Grand Canyon National Park
Location. Northern Arizona near the Utah and Nevada border.
Where to run. The Rim-to-rim trail is 21 miles one way (from South to North or vice versa). Schlep lightweight gear and camp on the North Rim before making the 21-mile return trip the following day. It’s become a popular route over the past decade, though, so be prepared for large crowds. If you’re really jonesing for a challenge, look up the Rim-to-rim-to-rim route (it’s an out and back with over 11,000 feet of evaluation gain in over 42 miles). Both routes too far? That’s OK; there are nearly 300 miles of trails in and around the canyon to choose from.
When to visit. You can visit the highly-trafficked South Rim year-round. The North Rim is only open—at least to vehicle traffic—after May 15. You can go in the winter, though, you just need a backcountry permit to do so.
Avoid visiting during the H-O-T summer months like the plague. Not only is the Canyon floor miserable, but it’s the park’s high season, so you’ll be hot, cranky, dehydrated, and forced to battle throngs of selfie-snapping tourists and donkey caravans.
If you’re looking for an introspective, quiet adventure, take advantage of the less-traveled North Rim. But do your research; it’s less visited because it’s harder to get to. The drive there takes almost five hours, which, for many, is just shy of how long it takes to run from rim to rim (the trail is 21 miles).
Cost. $30 per vehicle for a week; $15 per person if you’re entering the canyon by foot, bicycle, or public transportation.
Tips. Due to differences in elevation between the North and South Rims, the vegetation and climate vary drastically. If you plan to spend time on both sides (or even run from the rim to the bottom), do your research and show up prepared. You’ll need trail running shoes, nutrition and electrolytes, a hydration pack with a large fluid reservoir, sun protection (include a hat/visor and sunglasses), a layer or two for changing temps (maybe even a light wind or ran jacket), and an ID.
If you want to camp in the canyon, apply well in advance as spots fill very quickly. And, know your limits. This is the desert—it’s hot, dry, inhospitable. Carry lots of water and only run the rim-to-rim trail if you’re well trained.