The Bright Angel Trail

The Bright Angel Trail

The Grand Canyon is a natural wonder of the world and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States. The Bright Angel Trail, located on the South Rim of the canyon, is one of the most famous trails in the park. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about hiking the Bright Angel Trail.

Overview of the Bright Angel Trail

The Bright Angel Trail is a classic Grand Canyon hike that offers incredible views of the canyon and the Colorado River. This trail is 9.6 miles long and descends 4,380 feet to the Colorado River. It is a challenging hike, and it is recommended for experienced hikers. The trail is open year-round, but it is best to hike during the cooler months, from October to April, to avoid extreme heat.

Google Maps view of the Bright Angel trail.

Trailhead and Parking

The Bright Angel Trailhead is located in the Grand Canyon Village, near the Bright Angel Lodge. There are several parking options in the village, including a parking lot at the trailhead. However, during peak season, parking can be limited, and it is best to arrive early in the morning.

Parking locations close to the Bright Angel Trailhead

Trail Route and Features

The Bright Angel Trail begins with a descent through a series of switchbacks that take you down to the first rest house, 1.5 miles down the trail. From there, the trail follows the canyon walls, passing by Indian Garden, a beautiful oasis in the middle of the canyon. The trail then descends to the Colorado River, where you can rest and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Trail intersections at the Bright Angel Trail

At the Bright Angel Trail, there are two trails that intersect or merge. The first is at Havasupai Gardens, where the Tonto Trail intersects and leads to the Monument Use Area in the west and the South Kaibab Trail 4.7 miles to the east. The second is the River Trail, which officially starts at the River Resthouse where the Bright Angel Trail reaches the Colorado River. Some consider the Bright Angel Trail to end after crossing the Colorado River at the Silver Bridge.

Distance (mi)Elevation (ft)Location
06860Trailhead, South Rim
1.65729Mile-and-a-half Resthouse
3.14748Three Mile Resthouse
4.93800Havasupai Gardens
82480River Resthouse, Colorado River
9.52480Bright Angel Campground (via the River Trail)
9.92546Phantom Ranch
Distances and elevation of the Bright Angel Trail


Havasupai Gardens (formerly: Indian Garden)

Havasupai Gardens (formerly: Indian Garden)

Havasupai Gardens, previously known as Indian Garden, is a stunning oasis nestled within the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA. The area is renowned for its lush vegetation, crystal-clear creeks, and towering cottonwood trees that provide much-needed shade for visitors. The name “Indian Garden” is a reference to the Native American tribes that have lived in the area for centuries, including the Havasupai, Hopi, and Navajo people.

The area has long been a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, who come to explore the stunning natural beauty of the Grand Canyon. Visitors can access the Havasupai Gardens by hiking along the Bright Angel Trail, which is a 4.5-mile (7.2 km) trek from the South Rim. Along the way, hikers are treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, including the towering canyon walls and the sparkling waters of the Colorado River.

Once visitors reach Havasupai Gardens, they can relax and soak up the natural beauty of the area, which is filled with wildflowers, cactus, and other indigenous plant species. The area is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, and numerous species of birds. For those who wish to spend more time in the area, camping facilities are available, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the peaceful tranquility of this breathtaking oasis.

Plateau Point

Bright Angel Trail – Plateau Point

Plateau Point is a scenic overlook situated on the Bright Angel trail in the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. This incredible vantage point offers visitors breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding canyon, including the mighty Colorado River flowing through the depths of the canyon.

Plateau Point is an excellent spot for photographers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts who are looking to experience the Grand Canyon’s natural beauty.

Colorado River

Silver Bridge at Bright Angel Trail. Hikers can cross the Colorado River. Photo: NPS

At the bottom of the trail, hikers can cross the Colorado River via the Bright Angel Suspension Bridge and explore the riverbanks.

Safety Precautions

Safety sign at the Bright Angel trail. Photo by Christian Hänsel

Hiking the Bright Angel Trail is a challenging endeavor, and it is important to take the necessary safety precautions. Make sure to carry plenty of water and snacks, wear appropriate footwear, and dress in layers. It is also recommended to hike with a partner, as cell phone service is limited in the canyon.

Do not attempt to hike the Bright Angel trail from the rim to the river and back in one day.

Bright Angel trail height diagram

To give you an overview over how many ups and downs you will have to overcome – even on the way down, we’ll show you the height diagram of the Bright Angel trail. On the left side, you see the starting point at Bright Angel Trailhead. On the right side, you find the Colorado River.

Permits and Fees

Permits are required for all overnight hikes in the canyon, including the Bright Angel Trail. These permits are available through the National Park Service website and can be reserved up to six months in advance. The cost of a permit is $10 per person, per night.


There are several options for accommodations in the Grand Canyon Village, including campsites, lodges, and hotels. The Bright Angel Lodge is the closest lodging option to the trailhead, and it offers comfortable rooms and cabins. There are also several campgrounds along the trail for those who prefer to camp.

Best Time to Hike

The best time to hike the Bright Angel Trail is during the cooler months, from October to April. This is when the weather is milder, and the crowds are thinner. However, if you choose to hike during the summer months, make sure to start early in the morning to avoid the extreme heat.

Trail Etiquette

When hiking the Bright Angel Trail, it is important to practice trail etiquette. Yield to uphill hikers, stay on the trail, and pack out all trash. It is also important to respect the wildlife and refrain from feeding or approaching animals.

Nearby Attractions

The Grand Canyon offers several other attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. The South Rim offers incredible views of the canyon, and there are several lookout points and hiking trails to explore. The North Rim offers a quieter and more remote experience, with fewer crowds and a different perspective of the canyon.