Whether you are an experienced, hardcore and fearless hiker, a beginner hiker or an amateur hiker with a bit of experience, the Grand Canyon presents many real challenges and is not to be taken lightly. The unforgiving heat, the lack of shade, the enormous elevation change, the very steep and strenuous trails can be true obstacles to the fittest of us. Fortunately, Sherpa Sam tells us how to prepare physically and mentally for the adventure! 
Packing guide for the Grand Canyon

The top 3 causes of mortality in the Grand Canyon are heart-attack,  falling and stupidity - so know your limits and prepare yourself. 

Sherpa Sam says...

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Generally speaking it's never a bad idea to seriously prepare for any hike or adventure but it is even more true when it comes to the Grand Canyon. Are you interested in a 1-day hike, in a longer overnight hike or in backpacking/camping in the Grand Canyon? Here's a few much needed tips from Sherpa Sam.


 ‘’The canyon is not easy!’’ says Sherpa Sam. ‘’Even though I have hiked through the canyon many times, I still always follow a few simple rules’’:

  • If you are fit, get fitter!

  • Don’t go alone! Even on a day hike, if you fall and are injured you may need help and not be able to get it.

  • Do a few strenuous hikes beforehand with heavier backpacks than you intend to take into the canyon just to get used to the weight, say 50 lbs/22 Kg with the idea of reducing this by half for your longer trip.

  • Think in terms of ounces/grams and not pounds/kilograms.

  • Mule trains have the right of way, you need to stick to the inside or the wall side while mules are passing.

  • Apply for your overnight permit well in advance of your trip. For more information, see our Permits and Passes page.

  • Consider staying overnight at Phantom Ranch in the Bunkhouses, they have a great meal and it reduces what you need to carry. Sam recommends a three-day event, one day hiking down, one day for muscle recovery in and around the river at Phantom Ranch and one day for the rigorous hike back to the rim. Alternatively, you could take an extra day to hike from the river to Indian Garden, stay overnight at Indian Garden and hike out the next day.

  • If you plan to camp in the campgrounds at Phantom Ranch you will need to prepare accordingly.

  • Don’t rush, just like life, it’s about the journey - take your sweet time and enjoy it.

  • Only go half as far as you know you can go, because you’ve got to get back out.

The National Park Service has to approve overnight camping in the Canyon and can discourage groups of more than 8 on certain trails. Your backpack is tagged and you need to be where you are supposed to be or they can usher you out of the canyon. The more people in your party, inevitably, the slower the pace and it may be that you risk not getting to where you should be at the right time. They may therefore suggest a different trail which they consider is more do-able (see permits and reservations).