The trail begins at the log shelter in the parking area by the visitor center or at the corner of the back porch behind the lodge. Self-guiding nature trail pamphlets are available from a box along the trail.
The paved trail to Bright Angel Point
provides one of the North Rims most spectacular views. Walk slowly and pace yourself; Bright Angel Point
is 8,148 feet/2,484 meters above sea level (5,780 feet/1,762 meters above the Colorado River).
High altitude and an elevation change of 200 feet/60 meters warrant extra caution for those with heart or respiratory conditions. The trail also follows a narrow, steep ridge and is exposed to lightning during storms. Stay on the trail and away from the edge. If a thunderstorm should pass through, seek shelter at the lodge.
The large tributary canyon to the east (on your left as you head out to the point) is Roaring Springs
Canyon, a major tributary to Bright Angel Creek. The main source of water for both of these drainages is Roaring Springs
. Water from rain and snowmelt seeps deep into the North Rims Kaibab Plateau, migrating gradually southward due to the southward tilt of the plateau. Channeled by fault zones, caves, and impermeable rock layers, the water emerges spectacularly from cave-sized openings in the canyon wall.
Water from Roaring Springs
has been pumped to the North Rim since 1928 and currently supplies both the North and South Rims. Power lines seen below this trail provide power to pump the water. On quiet days, you can hear Roaring Springs
gushing out of a cliff 3,100 feet/950 meters below the rim.
The short walk to Bright Angel Point
dramatizes the effect Grand Canyon has on its surroundings. A transition from the cool green forest of the plateau to a stunted forest of pinyon and juniper on the slope occurs within a very short distance. On flat land you would have to travel several hundred miles to experience this variation, but because of canyon topography the transition is compressed into a few hundred yards.
Warm air surges out of the canyon. Hot sun and drying winds draw moisture from soil and rock, creating inhospitable conditions for large trees. Plants that are adapted to this dynamic environment flourish, but they are shaped by its rigors.
Farther out toward the point, plants give way to bare rock. The rocks appear worn and in some places precarious. Chances of the rocks giving way beneath you on any particular day are exceedingly small, yet you can feel and see agents of erosionâ€” sun, water, and windâ€”slowly wearing the rock away. These forces shape the canyon every day. Will the rocks on which you stand be here tomorrow? Probably. One thousand years from now? Maybe. Ten thousand years from now? Itâ€™s not likely.
The name Bright Angel originated on Major John Wesley Powells pioneering exploration of the Colorado River in 1869. Powell regretted having named a muddy creek upstream the Dirty Devil. Later, when he found a creek with sparkling clear water, he gave it the more reverent name, Bright Angel, after a character in Miltons Paradise Lost. The name has since spread, adding its charm to several Grand Canyon features.