Sunday, September 30, 2007

The well-maintained Corridor trails (Bright Angel and the South and North Kaibab paths) are the main arteries across the canyon. No permits are needed for day hikes; one is required for overnight use of the back country ($10), though Phantom Ranch guests don't need one. Hiking is permitted year-round, though facilities on the North Rim are generally closed from mid-October to mid-May.

GETTING THERE: Depending on whether they start from the North or South rim, most hikers fly into either Las Vegas, Phoenix or Flagstaff and rent a car. Fares from the Washington area to Phoenix and Vegas start at about $200 round trip, and about double that to Flagstaff. The entrance fee to the park is $25 per car.

WHERE TO STAY: There are plenty of choices both inside and outside the park on the South Rim, but if you're going in peak season, plan well in advance. Our party of four stayed on the South Rim in a cabin at the park's Bright Angel Lodge ($89 a night double), where connecting rooms included TVs, ceiling fans and fridges. On the North Rim, the only in-park choice besides camping is the lovely Grand Canyon Lodge; our two-room cabin ($106 for four) had a shared bath, comfortable beds and little else.

Guests at Phantom Ranch, at the base of the canyon, stay in either cabins (included in overnight mule trips; rates per cabin for non-mule riders start at $92.86 double) or the men's and women's dorms ($34.16 per person per night). Children are welcome in the dorms. Dorms have five sets of bunk beds and a shared bath. They're primitive but well air-conditioned and the beds are comfortable. Beware of the 4:30 a.m. wake-up call.

Reservations number for all park lodging: 888-297-2757. On the Web: South Rim,; North Rim,; and Phantom Ranch,

WHAT TO EAT: While there are restaurants and snack bars on both rims, there's only one place to nosh at Phantom Ranch, and you must reserve before you arrive. All meals are all-you-can-eat and family-style, including iced tea; save room for the great slabs o' chocolate cake. Breakfast is $17.50 per person, steak dinners are $35.61, veggie and stew dinners $22.60. Sack lunches are $10.14 per person. Beer, wine and soft drinks available most of the day.

INFORMATION: Grand Canyon National Park,928-638-7888, -- J.D.

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