On the way to M12 ... a Grand Canyon photo op

If you’re flying your Cirrus to M12 from the east, we know there will be some serious cross-country hours in your logbook. Why not break up the flight with a little excursion over the Grand Canyon? In another M12 thread, I mentioned having to review /observe the rules associated with the airspace overlying the canyon. And, I thought a quick follow-up might be useful for a few of us. What follows is NOT a substitute for a careful review by the PIC…

I looked around on the web and was able to find a .jpg file with reasonable resolution. So, I “snapped” a screen shot (since I couldn’t download the file), put some “dots” on the corridor entrance/exit points and have embedded it in this post for your review.

General comments:

  • Years ago (long before I earned my pilot license), you used to be able to fly down into the canyon, itself. A couple of influences have resulted in rules governing the airspace above the Grand Canyon: there was a horrific midair between two commercial flights that collided over the canyon and various nature-related organizations have objected to aircraft noise disturbing the “natural quiet” of the canyon. As a result, rules were developed governing the airspace over the canyon.
  • The canyon has various areas (“flight free zones” colored dark on the above chart) where flying isn’t allowed below a fairly high altitude: Sanup, Toroweep, & Bright Angel. Between these high-altitude areas, there are “corridors” available for GA flight. They are quite specific with entry/exit points denoted by lat/long postions. (On the above chart, I’ve highlighted them with white dots.) For us (i.e., GA), northbound flights through the corridors are at either 11.5K’ or 13.5K’; southbound flights are at either 10.5K’ or 12.5K’. Commercial sight-seeing flights also use these corridors but at slightly lower altitudes. Photography is still great from our altitudes!
  • There are some “monitor” frequencies set up for the various areas (sectors). Simply tune to the appropriate frequency and listen for traffic. It’s all “see and avoid”. In the past when I entered any of the corridors, I simply made a call “in the blind” giving my location, altitude, and direction - simple! [Y]
  • On the western end in the Diamond Creek sector, the area is wide open without a specific corridor. However, you still have to remain above the sector ceiling of 8999’ MSL. Similarly, the Pearce Ferry sector has no specific corridors but has an associated ceiling of 7999’ MSL.
  • To descend lower than the published sector ceilings, you need to be landing at an airport within the park (e.g., Marble Canyon). And, you are expected to be within 3 nm. of the airport before you spiral down like a large eagle… Note that Tuweep (L50) and Grand Canyon Bar Ten (1Z1) are just outside the park limits on the north side. Hence, they aren’t subject to the 3-mi. descent restriction as long as you remain outside the park during your descent. Although I have flown into Marble Canyon, I haven’t been to either of the other two locations and don’t really know what’s there.
    Of course, you can easily fly into the Grand Canyon National Park airport (KGCN) and find a ride into the park, itself, for a great day-trip. Check on-line for various options regarding tours, transportation, etc. It’s been awhile since I’ve done that and possibilities vary from year-to-year.

If you have questions, I’m sure that we can get some “locals” to answer them!

Blue skies,


This fellow has a nice post about the GC with a pointer to a chart:


the chartbundle URL is http://www.chartbundle.com/charts/misc.html

Pretty good summary IMO! [:D]


It’s a great flight. You must enter the waypoints in the Garmin (at least the 430) and program your route in advance. The photos won’t do it justice. My second to the last trip I did over the canyon was (almost) met along one of the published corridors by another aircraft at the wrong published altitude. As always, be vigilant


Yesterday, I discovered that if you are using ForeFlight and zoom in, the sectional expands like a TAC over the canyon, and you see the Grand Canyon VFR chart. Then, the Flight Free Zones and corridors are clearly marked along with the comm frequencies and the altitude rules for northbound/southbound flights. [H] And, to think that I laboriously entered all that waypoint info by hand… [:S]


Wow. It either didnt’t do that last summer or I never knew. I bought the paper chart. Good to know!

Craig. I just discovered the same thing but the post you made was very helpful.

Thanks. Looking forward to meeting everyone.


The Grand Canyon SFAR chart is new in Foreflight since the last version.

Marble Canyon is a great lunch location, with a decent motel/restaurant across the road. However, the runway is not that great and might be difficult for anything with wheel pants.

Bar Ten gives access to the Bar Ten Ranch (www.bar10.com) which seems to be a cool place but needs reservation. I will know much more about it on the afternoon of October 8th, having spent the day there, so either look out for 8 Cirrii parked on their runway when flying by on the 8th before 3 pm or talk to us on the ramp at Henderson that afternoon or the morning of the 9th [:D]

Tuweep seems to be closed, see here for example: http://azpilots.org/news/14-backcountry/50068-arizona-backcountry-progress-tuweep-update

Ahhhhh. Thanks, Thomas! I was wondering why I hadn’t seen them previously. [:D]

Your comment about the Marble Canyon runway is spot on … unless they’ve resurfaced it. There were (very) large/deep chuckholes in a few places as well as loose asphalt when I was last there about 3 yrs. ago. I’ve also heard that the old “trading post” and adjacent restaurant were torn down and replaced. But, I don’t have confirmation. IF the runway is good, this is a great place to hike down to the Colorado River via a canyon whose name I don’t remember at the moment. The locals can provide directions. The hike is in a canyon the entire way - can’t get lost! [;)]


I think the name your looking for is Lee’s Ferry. Very scenic and in the distant past the only place to cross the river for hundreds of miles either way. The Marble Canyon runway was awful a little less than a year ago (as in weaving to miss potholes). Don’t go unless you can confirm repaving.

Reviving this thread.

How is the Marble Canyon runway condition as of October 2020?


I was there in late June '20. The numerous potholes had been repaired, and the runway appeared to have been sealcoated. There was no longer any loose asphalt. I wouldn’t say the surface was exactly baby butt “smooth” but it was MUCH better than the last time I was there. There was no threat to my wheelpants. And, they had paved the tiedown area, too. Bring chocks … or use some local rocks.


Just got back from Marble Canyon.

Runway was in pretty good shape. It was jiggly on the rollout, but I was expecting worse. 35 feet wide was the narrowest I’ve landed on in a long time, if ever.

We had to deplane overwing, as the jetway was inoperative. The wife tried it anyways.

Walked across the street and had lunch. Good BLT and a -great- root beer float. It was too hot to hike down to the bridge.

Definitely a FUN approach circling down over the field.

Took off downhill on 21 with a 5-6 knot tailwind. We got off plenty early (2 people and 60 gallons of gas).


Hi, David!

I understand about the heat. When I was there at the end of June, it was so hot the vultures were looking for shade! There’s one in the photo below that’s trying to escape the sun by perching on the bridge support structure. :wink:

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We were there in July (111 degrees on the ground)… The runway is a little bumpy, but comfortable for a Cirrus. It was repaved a few years ago. Here is a video of the landing, and you can see the runway condition. I highly recommend this airport… it is a unique place, and very few people can say they have landed an airplane on the floor of the Grand Canyon!