I started with a full breakfast from Phantom RanchToday. Since today's hike was relatively short (from the bottom up to Indian Gardens) I planned a couple of short excursions.
The first was to walk about a mile north on the N. Kaibab Trail to see a bit of the narrow canyon upstream known as "The Box". I then started the ascent, up the Devils Corkscrew.
On the way up there was a very cool rock you could scramble up to see a waterfall down in a slot canyon. On the way down I saw the mule train of tourists en route to Phantom Ranch.
You know you are getting closer to Indian Gardens when you get back in the surreal sculped sandstone with trees.
The campsites at Indian Gradens are nice, with shelters. You could cowboy camp under a roof! The campground was quiet, but a few feet away the day use area was nuts.
There was a line of 30 day hikers waiting to fill their water container at the tap. I considered telling them there were taps in the campground, but I didn't want to start a stampede.
My second excursion was to Plateau Point (3 miles RT). It was nice to hike with no pack. Here you can look down into the canyon from the edge of the Tonto Platform.
I also bushwhacked a half mile or so along the rim to get a better view of the river downstream. On the way back I met an older woman who had been hiking the canyon her whole life.
She first asked if I was camping at IG. I'm sure her first thought was "idiot day hiker out here late in the day with no water", but when I told her my plans, she shared lots of useful info.
On the way back you get a good view of IG. It is amazingly lush considering how arid everything else is.
The great thing about being out on the Tonto is you get amazing 360 degree views, not just the 180 degree views like the rim overlooks.