Safe Drinking Water

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Why do I need to filter my drinking water when I hike in the Grand Canyon?

Safe Drinking Water

Many Grand Canyon hiking trails have water available along the way. Much of this water comes from natural springs and creeks, and must be filtered before drinking. NEVER drink unfiltered water from any of the creeks and streams in the canyon. It can carry a variety of bacteria that can make you very ill.

To filter canyon water, first, allow the solids to settle in the water. It should be clear, rather than cloudy, before you begin to filter it. Next, the Park Service says to use an "'Absolute' 1-micron filter, or one labeled as meeting American National Standards Institute (ANSI/NSF) International Standard #53 for 'Cyst Removal.'" Then, you should disinfect the filtered water with two drops of regular household bleach per gallon of water. Finally, allow the water to sit for at least 30 minutes before drinking.

If you carry in your own water, you won't have to worry about filtering the water for safety, but on long hikes, you may not be able to carry enough water to meet your needs, it would simply be too cumbersome and heavy to hike with. If you have any other questions about safe drinking water in the canyon, contact the Backcountry Office on the North or South Rim.



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