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Thread: Grand Canyon - Phantom Ranch trip planning

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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Grand Canyon - Phantom Ranch trip planning

    We're looking at a Grand Canyon trip, hiking down to Phantom Ranch and spending two nights down there, as part of a week long trip. I'm looking for people's experiences with the reservation system for Phantom since we are limited to a single week in April based on school vacation schedules. It looks like we've already missed the April 2019 reservation cycle so this would have to be for April 2020, with reservation required by April 2019.

    Is two nights down at Phantom the right amount? We'll probably spend a night before at the South Rim, and then a few nights after at the South Rim or travel a bit further afield.
    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

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    Junior Member JToll's Avatar
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    We only spent one night at Phantom Range and have decided if we did it again we would spend 2 nights.

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    Dave, we were just there on April 1. We hiked down in 4 hours, arriving @ 11am. We left the next morning right after breakfast. For me, the half day and one night was just right. Most of the exploring once you are down in the canyon requires a pretty good commitment of time & energy-there isn't much "close" We were among the last of the phone in reservation system and now that there is a lottery, the system is totally different. Fewer people & a shorter stay will make it easier to get a reservation. Do not miss the meals served @ Phantom Ranch, we found the food to be very satisfying and the communal serving style to be a nice social scene. Stay the night before @ South Rim or very close by is a must as I felt that we really benefited from the early start. We had the early breakfast @ PR so we got an early start back up. We got to the Rim by 1pm and moved out to Sedona; again, I was very happy with our choice of not spending a second night @ the South Rim. Once I had been down in the canyon, I found the crowds at the rim to be depressing.
    To help gauge our hike times, we were a group of 50+ somewhat fit adults, no uber athletes in our group and no real hiking experience for 1 member of our group. We all really enjoyed the trip and found t to be an excellent way to see the GC

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    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    What's your plan for the day you're down in the canyon (between the nights at Phantom)? North Rim or shorter explorations?

    April's a nice time and I think it's worth dealing with the extra complications of fewer water taps.

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    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jniehof View Post
    What's your plan for the day you're down in the canyon (between the nights at Phantom)? North Rim or shorter explorations?
    Exactly. We stayed at Phantom Ranch for a couple of nights and would have stayed a day or two longer there and done more exploring if we had had the time. In hindsight, we spent too much time (four days) on the South Rim.

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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    I haven't yet done the research on day excursions from PR while there. I could definitely see attempting a trip up to the North Rim and back down, but if we did that I might want to have a relaxing day down there as well. We're just starting the trip planning so any suggestions would be welcome.
    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

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    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    I have been to the GC twice (and you've probably seen all the photos on FB by now).

    Once, I went with a colleague, and we did Bright Angel to Plateau Point and back (day trip), based out of a motel in Seligman, AZ (November, limited water).
    This past April, I went with the family, and we went to the east end of the south rim and drove to the south rim visitors' center, stopping at all the viewpoints along the way, including a short hike of 2 miles/800' round trip at Grandview, just to give the family a sense of being in the canyon and looking up.

    The east entrance is far less crowded, however, if you get to the visitors' center mid-day, it will likely be mobbed. We tried, and ended up going back to Grandview for the hike. By 4pm or so, there were spaces at the south rim so we could check out the overlooks (Mather Point, for example).

    Grand Canyon Plateau Point (2014)
    Grand Canyon Grandview/South Rim (2018)


    ETA: I would recommend Sedona if you have time

    Tim
    Last edited by bikehikeskifish; 05-16-2018 at 09:37 AM.
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

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    Senior Member Amicus's Avatar
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    Only an extremely fit hiker could make it up to the North Rim and back from the River in a day. The only Trail - North Kaibab - is roughly twice as long as the two from the South Rim, at 14 miles one way, and 1,000 extra vertical feet - 5,850'. Halfway up to Cottonwood Campground could be doable, but the most spectacular views, of Bright Angel Canyon, are in the couple of miles above the Campground. The North Rim doesn't "open" until May 15 - when they open the gate on the single road in - and water may not be available on the No. Kaibab Trail before then. I think there would be snow in April higher up, but wouldn't guess how much or at what elevation it would begin.

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    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky View Post
    I haven't yet done the research on day excursions from PR while there. I could definitely see attempting a trip up to the North Rim and back down, but if we did that I might want to have a relaxing day down there as well. We're just starting the trip planning so any suggestions would be welcome.
    I like the north rim but it is 1000' feet higher than the south rim, which makes it cooler and it is also less crowded. I've always thought a N-S thru hike would be the way to go but the logistics of getting around back to the other side, if you need to retrieve a car, can be difficult.

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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    I like the north rim but it is 1000' feet higher than the south rim, which makes it cooler and it is also less crowded. I've always thought a N-S thru hike would be the way to go but the logistics of getting around back to the other side, if you need to retrieve a car, can be difficult.
    Also the fact that the North Rim probably won't be open in April rules out that idea. If we had two cars and could swap car keys with another couple at PR that would be cool.
    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

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    A side trip to Roaring Springs was a something that I feel that I would like to do "next time" It is up towards the North Rim at about 5000' elevation- a decent day trip but not overwhelming by any means. The Colorado River is at 2400' elevation.

    I do feel that the best way to maximize your chances in the lottery would be with a smaller group, shorter stay and a willingness to accept available accomodations. There are cabins & bunkhouses @ PR. Bunkhouses are 10 people each, Male is separate from Female. Toilet, sink & shower in each bunkhouse. Some of the cabins require the use of a shared bathhouse (maybe even toilet)

    There is also the campground nearby. Some of the campers were able to get a dinner reservation @ PR which makes for some pretty cushy camp meals

    April was a great time of year to make the trip. Cool start on the South Rim and 80 in the canyon

  12. #12
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    North Rim and back is long but doable depending on the person. There is water at the pumphouse, making the dry section 13 mi round trip. Snow depends on exactly when in April and what year; ground can be bare by the first weekend. Definitely the most spectacular scenery is above the pumphouse.
    Last edited by jniehof; 05-17-2018 at 05:14 PM. Reason: Rim not room. I hate typing on tablets

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    Senior Member weatherman's Avatar
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    There's a fairly long thread on here about Rim to Rim (R2R) hiking from last year. Plenty of info, pro and con. Might be helpful if you're considering a roundtrip to the North Rim from PR. North Rim is pretty magical IMO, and so, so different from the South Rim hordes.
    --would rather be hiking than typing.

  14. #14
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky View Post
    I haven't yet done the research on day excursions from PR while there. I could definitely see attempting a trip up to the North Rim and back down, but if we did that I might want to have a relaxing day down there as well. We're just starting the trip planning so any suggestions would be welcome.
    My family and I spent a night at PR when I was in jr high or high school. We hiked down S Kaibab Tr on one day and out via S Bright Angel the next. (IIRC, it was in August and rather hot. The swimming pool (now gone) was very welcome.)

    A hike from PR to Clear Creek might be worth considering. (I haven't done it myself, but the descriptions sound nice.)

    If the N Rim is open, it is worth visiting (by car, if need be...). There are also a number of hikes that leave from or follow the rim. (I went part way down the unmaintained Nankoweap Tr. in mid-May <mumble> years ago.) The view from Toroweap Point is a classic... (In general the views from the N Rim are rather different from the views from the S Rim.)

    If you want to learn a bit more than is in the usual guidebooks, I recommend:
    * Grand Canyon Treks (I, II, and III) by Harvey Butchart.
    * Grand Canyon Loop Hikes I, by George Steck. (Also vol II, but rather expensive)
    * Hiking the Grand Canyon, by John Annerino.
    * The Man Who Walked Through Time, by Colin Fletcher.

    * and Google "Harvey Butchart"


    And if you run out of things to do , the Paria Canyon Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness is just a hop, skip, and a jump to the N (from the N Rim).

    Doug

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