Photos of the Grand Canyon do not do it justice. There’s no words to describe the feeling of awe you get when you first step up to the rim and see the massiveness of the canyon spread out in front of you. The colors, the size, the natural beauty… it’s so incredible that it doesn’t even look real. I can guarantee it will leave you speechless.
In case you haven’t already guessed, the Grand Canyon is pretty damn big at 18 miles wide, 1 mile deep, and 277 miles long. Crazy, right!? There are 2 major destinations for seeing the Grand Canyon: The South Rim and the North Rim. Not sure where to start? Here’s an epic guide to visiting the Grand Canyon.
The South Rim, which is based around Grand Canyon Village, is the most popular spot for tourists visiting the Grand Canyon. This area is the most accessible, is the easiest to get around, and has the most viewpoints and hiking trails. The South Rim can be done in a day or can be spread out over a few days.
- Hopi Point, Mohave Point, and Powell Point are all popular for sunrise and sunset shots of the canyon.
- Mather Point is often used as a perfect first viewpoint of the canyon.
- Also take a look at Yavapai Point and Pipe Creek Vista.
- South Rim Trail is a 7 mile flat hike from Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest.
- Bright Angel Trail is a 6 mile steep hike to the river at the base of the canyon, but can be shortened to 1-2 miles by turning back at the 1st or 2nd tunnel.
- Ooh-Ahh Point via Kaibaba Trail is a 2 mile hike beyond the rim of the canyon that provides spectacular views.
OTHER THINGS TO DO:
WHERE TO STAY:
The North Rim is a lot quieter than the South Rim, as it only receives about 10% of the tourists that visit the Grand Canyon. The North Rim actually sits 1000 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim, so while it has less viewpoints, it’s argued that the views are slightly better. This area can easily be done in a day.
- Cape Royal and Bright Angel Point, which are the most popular viewpoints at the North Rim.
- Point Imperial, a short drive away (great for sunrise and sunset).
- Cape Royal Trail and Bright Angel Point Trail, both of which are an easy half mile roundtrip.
- Coconino Overlook via the North Kaibab Trail, a 1.4 mile roundtrip hike climbing 800 feet down.
WHERE TO STAY:
Other points of interest
- Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass-bottomed bridge located only 2.5 hours drive from Las Vegas. Tickets must be purchased as part of a Gold Package or as part of a day tour from Las Vegas.
- Painted Desert & Petrified Forest, a stunning national park at the East Rim of the canyon. The entry fee is $10 and the park closes at 6PM.
- Desert View, where you can climb an old watchtower to get awesome views of the canyon.
- Havasu Falls, a tribal reservation located inside the canyon. The Havasu Falls Trail will take you to a stunning waterfall with bright blue water that looks almost out of place in the red desert.
- Horseshoe Bend near Page, AZ. You may have seen photos of it already as this spot on the Colorado River is incredibly photogenic.
- Tusayan Ruins and Museum, an 800-year-old Pueblo Indian site.
When to go
June-August is peak season for the Grand Canyon. Lodging and campsites can both book up far in advance for these months, so be sure to make your reservations as early as possible if you are planning on traveling during this time.
The South Rim is open year-round. Spring and Fall are often considered the best times to visit as the weather is milder and there are less crowds. The North Rim is only open from mid-May to mid-October, as the roads are less accessible through the winter months.
How to get there
Driving is probably the easiest way to get to the Grand Canyon. The South Rim is accessible via Route 64, and the North Rim via Route 67. The price to enter Grand Canyon National Park is $25 per vehicle for a week-long permit (this gives you access to both the South Rim and North Rim).
If you choose to visit the South Rim, you can get by without a car. Flagstaff and Sedona are towns located within 2 hours of the South Rim, and there are multiple options for getting tours or shuttle buses in to the national park from these towns. Once you’re in the park, there is also a free shuttle service to take you between viewpoints.
If you’re interested in doing a trip to the canyon from Las Vegas, there are options that will take you there via helicopter or small plane and will give you a few hours to explore the canyon.
What to bring
- Water. Or a few drink bottles to fill with water. You will need lots of it, especially if you are planning to hike.
- Trail mix. Make sure you take some high energy snacks (like nuts) to keep you going if you’re hiking. You should be able to buy this at the Grand Canyon general store.
- Hiking boots or sneakers. You’ll need some comfortable shoes fit for walking on dirt trails.
- Gear for all weather. The Grand Canyon gets very little rain, but mid-June to mid-September is considered monsoon season and thunderstorms are frequent at this time of year.