Grand Canyon: Monument Creek Campground

“Monument Creek is my favorite destination below the South Rim”, said a long time Grand Canyon native and well-known geologist as we hiked down the South Kaibab. This was certainly enough to peak my interest. After recently moving to the South Rim we were anxious for the weather to cool off so that we could continue our exploration of the Inner Canyon in far more detail. My wife Wendy and I have been hiking in the Grand Canyon for almost 25 years with literally hundreds of descents off the Rims. Now that we live a few minutes walk from the South Rim, we decided that one or two backpack trips a month was completely within reason. Our first destination was Monument Creek Campground on Monument Creek per our friend’s recommendation.

If you have done any hiking in the “Corridor Trails” of the Grand Canyon, (Bright Angel, South/North Kaibab), the hike down to Monument Creek is definitely a big step up. The Corridor Trails are well maintained, versus the Hermit Trail – are practically groomed. First off, for any overnight camping trips below the Rims you must secure a backcountry permit by calling the GCNP Backcountry Office at 928-638-7875. There are nominal fees associated with the permit. Then organize your gear and put a fresh memory card in your camera for a fantastic plunge into a more remote section of the Grand Canyon.

The trip down to Monument Creek begins at the Hermit Trail with a quick 1000′ descent down to Waldron Canyon. From Waldron Canyon the trail heads due north past the Dripping Springs Trail to a neat little rock pour off. The trail up to this point is well maintained and receives quite a few day hikers on their way to Santa Maria Springs, less than a third mile away. I mention the pour off because the trail from here forward becomes considerably more difficult. There are numerous rock slides covering the trail with several areas of vertical exposure. All of this is completely doable with a backpack, you’re just not going to make great time.

Santa Maria Springs is an oasis adjacent to the Redwall formation approximately 2.2 miles from the trailhead. This makes this area a favorite day hikers’ destination. There is a wonderful little spring seeping into a cattle trough where you can fill your water bottles. (Remember to always filter your water anywhere in the Grand Canyon.) Next to the spring is a super cool rock hut with a bench and a way cool double rocker with the words “Rest Bit” engraved into the back rest. The view west from inside the rock hut is covered with hanging vines – believe me, Martha Stewart couldn’t have designed a more comfortable rest house.
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