What Is There to See and Do at Grand Canyon National Park?
Each year, more than five million tourists visit the Grand Canyon National Park. Renowned worldwide as a unique attraction offering a sense of serenity and timelessness, the canyon features several spectacular locations within its boundaries. You can take a trip to the South Rim, the North Rim, or even explore the depths of the inner canyon. The South Rim, however, is the most accessible and therefore receives the largest number of visitors. Before planning a trip to Grand Canyon National Park, it is useful to have an understanding of what you can expect in terms of facilities, attractions and the overall geography of the park.
Bottom of Grand Canyon
For instance, if you are in good physical condition, an overnight hiking or mule trip down to the canyon floor would be an unforgettable experience. Or take the South Kaibab Trail, a 21-mile hike that lets you go rim to rim via the crossing of a narrow footbridge over the Colorado River. Bright Angel Trail lets you accomplish the same goal. Don't hike down to the river and back in a day. It's a lot further than it looks and many hikers succumb to heatstroke.
Colorado River rafting tours are also available. These adventures last from three days to several weeks. Too long? Try a fabulous one-day, smooth-water float tour. These trips start with a bus ride from Grand Canyon Village to Glen Canyon Dam where you start your river journey on a pontoon boat and drift 15 miles to historic Lee's Ferry. No matter which option you choose, you will be one of the few to see the Earth as it was millions of years ago.
Grand Canyon Village
Visitors who would prefer to let their eyes do the work can cruise the Park by car. The North Rim is 220 miles from the South Rim, so allow ample time to get there. The South Rim can be accessed any time of the year, and offers excellent accommodations (El Tovar), camping (Mather Campground) and restaurants (Bright Angel Lodge Restaurant). The North Rim's facilities and visitor services are open only from May to October - the rest of the year the rim's campgrounds and lodgings are closed.
National Park Weather
If you are planning a trip to Grand Canyon National Park during the summer months, I strongly advise that you book your lodgings as far in advance as possible. Most travelers reserve one-year ahead of time. Don't let that deter you: Cancellations happen often so keep calling the park's reservation line. Summer temperatures are comfortable because the South Rim's elevation is 6,000 feet and the North's is a thousand feet higher than that. Do bring sun block, ChapStick and water during daytime activities. Winters are cold and there's always a chance of snow. From November to March, I typically pack gloves, a ski hat, a heavy jacket, scarf, ChapStick and shoes with solid footing.
Grand Canyon Tours
The National Park is open year round and is awesome to explore during any season. Tours that start from Grand Canyon airport include helicopter and plane flights. Helicopters do a straight-shot across the Dragoon Corridor, the broadest and deepest part of the canyon, while airplane rides head east along the South Rim before turning at the Colorado River and Little Colorado River confluence and returning along the North Rim. If you are coming over from Las Vegas, your options include South Rim bus and airplane tours. From April to early November, there are several excellent Grand Canyon smooth-water float tours that kids four years of age and older can do.
Let's Visit the Canyon!
Grand Canyon National Park is one of America's first and finest national parks. Covering more than 1-million acres, the region is home to a phenomenal number of plants and animals. The geography of the place is so special that geologists from around the world come to study the it. It's also a wonderful vacation destination that's packed with spectacular hiking trails and viewing areas as well as some great air and rafting trips. Self-driving is an option and the highways are in excellent condition. If you are coming from Vegas, consider booking a bus or airplane tour.
Make it a grand day,