Soak in peace and tranquility at Ribbon Falls in Grand Canyon National Park

If your only experience of the Grand Canyon is scanning the vast labyrinth of canyons  from the rim, it’s hard to imagine that amazing natural wonders like Ribbon Falls exist down below. The cold, clear water bubbles out of a spring far out of sight then runs over a cliff before dropping well over 100 feet (30 m) total, but not before temporarily pooling up in a travertine basin some 40 to 50 feet above the larger pool .

Ribbon Falls are located about six miles uphill from the Colorado River, roughly 1/3 of a mile (0.5 km) off the North Kaibab trail. If you’re heading north to south, the cutoff for the falls is about 1.3 miles (2.1 km) downhill from Cottonwood Campground.

Given the desert landscape surrounding the two trail markers guiding hikers to Ribbon Falls, you might be inclined to think that the falls are not worth going off the main trail for. You’d be wrong. I shot the video and pictures below with my cell phone on a June 2018 rim to rim hike of the Grand Canyon with my wife.

Wood sign: Ribbon Falls, Cottonwood
Sign along North Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon directs hikers to Ribbon Falls or Cottonwood Campground
Ribbon Falls trail sign
Good thing for the sign, because nothing about the terrain says “out of this world waterfall right this way”

Our timing was perfect. Although it hadn’t yet reached the peak temperatures for the day, by the time we reached Ribbon Falls at around 9 a.m., it was warm enough that the mist-cooled air provided welcome relief from the dry desert air.

Water trickles through moss-like plants near base of Ribbon Falls
Ribbons of water trickle through moss-like plants near base of Ribbon Falls. The sounds, scents and cool mist from the fall is very soothing.
Selfie of couple in front of waterfall
Pausing for a selfie at Ribbon Falls

Just as we arrived at the base of the falls, a couple of hikers we met on our shuttle the previous day were leaving. My wife and I had the falls to ourselves for a solid 20 minutes. We took some pictures and video at the base of the falls before discovering a trail that led us up behind the falls. There we took a nice break from our hike and munched on a few snacks as we took in this view:

View of Grand Canyon from behind Ribbon Falls
View of Grand Canyon from behind Ribbon Falls

Video: Experience the peace and tranquility we were blessed with at Ribbon Falls in the Grand Canyon

Before resuming our hike, we topped off our containers with water from the falls and snapped a few more pics. On our way back to the main trail, we crossed paths with at least another 15 hikers headed for the falls.

Note: it’s not safe to drink the water without first filtering or treating it.  We filtered it with Clearly Filtered bottles for whom I am a proud affiliate marketer.

Ribbon Falls were definitely the highlight of our 24-mile (38.6 km) rim to rim hike. They should be near the top of a list of things to see for anyone planning a hike on the North Kaibab trail in Grand Canyon National Park.

Related post: Hiking Grand Canyon rim to rim: Good, bad and ugly


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