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National Parks Foundation

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Photo Essay: A Day Hike Along Grand Canyon's South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

Between tax prep and rainy day snuggles with my pups this weekend, I turned on the computer and began scrolling through photos from last year's cross-country CYOP road trip. Sometimes it's nice remind myself of adventures that have come and gone, you know? 

Thing is, I realized I never edited and shared snaps from my favorite hike from my quick stop in Grand Canyon National Park! I thought I'd better hop to it just in case any of you have plans to head that way in the coming months (and if you have a chance to go—do it!).

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

So let's talk about the South Kaibab Trail, shall we?

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

My stay was focused on the South Rim and as I was researching hikes, I knew I needed to try and tackle a day hike along this specific trail. Why? It's stunning.

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

From the South Rim, this trail leads down to the Colorado River and meets up with the North Kaibab Trail, which gets you up to the North Rim on the other side. Someday, a longer, multi-day hike might be in order, but I only had time for a day hike during my stay. I knew I needed to stick to a hike I could handle during the cooler morning hours.

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

Since this trip was my first time to the canyon and I wasn't acclimated to the elevation yet, I decided to hike about a mile and a half down into the canyon to the Cedar Ridge stopping point mentioned in this pdf

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

The views from the rim of the canyon are spectacular—no doubt about it—but I cannot recommend hiking into the canyon enough. You get such a different perspective seeing the plant life and canyon walls up close. You also gain a healthy respect for just how deep the Grand Canyon really is!

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

Travel tip: all of the information about the trail notes that you have to get to the west side of the park and take a shuttle to the trail head for this hike. If you want a ride right to the start of your hike, that's true—there's no private vehicle access to this trail head.

However, you can walk. There's a small parking lot (with a restroom!) across Desert View Drive and about .12 miles down the road from Yaki Point Road, which is the road you need to take to get to this trail head. I chose to park there and walk to the trail head because, you know, I was just going to be walking all morning anyway. All told, it's about .65 miles from the parking lot to the trail head, which means this option adds just over 1 1/4 miles to your hike. For me, it seemed silly to go to the other side of the park, hang out with tourists and cram together on a bus just to get to a place to which my two feet could carry me just fine.  

South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail // Grand Canyon National Park

No matter how you get there, if you have a chance to hike the South Kaibab Trail—even if you only hike a half mile into the canyon—please give it a try. It's worth the effort to see a side of the canyon so many people never take the time to explore.

Tell me, friends: do you have any hiking recommendations in Grand Canyon National Park? 



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Keep Parks Open

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I generally try not to get too political here on People + Places + Things. It's simply not the place for such things. However, I'm upset. Really, really upset.

I'm not going to take sides or talk about the various factors leading up to the current government shutdown. Those factors are so debatable and I will have none of that nonsense in this space, but I will use this platform to speak up for what we love.

We love the National Park Service. That love runs deep and I was sad to see them shut down today. Our national parks are an incredible asset and they provide economic stability to neighboring communities. The parks offer learning experiences for both children and adults and inspire people to get out and explore this small section of the planet every, single day.

Obviously, the National Park Service is not the only large entity affected by the shutdown. Many, many people are now furloughed without pay. This is serious business, my friends.

I truly hope everyone involved works to fix this mess with a quickness.

In the mean time, I wanted to share some of my favorite photos and memories from our visits to various national parks over the years. 

Taking in the grandeur of the tall trees in the Redwood National and State Parks - 2013

Taking in the grandeur of the tall trees in the Redwood National and State Parks - 2013

A misty afternoon hike around Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park - 2013

A misty afternoon hike around Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park - 2013

The inspiring view from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park - 2011

The inspiring view from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park - 2011

The amazing weather at the summit in Haleakala National Park - 2008

The amazing weather at the summit in Haleakala National Park - 2008

Unbeatable views from the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park - 2013

Unbeatable views from the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park - 2013

Following the most amazing trails in Grand Teton National Park - 2009

Following the most amazing trails in Grand Teton National Park - 2009

Peace and quiet on the banks of Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park - 2011

Peace and quiet on the banks of Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park - 2011

Wild lilies at the base of giant redwoods in the Redwood National and State Parks - 2013

Wild lilies at the base of giant redwoods in the Redwood National and State Parks - 2013

Sunset in Grand Teton National Park - 2009

Sunset in Grand Teton National Park - 2009

You can learn more about what the government shutdown means for our national parks here

If you love the park system as much as we do, please feel free to share your favorite national park memory in the comment section below, make your voice heard via social media platforms (using the hashtag #KeepParksOpen) and let your elected officials know how you feel about the current state of things.

Who knows... maybe it will make a difference.

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Note: I will be monitoring the comment section on this post closely. If your comment is overtly political, there is a very good chance it won't make it through. Trolls need not apply. This is about the love that we (and millions of other people) have for our national parks and for those who work tirelessly to preserve the natural wonders we seek out regularly.


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