There are, essentially, three ways to experience the Grand Canyon: The more remote and less crowded North Rim, the more developed South Rim with more amenities, or the rigorous Rim to Rim hike that lets you experience both. Another important thing to remember is that it’s incredibly difficult to take a good picture that captures the size and scale of the canyon, so don’t spend too much time trying. It’s better to just appreciate it in person while you’re there.
“A truly breathtaking geological wonder”
A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size. On December 1, the canyons filled with clouds, providing a rare sight seen by very few in a rare occurrence known as inversion: warm air on the upper parts of the cannon trap cold air and fog on the lower parts. Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. Grand Canyon National Park, a World Heritage Site, encompasses 1,218,375 acres and lies on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona. The land is semi-arid and consists of raised plateaus and structural basins typical of the southwestern United States. Drainage systems have cut deeply through the rock, forming numerous steep-walled canyons. Forests are found at higher elevations while the lower elevations are comprised of a series of desert basins. Well known for its geologic significance, the Grand Canyon is one of the most studied geologic landscapes in the world. It offers an excellent record of three of the four eras of geological time, a rich and diverse fossil record, a vast array of geologic features and rock types, and numerous caves containing extensive and significant geological, paleontological, archeological and biological resources. It is considered one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world. The Canyon, incised by the Colorado River, is immense, averaging 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles. It is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point and 18 miles at its widest. However, the significance of Grand Canyon is not limited to its geology. The Park contains several major ecosystems. Its great biological diversity can be attributed to the presence of five of the seven life zones and three of the four desert types in North America. The five life zones represented are the Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, and Hudsonian. This is equivalent to traveling from Mexico to Canada. The Park also serves as an ecological refuge, with relatively undisturbed remnants of dwindling ecosystems (such as boreal forest and desert riparian communities). It is home to numerous rare, endemic (found only at Grand Canyon), and specially protected (threatened or endangered) plant and animal species.
If you have your own car, don't settle for just going to the look out spots at the visitor centers. Do the drive between Grand Canyon Village and Dessert View and stop at the lookouts along the way. You get much better views without the touristy crowded atmosphere.
The National Park Service has done an exceptional job in keeping this park super well-maintained. It's so clean and that really helps you enjoy the pristine beauty of the canyon. The hike down South Kaibab trail to Phantom ranch is spectacular. Plus, there's lemonade and iced tea at the bottom of the hike!
The north rim hike to the river is also a fantastic way to spend the day. Warning, it gets super hot when the sun is above the rim, so prepare accordingly. Bring plenty of water, sun block and a hat. So many people skip this hike, but it's absolutely worth it. Everyone can gaze out over the rim, but how many people can say they hiked down INTO the grand canyon?
If you're super ambitious, there's a 12 day canyon rafting trip you can take. That's definitely on my bucket list. As well as seeing the canyon from the air. Vegas has plenty of helicopter rides you can take.
Also, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the place to see the most awe-inspiring sunsets.
And I wanna give a shout-out to the Grand Canyon shuttle service, it's excellent and really helps the whole experience be smooth-sailing.
The Grand Canyon is just breathtaking. Everybody always says that you can't quite conceive of how vast it is until you see it, and they're absolutely right. I could stand for hours just standing on the rim and looking at all the colors and shadows that play across the canyon. If you have the time and the athleticism, I'd recommend taking an entire day to hike down to the basin and back up. It's exhausting due to the heat, distance, and elevation you have to descend and climb again, but absolutely worth it.
You have no idea the size of the Grand Canyon until you see it firsthand. Don't just drive it and pull in and out of the viewing areas. Get out of your car. Sit. Breathe. Hike. Ride a mule. Take the train. Have dinner at the North Rim, yes I said North. It's fantastic. Catch a sunrise and a sunset. Stay in the canyon housing better yet camp. Respect the non human canyon residents. Take advantage of our National Park system. Reservations for all things in the canyon are necessary. Make them early. Been there several times. See something different each time. North Rim is completely different than the South - it's not as touristy but I have to admit its signage is bad. Signs are eroding, worn out or non-existent.
The Grand Canyon is definitely an amazing place and worth visiting even if just stop at a number of viewpoints.But taking a walk below the rim is where the true beauty and grandeur of the canyon is experienced. Even a short stroll can be very rewarding. For those not interested in long, strenuous hikes, consider the one mile hike out to Shoshone Point. You'll have all those classic Grand Canyon views to yourself...hardly anybody goes out there!
But if you have the time, find your way to the North Rim. The views are far more spectacular and there's only a fraction of the tourist traffic. Simply stunning!
Or consider a guided hike o the bottom of the canyon. Spendign afew nights below the rim, sleeping under the stars is an experience you won't soon forget.
Try the north rim after visiting the touristy south rim for a different perspective. If you have time, get in the canyon!!! So much cooler in the canyon then above
Went camping here on a chilly October weekend in 2014. It was AMAZING. Definitely do a day hike and get away from the tourist spots. Very doable without a car, the shuttles get you everywhere you need to go. The views were breathtaking.
So awesome, went with myself and 9 year old daughter, We camped at a KOA about 45 min from the Canyon. tent camping, super clean super nice people. We went during Monsoon season. Extra fun to sleep in tent, under shelter (pay the extra $5.00) and watch the lightening storm! Slept like a baby!
Make sure you do your research and know exactly what you want to see, where you want to go, what you want to do, and how long it will take. We were dumb and didn't realize it was a 3-4 hour drive from the North Rim to the South Rim. A lot of things and sites were closed due to Covid. Despite doing different things than we planned I'm still so glad we came! We just walked the shortest path to an overlook and it was like nothing I've ever seen before.
Absolutely spectacular. We recommend trying (which may be difficult) to find a very quite place to be still and look out and contemplate. Take time to learn about it before you go in.
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The Grand Canyon National Park
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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Good for bird watching, hiking, and 4 more activities.
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Campground, Parking, Dining