The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. The south rim of the canyon is the most visited and accessible part of it year round. This past Spring Break, I got the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon National Park for the first time as a volunteer with the Associated Students Community Affairs Board (check them out, these trips are absolutely free to UCSB students). While we were mostly doing work at the top of the canyon, we were also able to hike into it on one of our days off. But before heading down, there were a few things we first had to learn from the park rangers:
Do NOT hike to the bottom of the canyon, and try to come back on the same day. Unless you hike on the daily, this is most likely a terrible idea. Know your limits
Bring at least two liters of water! But do NOT drink them too fast. People oftentimes get sicker from hyponatremia (low sodium level in one’s blood) than from dehydration. Bring water and Gatorade; drink when you’re thirsty
Pack lots of SALTY snacks! Not only do you lose water when you sweat, but you also lose electrolytes, which need to be restored! You’re more likely to get muscle cramps if you do not eat enough salty snacks. Bring trail mix, pretzels, granola bars, etc.
Don’t forget to eat a hearty meal! It is recommended that you eat just as much as you normally do, if not more, the day you hike the canyon. Eat prior to your hike! Also bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a deli meat sandwich and chips
Lastly, listen to your body! It is super exciting to hike the canyon, and it is so easy to get distracted by the beautiful views, but your life is more important! Bring attentiveness and a great attitude!
When planning a trip to Grand Canyon National Park or taking advantage of the many hiking trails surrounding us in Santa Barbara, take into consideration that it is basically in the middle of nowhere. There are a couple of places that you can get dinner or lunch once you’re at the park ,but options are limited. There’s the Yavapai Lodge, the Bright Angel Café, the El Tovar Lounge, the Desert View Deli and Hermit’s Snack Bar. The food at these places is very generic, not offering many tasty options. There is also one market in the Market Plaza where you can purchase groceries. I would recommend that you bring your own food or that you buy food at the market rather than eating at the restaurants/cafeterias. Mostly because you could probably whip something up that is better than what they are selling at those places.
While I was there volunteering, we picked up groceries along the way in Flagstaff, Ariz., which is about an hour and a half away from the park. In the mornings I would either eat cereal or yogurt. For lunch, I would make myself a turkey sandwich filled with avocado, lettuce, tomato and cheese. We were staying in cabins, so for dinner we had a kitchen that we were able to use to make pasta, burgers, etc. A lot of people camp or stay in the lodges. However, most people only visit for one day. Because of the altitude change, it is important that you eat properly and drink lots of water so that you don’t feel extreme exhaustion.
Grand Canyon National Park is an incredible location, and I encourage you to visit at least once in your life. Be sure to check out their website (nps.gov/grca/index.htm) before you head out so that you are prepared for your trip! Be safe, be smart and have fun!