For those of you considering undertaking a Grand Canyon hike there must be all kinds of questions running through your mind from how to prepare before your trip to what to take and what not to take with you.

From his experience, Sam has provided a FAQ sheet which is by no means exhaustive but will be a great aid to your planning and packing. 

Have a look at our Frequently Asked Questions below to find your answer!

Frequently asked questions


What is the best time of the year to visit the Grand Canyon?

From March through to May and September through to November when daytime
temperatures are cooler and there are less crowds. If visiting during the summer, the park's
peak season, be prepared for tourists en masse and very limited accommodation availability.
If you want to go to the North Rim, it’s best to avoid winter because the North Rim closes from October 16th until May 15th as it goes on its winter schedule. After October 15, the North Rim is open for day use only until December 1 or the weather conditions close Highway 67. During the open season, the entrance station is open 24 hours per day; however the Visitor Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What is the temperature in the Grand Canyon?

The temperature at the Grand Canyon varies between the months and seasons of the year.
On any given day, the canyon itself will be a different temperature to the rim.
South Rim
At the South Rim summer temperatures are relatively pleasant (50s-80s F; low teens to high
20s C).
North Rim
The increased elevation at the North Rim means that summer temperatures are cooler than
at the South Rim.
At Phantom Ranch in the inner canyon, average temperature ranges from 55 ºF to 82 ºF.
However, Inner canyon temperatures can be extreme; at the river (5000 feet below the rim), day time highs can often exceed 100 F.


Where should I stay in and around the Canyon including Flagstaff?

Can I camp on top/at the bottom of the Canyon?

You can camp at the Bright Angel Campsite and at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon. Find more information on camping and what to pack on our Overnight Stay page.

What are the amenities that I can expect on the North and South rims?

Are there any hotels in the area?

General FAQs

Are there any animals in the Grand Canyon?

Of course! Mountain lions, California condors, Grand Canyon rattlesnakes, Big Horn sheep... you name it! Check out our Wildlife page for a full and detailed list of the wildlife that you might see in the Grand Canyon.

What is the history and geology of the Grand Canyon?

The history and geology of the Grand Canyon are fascinating. Read more about the geology of the Grand Canyon on our Geology page.

Is the Grand Canyon handicap accessible?

Yes! Since the Grand Canyon National Park was opened and considering many facilities are historic, the National Park Service has gone to great lengths to ensure that the site is accessible to all. Visit our page on handicap accessibility here.

Are pets accepted in and around the Grand Canyon?

What is the Grand Canyon RailRoad?

Can I ride on a mule down the Grand Canyon and back out?

Of course you can, and it's a really fun and exciting way of discovering the Grand Canyon. Check out our Mule Rides page for more info on how, when and where to do it.

Will I see native American/indigenous people?

How do I apply for an overnight permit?

Excellent question! Check out our Permits and Passes page to find out how much they cost, how long they're valid for, where you can buy them and other very useful info.

How much will it cost for a park pass and what does it include?

Day passes range between US$20 and US$35 for standard passes. There are many types of passes to cater for every type of visitor. For more information, check out our Permits and Passes page.

How many people can I travel with?

Do cell phones work in the Canyon or along the rim?

Where can I find an ATM? Are cards accepted everywhere in and around the Grand Canyon National Park?

How to visit the Grand Canyon?

It depends on what you want to do while there. Some visitors want to just do a day car trip, stop, walk or take the free National Park Shuttle bus along the South Rim of the canyon while having a leisurely lunch and hike out to see the canyon at a few shuttle stops. Others want to make it an extended trip with hikes and overnighting. As a minimum Sherpa Sam says spend at least one night there and even trek down the Bright Angel Trail for a mile or two. One thing that you can do is search for the Grand Canyon Conservancy. They are in partnership with the park. They offer classes, and other activities that you can do at the Canyon. Most visitors visit the South Rim their first time because it has more ranger and park activities, and is not restricted to the time of year like the North Rim. The North Rim is closed when the weather gets bad. Both are beautiful in their own ways. Visiting the West Rim is not part of the Park but operated by the Native Americans. These activities have additional fees to visit. There are many activities to do including those that require a Handicap Permit and allow you tol drive to the various lookouts along the South Rim. From the more adventurous thrill-seekers out there, you can hike down to the river on the Bright Angel trail or the South Kaibab trail back to the South Rim and even between the North & South Rims taking 2–3–4-days. Others will take a guided geological tour while whitewater rafting the Grand Canyon which can take 3 days to 10 days. The answer also depends on each person's physical stamina and abilities. Sherpa Sam says spend at least a full day at least at the South Rim.

How much time do you need at the Grand Canyon?

"We just came back from there" sayd Gerry Paulus, a Sherpa member "and spent two days at the Grand Canyon. It wasn't enough to do everything we wanted but we wanted to take a hike down the river and that's a long one. Otherwise, to take in the views, take a bike ride and short hikes, two days should be enough. I can't really see anything done in one day because it's huge, it’s grandiose, it's insane!"

What are the biggest mistakes that people make when visiting the Grand Canyon?

What are some good places to go within 2 hours of the Grand Canyon?

I'm planning a 4/5-day trip to the Grand Canyon, how would I spend my time?


Where should I fly in from Phoenix or from Las Vegas to?

What highways should I use if coming from Las Vegas or Phoenix?

Where can I park near the entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park?


I want to ride the rapids down the Colorado River, how do I do that?

Whitewater rafting down the Colorado river is a thrilling and spectacular way to discover the Grand Canyon and can be done in a motorized or oar-powered raft. Check out our whitewater rafting page to find out exactly how, where and when to do it.

What can I see near or in and around the Grand Canyon National Park?

There's many sensational activities to be done in and around the Grand Canyon National Park such as IMAX, Ice Caves, Meteor Crater, Sunset Crater, Indian Ruins, Lowell Observatory, Military Museum, Hoover Dam, Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Petrified Forest and Painted Desert to name but a few. Have a look at our Activity page.

Can I fly over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter?

Of course! Seeing the Grand Canyon from up high offers such breathtaking views! A page on this will be posted on our website soon.

Food & Beverages

Do you have any personal recommendations for hotels, restaurants, other places to visit?

Have a look at our Accommodation, Activity and Food and Beverages pages.

Where can I have a drink in a typical bar around the Grand Canyon?

What are some of the best places to eat in Flagstaff?

In Flagstaff you'll find all the major chain restaurants including Mc Donalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Wendy’s as well as some dinner places such as Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Applebees but we recommend going local for a more authentic and savory experience. Treat yourself to a well-deserved meal after a long day exploring the Canyon at Beaver Street Brewery, Oreganos, the Habit Burger Grill, Sizzler Steak House, Between the Buns.

Recent updates

Is the Grand Canyon open?

Yes. However, due to excessive heat in the area, rangers at Grand Canyon National Park are urging visitors who plan to hike to take extra precautions and hike smart. Hikers should be out only before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. They should also rest in the shade whenever possible and always carry cool water with them.
Updated 17 September 2020

What Covid-19 precautions is the Grand Canyon National Park taking?

GCNP is following guidance from the White House, the CDC, and state and local public health authorities. The park is open, but masks are recommended to be worn inside all public buildings and when within 6 feet of other visitors. Guests will not be permitted to enter if they are sick or if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive during the last 14 days. For more information, visit the NPS Public Health page. Updated 17 September 2020

Are there wildfires at the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon National Park began Stage 2 fire restrictions for the South Rim on May 25th, 2020. This will be effective until further notice. Due to heightened fire danger, all fires, including campfires, warming fires, and charcoal barbecues will be prohibited on the South Rim of the park. This includes all campgrounds and residential areas. Outdoor smoking is also prohibited on the grounds. For more information, click here. Updated 17 September 2020

Hikes & Gears

How should I prepare beforehand?

Whether you are an experienced hiker or a beginner hiker, the Grand Canyon presents many real challenges such as the unforgiving heat, the lack of shade, the enormous elevation change, the very steep and strenuous trails. Fortunately, Sherpa Sam tells us how to prepare physically and mentally for the adventure! Check out our How to prepare for the grand canyon page.

My backpack is quite heavy, what can I comfortably and safely leave out?

Have a look at our Ultimate Grand Canyon Packing Guide page to find out what to pack and what to safely leave behind.

What should I take with me?

Have a look at our Ultimate Grand Canyon Packing Guide page to find out what to pack and what to safely leave behind.

What if I run out of water while hiking?

Fortunately some popular hikes like the Bright Angel Trail or the South Kaibab trail offer clean water stations along the way. Some are available seasonally (from April to October), some are available year-round. Check out our Where to find water in the Grand Canyon page for more info on where to find water for each hike Alternatively, it is always a good idea to carry a water-purifier or water tablets in case you run into a waterfall or the Colorado River.

How long does it take to hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Colorado River, Rim to Rim?

The Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden (9.3 miles/14.9 km return) is one of the most popular day-hikes for you to begin your adventures in the Grand Canyon and starts from the top of the South Rim to Indian Garden over 4.5 miles / 7.2 km. If you plan on an overnight hike, from Indian Garden you can continue 3.5 miles / 5.6 Km down to the Colorado river and either stay at the Bright Angel campground or Phantom Ranch. For more information on the Rim to Colorado River hike, check out our Bright Angel trail page and our overnight page.

What will I see along the Rim and can I simply walk along the Rim?

What are the most famous lookout points along the rim?

What hikes and activities can I do with children?

How much water and food should I bring?

For any hike below the rim make sure you have plenty of water along with a backup plan in case of an emergency, such as a water-purifier or water tablets in case you run into a waterfall or the Colorado River. Fortunately some popular hikes like the Bright Angel Trail or the South Kaibab trail offer clean water stations along the way. Some are available seasonally (from April to October), some are available year-round. Check out our Where to find water in the Grand Canyon page for more info on where to find water for each hike

Grand Canyon Sherpa

Sherpa Sam

Tempe, Arizona 85284

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© 2020 Grand Canyon Sherpa 

Photography courtesy of Burt Williams