Hiking Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail

After exploring Arizona for a week (Sedona, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon), it was finally time to see the Grand Canyon! We were there mid-April and unfortunately North Rim was still closed so we explored the South Rim, which is the most visited part of the park.

We decided to spend 2 full days in Grand Canyon to give ourselves some time to relax and really enjoy the place leisurely. We were a bit tired from our previous activity-packed days so we agreed that on the first day we would take it easy and just drive up to some of the prominent vista points in South Rim (Desert View, Moran Point, Grand View Point and Mather Point, among others).

On the second day though, we knew that we wanted to do some day-hiking so we picked the Bright Angel Trail. This is a popular trail on the South Rim that offers dramatic views of the Inner Canyon.

The entire Bright Angel Trail is 15.6 miles roundtrip and requires you to camp overnight. We weren’t really prepared for that so we cut it short and just did the 3 Mile Resthouse section (6 miles, 3-4 hours round trip). It was probably the best idea and ended up being the highlight of our trip! I would totally recommend anyone visiting the Grand Canyon to give this hike a try. You can even consider a shorter version and hike up to 1.5 Mile Resthouse (2-3 hours, round trip). You won’t regret it.

Bright Angel Trailhead to 3 Mile Resthouse hike – what to expect

The first half of the hike it’s going to feel easy – that’s because the hike descends down into a canyon and you will probably be taking lots of breaks for pictures. The return is the tricky part- it can get quite steep and rocky. Plan on spending twice the time it took you to hike down.

Even in early spring when we visited, it was really really hot! I highly recommend starting early in the morning, especially if you visit in summer time. By all means, refrain from going on this hike during the harsh sun hours (12pm – 4pm).

As you go down, you will find plenty of photo opportunities. There are two beautiful rock tunnels that make for an awesome Instagram picture.

I also loved the lookout half way through the hike (I don’t remember if it had a name). One of the best views of the hike for sure!

Hiking Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon 7

We were happily surprised to find many animals along the way. Squirrels, bighorn sheep, mules and some unusual birds.

Hiking Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon 6

We were lucky to stumble across a “mule train”

Hiking Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon 5

Taking breaks to catch my breath and take in the views

What to bring

  • Plenty of water! There are hiker rescues every year on the trail and most of them are because of heat stroke and dehydration so water is number one priority.
  • Sun Protection (sunglasses + sunscreen + hat). If you have sensitive skin I would even carry a parasol. Shade areas are limited and vary depending on the time of the day.
  • Snacks (crackers, nuts, fruit etc)
  • Collapsible trekking poles might be helpful if you have any knee issues.
  • Proper hiking shoes that provide support on steep sections.
  • Camera

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Hope this post inspires you to get on the Bright Angel Trail on your next visit to the Grand Canyon! If you have any questions, please leave a comment down below 🙂


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