Each year thousands of hikers enter Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. They follow a tradition - and a trail route - established by prehistoric people. For centuries humans have used this route for two key reasons: water and access. Water emerges from springs at Indian Garden, and erosion along the Bright Angel Fault creats a break in the cliffs, providing access to the springs.
When prospectors arrived here in the late 1800s, Havasupai Indians were using the route. Prospectors improved the Havasupai route, but soon realized that the canyon's wealth lay in tourism, not ore. By 1903 one prospector, Ralph Cameron, had secured control of the trail by strategically locating mining claims. He then charged a $1.00 toll per trail user.
For years Ralph Cameron battled to defend his precarious legal claim to the Bright Angel Trail, all the while collecting tolls. In 1928 the National Park Service gained control of the trail and tolls ceased. The Bright Angel has been Grand Canyon's most popular trail ever since.