National Parks

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona


Grand Canyon National Park is in Arizona and is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. The most spectacular gorge, the Grand Canyon, is nearly a mile deep and carved out by the Colorado River. The Grand Canyon can be experienced from all four destinations – the North Rim, the South Rim, Grand Canyon West, and Grand Canyon East. The South Rim and the Desert View scenic drives are open all year but the North Rim will be closed during winter. Grand Canyon West has the famous attraction, the Grand Canyon Skywalk, and is open year around.

These photos are from our visit to Grand Canyon National Park during the last week of September 2014.

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Quick Facts and Tips

  • Best time to visit: March to November
    • Cool weather and less crowd: March to May and September to November
    • Peak Season: June to August
  • Fly into
    • Phoenix or Las Vegas: Good deals and major international airports
      • Grand Canyon South Rim is just over a 3.5 mile drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport
      • Grand Canyon West Rim is a 2 hour drive from Las Vegas McCarran International Airport
      • Grand Canyon North Rim is a 4 and 1/2 hour drive from Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and you can plan to visit Zion, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Glen Canyon National Recreation area since these attractions are close by
    • Flagstaff Airport: Closest, but small commercial airport and limited flights, just a 92-minute scenic drive via three distinct routes to Grand Canyon National Park South Rim
  • Clothing
    • Comfortable pants, hiking shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, capri, sweatshirts, hats, sunglasses, sunscreens, comfortable walking/hiking shoes, and rain gears. It will be cooler in Spring and Fall, so dress in layers
  • How many days: At least two full days
  • For the current trail conditions and road closures, check the Park Website
  • Avoid and do not go close to the canyon edges
  • The summer thunderstorms can be dangerous. Avoid tall/lone trees and poles, rocky outcrops, canyon edges, railings, and bodies of water. Also, leave open areas as early as you could when you hear thunder and see lightning
  • Try to be there early in the morning for best lighting, more elbow room, and to cover more attractions of the park
  • Parking is limited during the summer months
  • Take food and water so you can spend the day touring
  • Weak/no cell phone signals in some areas of the park, highly recommend to have maps downloaded or printed
  • There is a lot to capture, so keep your camera ready. Make sure that camera is fully charged and also keep backup battery and memory cards
  • Entrance Fee: $35 per vehicle or from $20 to $30 per person/motorcycle, good for seven days
  • What to expect
    • Immense canyons, layered bands of red and black rocks, Colorado River
  • Places to Go
    • South Rim, North Rim, West Rim and East Rim
  • Nearby Attractions

South Rim: South Rim is open year around. The Park offers free shuttle services to Hermit Road from March to November as no private vehicles are allowed on Hermit’s Road. Shuttle bus services will be suspended on Hermit Road during summer thunderstorms or any other inclement weather. The South Rim is the best choice for first time visitors not just because it offers a number of beautiful viewpoints, but also offers great visitor services, a wide variety of accommodations, and food. On the other hand, there is always a crowd

Best things to do at South Rim

  • Grand Canyon Village: Visit Grand Canyon Village which features sweeping views to the east and west Canyons. Also spend some time at the Yavapai Geology Museum
  • Hermit Road: Enjoy the park free shuttle ride to Hermit Road. The Hermit Road is a very scenic road with 9 amazing viewpoints. Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles from March to November. You can drive to Hermit Road only during the winter months of December, January, and February
  • Desert View Drive: Drive the park’s scenic Desert View Drive and enjoy the stunning wide views of the canyon and Colorado River at every lookouts

North Rim: North Rim is open from mid May to mid October and is closed for the winter (early Nov to Mid May). The park’s north entrance is located 30 miles south of Jacob Lake, AZ on Highway 67 and the North Rim of the park starts here. North Rim is less crowded, but has a limited variety of food choices and accommodations when compared to South Rim. There are several buses, helicopters, and guided tours from Las Vegas to North Rim run by private companies

Best things to do at North Rim

  • Bright Angel Point Trail: Drive to North Rim Visitor Center and start the Bright Angel Point Trail hike for the classic and most popular viewpoint of the North Rim. This paved short and steep 0.9 mile round-trip hike provides dramatic views of Roaring Springs and Bright Angel Canyons
  • Point Imperial: Drive to Point Imperial lookout and embrace the beauty of the painted Desert and the eastern end of the Grand Canyon. This attraction is almost a 20 minute drive (11 miles) from North Rim Visitor center. Point Imperial is the highest point in the North Rim. A very short stroll from the parking lot leads to magnificent views of the narrow canyon walls of layered red and black rocks
  • Cape Royal: Drive the winding scenic drive to the southernmost viewpoint on the North Rim, the Cape Royal. Cape Royal provides the widest panorama across the canyon. There are several lookouts and hikes along the drive. Stop at the Roosevelt Point lookout where the highway makes a big 180° bend (half way between Bright Angel Point and Cape Royal) while going to Cape Royal

West Rim: West Rim is open year around. No private vehicles are permitted past the Grand Canyon West Entrance. You can park your vehicle at the Grand Canyon West Welcome Center (parking is free). Note that Grand Canyon West is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon West is owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe on the Hualapai Native American Reservation. Every visitor to Grand Canyon West is required to purchase a General Admission ticket. You can purchase admission tickets at Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk. The general admission ticket is valid to access the viewpoints and transportation on hop-on/hop-off shuttles, excluding the admission to Skywalk. There are several buses/helicopters/guided tours from Las Vegas to West Rim run by private companies

Best things to do at West Rim

  • Skywalk: Have a thrilling experience at the Skywalk, a showpiece of the West Rim. This suspended transparent glass bridge takes you to an open space 4000 feet above the West Rim. Looking down as you walk on the glass bridge makes you feel exhilarated
  • Eagle Point: Hop on the free shuttle and hop off at Eagle Point. Visit and enjoy the authentic Native American village, handmade Native American crafts, and jewelries. Relish and appreciate the live performance at the Amphitheater. At the Eagle Point, the natural rock formations across the canyon looks like an eagle with its wings spread wide. This is best for photo op
  • Guano Point: Stop at Guano Point for one of the most dramatic viewpoints of the Grand Canyon. Take a short 10 minute walk on the Highpoint Hike that offers a stunning 360-degree view of the Canyon and the Colorado River. Make sure you wear good shoes as the hike is slightly rough and also take caution while walking on the trail as there are no railings. Carry enough water

East Rim: Grand Canyon East Rim is located to the east of the South Rim along the Colorado River to the north. Most parts of the East Rim are also known as the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The term East Rim is not used by the National Park service, rather used by locals to mark the popular sites. Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyons, part of Lake Powell, the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee’s Ferry, Rainbow Bridge, Tower Butte, Marble Canyon, and Navajo Bridge are all located within the East Rim  

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