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Top Ten Treks in The World - # 6 - The Grand Canyon, U.S.A.

Grand Canyon, Rim to Rim to Rim - USASome might not include the Grand Cayon on their top ten list of treks. Indeed an agile runner can cross it in an afternoon, but to really enjoy it a slow amble through history is required. Unlike some of the top ten treks which travel similar ground and offer comparable highlights, there is nothing anywhere that equates to the Grand Canyon.

The American Southwest is an amazing geological wonder. Fascinating rock formations, Anasazi ruins, vast deserts and great rivers. The greatest is the magnificent Colorado: winding its way from the high Rockies of its namesake state through Utah and Arizona, ultimately, emptying into the Sea of Cortez. In truth, very little water makes it that far, as much of it is now diverted and dammed to quench the thirst of the great suburban desert metropolises of Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix. However, this hasn’t stopped the river from making itself known as the great creator of one of the world’s true natural wonders.

In northern Arizona the Colorado River makes its way through, in fact it cuts through, the granite uplift of northern Arizona, forming the ninety-mile long by one-mile wide Grand Canyon. This cut is nothing short of spectacular. Although, there are many other canyons and gorges in the world, and having seen numerous contenders, we can assure you there is nothing comparable to the breadth, depth, character and color of the Grand Canyon. Indeed, there is nothing like it in the world!

Although it took three million years to form this ultimate hiker’s destination, the good news is you can hike the heart of it in as few as three days. In a lifetime one could hardly complete exploration of all the side canyons, nooks and crannies. However, you can get an excellent taste of what the American Southwest and the Grand Canyon have to offer. Hiking the canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim provides you the widest and deepest experience. The benefit, of course, is that you experience the geology of both rims, the inner canyon and the river itself.

There are several variations to this hike. There are multiple trail options on the South Rim, so you don’t completely retrace your footsteps and you don’t have to organize a shuttle as is necessary if you went just rim-to-rim. Our recommendation is to start at the South Rim and descend via the South Kaibab Trail. You can stay at Phantom Ranch Campground or Lodge upon your descent. Then head up toward the North Rim via the North Kaibab Trail staying the night at Cottonwood Campgrounds. In the morning you can leave your camp set up and day hike, without the added weight of your pack, to the North Rim. You can then return to sleep at Cottonwood before heading back up on the Bright Angel Trail the next day.

We took five days to complete the out and back traverse and if I had to do it over again I would have added a 6th day. Catching the Grand Canyon at sunrise, sunset or even under a full moon is necessary to maximize your experiece.

You can read a more complete story of our hike at our sister site www.greattreks.com or purchase our book A Journey Along the World's Great Treks.

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Grand Canyon, USA
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