu Shist (the geologist that named it was fond of the Buddist gods) Vishnu Shist has extruded slabs of Pink Zoraster Granite in it. and at one time is said to have been the base of a mountain Range higher than the Himalaya's are today.

In between the top and the bottom are many other layers of limestone and sandstone. Sandstone was once great desert dunes like the Sahara, sea shores of ancient long drained away oceans and such. There are also layers of Shale and other mud and silt stones.

As you hike in the canyon along its trails the sand that once wore down to become the top layers of the trail have now been worn down by millions of tourists boots and mules shoes into silt a fine powder which will squish out from the pounding of your feet and look like puffs of smoke.

Along another trail in the canyon called the Hermit on the west side of the canyon from the South Rims Grand Canyon Village are dinosaur tracks of everything from alligator looking reptiles, to turtles and small bird like reptile dinosaurs.

One the rims look under your feet in the limestones for seawrom burrows, reedlike plant stems and various shellfish, clams and mullusks.

On another inner canyon trail to the east are 1000s of pieces of petrified wood where 10s of thousands of years ago huge forests once stood.

About 10 miles south of the South Rim stands Red Butte a 1000 feet sandstone hill that is all that is left of nearly 8000 more feet of limestone and sandstone that once covered the South Rim, now worn away by wind and water and washed out into the sea of Baja and over the landscape that makes up the southwestern deserts like the Mojave and the Sonoran.

After hiking and exploring the Grand Canyon for 20 year during most of the Fall,Winters and Springs I have become greatly aware of its history from the ancient geology to the human life in the last 4000+ years.

Speaking of ancient man, along the inner rim on the south side in 1996, three clay pots were discovered and taken to the town of Flagstaff NAU's (Northern Arizona University) anthropology dept and carbon dated to be 3500-3800 years old.


12:02 a.m. on August 24, 2011 (EDT)
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GaryPalmer said:

The North Rim which is 1000 feet higher than the South Rim, composed of Limestone and used to be beneath a sea floor has Tribolite fossils in it and dates back to about 280,000 years ago, while the very bottom around Phantom Ranch to the Colorado is 2.4 billion years old and is made of a rock called Vishnu Shist (the geologist that named it was fond of the Buddist gods)

Hmm..  Apparently the source of your information varies with that of the park's web page.

"The more recent Kaibab limestone caprock, on the rims of the Grand Canyon, formed 270 million years ago. In contrast, the oldest rocks within the Inner Gorge at the bottom of Grand Canyon date to 1.84 billion years ago..."

This content is located at the bottom of this link.


11:59 a.m. on August 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Yes I forgot 3 zeros in the limestone age and I thought I had the age of the Shist right. It changes after new research.

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