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Plan a visit to the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park is the 15th site in the United States to be named as a National Park. It is situated in northwestern Arizona and is often called one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon Park attracts up to 6.2 million visitors every year. Ancient Native Americans used to live in and around the park about 12,000 years ago. Today, people from all around the world come here to experience its helicopter rides, visitor centers, mule rides, and much more. Take a deep dive with us as we explore the Grand Canyon National Park.

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Must-have Experiences at Grand Canyon National Park

  • You can cruise through the Colorado River in a dory just like John Powell and his team did in 1869. Dories have been designed to be agile and quick so that they can swing around rocks, making for a wet and exciting adventure through the river. There are only a few that have been licensed to operate dories. These trips can range from 5 to 18 days and include meals and camping
  • Another extraordinary experience to have is stargazing in the Grand Canyon. It was in the summer of 2019 that the park was officially recognized as an International Dark Sky Park. In preparation, the park services converted light around the parks into dark-sky-compliant ones. It helps the visitors to gaze at the night sky and also helps the wildlife that can be disrupted by artificial light. Telescopes are also set up for free, including astronomer talks every June.
  • One of the least crowded places along the South Rim is Shoshone Point. It is a 2.2-mile moderately easy hike and has a wonderful view at the end. If you want other such amazing views without the hassle of a long hike, you can take the Ooh-Aah Point about a third of the way down. Toroweap Overlook also offers some spectacular viewpoints of the canyon although it is not for the faint of heart.
  • Here is a list of some must visit trails in Grand Canyon Park. – Corridor trails which include Bright Angel Trail, North Kaibab Trail, Plateau Trail, River Trail and South Kaibab Trail. The Threshold trail includes trails such as Clear Creek Trail, Dripping Springs Trail, Grandview Trail, Hermit Trail, Thunder River Trail and Waldron Trail. Some of the trails at primitive trails include Beamer Trail, Bill Hall Trail, Kanab Creek Trail, Nankoweap Trail, North Bass Trail, South Canyon Trail, Tanner Trail, Tonto Trail and Tuckup Trail.
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Canyon Village

The Grand Canyon Visitors Center with all its exhibits on the park’s natural and human history is a great place to start. You can decide to either leave your vehicle and start walking or decide to take a shuttle bus to landmarks. There is the village beyond Yavapai Point with all its historic architecture. Verkamp’s Visitor Center has a bookstore, information desk, and many exhibits on the Canyon’s history. Between South Rim and Williams, Arizona through the pine forest and meadows of Coconino, there is a passenger line that runs 64 miles and has its terminus station at the village train station. You can decide to ride this train and take a day trip to the Grand Canyon or even merge it with overnights at South Rim lodging.

South Rim

While the months of winter are going on, you can decide to drive to the Hermits Rest. However, during the peak season, it is closed to private vehicles. This means the only two options left are hiking and taking the shuttle bus to explore the 7-mile stretch of the South Rim. Some of the experiences you do not want to miss along the way are the Abyss with its 3,000-foot drop and Prima Point.

 Many Grand Canyon experts always debate which overlook along the stretch is better. Grandview Point to Moran Point with its a view of Hance Rapids and Lipan Point where you can easily look at the big bend in the Colorado River. You can climb the Desert View Watchtower, which is an eighty-five-step climb to an observation deck for a view down the canyon. It sits more than 5,000 feet above the canyon floor and has a snack bar, store, and gas station. 

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North Rim

The drive to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim is about 200 miles. The North Rim has an average of more than 1,000 feet higher than the southern rim. This extra elevation makes up for a huge difference in its climate, vegetation, and some of the animals you may encounter. It is a bit cooler in the summer due to its elevation and is often not accessible during winter due to snowstorms. 

The Visitor Center is the perfect place to start if you are looking to hike some of the trails. You can sit, stare, and wonder at the geological wonder of the Grand Canyon at the Grand Canyon Lodge. For a better view, you can hike the 0.5 trail to Bright Angel Point.

The Canyon

Due to the absence of roads, there are only a few ways to explore the Grand Canyon: hiking, mule trips, and river flat trips. About 40,000 people every year backpack into the canyon for overnight stays that can range from a night to many weeks. However, most of the people are still day hikers who just trail up a short distance to look at the view of what the canyon is like. Always check the weather conditions before you decide to go on an overnight backpacking trip or even a short hike. The best and safest route into the canyon is Bright Angel Point from South Rim. It is the same route that the Native Americans and 19th-century prospectors took into the canyon.

Mule trips have been offered from both the rims. The South Rim features day trips whereas the North Rim offers only rides.

Grand Staircase

It is a vast sequence of sedimentary rocks that stretch out for about 100 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park through Zion National Park and into the Grand Canyon. In 1870, the geologist Clarence Dutton had first envisioned the region to be a massive staircase that ascended out the bottom of the Grand Canyon northward with the edge of the cliff forming massive steps. He later decided to divide these into steps namely: Pink Cliffs, Grey Cliffs, White Cliffs, Vermillion Cliffs, and Chocolate Cliffs. To view the entirety of the Grand Staircase can be quite a challenging task as most of the region of the rock is hidden behind the curvature of the Earth if you stand on it.

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Scenic Viewpoints

Here are listed some of the scenic viewpoints to be viewed at Grand Canyon National Park

  • Atoko Point
  • Cape Royal
  • Cocopa Point
  • Desert View Watchtower
  • Mather Point
  • Mescalero Point
  • Plateau Point
  • Toroweap Overlook


For hotels in the South Rim, you can book at the Grand Canyon Lodge website. Here are some of the South Rim hotels. 

  • El Tovar – Opened in 1905, it is a historic national park lodge complete with air conditioning, a restaurant, and a bar.
  • Bright Angel Lodge – Established by Mary Colter in 1935, it has a restaurant, saloon, and a soda fountain. The lodge has modern rooms and rustic cabins and is on the edge of the canyon.
  • Phantom Ranch – It has very basic cabins and dorm rooms along with shared baths. Phantom Ranch is the only indoor lodging available at the bottom of the canyon. It comes with air conditioning, a restaurant, and up to a 13-month booking.

For Lodging at the North Rim, here are the options available

  • Grand Canyon Lodge – It has a motel-style room and comes with a cozy cabin. Located on the north rim, it comes with a restaurant, and bar and is open from mid-May to mid-October.

If you are looking to camp at the Grand Canyon, there are three campgrounds available to you. These are Mather at Grand Canyon Village, North Rim (May 15 to October 15), and Desert View (April to October).

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How to get there

The closest major airports are Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix and Harry Reid International in Las Vegas. Although both are a 3-hour drive away, therefore you might want to rent a car to there. There is also a train service that runs every day from Williams, Arizona. 

Grand Canyon is just a stone’s throw away from one of the most legendary road trips the U.S. has to offer Route 66. This runs from Chicago to the Pacific Coast in California

Food and other things

Here are listed some of the food options at Grand Canyon National Park

  • El Tovar Dining Room
  • Arizona Steakhouse
  • Fred Harvey Burger
  • Bright Angel Fountain
  • Maswik Food Court and Pizza Pub
  • Hermit’s Rest Snack Bar
  • Yavapai Lodge Restaurant

Admission in the park is $30 per vehicle and $15 per individual. Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing and hiking shoes if you are looking to go on long trails into the canyon. Pack your summer gear along with sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from UV radiation.

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