I couldn't live in the Grand Canyon State without hiking to the bottom for a night at Bright Angel Campground. I've had this trip and the last two planned before I decided to move so it feels a little bittersweet checking them off the list. If you're going to make that trek yourself, avoid camping near the summer solstice. The campground gets hot as fuck -- even at night.
We drove up a day early so we could sleep in, but an officer found us car camping around midnight and kicked us out. We relocated to a legal place just outside the park that he was nice enough to tell us about.
Morning on the forested rim was a chilly 45, but it was going to reach 110+ at the bottom that day. Alex, Liz, Jon and I started down South Kaibab Trail around 5:30am and had to ditch the jackets within an hour. The hike down is pretty ugly, but in a majestic sort of way. The canyon is massive and your view changes constantly as you weave through passes, switchbacks, people, mules and horses. After reaching Bright Angel Campground around 10am, we spent most of the day relaxing in the eponymous creek that runs through the campground. We explored Phantom Ranch a little, played cards and then jumped in the creek one last time before heading to bed wet so we could stay cool through the night.
The hike out was much prettier. Bright Angel Trail is gorgeous, mostly for being a lot less dead than South Kaibab Trail. I wasn't expecting a hike through wooded areas and creeks on the way up, but it was a pleasant and welcome surprise. The canyon walls protected us for most of the day and we soaked our clothes at every water station to keep cool. The trail gets pretty steep near the rim and the sun was doing its thing by that time so I started to sweat a little, but we made it to the top by 10:30am! I found some shade and waited for the others to catch up. We laughed and groaned about our sore muscles while enjoying the moment and our accomplishment. 18.4 miles and over 5,000 feet of gain/loss in two days. Not bad, baby!
I'd do it again in a heartbeat! What a great time and a great crew. Thanks for coming Alex, Liz, and Jon! You were a blast!