Critical Backcountry Updates: Including Trail Closures and Restrictions
Average temperatures, weather information and road conditions can be found on the Weather Conditions page.
Backcountry Status Updates (listed by date posted):
Backcountry Management Plan
The National Park Service (NPS) announced today another opportunity for the public to weigh in on revisions to Grand Canyon National Park’s Backcountry Management Plan (BMP). The NPS began developing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for this plan in 2011 in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). More than 580 public comments were submitted during the initial phases of the development of this DEIS.
The purpose of the BMP is to establish an up-to-date plan that addresses contemporary backcountry issues and provides an adaptable framework and continues to allow the public to experience and preserve Grand Canyon’s unique backcountry and wilderness. Grand Canyon’s existing BMP was completed in 1988 and requires revisions to comply with current NPS laws and policies and the park’s 1995 General Management Plan. The park’s backcountry encompasses over 1.1 million acres, most of which are proposed for wilderness designation.
Available for review and comment, the BMP DEIS evaluates four alternatives–a no-action alternative and three action alternatives. The comment period for the DEIS will close 90 days after the Notice of Availability (NOA) is published in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Federal Register.
Learn more about this planning effort at parkplanning.nps.gov/grcabmp.
Drinking Water in the Cross-Canyon Corridor
MULTI-DAY SHUTDOWN OF THE TRANSCANYON PIPELINE STARTING OCTOBER 18. Read the section titled "Pipeline Construction at Phantom Ranch" on this page for more info.
Grand Canyon's water supply comes from Roaring Springs, a natural spring located approximately 3,500 feet below the North Rim. Water is delivered via an aging pipeline that suffers multiple breaks a year. When the pipeline breaks, water stops flowing to the North and South Rims and sites along the way. Although large storage tanks provide ample water to rim locations, while the pipeline is being repaired water may or may not be available below the rim in the cross-canyon Corridor. Please remember, when hiking below the rim a method to treat water must always be part of your hiking gear.
The list below shows if water is on or off
Seasonal water stations are usually turned off for the winter sometime between Oct 10th and 30th dependent on location and associated temperatures.
Water available (year-round) on the South Rim at the Backcountry Information Center in the lobby. Water available (year-round) on the North Rim outside the Backcountry Information Center. Additional water bottle filling stations can be found on the Go "Green" and Refill Your Water Bottles web page.
Plan Ahead and Prepare: A backup method to treat water, should the pipeline break, must always be included as part of your hiking gear. Backcountry hikers should always carry extra water.
Pipeline Construction at Phantom Ranch
HIKERS AND GUESTS OF PHANTOM RANCH AND BRIGHT ANGEL CAMPGROUND SHOULD EXPECT NOISE AND DUST. Visitors to the Phantom Ranch area should be aware that work may take place between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on any day of the week. Daytime noise and dust impacts are expected due to the construction activities and associate equipment use.
Due to pipeline replacement work, there is no drinking water at Bright Angel Campground, Boat Beach, or the Delta restrooms south of Phantom Ranch. Day hikers and backpackers should be prepared to carry all drinking water or be able to treat creek water for drinking.
Grand Canyon National Park is in the process of replacing a portion of the trans-canyon pipeline at Phantom Ranch. As part of the construction process, at times the trans-canyon pipeline will be turned off to allow crews to connect the new portions of the pipeline to the existing pipeline.
Phantom Ranch, the Cantina, and the Bright Angel Campground will all remain open during construction.
Individuals who have campground reservations and have questions about impacts of construction work on their trip should contact the Backcountry Information Center at 928-638-7875. Guests with advance reservations at Phantom Ranch should contact the Xanterra Central Reservations at 1-888-297-2757 with any questions about their reservations.
Related News Releases
Report from the North Rim
Most visitor services on the North Rim have shut down for the season. The North Rim will remain open to visitors, closing for winter on Tuesday, December 1 or when snow closes State Highway 67 leading into the park
November 1 through May 15, the North Rim Campground reverts to primitive use with backcountry reservations required. Reservations can be obtained from the Backcountry Information Center and are necessary prior to arrival.
Beginning November 1 through December 1 or until snow closes State Highway 67, the park will remain open from dawn to dusk for day-use. Weather and road conditions permitting, visitors will have access to Bright Angel Point, Point Imperial and Cape Royal as well as the North Kaibab trailhead. Inner canyon users with a valid backcountry permit will be allowed to park overnight at the North Kaibab trailhead. A limited number of campsites at the North Rim Campground will be available to hikers with advanced reservations. A backcountry permit is required and will be available through the South Rim Back Country Information Center. No overnight parking or car camping will be allowed.
The North Rim will close for the season at 8 am on Tuesday, December 1. Hikers and cross country skiers will still be able to enter the North Rim of the park through the winter months with valid backcountry permits.
We are in the time of year when shoe traction might be a good idea. Check in with the Backcountry Information Center for the latest trail conditions prior to starting your hike. All trails are open. For information about vehicle access to remote trailheads, contact the Backcountry Information Center.
Hiking the Corridor? Be sure to visit the Trail Courtesy Practices That Leave No Trace webpage.
Hikers without a permit can stop by the Backcountry Information Center to request a last minute permit. Last minute permits and waitlist numbers are issued by the Backcountry Information Center, located inside the park. The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily, year round, for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time. The North Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily from mid-May to October 31 for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time.
Organized Group Rim-to-Rim and Extended Day Hike/Run: Any organized, noncommercial, group conducting rim-to-rim and extended day hiking and running, including rim-to-river-to-rim, and rim-to-rim-to-rim in the inner canyon is required to obtain a Special Use Permit from Grand Canyon National Park. The inner canyon is defined as the area below the Tonto Platform (Tipoff and Indian Garden) from the South Rim and below Manzanita Resthouse (Pumphouse Residence) from the North Rim. Any group, regardless of size, which has advertised to the general public, required individuals to sign up prior to participation, or that has an organizer who has been compensated for their services (including subsidized participation in the activity), is required to operate under a Special Use Permit. For more information visit www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/sup.htm
A BACKCOUNTRY PERMIT IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CAMPERS WHO WISH TO STAY AT TUWEEP CAMPGROUND. Permit requests can be made on the first of the month four months prior to the proposed start date through the park's backcountry reservation system. The cost for a Tuweep backcountry permit is a non-refundable charge of $10 per permit plus $8 per group per night.
Tuweep is at High Clearance REQUIRED, its usual condition. Please see photo for any clearance concerns.
There is a HIGH likelihood for multiple flat tires from sharp rocks. Travel SLOW to mitigate tire damage. Carry multiple spare tires and/or a vehicle air compressor and tire plugs. When available, a tow truck runs $1,000-$2,000+.
When possible, during summer monsoon season travel during the morning hours since storms cycle through in the afternoon and evening.
Be prepared to spend the night in your vehicle in the event you become stuck. Carry sleeping bags, food, and extra water.
Travelers should carry:
For Tuweeep info visit www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/tuweep.htm
Road Conditions for Remote Trailheads
After heavy summer rain (July and August) or winter snow (December through March), expect impassable backcountry roads. If clear skies abound after the rain or snow, then it is often just a matter of days until the sun dries everything out. Sometimes, heavy rain or melting snow can lead to flooding, which can cause erosion of the roadbed and can delay access.
Other considerations for visitors travelling on remote backcountry roads include high clearance, such as may be needed on Forest Road 328 to South Bass Trailhead (limestone ledges) and on the final approach to Toroweap overlook (sandstone knobs and ledges).
Finally, consider elevation of the road that you will be travelling on, especially during the winter months. Roads in the 6,500 to 8,000 foot range may be impassable due to a snowpack, where lower elevations roads (below 6,000 feet) will see deteriorated road conditions due to rain.
Always check road conditions with the Backcountry Information Center before heading out to remote trailheads, tell someone where you are going and when you will be back, and be adaptable and prepared for the worst. High clearance, four-wheel drive is usually recommended for roads to remote trailheads.
It is not uncommon for trees to fall and block access to remote trailheads. When you encounter a road blocked by fallen trees, what should you do?
Drinking Water outside the Cross-Canyon Corridor
Hikers should make every effort to obtain recent confirmation of water availability and become familiar with routes to the river before starting any hike. Contact the Backcountry Information Center for recent water reports.
Water available (year-round) on the South Rim at the Backcountry Information Center in the lobby and at Hermits Rest (near the other public amenities). Water available (year-round) on the North Rim outside the Backcountry Information Center.
Additional water bottle filling stations can be found on the Go "Green" and Refill Your Water Bottles web page.
Summer 2015 Backpacking Season
If you would like to make an advance reservation to camp in the Grand Canyon, we need at least three weeks’ notice. If your planned hike is less than three weeks away, come in person to the Backcountry Information Center and request a walk-in permit. Availability of last minute permits is dependent on the season. The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open year-round. The North Rim office is open mid-May to Oct 31.
After heavy summer rain (July and August), expect impassable backcountry roads. If clear skies abound after the rain, then it is often just a matter of days until the sun dries everything out. Sometimes heavy rain can lead to flooding, which can cause erosion of the roadbed and can delay access.
Hikers considering traveling dirt roads to remote trailheads should contact the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest at 928-643-7395, the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest on the South Rim at 928-635-4061, or the Backcountry Information Center for current conditions.
May: Corridor campgrounds are full. Hiking outside the Corridor becomes inherently more risky, especially later in the month as temperatures start to climb above 100°F (38°C) at the Colorado River.
June, July, and August: Hiking outside the Corridor is not recommended due to extreme heat.
WARNING FOR JUNE, JULY, AND AUGUST: Elevated hiking risk due to extreme summer heat. High temperatures at the bottom of the canyon in the shade range from 100°F to 115°F (35°C - 42°C). Low temperatures at the bottom of the canyon range from 70°F to 80°F (20°C - 25°C). Hikers entering the canyon in the middle of summer do so at their own risk. Keep hikes short and rest in the shade between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. Better yet, start hikes early and plan on reaching your destination or exiting the canyon no later than 10 am. Flash flood and lightning risks remain elevated until the end of the monsoon season, usually in early September. Hike Smart! Visit www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/hike-smart.htm for more info.
Options for hikers who are unable to obtain a backcountry permit in advance:
North Rim (Kaibab Plateau / Highway 67 / North Kaibab Trailhead): The North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is open for the summer season from May 15 to October 31, 2015. Locations near the 8,000 foot level such as Pt. Sublime, high elevation access to Nankoweap, and the North Bass Trailhead may not be accessible until road beds have dried and downed trees have been removed, often in late May, but possibly as late as mid-June.
November 1 through December 1 the North Rim will be open for day use (no overnight parking) unless snow closes Highway 67 prior to that date. Visitors will continue to have access to front country access points such as Point Imperial and Bright Angel viewpoints and the North Kaibab Trailhead (overnight parking allowed with a backcountry permit). Remote backcountry access points such as Widforss Trailhead, Point Sublime, and North Bass will be accessible weather permitting and with a valid permit. Access to Cape Royal and Cape Final will be restricted. The North Rim campground will be closed to car camping but a few sites will remain available to backcountry travelers with a valid backcountry permit.
Be Aware of Lightning Danger
Summer storms in the southwest are often accompanied by potentially deadly lightning. Visitors walking and hiking in the park are reminded that if they can hear thunder, they should consider ending outdoor activities. If the sound of thunder follows a lightning flash within 30 seconds, seek shelter inside a building or vehicle. If this is not possible, move well away from high points such as ridges and the edge of the canyon. Do not seek shelter beneath tall trees.
For more on how to be "lightning smart" read the Lightning Danger Site Bulletin.
South Kaibab Trailhead Access
Hikers must access the South Kaibab Trailhead by shuttle bus. There are two options.
Visit the Shuttle Buses page for schedules and more info.
Hermit Trailhead Access
From Mar 1 to Nov 30, Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles. A numerical code is required to open the gate giving access to Hermit Road. Hikers with a valid backcountry permit who are beginning or ending their hike via the Hermit Trail will be permitted to park at the Hermit trailhead. The Backcountry Information Center will provide the gate access code when the backcountry permit is issued.
The Hermit Road shuttle between South Rim Village and Hermit Rest and the Hermit trailhead is operational Mar. 1 to Nov. 30. The Hermit Road Shuttle is free. Visit the Shuttle Buses page for schedules and more info.
Weather dependent, Hermit Road is open to all private vehicles Dec 1 to Feb 28. Be aware that in wintertime inclement weather can cause Hermit Road to close with little notice as storms move through the area. Always check with the Backcountry Information Center regarding the wintertime status of Hermit Road or call 928-638-7496 for updated road conditions.
North Rim Yurt
The North Rim yurt is closed for reservation.
The North Rim yurt, placed near the North Kaibab Trailhead, can be reserved from December 1 to April 15. The yurt accommodates six people and is outfitted with a table, chairs, and wood-burning stove. A portable toilet is nearby. Required permits are available through the Backcountry Information Center. For more information see www.nps/gov/grca/planyourvisit/winter-recreation.htm
Public Health Alert - Rabies
October 2014: A bat recently removed from an area along the Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park has tested positive for rabies. All visitors to Grand Canyon, including those who are recreating in the backcountry and on the Colorado River, are reminded to be aware of their surroundings and be alert to potential interactions with bats or other wild animals. Those individuals who are camping in the backcountry and along the river should strongly consider using a tent while sleeping to prevent any contact with bats or other wildlife. As a precautionary measure, anyone who comes into contact with a bat should notify a park employee and see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. (more info)
July 2014 a bat captured at Tusayan Ruin/Museum on the South Rim tested positive for rabies. A second bat found dead on the North Kaibab Trail a few days later also tested positive for rabies. (more info)
Site Bulletin, Bats at Grand Canyon (pdf file)
Additional information about bats and rabies can be found at www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/animals/bats.html
A fox exhibiting abnormal behavior was euthanized in November 2011 near Phantom Ranch along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. Earlier that month, another fox collected near Phantom Ranch tested positive for rabies.
Rabies is considered a natural wildlife disease. To reduce your risk of injury or illness from an animal encounter (fox, bat, elk, mountain lion, squirrel) please follow these simple guidelines:
Hiking Podcast Updated
The Backcountry Information Center has updated the Hiking Podcast. The most recent podcast covers some tips for hiking in the extreme heat of the inner canyon; tips that can mean the difference between an enjoyable hike and a potentially fatal one. Visit the Grand Canyon Podcast Directory (www.nps.gov/grca/photosmultimedia/podcasts.htm) for more information or to subscribe. Additionally the update can be heard on the Backcountry Audiocast page (www.nps.gov/grca/photosmultimedia/bc_audiocasts.htm). A transcript of the update is posted on the Backcountry Audiocast page.
How to contact the Backcountry Information Center:
The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time. The North Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily mid-May to October 31 for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time.
Backcountry Information Center staff answer information telephone inquiries at 928-638-7875 between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays. This telephone number is for information only.
Email the Backcountry Information Center
FAX number for permits is 928-638-2125
Backcountry Permit Request Form (PDF file) NOTE: This is a printable form only. You must print the form, fill it out, and then fax/mail it directly to the Backcountry Information Center. We recommend you read the seasonal update before submitting your permit request.
PDF Form Issues? If you are using a web browser to view and use our PDF forms, you may experience issues where the PDF does not function correctly. Some web browsers do not automatically open PDFs using the Acrobat Reader application. Using a different PDF viewer in a web browser can cause the form to malfunction.To fix issues with our PDF forms you have two options. 1. You can select the Acrobat Reader plug-in for your browser's default application for viewing PDFs. Or 2. You can right click and save the PDF document to your desktop and then open it with the Adobe Reader application. Get the newest version of the free Adobe Reader.
Trip Planner (2mb PDF file): The information in this newspaper can assist you in obtaining a backcountry use permit.
Video: Hiking Grand Canyon, Prepare for Backpacking. This video is designed to help you plan for and enjoy your hike into the canyon's harsh, yet fragile, environment.
Video: Leave No Trace. All Grand Canyon backcountry users are asked to follow Leave No Trace principles. The goal is to have minimum human impact on the canyon as a result of your trip.
Hike Smart: Be sure and listen to the Hike Smart Podcasts! (transcripts available)