The Grand Canyon Nationa Park is America’s most famous National Parks and one of the countries most famous landmarks. The UNESCO World Heritage site on of the 7 Natural Wonders of the world the accolades keep piling up. So while the Canyon needs little introduction the realities of actually visiting the place are a little more unknown to many. The Canyon is a staggering 277miles long and up to 18 miles in width at the widest points, with a maximum depth of over one MILE. It is simply colossal and Visintg is not as straight forward as you would imagine.
There are many components to putting together a Grand Canyon trip, including which area to visit where to nase your stay, how much of the canyon you want to see, and what you want to actually do there. There are Seasonal Weather considerations, dining and lodging options, and the simple matter of actually getting there. To answer these questions and help you plan the perfect trip for YOU, we put together a number of guides which we have pulled together for our complete Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon National Park Guide
The First thing to decide is which part of the Canyon to visit. Large tracts of the Canyon are virtually inaccessible, either through lack of roads, private property, or simply Geographical isolation. When visiting Three main areas stand out as locations to visit. Each with their own pros and cons.
South Rim – Grand Canyon National Park
Easily the most picturesque part of the Canyon, with a huge array of hiking trails and overlooks that truly showcase the best of the Grand Canyon. If you are looking for the Grand Canyon of your dreams only the South Rim will suffice.
It is however a long way from anything so not optimal for day-trips or short stays. You need to dedicate a few days at least. It is also quite build up and very busy with tourism. You are unlikely to find much alone time with nature here.
North Rim – Grand Canyon Nation Park
Only a few miles away from the South Rim is the North Rim Another part of the National Park. While the distance that separates them is small, to get there by car is over 200miles and 5-6 hours Drive. This is because between them is a Canyon over 1 mile deep!
Naturally being directly opposite means you are viewing the same part of the canyon as the South Rim, however, the lookouts and variance of views are much less at the north. Instead of the 30 Miles of canyon rim available at the South, you are limited to a small section of the Canyon to explore. However, this section is undoubtedly beautiful and not to be ignored.
The major downside of the North is simply the fact it really is a long way from anywhere! Even from the nearest highway, it’s over 40 Miles and that section of highway is not exactly on the way to anywhere. Of course, this downside is also its major upside. The remote location detracts a lot of visitors and as such, it’s wonderfully quiet. If you are wanting to get away from it all, this is the place.
West Rim – Grand Canyon West – Hualapai Owned
The West Rim lies in the Hualapai Tribe’s Reservation. In order to derive an income from their rightful asset, they have opened up part of the reservation for visitors.
Unfortunately, the Canyon here lacks a little of the wow-factor the South and Northern Rims Provide. The Canyon is much narrower, shallower, and lacks the dramatic coloring of the prettier parts of the canyon, Even the Colorado River has taken on a murky brown color whereas the upper parts retain an emerald green that is far more appealing to the eye!
Whie the Canyon is lesss visual apealing here the Owners have done planty to make up for this. It is still a damn impressive speticle, and their are a host of attraction to make your visit here more interesting and furfiling.
The most Notable is the Skywalk. This impressive glass walkway juts right out over the canyon with 800ft drops right below your feet. It is pretty amazing and well worth the $20 fee. You can also fly into the Canyon on a helicopter, something that is outlawed at the National Park areas.
Fianlly the most appealing part of the West Rim is it’s proximity to Las Vegas. Only a 2 hour drive from the Las VEgas Strip mean the area is easily acceable on day trips. While you can do the South as a Day trip expect to spend 10-12 hours on a bus in doing so. With a trip to the south you only have 5-6 hours on the bus and can take in Hoover Dam and Lake Mead as well as the canyon.
Deciding which is the best is a tough choice and we have a dedicated article to doing just that. Our West Rim vs South Rim Guide helps you fully understand the different areas of the Grand Canyon
Best Way to Visit the Grand Canyon
Now you have worked out which part of the Canyon toy want to Visit you need to decide on how you are going to do it. Our Favourite is by Road Trip, Either from Las Vegas or one of the major Arizona Cities of Phoenix or Flagstaff. Naturally, these require you to fly in and rent a car, but if you live in California or another local state you could even drive in over a few days from home!
If driving long distances yourself is not sounding like your cup of tea. There are several coach tours that will do the driving for you. Or you can even fly into Tusayan and stay at the Park from there via The Grand Canyon National Park Airport. This is a vet small local airport with very limited options on light aircraft, don’t expect to fly in on a major carrier!
With a host of lodging options and so much to see and do in the area, we definitely recommend being in control of your journey and doing the driving yourself. You may clock up a huge number of miles but you will see SO much more. You can even consider renting an RV and staying in one of the many RV parks both in the Park and the surrounding area!
If you are only planning o a quack trip West rim from Las Vegas the tours are pretty good and often cheaper than actually doing the driving yourself. While the itineraries are limited there isn’t that much outside of the West Rim to actually see.
- Best Way to Visit the Grand Canyon – How to actually execute your ideas!
- Grand Canyon RoadTrip – Full guide to road tripping right around the Grand Canyon
- Grand Canyon From Las Vegas – Everything you need o know about visiting the Canyon with Las Vegas as your base.
Where To Stay at The Grand Canyon
If you are visiting the West Rim, the close proximity to Vegas means this is best done as a day trip. The North is so remote that you are limited to camping or the rather basic, but inspiring Grand Canyon Lodge. Apart from that many people simply drive in for the day on their way from Zion NP to Page, AZ, or the South Rim.
Only the South rim has a good selection of lodging options. With so much to see and do in the area, it’s good to spend a few nights here especially after a REALLY long drive. There are many choices from basic motels in Tusayan, the Canyons Gateway town to more luxury lodges inside the Park, or there are RV parks and campgrounds offering basic facilities letting you get back to nature. Read more below
What to Do At the Grand Canyon
For many simply Visiting the Grand Canyon is enough. Simply looking out over the stunning geological formation is a childhood dream come. And when your eyes finally get to view the simply breathtaking scale of the canyon it’s not hard to see why.
But while just witnessing the canyon first hand is a bucket-list item, it is an awfully long way to come just gaze at the canyon from a few lookout points. There are loads of things to do to make your Grand Canyon experience more memorable. From hiking along the rim, or down to the river, watching the SunRise, or Sun Set, kayaking down the river, or exploring the canyon from the Air.
- Best Hikes (South & North Rim)
- Air Tours (From Las Vegas)
- Air Tours (South Rim)
- Flying Through the Grand Canyon
- Kayaking and Rafting down The Colorado River
- West Rim attractions
- Grand Canyon at Sunrise and Sunset
What To See Nearby?
While the Grand Canyon is the Star of the show this little corner of America has some simply stunning natural scenery. The Remote landscape is only pockmarked with population centers and the vast majority of the landscape is barren and wild. It is also hugely varied. From the Barren and scarred desert of Arizona and Nevada to the Rugged mountains and stepped plains of the Grand Staircase of Utah, it is a stunning part of the world with so much to explore as part of your Grand Canyon trip.
Our Grand Canyon Roastrip takes in most of these stunning locations. Read the guide and plan your trip around the canyon, or take a look at all of the best locations below. This is easily one of our favorite parts of America and the sights and landmarks are simply breathtaking.
- Horseshoe Bend – One of the most iconic parts of the GC is not actually the Grand Canyon at all! Read how to find the stunning horseshoe bend here
- Antelope Canyon – A mystical and wonderous slot canyon carved into the sandstone by flash floods. Antelope Canyon has become a MUST-see since the stunning photographs started to emerge in the last few years.
- Bryce Canyon – A stunning geological formation just north of the Grand Canyons South Rim. Towering rock hoodoos are carved into the landscape on the high mountain plain!
- Zion Canyon – The increasingly popular Nations Park has some of the county’s most dramatic scenery and some of it’s most interesting hikes. Only a few hours from Vegas Zion Canyon National Park is not to be missed!
- Death Valley – The hottest place on Earth! This scorched wasteland it utterly dramatic and a place of huge contrasts as the baren valley floor meets the towering mountains
- Las Vegas – The perfect base for exploring the Canyon. Enjoy the Glitz and luxury of Sin City for a few days before heading off to get back to nature.
What time of Year to Visit the Grand Canyon
The Wether is a critical part of your Grand Canyon trip. And the sheer scale and size of the Canyon make forecasting incredibly difficult. It can be dry and warm at one part of the canyon, Freezing cold and raining at another and Dangerersly scorching at another, all at the same time! Here is our guide to understanding the weather at the Canyon at different times and seasons to help plan your trip