During the second week of November, a buddy and I are considering a rim to river to rim hike in the Grand Canyon. We are planning to descend South Kaibab Trail, walk along River Trail, and ascend via Bright Angel Trail. Plan would be to start early and complete the hike in the same day. We will carry survival gear. Neither of us has been to the GC. One of us is very experienced (and in excellent physical condition), and one of us has moderate experience (in very good physical condition).
We would appreciate your comments on hiking in November—weather, trail conditions, and anything else that may assist us. We both prefer not to hike in the wet, and neither of us wants anything to do with snow! Also, if November is the wrong month to do this, we would delay until next year.
Also, I have not seen anything on the Internet about, at the end of the hike, how we get from the top of Bright Angel Trail back to the parking lot for South Kaibab Trail.
Thanks for assisting us with our plans. We are trying to make this a fun and positive experience.
I have backpacked off the South Rim in the Grand Canyon, from the New Hance Trail to Grandview Point, in the first week of November. It was beautiful, sunny all three days, highs in the 60s in the canyon bottom with nights/early morning in the 40s, and cooler but comfortable at the South Rim. The trails were completely dry with no trace of snow.
You could encounter a snowstorm at that time of year—snow at the rim, but rain in the canyon bottom—that may force you to cancel or alter your plans. It really depends on the short-term forecast. But a heavy snowfall is somewhat rare in the first half of November, and if it snows then, it tends to melt and dry up pretty quickly once the sun comes out. Unlike in spring, when you have months of accumulated snow on the upper parts of the trails at the South Rim—sometimes requiring microspikes on your shoes or boots for traction on icy trails—in the first part of November, it’s very unlikely you’ll find icy conditions. Not impossible, but unlikely.
So, yes, November is often a really nice time of year to hike in the Grand Canyon. Of course, the only drawback is that days are quite short.
You should check the park website about transportation, but there’s no public parking allowed at the South Kaibab Trailhead. You’ll have to either get dropped off there or take the first park shuttle bus out there to start your hike. Leave your vehicle at the top of the Bright Angel Trail, there’s parking close by.
Got a trip coming up? See my reviews of the best hiking shoes and 6 favorite daypacks.
By the way, although I’m sure you’ve already searched The Big Outside for my Grand Canyon stories, let me point out my feature story about hiking rim to rim to rim and two Ask Me posts, one about hiking rim to river to rim and another suggesting a different, big dayhike in the canyon. Perhaps the last one will give you a goal for your next visit!
Good luck, let me know how it goes for you.
Thanks for the reply. Your info is very useful and will definitely assist us.
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