The “grand” in the Grand Canyon just does not do enough justice to its magnificence. Almost 277 river miles in length and 18 miles in width, and just about a mile deep, the charm of Northern Arizona is a natural wonder. Thanks to the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon has expanded the red and orange grandeur of which people have been coming for centuries to witness.
Maintained and managed by the National Park Service, this UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts 6 million visitors every year.
If you are looking to spend more time secluded in the laps of mother nature, brace yourself; the Grand Canyon can be very crowded. The South Rim, which is the home to the village and well-worn Bright Angel Trail, is popular among hiking enthusiasts and sightseers. It is on this side of the natural wonder that you will find most of your amenities.
As per the top travel guides, if you want to break free from the overcrowded South Rim, head straight to the North Rim. The place is suitable for hardcore hikers, campers, and nature lovers.
Address for the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
Nearest City/Major Airport
Phoenix, Arizona, is the closest major city/airport. Driving time is approximately 4 hours/247 miles. Las Vegas, Nevada, is the next nearest major city/airport. Driving time is around 5 hours 30 minutes/273 miles.
The best time to visit the Grand Canyon are March through May and then September through November. It is during these times that the daytime temperatures are relatively cool, and crowds are thinner. If you visit the Grand Canyon during summer, which is also the peak season, brace yourself for hundreds of tourists around you, with limited accommodation availability. You can find some outstanding deals on hotels during winters, but a significant portion of the park, including the North Rim, will be closed. The South Rim is open all around the year.
Before visiting the Grand Canyon, you need to know some things.
You do not require a vehicle.
It may seem like driving is the easiest way to get around the Grand Canyon; you will have to deal with overcrowded parking lots and winding roads, especially if you plan to go during the peak season. Therefore, top travel guides suggest you are better off without your car; you can rely on the free shuttle buses to go around.
Pack your layers
Even if you plan your journey during the summertime, you still need to carry your layers along. You can witness chilly breezes once the sun goes down. Bring a jacket along to keep yourself warm.
Get your permits
If you are looking forward to camping during your trip to the Grand Canyon, away from the designated camping grounds, ensure you have a backcountry permit. You can find the essential information for the same here.
Top travel guides suggest the following best hotels in the Grand Canyon. The hotel fee starts at $99 a night and goes up to $400.
- The Grand Hotel at The Grand Canyon
- Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn
- Bright Angel Lodge
- Canyon Plaza Resort
- Red Feather Lodge
- El Tovar
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites, Grand Canyon
- Grand Canyon Inn and Motel
The most skeptical travelers become awe-inspired at first sight of the majestic Grand Canyon. The gorges, rock formations, ridges, everything makes people amazed. There are various vantage points to enjoy the breathtaking beauty, where you can spend hours and hours together taking in the beauty. One of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon, as per the top travel guides, includes Rim Trails, Bright Angel, rafting, and so much more.
Here are some of the best things to do in the Grand Canyon:
The Grand Canyon Village
Visit the most popular entry point into Grand Canyon Park. Though it suffers from heavy crowds in the peak seasons, it is still the most beautiful place to go to because of its old-school charm and appeal. Yavapai Point, one of the best vantage points in the Canyon, is right here. If you are not looking to camp, you can stay in the park and consider staying in a hotel.
The North Rim
The North Rim has its allure, owing to the isolated and rugged terrain with sparse facilities. It is an excellent place for people traveling to get in touch with nature and is far away from the prominent locations where you can find lesser crowds. During peak seasons, the North Rim does see enough footfall, though still lesser than other locations. However, the good news is that you can find multiple facilities catering to nature purists, which means the area is beautiful yet a little underdeveloped.
The major vantage points in the area include Bright Angel Point, where you can see the Roaring Springs crystal clear. The highest point on the North Rim is Point Imperial, almost 8,803-foot long.
The Rim Trail
While the village has plenty to offer to travelers, top travel guides still suggest you should not ignore other areas in the South Rim, especially the Rim Trail. It is one of the most beautiful, comprehensive, and popular trails in the area. If you want to explore the best viewing points for The South Rim, this is the trail you want to visit.
From the vantage points at the Canyon’s edge, you can have awe-struck views of Maricopa Point and Hopi Point.
Lauded by travelers and top travel guides equally, the Havasu Falls are the most beautiful sights in the Grand Canyon. It is a desert oasis with crystal blue waters and gushing waterfalls, adding magic to its already surreal qualities against the canyon backdrop.
Havasu Falls lies south of the Havasupai Indian Reservation, south of the national park. Hiking here for 10 miles from the Hualapai Hilltop is the only way to get here. Though scarce in terms of facilities, you can still stop at the Peach Springs in Arizona.
Note: The Havasu Falls is closed currently due to the Covid-19 pandemic and shall remain closed until further notice.
Colorado River Rafting
One of the top things to do when you visit the Grand Canyon is to consider taking a rafting trip down the Colorado River. However, if you are not the rafting kind, you can set the voyage on an adventurous whitewater experience on float trips on calm waters in the northeast sections of the river.
You can also look for other intense trips through the western parts of the Canyon between Lake Mead and Diamond Creek on rough rivers.
Grand Canyon Skywalk
A controversial addition to the Grand Canyon, Skywalk is a large, semi-circular bridge with transparent glass floors that allows visitors and tourists to walk almost 70 feet about the Canyon and get enthralled by the views on the ground. It is a truly unique experience with a vantage point about 4,000 feet above. Since 2007, the attraction has drawn thousands.
The skywalk is a long drive from the South Rim and the North Rim, which can be an inconvenience to people staying near the Grand Canyon Village. Stopping by the Skywalk is an all-day endeavor because of the long distances from the Village. To visit the Skywalk, tourists will require to purchase a package. Top travel guides confirm the attraction is open all around the year.
PS: Do not forget to sign up for the helicopter tour to get a breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is home to some of the best eateries and grocery stores, so you will not have to stock up before your visit. There are hundreds of establishments on the South Rim, especially around the Grand Canyon Village, and a few options near the North Rim.
Most travelers pick a quick meal at the on-site eating joint in the South Rim instead of the expensive options available at the restaurants in the park.
Many of the restaurants at the Grand Canyon are within the park’s lodges. Some travelers are recommended to pack meals from local delis at the RP State Stop and The Canyon Village Market.
Get your bed
Bring your own bed. The standard hotel rooms in and around the park can be pricey. Instead, get yourself a spot with your own bedding arrangements for a fraction of the total cost.
If you are set to visit the park during summertime, make sure you can see it during the end of summer, usually at the end of August. You will have better luck finding the best deals during this time.
Forget your vehicle
You can save a lot of money on vehicle rentals, parking, and gas charges by relying on the free shuttle bus service and exploring the South Rim in peace.