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Ultimate Trail Guide: Hike the Bright Angel Trail to the 1.5 Mile Resthouse

The Bright Angel Trail is one of the most famous trails in Grand Canyon National Park. With many stops along its steep switchbacks down into the canyon, this path allows you to choose how far you want to hike. For a short hike, opt to hike the Angel Trail to the 1.5 Mile Resthouse. With sweeping views of the Grand Canyon, this is a great option to see how you do with the elevation and uphill hiking.

The Bright Angel to 1.5 Mile Resthouse hike in a nutshell

Views

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Technical Difficulty

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Overall Experience

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Bright Angel to 1.5 Mile Resthouse hike key information

Trailhead: Bright Angel Trailhead

Hike End: Bright Angel Trailhead

Hike Type: Out & back

Length: 3 miles / 4.8 km

Time: 1.5-2 hours

Ascent: 1,100 ft / 335 m

Difficulty: Intermediate

How to get to the Bright Angel Trailhead

From the Grand Canyon Entrance, continue on South Entrance Road to Village Loop Drive. Follow signs for the Bright Angel Lodge. There’s parking in front of the Lodge, as well as out behind the Lodge. If you can find a spot behind the Lodge, you’ll be closer to the trailhead.

From the parking lot, walk on over to the Grand Canyon rim. The Bright Angel Trailhead is right next to the shuttle stops and is well marked and signposted.

Our experience hiking to the 1.5 Mile Resthouse on the Bright Angel Trail

We drove to the Grand Canyon and arrived at about 7:45. There was still parking out behind the Bright Angel Lodge, so we grabbed a spot right along the rim of the Grand Canyon. We loaded up our bags with plenty of water, electrolytes, and snacks, and then headed to the Bright Angel Trailhead. We weren’t sure how far down we were going to hike, so you probably won’t need quite as much gear as we had.

Definitely load up on water, especially if you’re heading to the Grand Canyon in the summer months. We were traveling in March and it was already nice and toasty.

The Bright Angel Trail certainly looks intimidating, with the seemingly endless switchbacks down the side of the canyon. The good news is that it’s actually pretty gentle—the switchbacks make the trail much less steep! The trail is dirt, but very well maintained. In the wintertime and early spring, I recommend bringing microspikes, as the trail can get a little icy.

After just .18 miles, you’ll reach the first tunnel, carved directly into the side of the canyon. If you just want a taste of the Bright Angel Trail, this is a great 20 minute walk that gives you a great view and different perspective of the Grand Canyon.

After .75 miles, you’ll reach the second tunnel. Here, the trail gets slightly steeper but is still quite manageable.

After 1.5 miles, you’ll arrive at the aptly named 1.5 Mile Resthouse. There are toilets and water stations here, but water is only available seasonally. We did not have access to water in March, but the toilets were open.

You can continue down further into the Grand Canyon to the 3 Mile Resthouse, Indian Garden (don’t go further than this if you’re doing a day hike in the summertime), Plateau Point (don’t go further than here if you’re doing a day hike any time of year), or even to the North Rim (overnight backpacking trip).

For us, the 1.5 mile guesthouse was a perfect stopping point. We were sick and didn’t want a super strenuous hike, and the views were fabulous!

This is an out-and-back hike, so you turn around and head back up the switchbacks, the way you came. It’s definitely an uphill hike, but the switchbacks make it relatively gentle. I’d expect to take 1.5x to twice as long going up as you took to come down.

What to pack for a Bright Angel Trail day hike

This list will vary depending on the season you hike as well as the length of your hike, but this is what I’d have as a starting point:

Clothing

Wear:

  • Shorts, leggings, or trekking pants
  • T shirt (quick dry, no cotton)
  • Hat (preferably with a brim)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking boots
  • Wool socks

Bring:

  • Fleece or appropriate jacket
  • Microspikes (if hiking in winter)
  • Rain shell

Gear

  • Water (at least one liter for a short hike, more for longer hikes)
  • Bandaids
  • Ibuprofen or other painkiller
  • Snacks
  • Backpack
  • Camera

The Bright Angel Trail is one of the most iconic and stunning trails in the Grand Canyon. Walking to the 1.5 mile resthouse is a wonderful half day hike. I recommend doing this hike in the morning and then taking the bus or walking along the Rim Trail.

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