Understanding Trailhead Talk

Before you hit the trail, become familiar with these important hiking terms
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The Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Switchbacks on the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon

Backcountry vs. frontcountry campsite

A backcountry campsite requires you to get there on foot, carrying what you need with you. A frontcountry campsite enables you to camp near your car.


This is a group of stones piled on top of each other, marking a route or landmark.


An incredibly handy device, it's a light attached to an elastic band that you wear on your head to see in the dark.


It’s a discrete word for outhouse or bathroom.


Switchbacks make a Z-shaped trail up a hill. Hiking on them is easier than going directly straight up or down a steep hill.

Bright Angel Trailhead

Bright Angel Trailhead


Often marked by a sign, the trailhead is the start of a trail.

Water bottle filling station

Bring your own water bottle and get free spring water at the park’s filling stations.

Water pump

These are often found at campgrounds, supplying potable water. 


Dusk on the South Rim and the El Tovar Hotel

Which Trail Should I Hike in the Grand Canyon?

Descriptions tell you what to expect on the trails from an easy, historic landmark tour to strenuous hikes with 2,000-plus feet elevation changes.

Tori Peglar's family hiking down the Bright Angel Trail into the Grand Canyon

Into the Deep on the Bright Angel Trail

A family hikes to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, discovering there's more than meets the eye.

Hikers on South Kaibab Trail. Photo by Whit Richardson

Hike Rim to Rim via South Kaibab

Hike from Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon on the South Kaibab Trail

Couple at the Grand Canyon

What to Pack for Your Grand Canyon Vacation

How do you pack for vacation in this desert climate? Here are the top 21 items to bring along with you to the Grand Canyon.

Hiking on the South Kaibab Trail at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Leave No Trace in the Grand Canyon

Even if you live by the phrase “take only photos; leave only footprints” when you’re outdoors, it still might seem counterintuitive to pack out food scraps and toilet paper.

Roaring Springs Waterfall along North Kaibab Trail. Photo by Whit Richardson

Grand Canyon's Roaring Springs, Art in Water

An arduous yet beautiful hike down the North Kaibab Trail, is one of the North Rim's awe-inspiring attractions - the source of drinking water in the canyon

Meghan Smith, Grand Canyon Search and Rescue

Q&A with Grand Canyon Search and Rescue

When someone sprains an ankle, suffers from heat exhaustion or is lost, the search-and-rescue team loads up their backpacks and hits the trail to help.

Overlooking Plateau Point. Photo by Whit Richardson

How Many People Fall in the Grand Canyon?

Dying from heat or dehydration is more common than falling, but it is still a major concern. Read about your odds and some unfortunate accidents.

Backcountry Information Center. Photo by Whit Richardson

Do I Need a Backcountry Permit in the Grand Canyon?

If you wish to camp anywhere in the park, other than in developed campgrounds on the North Rim, South Rim, or Tuweep, you must obtain a permit from the Backcountry Information Center.