Passage #38 - Grand Canyon - Inner Gorge

A backpacker on the South Kaibab Trail Location:  South Kaibab Trailhead to North Kaibab Trailhead

Length:  21.4 miles

Southern Trailhead:  South Kaibab Trailhead - Hwy 64
- GPS Coordinates:  36.05335° N, 112.08344° W

Northern Trailhead:  North Kaibab Trailhead - Hwy 67
- GPS Coordinates:  36.21699° N, 112.05666° W

Trail Route Description:  This passage begins at the South Kaibab Trailhead on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The trail descends through switchbacks, runs north below Yaki Point, along Cedar Ridge and then reaches the Cedar Ridge rest area. The trail continues down along Cedar Ridge, passes on the east side of O'Neill Butte and then switchbacks down the east side of a large butte and curves back around to the north. It comes to the Tonto Trail junction and continues across the Tonto Plateau to the edge at a place called The Tipoff. The trail now drops into the inner gorge and switchbacks all the way down to a tunnel and then a suspension bridge across the Colorado River. On the other side the trail heads downstream, passing the boat beach. It leaves the river, turns north at Bright Angel Creek and passes Bright Angel Campground. After passing through Phantom Ranch the trail becomes the North Kaibab Trail and it continues following Bright Angel Creek. It passes the junction with the Clear Creek Trail, enters the narrows of Bright Angel Creek and passes Phantom Canyon. The trail crosses the creek several times on footbridges, and then reaches the junction with the trail to Ribbon Falls. From the falls the trail continues up along the creek and reaches Cottonwood Camp. Further upstream the trail crosses the creek for the last time and comes to a rest house. It passes the turnoff to Roaring Springs and then begins climbing up along Roaring Springs Canyon. There is a bridge over this creek and then a tunnel. A final set of switchbacks are passed through and then the trail reaches the North Kaibab Trailhead.

View from the Clear Creek overlook Difficulty:  Difficult

Season(s):  All year. Snow may be present after winter storms (current weather forecast)

Water:  Water can be found at the Colorado River, Bright Angel Campground, Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Creek, Cottonwood Camp and Roaring Springs.


  • All water found in creeks and springs on this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • Mountain bikes are prohibited in the canyon.
  • Horses are not recommended in the Canyon - contact the Backcountry Office for more information.
  • A reservation and permit are required to spend a night in the canyon. Day hiking does not require a permit.
  • North Rim facilities are closed from mid-October to mid-May.


  • USGS Topographic Maps: Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Point.
  • Grand Canyon National Park map.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

For more information, contact:

Current Trail Information:

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