I'm taking a road trip around the Southwest this spring. I'd like to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim and the rest of my trip can be pretty flexible, so I'm trying to plan it around that. However, I've called the permit office and the visitor center and anywhere else I can think of a bajillion times and only get a busy signal. So I was hoping I could get a little guidance on at least what's possible because I don't know the country at all.
I think hiking rim to rim would be cool. I'm fairly confident I could do it in a day, and if not I'm confident enough in my judgment that I would turn back around if needed. I'd prefer to spread it out over two days, but I know you can only camp in the park with a permit.
So, if I wanted to make it two or three days, are walk-up permits possible this time of year? Or is it too late to even consider getting a camping permit? Is there a minimum group size? It will just be me and maybe my girlfriend, is it common to try to find other small groups to jump in with? If so, is there a common approach for doing this? I'm not picky about campground at all either, I would just enjoy it more as an overnight than a day hike.
I'm also happy hiking the whole thing in a day, but was wondering if there's anywhere on either rim close to the park where you can dispersed camp (NF land for instance) or pay campgrounds (USFS or KOA for instance). Also, it seems from my research that the rim to rim shuttle is only operated during the summer, but maybe there's a private one that operates in the off-season?
Sorry if these sorts of questions get asked a lot, but I've spent the last two weeks researching and Googling this stuff and can't seem to find straightforward answers anywhere.