The Grand Canyon and Buckskin Gulch

These are two trips that should be on any bucket list. “How” one does the Grand Canyon is particularly exciting. Many years ago, a work colleague Steve, who knew I liked adventures, advised me to talk to him if ever I was planning a Grand Canyon hike. That planning started at the end of last year (2021), so even though I no longer worked with Steve, I gave him a call and he was happy to advise. That advice was so precious!

First, let’s look at the Grand Canyon. The typical visitor goes to the South Rim and ventures a little way (if at all) into the “big ditch.” That was our family eight years ago, and I was a proud Daddy when Bailey chose to hike a couple of miles down Bright Angel trail for her 11th birthday. There is much talk about “Rim to Rim,” with or without camping near the bottom, but this is very crowded, and the wildlife (squirrels, ravens) are well trained to steal your food! Camping requires permits which are extremely difficult to obtain during popular seasons.

There is a better way (thanks Steve 🙂 ). While the “corridor” is more developed and hence busier, there are remoter areas in the canyon that are viable for those with desert hiking experience. Steve had hiked the Thunder River / Deer Creek trail with his son and recommended it, assuring us we’d be fine with our experience (Big Bend Outer Mountain Loop; Colorado Collegiate Loop). We did this trip over three days from the Bill Hall Trailhead, and our story is below. Read on!

Close to the North Rim is Buckskin Gulch. An odd name, yet it should bring to mind one of the most amazing “slot canyons” in the world, running along the Utah/Arizona border. I had seen pictures many years ago, and it had been on my bucket list since. Steve confirmed its viability and awesomeness, so that was added to the plan. It did not disappoint!

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