Hiking to Phantom Ranch is backcountry hiking. Here are some important general reminders from Xanterra and the National Park Service:
- PLAN AHEAD: Don’t hike alone. Know where you’re going and how to get there. Know where water is available. Know the weather forecast. Don’t take shortcuts. You are responsible for your own safety, as well as that of everyone in your party.
- PLAN A ROUTE: Hike down the South Kaibab Trail, and hike up the Bright Angel Trail. There is no water available on the South Kaibab Trail—it is only available at the trailhead during the summer months.
- BE PREPARED: Wear well-fitting and broken-in hiking boots. Bring a small flashlight, change of batteries, and bulb. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Bring emergency supplies.
- TRAVEL LIGHT: The heaviest items in your pack should be food and water.
- HIKE SMART: Avoid huffing and puffing. Take a break every hour. Eat and drink more than you normally do. Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion, sunstroke, and dehydration. Desert hiking will dehydrate an individual quickly.
- RIGHT OF WAY: Uphill hikers and mules have the right of way.
Specific tips for summer hiking:
- Hike in cooler weather—near dawn and dusk, or at night. Avoid hiking in the heat between 10 am and 4 pm.
- Check the weather—July and August bring severe thunderstorms, and any time during the summer an excessive heat warning can be issued by the National Park Service.
- Know the hazardous Hs and their symptoms–heat exhaustion, heatstroke, hyponatremia (water intoxication), and hypothermia.
- Stay wet and stay cool–Soak yourself down any time you are near water. Due to extreme cold water and swift currents, however, DO NOT attempt to swim in the Colorado River.
Specific tips for winter hiking:
- Know the route—routes and trails in the winter are susceptible to deterioration from rockslides. Check with the Backcountry Information Center for trail conditions before hiking down.
- Check the weather—precipitation patterns in Northern Arizona are quite variable. Just because it is the winter season doesn’t mean it looks or feels like winter on the ground.
- Know the hazardous H: watch out for hypothermia.
Please keep in mind these are recommendations only! It is up to each individual hiker to thoroughly research their hiking itinerary and to be prepared. The best source of information for hikers is the National Park Service website for the Grand Canyon, www.nps.gov/grca. Here you will find additional information on the hiking trails, such as locations of water, restrooms, and emergency phones along Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail, as well as the Hike Smart–Summer Edition or Hike Smart—Winter Edition.
The gift shop at Bright Angel Lodge has an assortment of essential hiker and mule rider items, such as first aid kits, blister treatment, hand and foot warmers, Chill Skins, phone lassos and electrolyte replacement items. Be sure to stock up so you are well prepared for your Grand Canyon adventure!