The Grand Canyon is home to some of nature’s most striking wonders, many of which you only get to see when you hike up to them. Even experienced hikers sometimes face difficulty in this high desert climate, though. In fact, the National Park Service’s website for the Grand Canyon warns (in bold font), "Everyone who hikes in the canyon for the first time reports that it was more difficult than they expected."
Don’t worry, though. A little pre-trip conditioning, paired with smart hiking strategies will help make sure you see everything the canyon has to offer, and that you do it safely. Here are 6 tips to hike smart in the Grand Canyon:
- Take a cue from the boy scouts and BE PREPARED!
Before your trip, practice hiking on trails with hills and uneven terrain, taking the stairs, or using exercise machines with inclines, and if you buy new hiking shoes, make sure to wear them ahead of your trip to break them in.
- STAY HYDRATED
By the time you’re thirsty, it mean you’re already dehydrated. Make sure to bring two unbreakable 1 qt water bottles and refill them throughout the day—you should be drinking at least three quarts of water. (Note: If you are hiking the Bright Angel trail, you should have containers that carry at least 3 quarts of water just for your hike.)
- EAT SALTY FOODS & DRINK SALTY DRINKS
Maintaining the right electrolyte balance is important to keep your body functioning well. Mix up your straight water with some kind of "–ade" drink and eat salty snacks throughout the day, especially when hiking and sweating!
- USE CLOTHING TO KEEP COOL
Long-sleeved shirts, wide brimmed hats, and other clothing can keep you out of the direct sun and help you stay cool. Get these item wet and they will cool you even more quickly. A cool, wet bandana around your neck will help chill the blood in your carotid arteries, keeping your whole body temperature down as the blood circulates.
- PACE YOURSELF AND REST WHEN YOU NEED TO
Walk at a pace you can maintain while talking—it’s the optimal speed for your body. When you get tired, take a short break in a shaded area before continuing. Take these opportunities to enjoy the incredible views the canyon has to offer.
- GEAR UP RIGHT
Wear comfortable, broken in shoes to avoid blisters. And bring only what you need to ensure you aren’t carrying any unnecessary weight.
These simple tips will help you tackle all the side hikes your guides can throw at you and make sure that you see all the canyon’s hidden gems on your Grand Canyon expedition.