Route: Grand Canyon R2R2R-alt (AZ)

Arizona, US

The "Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim" (R2R2R) is a world-class route, staring on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, running 5,000′ down to the Colorado River, across a bridge, then 6,000” up to the North Rim. Then back again.  Records have been known for decades for doing this on the South and North Kaibab Trails, crossing the river on the bridge near Phantom Ranch.  These are recorded here.

The South and North Bass Trails also allow passage from the South Rim to the North Rim.  While the elevation/distance profile is very similar, these trails are small and scrappy compared to the "Corridor" Kaibab Trails.  Plus, there's no bridge so you have to swim across the river.  Buzz Burrell named this the "R2R2R-alt".

GPS Track


I'm going to attempt this FKT tomorrow morning.  I'll be going solo/unsupported (the 2nd known solo traverse and first known night swim for the R2R2R).  Should be wild.  Will use Garmin & Suunto GPS watches per usual but also take a SPOT tracker (link below).  I'll do a write up after wards about the "light and fast" gear set up I've got.  I'm jacked to go for this.

I'm going to head into the canyon again before this next winter storm hits.  I created a new SPOT link (although I think the previous link will still show my new updated tracking?).  Fingers crossed the upper rim sections of trail are runnable and not too slippery after the snowfall on Wed/Thu... but hey, there are no bad days in the canyon.…

Just finished watching Jamil’s video and while impressive the cowboy’s R2R2R Alt. is hardly unsupported. Thornley on the ground giving them beta. 

Looks supported to me.

Yes, and Jamil accompanying them on one side, as well... definitely supported.

if a friend hikes/runs with you for any distance you will be classified as Supported, even if they provided nothing else

On Oct 26, 2020, I completed this route in 17:18:05 starting from the North Rim. This is a good option as the road was in great shape. I've never driven to the South Bass Trailhead but I've heard it's rough and my car rides low. There's also a separate fee to cross the Havasupai Reservation. The temps were 19 degrees and my water froze. I also made a wrong turn just after crossing the river, which you can see here. With much better weather and a familiarity of the route, I returned on Nov 5, 2020, and completed it again starting from the north, in 16:35:15. To my advantage, I switched up the river crossing and spent less time in the water. Not being a swimmer, I carried a pack raft. I think my transitions were fast enough, but wearing a pack certainly slowed me down on the trail. Parts of the North Bass are runnable both ways, but both times, I was unable to run as much as I would've, had I been pack-less. At any rate, this was an awesome trip and I'm thinking about returning for a third go. It's a gamble, but this time I'd try and drive to the South Rim then chill hike down to the river - camp & stash - chill hike back up while doing trail maintenance, then send it the following day. I think this would make a big difference as the South Bass Trail is not as runnable on the up and only half the distance, making it better for carrying the pack. This would also leave me pack-less for all but the last few miles, plus I'd experience the waterless (South Bass Trail) in the beginning and end, instead of in the middle. Speaking of water, sources along the North Bass were running clear and I was able to drink from Shinumo & White Creeks plus the Colorado River! However, the slightest bit of weather could change things dramatically. If attempting this route, planning for the weather and current river conditions is critical to your success. More details, photos, and tips from these trips can be found here. Anyone else thinking about hitting this soon? The current 10 day forecast looks unfavorable but the current FKTs were set weeks ahead. Still time in 2020? According to them, yes. According to Mother Nature, we'll see!