Mile Resthouse Hike Cover

Hike 3 Mile Resthouse on the Bright Angel Trail

In This Guide
  • Turn-by-Turn Hike Directions & Video
  • Fitness Level and Gear to Hike to 3 Mile Resthouse
  • Tips on Weather, Parking, and Planning
Distance6 miles (9.7 km)
Hike Time3-4 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)2,100 feet (640m)
Highest Elevation6,850 feet (2088m)
Fees & PermitsNational Park Entry Fee
Dog FriendlyNo
Park Website (?)Grand Canyon National Park
Park Phone928-638-7888
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If you’ve got a decent level of fitness and want to experience the Grand Canyon, the hike to 3 Mile Resthouse on the Bright Angel Trail is for you. The trail is considered the Grand Canyon’s premier hiking trail; it’s very well maintained, safe, and spectacularly beautiful. You’ll hike down into the Grand Canyon, experiencing all the wonders it has to offer without any hardships aside from the climb back up. The trail has water stations and bathrooms, making it very beginner-friendly.

A shorter option is the hike to 1.5 Mile Resthouse. Want a longer hike? Try the Bright Angel Trail hikes to Indian Garden or Plateau Point.

Don’t forget to check out my Grand Canyon hiking tips here!

How to Get to the Bright Angel Trail

The Bright Angel Trail might be the most popular trail in Grand Canyon National Park, but it’s still tricky to find. I recommend navigating to the Bright Angel Lodge, and then from there, following the maps below to the parking areas.

Use this navigation address:
Bright Angel Lodge, 9 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023

If you’re using Google Maps, the actual trailhead is on there too:
Bright Angel Trailhead, 15 Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023

Once you are in the lodge area, you can park anywhere that you don’t see a no-parking sign or staff parking sign. The parking lots are shared with visitors staying in accommodations such as Bright Angel Lodge.

Bright Angel Trail Parking
The areas in the red boxes offer parking close to the trailhead. There are always people coming and going, give the areas a look before parking farther out.
Bright Angel Trail 2
Here’s the parking lot next to the trailhead. It’s a bit hidden from casual drivers, and I usually have good luck here.
Farther Parking Bright Angel Trail
If you do need to park farther out, here are your options, all within a short walk to the trailhead.

The Blue Line Shuttle Bus is a good option to get to the trailhead if you’re parked or staying somewhere else in the park. The bus runs year-round. The Hermit’s Rest Route Transfer stop is closer to the trailhead than the Bright Angel Lodge stop, but either one will be fine.

I’ve hiked Bright Angel many times and I’ve never had a problem parking by the trailhead when I get there just before sunrise.

Bright Angel Trail 4
There are lots of bathrooms at the trailhead.
Bright Angel Trail 5
There’s a water fill station at the trailhead on the side of the bathrooms.

Gear For the 3 Mile Resthouse Hike

The hike to 3 Mile Resthouse is 6 miles with 2,100 feet of climbing, which is a tough hike. But the trail is well maintained and there is seasonal water, so you can get away with fitness clothes on this hike if the conditions are favorable. In general you’ll want to take 2L of water and some snacks.  Sometimes there are water station closures, so make sure you check the alerts page before you go.

The weather in the Grand Canyon can be extreme. In the winter, bitter cold, ice, and snow is not uncommon. So pay close attention to the weather for Grand Canyon Village. If there is snow, the Bright Angel Trail can be covered. In those conditions proper hiking gerar with micro-spikes and trekking poles are a must. There can be ice on the upper parts of the trail.

And of course, in the summer, it gets hot. The canyon walls offer some shade at the right part of the day, but there are sections exposed to the sun, so protect yourself. The temperature rises about 5.5F for every 1,000 feet that you descend. So you can expect the 3 Mile Resthouse to be about 10-12F warmer than the trailhead at the South Rim. In the warm months of summer, this hike is not a good idea during mid-day. Take the temperature seriously; people die from heatstroke in the Grand Canyon.

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La Sportiva Spire

The La Sportiva Spire boots feel like comfortable sneakers but offer the protection of hiking boots. They’re great on everything from short hikes to longer hikes of 10+ miles. You don’t want to skimp on your feet.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: WomenMen

Opsrey Stratos Blue

I test a lot of gear, and for short to medium day hikes, travel, and everyday use, the Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) are consistently the best. They’re lightweight, hold a hydration bladder to make drinking water easy, have lots of pockets to organize gear, and most importantly, are incredibly comfortable. Check out the reviews; they are impressive.
Reviews & Colors Here: Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) 

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated January 2020.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

Fitness To Hike To the 3 Mile Resthouse

Bright Angel Trail 13
A sign at the start of the Bright Angel Trail warns hikers not to overexert themselves. Conditions in the Grand Canyon can be extreme, and the climb back out of the canyon is tough. This is not the venue to push yourself past your limits.

Grand Canyon hikes are deceiving. Unlike mountain hikes where you do the climb and then get an easy hike back down, in the Grand Canyon it’s oh-so-easy hiking miles downhill, but then you have to turn around and go back up. As the park rangers like to say, there’s no shuttle bus from the bottom of the canyon to the top. So even if you are comfortable hiking for 6 miles, you need to be prepared to hike over 2,000 feet on the way back out.

It’s not uncommon to climb back out at half the pace that you descended. Most folks go down at between 2-3mph, and climb back out between 1-2mph.

Bright Angel Trail To 3 Mile Resthouse Maps

The Bright Angel trail is what the Parks Service calls a corridor trail. The corridor trails are heavily used and actively maintained. The Bright Angel Trail is the most used trail in the park. It’s built with a standard gradient (overall) of 10% and has a standard width of 4 feet wide. What that means in practical terms is that, while it’s a tough trail, it’s never too steep and never so narrow that you’re walking on a precipice.

Interactive Map

Click To View Map

Hike 3 Mile Resthouse on the Bright Angel Trail Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

I’m a big fan of GPS watches to follow my GPX track (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (full review here). I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy and does a lot of the same things.

Landmarks on 3 Mile Resthouse Hike

Landmark DistanceElevationWater
Trailhead06850yes
1st Tunnel0.186708no
2nd Tunnel0.756240no
1.5 Mile Resthouse1.55730Spring to Fall
3 Mile Resthouse34750Spring to Fall

Elevation Profile

Mile Resthouse Hike Elevation
The hike is pretty straightforward. You go down, then you go back up. The nice thing about the climb is that it’s constant so you can get into a groove.

Mules on the Trail

Bright Angel Trail 10
The steep gradient on the Bright Angel Trail isn’t the only challenge; you’ll have to share the trail (and yield to) mules.

For over a century ,mules have been hauling gear, supplies, and people in and out of the Grand Canyon. Right behind the Bright Angel Trailhead is a mule pen used on the trail. These mules take people down to Indian Garden for a day trip and to Phantom Ranch for an overnight trip. Mule trips are very popular, can be booked 15 months in advance, and fill up quickly.

As a hiker on the Bright Angel Trail, the mules can be a pain. If you get stuck behind them, you’ll be stuck behind them for a while, until the mule handler allows you to pass. Oh, and they’ll be crapping too. If you are going in the opposite direction as the mules, you should stand as close to the inside of the trail as possible and let them pass as you heed the mule handler’s instructions.

Mules aren’t aggressive, but they can bite. Keep your hands to yourself. Don’t try to pet or feed the mules.

My tip is to leave at sunrise before the first mules leave. By the time you head back up from the 3 Mile Resthouse, you should pass them head-on, which is much better than getting stuck behind them on the climb out.

Bright Angel Trail FAQ

Bright Angel Trail 65
Staying on the trail is vital to protecting the delicate landscape around the Bright Angel Trail.

How to Hike to the 3 Mile Resthouse

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Video Directions

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Turn by Turn Directions

Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 4
The Bright Angel Trailhead is just past the bathroom and plaza area.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 6
Here’s where you start the hike to 3 Mile Resrthouse on the Bright Angel Trail.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 8
There’s a great sign by the trailhead where you can grab some photos.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 7
Once you’re done taking pictures, start the hike down the trail.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 9
The trail is wide and easy to follow as it winds down the cliffside.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 11
At about 0.5 miles in you’ll reach the first tunnel.
Bright Angel Pictographs
Just past the first tunnel, up on your left, look for these ancient pictographs under the overhang. Be respectful and stay on the trail here.
Bright Angel Trail 76
The holes you see along the rock wall here were used for blasting out the trail along the cliffside.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 12
At this point you’ll see the trail stretching out below you like a ribbon.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 14
Avoid any old side trails and spurs coming off the switchback, staying on the same trail.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 15
You’ll see the trail winding down the canyon wall ahead of you.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 17
Shortly before a mile in you’ll pass through the second tunnel.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 19
Past the tunnel you’ll start seeing the different layers of rock that make up the Grand Canyon. Notice how one side of the wall doesn’t line up with the other, a result of movement on the Bright Angel Fault that you are hiking along.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 21
Soon you’ll see the 1.5 Mile Resthouse in the distance.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 22
The actual Resthouse is up the steps to the right. The water, toilets, and trail are straight ahead.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 23
The Resthouse is a nice little shelter where you can get out of the sun or rain.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 25
The seasonal water source is just past the steps to the Resthouse.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 26
Shortly past the water is the turnoff for the toilets. Otherwise turn down the switchback to the left to continue down to 3 Mile Resthouse.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 27
The Bright Angel Trail continues to wind down in front of you. Just remember, you have to climb back up this!
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 28
Avoid the old spur trail heading up and stay on the main trail. If you are ever in doubt, just look down at the footprints and trail condition. The Bright Angel Trail should have hundreds of footprints and will be at least 4 feet wide.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 29
Even though you are going down the canyon wall, there’s no real sections on the edge. This picture shows you a typical section. The trail is 4 feet wide and beneath you is a trail switchback.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 31
At three miles you’ll reach the 3 Mile Resthouse.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 37
The Resthouse structure is similar to the last one.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 35
Water is just past the structure.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 33
The toilets are just past the Resthouse structure up the stairs to the right.
Indian Garden Grand Canyon Hike 34
The restroom building is up the stairs.
Vista At 3 Mile Resthouse
If you go straight past the toilet turn-off you’ll reach a wide open area. This used to be a cable car station that miners used to haul ore and gear up and down the canyon.

Hiking Back To the South Rim

You’ve got over 4 miles under your belt, but the hard part is yet to come. Unless you’re going to float down the river, you’ll have to walk back up to leave the inside of the Canyon.

Bright Angel Trail 69
Although the climb is tough, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you reach the landmarks that you saw on your way down.
Bright Angel Trail 70
Almost there! The V in the cliff up top is where the trailhead is.
Bright Angel Trail 71
More switchbacks as you climb the last 2 miles.
Bright Angel Trail 72
At the 1.5 Mile Resthouse toilets, continue right and up the Bright Angel Trail.
Bright Angel Trail 73
Continue pass the actual 1.5 Mile Resthouse. This is your last chance to refill your water.
Bright Angel Trail 74
The last 1.5 miles can be steep and tough, but you’re oh-so close! The tunnels are good landmarks to shoot for.
Bright Angel Trail 75
Keep your eyes peeled on the heights around the trail as you climb; there are bighorn sheep in the park.
Bright Angel Trail 77
You did it! Pat yourself on the back and go treat yourself to some calories at the Bright Angel Lodge, you earned it.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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