The Bright Angel Trail is considered the park’s premier hiking trail. Well maintained, graded for stock, with regular
drinking water and covered rest-houses, it is without question the safest trail in Grand Canyon National Park.
There is a ranger station located at the trail’s halfway point (Indian Garden) and one at the bottom of the canyon
(Bright Angel Campground). Visitors hiking for the first time at Grand Canyon often use this trail in conjunction
with the South Kaibab Trail. Particularly during hot weather, it makes sense to ascend via the Bright Angel Trail
because of potable water, regular shade, emergency phones, and the ranger presence.
Following a natural break in the cliffs formed by the massive Bright Angel Fault, today’s Bright Angel Trail
approximates a route used for millennia by the many Native American groups that have called the Grand Canyon
home. Early western pioneers at the canyon first built a trail in 1891 to reach mining claims established below the
rim at Indian Garden. Recognizing that the true worth of the claims would be measured in visitation by tourists,
these pioneers immediately registered their trail as a toll road and extended the trail to the river. The mining
claims and use of the trail as a toll road would be the source of much controversy, first in legal battles with railroad
companies that wanted to control tourism and later with the federal government. The trail was turned over to the
National Park Service in 1928. Though it has been rerouted and improved considerably over the years, present
day visitors on the Bright Angel Trail can sense its rich history from ancient pictograph panels and historic
structures, and by marveling at the trail’s construction over some of the roughest terrain in North America.