OldWestNewWest.com: History & Travel Magazine

Feb 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home National & State Parks Grand Canyon South Kaibab Trail Reconstruction Project Set To Begin

Grand Canyon National Park

South Kaibab Trail Reconstruction Project Set To Begin

Mule, Stock Use Will Be Diverted to Bright Angel Trail

Hits smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon
Grand Canyon National Park's popular South Kaibab Trail will get some much-needed repairs starting in May 2009, and the project will significantly improve the condition of the trail for both hikers and mule users alike.

The project is expected to take anywhere from two to four years to complete and will include resurfacing of the trail; stabilization and preventative maintenance to existing retaining walls; replacing retaining walls that have been lost to floods, slides, or erosion; repairing and aligning existing water diversion features; etc.

While this project is underway, mule and stock use that would typically utilize the South Kaibab Trail will be diverted to the Bright Angel Trail.

The South Kaibab Trail will remain open to hikers during the trail reconstruction; however, occasional short delays may occur - hikers will be advised to follow instructions provided by trail crew members, or through signing and other advisories.

Once the reconstruction of the South Kaibab Trail is complete, the National Park Service will consider a similar project for the Bright Angel Trail, if funding becomes available.

Grand Canyon National Park is renowned for its trails. The park has more than 630 miles of trails, including 415 miles of inner canyon backcountry trails and 42 miles of inner canyon corridor trails. Corridor trails include Bright Angel Trail, the River Trail, and the South Kaibab and North Kaibab Trails.

Xanterra South Rim L.L.C., uses the South Kaibab Trail for visitor trail rides from Phantom Ranch to the rim and for administrative functions, including packing supplies into Phantom Ranch (the Bright Angel Trail, including Plateau Point, is also used by Xanterra for visitor trail rides).

Likewise, the NPS uses mules on the South Kaibab Trail to support trail work, as well as for other administrative functions. Although private stock may travel the South Kaibab Trail, there were only 10 groups with stock that camped below the rim in 2008. Most used the Bright Angel and North Kaibab Trails.

To address the issue of how best to complete reconstruction work, the NPS made the decision to temporarily divert mule traffic during construction activities for the safety of mule riders and hikers alike, as well as to save costs by reducing the time it will take to reconstruct the trail.

Inner canyon corridor trails are subject to significant annual erosion, seasonal flooding and rockslides, and acute wear from mule operations that begin from the North and South Rims.

The annual operation, maintenance and frequent rehabilitation requirements of these trails require a tremendous annual effort by the park's trail crew, which has been largely underfunded since 1998. Grand Canyon's park asset management plan, a document that provides a footprint of the park's facility asset portfolio, shows over $260 million in deferred maintenance parkwide, $24 million of which is deferred maintenance on Grand Canyon trails.

The NPS also has an annual short fall of $1 million for cyclic/preventative trail maintenance.

An environmental assessment (EA), planned for later this spring, will examine mule and stock use on all corridor trails to determine the appropriate level of use in the future.

Initial public involvement in this EA will likely occur in April or May.

Information on the reconstruction project will be available in The Guide,a free publication available at Park entrance stations, visitor contact stations, and on line at
http://www.nps.gov/grca or by calling the Backcountry Information Center at (928) 638-7875.

To obtain information about the EA or to add your name to the mailing list for public involvement, please contact Rachel Stanton, Environmental Compliance Specialist at (928) 774-9612 or by email at
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

National & State Parks