Bright Angel Trail renovation complete at Grand Canyon

The renovation of Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon improves conditions at and around the trailhead, providing a much better experience for park visitors. NPS photo by Michael Quinn.

The renovation of Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon improves conditions at and around the trailhead, providing a much better experience for park visitors. NPS photo by Michael Quinn.

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - More than 500 people gathered May 18 to celebrate the renovation of one of Grand Canyon National Park's oldest and most visited trails: Bright Angel Trailhead.

Havasu Nation tribal representative Diana Sue Uquala opened the dedication ceremony with a traditional welcome.

During the dedication, which the Grand Canyon Association (GCA) and Grand Canyon National Park celebrated jointly, Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga talked about the importance of the trail's renovations.

The overhaul encompasses a 3.5-acre area at and surrounding the Bright Angel Trailhead and is focused on creating an accessible and comfortable area for visitors that balances existing historic buildings.

The new design includes a paved parking lot around the Bright Angle Rim Cabins for around 87 vehicles, new restrooms and a plaza area with shade structures for visitors to rest or prepare for their hike, a new path from the shuttle bus stop to Kolb Studio, reconstruction of two stone walls, burial of the overhead electrical and phone lines, removal of an underground storage tank and an etched rock sign for the Bright Angel Trailhead.

"Constructing these much-needed accommodations at the Bright Angel Trailhead to bring it up to modern standards has been a dream in the works for over a decade," Uberuaga said. "With funding available through the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and generous donors, we are proud to finally complete this project."

Nearly 4.5 million people a year visit Grand Canyon National Park and several thousand people pass through the Bright Angel Trailhead area during the summer.

Day and overnight hikers, mule riders, shuttle bus riders and rim walkers use it. Also, visitors park in the area to get to lodging, visitor services and the trailhead.

Private donations and federal money that comes from park entrance fees paid for the project.

Grand Canyon National Park Project Manager Vicky Stinson supervised the project. Merrill, Inc., out of Cheyenne, Wyo. took care of construction and Chevo Studios and Rock & Co., both from Denver, Colo., built the stone masonry walls, seating areas and the new identity sign.

"We are greatly appreciative of the donor support we received for the Bright Angel Trailhead Renovation project," Executive Director of Grand Canyon Association Susan Schroeder said. "This area of the park is so meaningful to many people in many ways from the exhilaration of climbing out of the Canyon after a long hike to the simple pleasure of enjoying the expansive canyon view with your family."

Grand Canyon National Park and the GCA are thankful to Stewart and Ellen Horesji, Arizona Public Service, William and Elizabeth Sweeney and Rick and Frances Rockwell for their contributions.

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