Are you planning on hiking the Grand Canyon? You’ll need to eat! Here are some hiking food ideas– what to pack, what you can skip, and how much water to bring.
Heads up– this is part of a Hiking the Grand Canyon series! Read more Grand Canyon hiking tips here: Hiking the Grand Canyon, Training to Hike the Grand Canyon, Camping Inside the Grand Canyon, + Grand Canyon Trails.
Hiking Food Ideas: At the Rim
The night before your hike, load up on calories!
Check out these camping recipes for cooking ideas, and check out the exceptionally well-stocked Canyon Village Market + Deli grocery store in the Canyon Village.
Another option is to order pre-made food at one of the cafes inside the park. (I like the pizza at the Canyon Village Deli.)
If you’re already inside the park, think twice before driving outside to one of the local towns for dinner.
Lines to get back inside the park can be LONG. If the park is crowded– stay put.
Hiking Food Ideas: On the Trail
My biggest food regret for our last Grand Canyon trip was that I didn’t bring a variety of different hiking foods.
In fact, I was so incredibly sick of eating peanut butter spread onto tortillas that when we finally got back to the rim– I burned the remaining peanut butter wraps in our campfire.
I also underestimated just how hard very dense foods (like peanut butter) would be to swallow in the sweltering heat. For your trip, especially if it will be hot– bring an assortment of foods, and try to bring some refreshing and juicy snacks (like apples).
Also, make sure to avoid chocolate in warm weather. (Melted chocolate is messy, messy, messy!)
How much food should you bring? The answer is– a lot of it! And make it calorie dense.
Incredibly, hikers inside the Grand Canyon can burn over 1,000 calories per hour. Since your body needs calories to keep going, bring lots and lots of food!
What kind of food? Here are some hiking food ideas:
- Nut butter, honey, + raisins on flatbread or tortillas
- Trail mix
- Granola bars + protein bars
- Fruit roll-ups
- Cookies, candy bars, + gummies
- Hard fruit (like apples)
- Jerky (vegan if desired)
- Couscous + vacuum-sealed packages of tuna (plus a backpacking stove)
- Dehydrated backpacking meals (plus a backpacking stove)
- Food at the bottom of the canyon: Reserve a meal at Phantom Ranch (requires several month’s notice)
- Food at the bottom of the canyon: Bring cash, and buy lemonade, beer, and snacks at Phantom Ranch
How Much Water Do I Need to Hike the Canyon?
When it’s hot outside, the National Park Service recommends that each hiker drink 4 liters (or 1 gallon) of water per day.
Make sure to add electrolytes (or Gatorade) to your water, especially during warm months, because hyponatremia (abnormally low sodium levels) is a real danger when you’re drinking lots of water and sweating. Another option is to bring electrolyte gummies.
Is There Water on the Trail?
Man-made Water Lines:
The Bright Angel Trail and the North Kaibab trail both have water lines– sometimes. The lines occasionally break, and not all drinking spots are open all year long.
It’s a good idea to head into the welcome center and ask if the water lines are running before hiking.
The South Kaibab trail does not have potable water.
(The water spots on the trail are also fabulous for dousing your entire body with water to cool down.)
Nature’s Watering Spots:
At the bottom of the canyon, the Bright Angel creek is safe to gather water from, but the water must be treated before drinking.
It is not safe to try and collect water from the Colorado River– the current is too strong.
There are a few spots near the bottom of the canyon along the Bright Angel trail where the creek crosses the path, but there are no natural water sources on the South Kaibab trail.