Plateau Tableau

The Grand Canyon is so expansive that it can be hard to find perspective on just how grand…

My Weekend Sherpa:

Want to do it Did it


The Grand Canyon is so expansive that it can be hard to find perspective on just how grand of a canyon it is. On the epic 12-mile (round-trip) hike to Plateau Point, you’ll get the perspective you’re looking for, and a whole lot more! From there you’ll see the North Rim, South Rim, Colorado River, and miles up and down the canyon. Plateau Point is so close to perfection it looks like a masterpiece painting, but it’s the real deal. So is hiking to it, by way of the park’s famed Bright Angel Trail. (See italics below about when to attempt it.) Start early, descending into the canyon via rather relentless switchbacks, with pit-stops like the Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse. At 4.8 miles in, you’ll reach the welcoming greenery of Indian Garden, a popular campground and shaded picnic area with water. Then it’s on to Plateau Point Trail, ribboning northward for 1.5-miles along the Tonto Plateau, which looks like the Wild West. Yuccas punctuate an otherwise barren landscape until you dead-end at the glory spot: Plateau Point offers a complete panorama of the canyon’s grandeur from east to west, with an unparalleled perspective of the teal-colored Colorado River. If you’re lucky, you might spy one of the park’s endangered California condors who like to cruise by. But even if you don’t, you won’t leave disappointed. You had me at Plateau.

TIP: This is a very tough day hike. Even if you’re a strong hiker, avoid doing this hike in the dead of summer as it is an extremely exposed trail and can get firecracker hot. It is best to do this hike in spring and fall.

Find drinking water and restrooms from May to September at Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse. Three-Mile Resthouse has seasonal water only. Indian Garden has drinking water. Check with a ranger for details and questions. Bring your own water, stay hydrated, and take your time. Heat is serious here and can be dangerous. Follow the guidelines and updates on park signs.


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