From a distance, we hardly noticed the waterfall tucked back in a side canyon. As the trail climbed the final rise, we emerged from the bushes and gazed up at a jet of water spouting out of the high canyon wall and spilling down a brilliantly green, 50-foot rock face. Ribbon Falls is distinguished by the moss-covered dome of mineral deposits at its base, which was the inspiration for its original name, Altar Falls. While we ate our picnic lunch, a breeze made the narrow ribbon of water dance from side to side across the dome.
The falls are located near the bottom of the Grand Canyon along the North Kaibab Trail and are great for a day hike from Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch (6 miles one-way). If you’re hiking in the summer, make sure to get an early start to avoid the blazing heat trapped by the high canyon walls along the first 3.5 miles of the trail, known as “The Box.” Once you reach the base of the falls, there’s a path to the left that will lead you up and behind the waterfall. Try to arrive by late morning, before the afternoon shadows cover the waterfall and subdue the bright green color of its dome.
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Grand Canyon Hiking Break
The colors and the grooves and the cuts stretched in every direction: forward, downward, upward, and around. I sat quietly and studied them from a distance, staring at the encroaching shadows as the sun descended over the dry, heat-stricken cliffs.
I was at the bottom of the Grand Canyon after a seven-mile, nine-hour hike left me exhausted and in heavy pain (The South Rim trail). Taking off my shoes, I sat among the cool rocks and dipped my toes into the streaming Colorado River.