The Grand Canyon National Park, one of Earth’s most beautiful treasures, is in Arizona, near the borders of Utah and Nevada. To this day the Grand Canyon is possibly the biggest tourist destination in all of America. In fact, it is considered one of Earth’s “Seven Natural Wonders” because of its beauty. Being completely formed by erosion caused by the Colorado River, the fact that the canyon is naturally made is astonishing.
The park offers many activities, such as rafting, biking, hiking, and more, and it is not hard to see why this National Park seems to be on everyone’s bucket list.
The Grand Canyon is at most 18 miles wide, 277 miles long, and at the deepest part in the canyon it is about a mile. The canyon consists of a North and South rim, as well as east and west regions.
The South Rim is the most common and popular destination for first-time tourists, and for most tourists for that matter, visiting the canyon. Along with its magnificent views, it has many visitor centers and has more activities to partake in than any other part of the canyon. The South Rim has an abundance of viewpoints that all are breathtaking, overlooking the widest part of the park. The South Rim is basically the most inhabited part of the canyon, with many shops and hotels for anyone who visits. The weather can be a lot more bearable than the other parts of the canyon, ranging from the low 80’s in the summer to the low 40’s in the winter.
The North Rim, unlike the south, is strikingly different. While majority of the visitors travel to the south, the north on the other hand gets the least amount of tourism. At 8,000’ feet from sea level, the north has a very cool climate, often experiencing snow in the winter, but averages around the 70’s and 80’s in the summertime. Although it is the least accessible, being the farthest away from most major cities, it still offers many enjoyable features and activities.
Unlike the other parts of the canyon, the western region is operated by the Hualapai Tribe. Being the closest part of the canyon to Las Vegas, it is also easily accessible to many people. The weather can change drastically between seasons, being around the high 90’s in the summer and around the high 50’s during the winter season. One of the most popular reasons for visiting is because of the Gran Canyon skywalk, which is a glass walkway extending over the edge of a cliff. When on the skywalk, the ground beneath you is transparent (you know, since it is glass), and you can see thousands of feet underneath you. Just like the others, the western region still offers some of the world’s most stunning views.
The eastern region is located along the Colorado River, near the South Rim National Park. Although this part of the canyon is the hardest to access, due to it being out of boundary, it still offers many adventurers and experiences to visitors. One of the main attractions is the Little Colorado River, a tributary of the Colorado River. Being about 4,000’ in elevation the summer temperature can range between the 80’s and 90’s, while the winter temperatures are around the 50’s.
Things to Do at the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon National Park offers a wide variety of fun and enjoyable activities to do for every age. Among the tops choices are hiking, which can be independent or by a tour guide, rafting, biking, star gazing, and more. There are also the more specific attractions, such as:
- Colorado River Rafting – If you want a memorable thrilling experience, rafting down the Colorado River is something for you. Traveling down the river that carved the canyon itself, you would be able to see thousands of feet of the canyon up above you. Besides the beautiful view, rafting itself can be an exciting experience for anyone!
- Skywalk – Although it might seem scary at first, this 10-foot wide, glass bridge extends 70 feet out overlooking the Grand Canyon. If you are brave enough to look down, you would be able to see 4,000 feet down to the bottom of the Canyon. Scary right? Do not worry! The Skywalk is said to be strong enough to hold seventy fully loaded 747 passenger jets. Wow! The charge is per person and you are not allowed to take any personal belongings with you.
- Havasu Falls – Being one of the most beautiful falls ever, it is not surprising that this is one of the top attractions to visit. Havasu Falls is a 100’ waterfall coming from the side of the canyon and you get there by hiking. Reservations must be made in advance at HavasupaiReservations.com
- Grand Canyon Railway – Although during the trip you will not be seeing any canyons, the Railway tour takes you around the beautiful landscape of Arizona. If you plan to visit, you will depart from the Grand Canyon Village on van ride to the Williams Train Depot where you can watch a gunfight. From there you board the train in order to get back to the canyon. The train can be fun for anyone of all ages. There are strolling musicians and cowboys on the train which makes this a perfectly fun family activity. The tour is $37.00 per child, age 16 or under, and $65.00 per adult, age 17 or higher.
- Grand Canyon Historic Village – The Grand Canyon Historic Village is a must-see attraction where you can learn all about the Grand Canyon’s history. There are an abundance of buildings and landmarks that makes this location so special. You can easily find the Historic Village found in the historic center of the Grand Canyon Village in the South Rim.
- Tour Guides – Honestly, I do not know where to begin. The park offers a wide variety of different tours such as hiking, off-road, rafting, bus tours, and more. The guides are expert instructors that take you through the different beautiful parts of the canyon. There are single and multi-day tours that are all very educational and intriguing and can be fun for anyone who wants to learn about the canyon!
- Hiking Trails – Among some of the best Hiking Trails there are the Kaibab Trail, Grandview Trail, Bright Angel Trail, South Rim Trail, and the River Trail, Grand Canyon Rim Trail, and of course many others. The biggest factor in deciding on which to choose would have to depend on you. Some trails can either be hour long trails or day long trails, so only do what you think you can. Keep in mind the weather for the day and always remember to bring water!
- Star Gazing – Now there is not a certain location I am going to suggest, but this cost-free activity can be such an unforgettable one. Even if you just got back from a long day of hiking, a little bit of star gazing can be so relaxing for you. The sights would be one in a million so don’t miss out on this opportunity!
Lodging Near the Grand Canyon
Most of the lodging is available in the South Rim. If you plan to be staying at the Park, you need to make sure you have a room booked far enough in advance from your travel date. While the Xanterra Parks and Resorts company offers and abundance of hotels located in the Historic District, the Delaware North company has just one pet friendly lodge located at the Market Plaza. These places are typically opened year-round and are close to the rest of the shops. For the South Rim, free shuttle buses are available to guests and connect the lodges with restaurants, shops, visitor centers, scenic overlooks and trailheads.
As well as having hotels in the south and north, the park also has the Phantom Ranch, located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon that requires a reservation via an online lottery that is made 15 months in advance. Along with staying in a hotel, camping is also available to visitors. There is the Mather Campground on the South Rim, which is in the Grand Canyon village and opened all year, and the North Rim campground which is only open May 15 – October 31. Reservations can be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service.
There is also an NPS Desert View Campground that is in the South Rim, which is closed for the winter. It is a first-come, first-service deal and no reservations can be made. If you travel with an RV, you can make a reservation in the all year trailer village in the South Rim with full hook-ups. For more information visit: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/lodging.htm
Preparing for the Trip
Trudging through the wilderness will not be easy, so we have prepared a list of items that you should take with you. Now of course this will depend on what time of year it is, and you should dress accordingly to the fluctuating temperatures, which we address earlier in the article. You would not want to only bring long sleeves if you were visiting in summer, would you? Among the basics there are: hiking shoes or sneakers (of course), sunscreen, a hat and/or sunglass, movable comfortable clothing (according to the weather), and most importantly a water container. Along with these, bringing along a first aid might also come in handy in case you get blisters or anything from hiking. You may want to bring other items things such as a bicycle, so you don’t have to rent one, but that depends on what activities you have planned anyways.
Ok, now you are packed. But how will you get all the way out to the Grand Canyon? Don’t panic, we can help.
The Grand Canyon is surrounded by numerous cities, many of which you can fly out to. Among these there are Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Flagstaff (a smaller airport). A key detail about deciding where to fly to would depend on which Rim you are going to. For instance, the Flagstaff airport is about an hour from the South Rim, so logically you’d pick that one, but if you were visiting the North Rim a decent candidate would be Salt Lake City.
Once you have arrived at the airport, you’re going to need some sort of transportation. Practically the only way to get around would be by renting a car since public transit is limited. The other option is to avoid air travel and just drive to the canyon. This can be way more affordable but remember it’s potentially a long car trip, so your family must be simpatico.
The Grand Canyon offers a wide variety of enjoyable activities and experiences that would be unforgettable. It would be the perfect vacation to unwind and relax while being immersed in nature’s beauty!
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