Tips for Visiting Grand Canyon National Park
From lodging and weather to hiking and tours, this page tells all…
One of the most unique landscapes in the world can be found at the Grand Canyon National Park, located in Arizona near the Utah border. The mighty Colorado River has carved its way through this southwestern landscape for millions of years, which has resulted in a canyon that is 6,000 feet deep and up to 18 miles wide.
The Grand Canyon is known throughout the world and attracts up to 5 million visitors a year. The area has been designated a World Heritage Site, and it plays host to some 50 species of reptiles, 300 bird species, 75 types of mammals and 25 fish species, some of which can only be found locally.
35-Mile, South Rim Drive
The national park can be quite inaccessible, except for the South Rim, which is relatively easy to access due to good road conditions and visitor facilities. On arrival, there is a large choice of activities that visitors can take part in. The easiest one is a 35-mile scenic drive. It lets you take in most of the rim as well as the Powell Memorial and other historic landmarks and viewing points like Mather Point, Yaki Point and Hopi Point.
Grand Canyon Hotels & Camping
For visitors who want more time at the South Rim, there’s a good selection of lodgings from which to choose. I suggest you do everything you can to get rooms inside the Park (El Tovar, Maswick and Bright Angel Cabins are the most popular). These accommodations are often sold out a year in advance. However, cancellations happen daily so keep calling until you get the dates you want. This applies to camping as well. Mather Campground is the most popular with campsites doled out on the Internet on a first come, first served basis. There are a number of fine off-park hotels in Tusayan, the town just outside the park’s main gates.
Throughout the South Rim area, there are various locations such as the Historic District, which allows visitors to see what the area was like in the first half of the 20th century. There is also a visitor center, and RV Park and the Market Plaza, which has a general store, post office, bank and cafeteria all accessible from a good car-park or one of the park’s free shuttle buses. There is a good choice of guided tours available, as well as activities such as one-day, smooth water rafting trips and helicopter rides. Here are a few of the most popular (click link for pricing and more information):
The North Rim is far more inaccessible, but rewards the visitor with spectacular, unspoiled scenery. There are various half day and overnight trails that include many of the region’s top sites. There is a choice of lodgings and campsites, but some of these are only open during summer due to the altitude and winter weather conditions.
Grand Canyon Weather
Any visitors arriving at the National Park (especially for hiking) should always carefully check weather forecasts. During the spring and fall, the weather can be quite unpredictable. Temperatures at the South Rim are pleasant during summer but extremely hot below the rim and at the bottom of the canyon. The North Rim has cooler temperatures due to the high-altitude. During winter, weather conditions in the South Rim can be extreme with snow and ice at times. The North Rim is closed for winter.
Trip of a Lifetime!
Visiting the Grand Canyon National Park will give any visitor a memorable vacation. With the area’s unique landscape and wildlife, there are new experiences to be found around virtually every corner. Much of the area has excellent communication links, can accommodate travelers with mobility issues and offers a fine selection of hotels that are guaranteed to make your canyon vacation the trip of a lifetime.
See you there!