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Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim

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Run Across the Grand Canyon...Twice

Prepare for the adventure of a lifetime as you tackle the Grand Canyon's iconic Rim to Rim to Rim route (R2R2R). This trail run spans approximately 42+ miles and takes you from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim and back, all with a goal of doing it in one day. It's not just a run; it's a journey through one of the world's natural wonders and a bucket list trail run for many.This guide aims to make your journey as smooth as possible, so you can focus on the run, the views, and the experience.🏃Who Is This Guide For?
This guide is tailored for experienced runners looking to plan a successful R2R2R run. If you're aiming to set speed records, this is likely not your best resource. Have fun, challenge yourself, and soak in the awe-inspiring scenery. This guide focuses on enjoying the run and making the most of this epic adventure with friends.
🤔 Why Write This?
After organizing this run for two years in a row for a couple groups, I couldn't find any excellent resources that were comprehensive or turnkey for our groups. I'm simply a passionate trail runner who created some resources I thought would be helpful for others. I hope to share this epic experience with as many people as possible and make it easier to plan the adventure of a lifetime.
This is a work in progress. I welcome feedback and input on how I could make this better.Disclaimer & Warning
This guide is for informational use and does not constitute advice or an endorsement. Undertaking this challenging, self-supported activity involves significant risk. You bear sole responsibility for your safety and decisions.

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I would love to hear from you! Do you have a great story about R2R2R? Do you have feedback? Let me know how we can make this a better resource for folks by sending me a note via the contact form.

Grand Canyon Warning Image


Proceed at your own RISK

Participating in a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) run in the Grand Canyon is a self-organized, self-supported endeavor. This is not a professionally organized event; there are no aid stations, crew support, or designated medical facilities along the route. The only access for medical and rescue services is at the canyon rims or by helicopter. This significantly increases the risk compared to organized ultramarathon events which have frequent aid stations and medical support.The content provided on this website is for informational purposes only, based on personal experiences and publicly available information. It is not intended as exhaustive guidance nor should it be construed as professional advice.The National Park Service does not support this run and there are many signs warning about the dangers of descending to the river and back in one day. In fact, the NPS recommends a trip of 3-4 days for R2R2R.By choosing to run R2R2R, you acknowledge and accept full responsibility for your decisions, preparation, and actions before, during, and after the run. It is imperative that you evaluate your physical condition, prepare adequately, and consider consulting a healthcare provider before embarking on this challenge. Respect for the park’s regulations, the natural environment, and commitment to leaving no trace should guide your preparations and actions.Everyone who starts this run is making their own decisions and understands they need to be self supported and have adequately prepared for the run. Down is optional. Up is mandatory.If you're ready for this challenge and have prepared accordingly, you're in for an unforgettable experience. Proceed with respect for nature, your fellow trail users, and yourself.


Run Overview

Rim2Rim2Rim is an iconic and epic trail run. You will depart from the South Rim, descend to the Colorado river, pass through Phantom Ranch, ascend to the North Rim, and then return to the South Rim in the same day. The run is roughly 45 miles and has over 10,000 ft of total elevation gain, with long sustained climbs.Unless you're are trying to set the's very important to remember this is NOT a race. There is no podium. No rankings. No belt buckle. No merch. No prize money. Enjoy your time. Run smart & safe! Avoid red lining: Focus on high, sustained torque…not top speed.🗓️ When to Run
Weather conditions and temperature variations between the canyon rim and the inner canyon, especially in "the box," play a critical role in planning your run. To avoid extreme conditions, it's best to aim for early spring or late fall. Summer runs are discouraged due to potentially hazardous temperatures exceeding 100°F. Winter poses its own challenges with possible ice, snow, and limited water availability.
Consult historical weather both at the rim and inside the canyon to get a better idea of historical, average conditions for the time you're planning on running. NPS Weather Resource & NPS Backcountry Guide are both good resources when selecting your window. I chose the first weekend in November, which proved to be an ideal time.🧭 Route Options
The official FKT route is an out and back that starts and ends at the South Kaibab Trailhead. However, many will opt to start at South Kaibab Trailhead and end the run at Bright Angel Trailhead (this is what I have done). This alternative route covers new ground and vistas while being slightly less steep (but longer) than the return to South Kaibab.
🏃 Breaking Down The Run
R2R2R is not your typical trail run, as it starts with a huge descent and ends with a massive climb…it’s essentially an upside down trail run. The route has potable water available during certain times of the year and it’s critical to check the NPS’ water availability guide before starting your adventure. On your return, you will (hopefully) have the opportunity to stop for a rest, lemonade, tea, snack, etc at Phantom Ranch’s Cantina. Enjoy the respite, as you’re about to head back up the final climb.
During the run, you will be self supported, carrying all of your own nutrition, first aid, clothing, lighting, poles, etc. Outside of a possible stop at Phantom Ranch’s Cantina for lemonade and other snacks, you’re going to carry all your own food. There are no aid tables out here, folks!

Runner Looking Back On The Grand Canyon

Key Resources

Planning Spreadsheet

I have created a spreadsheet to help plan your run. The spreadsheet has 3 tabs. Please don't hesitate to contact me using the form at the bottom of the page to suggest improvements or let me know of any errors.This has been a KEY resource in preparing for the run and I hope it will be a good resource as you plan your own adventures.1. Route & Run Planning - This sheet gives an overview for the route starting at South Kaibab -> North Rim Trailhead -> Bright Angel Trailhead. Use this spreadsheet and tool to help plan your route, look at pacing, timing, milestones. This has some rudimentary formulas to estimate pace changes on grade based on the base pace you input. This should give you and idea of grade impact, but certainly is not a highly scientific GAP calculation.
2. Gear Consideration List - This is a list of gear that may help you be prepared and successful in this run. Use it as a starting point to build out a loadout that works well for you.
3. Nutrition & Calorie Helper - Use this tool to dial in your nutrition plan, calculate the energy density of your nutirition plan. I have included a number of food options for consideration, but of course you should input the food items you're planning on taking with you.
🗺️ R2R2R Run Planning - R2R2R.Guide Public Version - Please read the instructions on the first tab.Please provide me with feedback if I can make improvements!

Brief Notes on Training & Nutrition


This is NOT a training guide. I am not a coach or qualified to build individualized training plans to prepare you for the run. Below you'll find some resources and pointers that have helped me and folks I have run with complete the run.To state the obvious, this is a strenuous day and you should be well trained and prepared for the run. You do not need to be FAST. Slow and steady can pay off big time.


  • Find an ultra marathon plan that takes elevation into consideration.

  • Depending on your goals, you certainly don't need to go fast to finish in a day.

  • Most of the uphill sections are un-runnable for us mere mortal trail runners. Practice your power hike! Practice using poles.

  • Don't skimp on strength training. Your legs are going to take a beating going up and down. Incorporate both hills, rucking, and muscular endurance training on a regular basis

  • Downhill efforts put a lot of stress on your legs and I've seen the combination of impact and downhill pace cause injuries (far more than plodding uphill paces). Consider specific training for eccentric muscular endurance training for your legs (Romanian deadlifts, reverse lunges, jump rope, box jumps to name just a few exercises for inspiration)

  • Use your long runs to test your gear, mindset, pace, and nutrition. You want to get as much dialed in before you head out on the trail

  • Consistency trumps everything else

Training Links & Resources

There are countless training resources online from free plans, premium plans, podcasts, blog posts, and everything in between. Below are a few resources I've used.
Have a great resource to share? I would love to hear from you! Shoot me a note.


Similar to the section on training. This is not be considered a comprehensive guide to ultra running nutrition. I am certainly not a nutritionist and I only know what's worked for me and folks I have run with.Unlike organized ultras, this one is self supported and there are no aid stations (with the notable and glorious exception of Phantom Ranch). So you'll be planning and carrying everything you need with you.


  • Everyone's nutrition and hydration needs are different. Test your plans and make sure they work for you!

  • Aim to consume roughly 150-250 calories per hour you plan to be on the trail

  • Reference the Run Planning spreadsheet and visit the tab called Nutrition Planner to start putting a plan together and see some sample food items.

  • Consider Nutrition Alerts on your running watch. Many watches have a setting that will remind you to eat on a fixed time interval. I set mine nutrition alerts to remind me every 40 mins. If you're like many, it'll get increasily harder to want to eat as the run goes on. Hold yourself accountable, get the calories in. Don't bonk.

  • For hydration, I have had success carrying a hydration bladder that only had water. I also carried 2x 500ml soft body bottles that I used for high calorie drink mix.

  • To state what seems obvious, keep your water topped up, especially when it looks like there will be a long distances between refills. You must check the NPS water availability before your run so you know where you can expect to fill up. Water purificication tablets are recommended as a backup.

  • I carry electrolyte pills (specifically Hammer’s Endurolytes) that I took every hour on the trail

  • Consider starting the run with multiple hours of nutrition premixed in your body bottles. I was comfortably able to get 3 hours of Hammer Nutrition’s Perpetutum drink mix in each of my body bottles. Giving me 6 hours of pre-mixed nutrition. I found this to be much easier to consume and carry on the go than lots of little gels. The first year I used Tailwind. It was solid, but since it's just sugar and electrolytes it got cloying and harder for me to get down as the day wore on.

  • Tip: Take a Blender Bottle (or similar) with you so you can thoroughly premix your multi-hour bottles ahead of time and then pour into the body bottles. Mixing this much drink mix in the soft body bottles is much harder.

  • Some folks prefer and do really well on gels, but I prefer drink mix, solids (bars), and real food. However I did take 2 gels specifically because of the caffeine content ☕💨

  • Be mindful that you need to carry all of this with you, so while pizza might sound pretty awesome, it might not travel as well as other items.

  • Be mindful of weight, nutrition density, and packability

  • Bring some cash to stop at the Phantom Ranch snack window on your way back to the South Rim! The lemonade is legendary, but they have a bunch of other snacks and drinks!

  • This Uphill Athlete Podcast on Ultra Nutrition is very informative


Travel & logistics are also a major consideration for many traveling to the Grand Canyon for this run. Our group traveled from the East coast. Of course, you'll need to adjust based on your location, preferences, timing constraints, and situation.
This sample itinerary gives you plenty of time. You can certainly do it with less time on either side of your run.A cautionary travel tale: our first time doing R2R2R, one of our group members was set to arrive the evening before the run, but with flight delays getting into PHX and a long drive, they didn't get checked into their room until 11pm. Given we were waking up at 3am, this didn't give much time to get in, familiarized, packed, and get some rest before the run. We got it done, but this was a clear "area of improvement" for our second run.On The Trail
Make a plan with your group BEFORE you begin your run. Will you be sticking together no matter what? Will you stop at set points along the trail to regroup with everyone? Is everyone going to run at their own pace? There is no right way to do this, but you should have discussed this and agreed ahead of the run.
Most of the route does not have cell phone service. You'll likely get some service at the North Rim Trailhead / parking lot (a "proof-of-life" selfie is a solid idea at this point). You'll also start to get signal on and off as you climb up the South Rim. A GPS tracking & messaging device can provide a great deal of peace of mind to folks who aren't running as well as enabling you to communicate with other folks you are running with. We've had good success with Garmin inReach Minis and Zoleo's. These require a monthly plan, but it can be purchased month-to-month. They are also avaialble through many outdoor gear rental services. Some newer cell phones also offer SOS service for contacting emergency services when out of cell service range.It's crucial to minimize our impact on the natural environment of the Grand Canyon. Public trash cans are only located at the North and South Rim trailheads, with limited disposal available at Phantom Ranch exclusively for items purchased there. Please carry out all your trash, respect the pristine nature of the canyon, and ensure nothing you bring in is left behind. Remember, we're guests in this epic landscape—let's keep it clean and beautiful for everyone.

Sample Itinerary

Wednesady - Travel & Arrival

  • Fly into Phoenix (PHX) or Flagstaff (FLG)

  • Rent a car. The drive from PHX is about 3hrs 45mins. The drive from FLG is only 1hr 30min.

  • If you have multiple drivers and plan to start and end at different locations (South Kaibab & Bright Angel), having two cars available will give you more autonomy & flexiblity.

  • Build time into your drive so you can stop to shop for some groceries. Flagstaff has solid options, including a Whole Foods. Don't worry if you forget something though, the Grand Canyon Market that's across the parking lot from the Yavapai lobby is suprisingly well stocked

  • Check into the Yavapai Lodge. It's affordable, no frills, convenient to the general store, and has 2 places to eat. Each room has a fridge, but no microwave. A microwave is available in the main lobby.

  • Grab dinner somewhere in the park. There are plenty of options that won't require reservations and are more casual. Arizona Steakhouse recommends reservations.

Thursday - Acclimate & Familiarize

  • Think hydration and clean nutrition all day long

  • Shake out run along the Rim Trail. Get up early. Catch the sunrise. Take it in. Get hyped. The Grand Canyon is a special place.

  • Travel to the trailheads and parking areas you intend to use for dropoff and pickup.

  • Review your packing list, nutrition plan, pack and re-pack your bag.

  • Charge your devices (watch, headlamp, phone, inReach)

  • Early dinner

  • If you have 2 vehicles, drop one car off in the parking area you intend to finish.

  • IMPORTANT Triple & quadruple check and secure the car keys. Ensure you have a plan for the key to be highly secured on your run. If you lose this key in the canyon, you're not likely going back for it. Using a key clip tethered to your bag, inside a zippered pocket is a good start.

  • Get to bed and get some rest. Dream happy trail dreams.

Friday - RIM2RIM2RIM

  • This is the big day!

  • Wake up early enough to eat, hydrate, and use the restroom (🤞).

  • Final gear and nutrition check. Fill your bottles.

  • Double check charge status on key equipment.

  • Check and recheck the car key plan. Don't risk losing this along the way.

  • 4:00AM Arrive at the trailhead and depart on your adventure.

  • Before selecting your start time, work through some scenarios for your expected pacing try to get an idea of how long this may take you. Check sunrise and sunset times. If you would rather finish in the daylight, plan your departure time accordingly. You can use the planning spreadsheet to help work through various scenarios.

  • Note If you are departing from the South Kaibab trailhead, private vehicles are not allowed in the main parking area. Your best bet is a public parking area about 0.5 miles away from the official trailhead.

  • Members of our groups have finished between 12 and 18 hours. Of course, everyone's pace and objectives are different.

  • Casual dinner back at the lodge. Check the closing times. If you think you may not finish and be back in time for dinner, make an alternative backup plan for a solid meal.

  • If applicable, retrieve your vehicle from your starting point.

Saturday - Recovery & Travel Day

A couple thoughts for the day after your run.You may opt to wake up, grab breakfast, and head to the airport to get home. We had half our group do this without issue!You can also choose to take a little more time after your run. Some ideas might include:- Revisit the trailhead where you finished to look back over what you accomplished.
- Book a helicopter tour to get flown through the Grand Canyon
- Grab lunch with your group back in Flagstaff
- Have a celebratory dinner with your group before leaving

Interested? Have Feedback? DROP ME A Line

I'm eager for your feedback and your stories. Are there ways I can make this resource better?