Grand Canyon’s Clear Creek Hiking Trail & Boat Beach

How we spent our full 24 hours down in the Grand Canyon

For my sister’s birthday, she asked if I wanted to hike down into the Grand Canyon with her. I of course told her, “YES!”!  We applied for the permit and were lucky enough to get the date on her actual birthday, on March 5th.  This would be both of ours first time in the Grand Canyon.

We’re about to head down in the Grand Canyon. At this moment, not sure what to expect!

At the time, the North Rim was closed so we decided to save a rim to rim challenge for another day. This first trip would be all about whether we could actually pull this off without having a chopper come rescue us out!

While planning our hike down into the Grand Canyon, we were not sure what to expect once we were down there. The park allows a maximum of 2 nights at Bright Angel Campground, which meant we only had one full day to dedicate to our “being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon” adventure.

Seeing as how this was our first time in the Grand Canyon, we both wanted to explore the land but also have time for relaxation. This is how it all went down:

We decided to start the day by hiking a little on the Clear Creek Trail.

To find this route, you will walk along the North Kaibab trail through Phantom Ranch.

Phantom Ranch

Once a little past this area you will see a trail sign for Clear Creek on your right hand side.

Continue heading towards the North Rim and on your right side, you’ll see the Clear Creek Trail

In total, I believe this trail is 9 miles long…one way. We only hiked about 2 miles in and then turned back, so a 4 mile hike roundtrip. The park does allow backpackers to camp overnight (permit required) once past the 2 mile point.

This trail will end at Clear Creek, so if you are interested in a backpacking trip away from the popular crowds, this is your place!

The trail starts on an incline and quickly takes you above the Grand Canyons ground. If fact, in just a matter of minutes, you will have a birds eye view of Phantom Ranch, an area you were just walking through!

Birds Eye View looking down at Phantom Ranch

As you continue, you’ll come across this stone bench. From what I’ve researched, Civilian Conservation Corps built this bench around 1935 for hikers to enjoy and take in the views. (Phantom Ranch sells postcards of this bench as the cover) It’s a long flat black stone that you can sit on,  with stones placed upright as a back support.

Bench built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps

Back on the trail the route will continue to incline up a little further. Once near the top you’ll see the trail begin the elevate out and will start to hug the canyon walls.

The trail will begin to elevate out

Here, is where you will see some amazing panoramic views of the Colorado river with the surrounding canyon cliffs.

If you’ve ever visited the Grand Canyon I’m sure you already know that just by changing your position, the canyon will look completely different. It’s no exception down there either.

From this location, one thing I really found interesting, was seeing the South Kaibab trail across the river. We had hiked this trail the day before, and I felt like it was zigzagging around all over the place. Now from gazing at it from across the river and in the panoramic viewpoint, I could see that we weren’t actually zigzagging all over. It is just descending down quickly and going through all these different layers of the canyon, that it just felt like that.

We found some rocks to sit on and ate our lunch at this spot. Taking in the vastness of this place, this trail layout and looking down at the Black Bridge. It’s just mind blowing how small you can feel in this huge place.

After we came down off this trail, we decided to then spend the rest of day relaxing. So, we went back to our camp and repacked our bags with some snacks and cocktails and headed to Boat Beach.

We had seen this area the day before as we were hiking across the Black Bridge off of South Kaibab. It’s a very small beach area that is more or less a little pocket off the Colorado where the water is actually calm. Now, this isn’t the type of beach were you can go swimming. In fact this little area is really small and shallow. But, it does allow you to dip your feet into the Colorado and to relax along the beachy area.

Enjoying a margarita with my feet in Colorado

Be forewarned, that water is extremely cold!! We sat in the sand and drank our cocktails. Out of all the places I’ve ever drank a margarita, this was the best place!

We then went back to our camp and ate dinner while the sun was going down.

Earlier we had found out that Phantom Ranch opens every night from 8-10 pm for beer hall. This is where everyone is welcomed in and can order some beers and snacks, no reservations required!

So, once 8pm hit, we headed off to drink some beers with the other hikers and enjoy the coziness and warmth of being indoors.

Phantom Ranch didn’t look the way I imagined it too. It was kind of like a gas station mixed with a summer camp rec hall vibe, but yet very charming.

As you walk in on your left will be a wooden counter, (similar to a gas station) where you see snacks, such as Oreo’s, energy bars, candy all being sold. Towards the end of the counter is the cash register, where you obviously order what you want.

After that there are a few tables all lined up for guests to sit down and relax. All the tables are Bavarian style, where it’s a long picnic table with long seats. This means, you will be sitting next to or across from people you don’t know.  Which, sometimes can seem uncomfortable, but as the nights keep flowing you eventually will get to talking and hopefully make a new friend or two.

Video of inside Phantom Ranch a

We met some people from the Midwest and played a game of euchre with them. Euchre is a card game that for some reason, Midwest people play and yet the rest of the country doesn’t seem to know about. It’s pretty fun and we hadn’t played it in years, so it great to play again. (We’re originally from Michigan)

After that we headed off for bed back at camp. Our full day down in the Grand Canyon was coming to a close.

We both wanted more time down there. In fact, I feel like it’s one of those places that will be forever calling me back to it.

We both said that we will be back, and hopefully it’ll be soon. Because just our one day down there is a day that I’ll never forget.

One comment

  1. The lemonade at Phantom Ranch is amazing!

    However. What seems like a lifetime ago…

    Bruce Aiken, who maintained the water stuff around Roaring Springs, and his family, lived at the house on the trail between Roaring Springs and Cottonwood Camp. If you mention “the Aiken’s house”, the older folks will know what you’re talking about. Anyway, his 3 kids would run a lemonade stand next to the house. That lemonade seemed far better than that served at Phantom. 🙂

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