Guide To Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona’s northwestern region. This incredible park encompasses stunning canyons and the beautiful Colorado River tributaries that will take your breath away. The Grand Canyon was declared a National Monument in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt. It was given National Park status in 1919 and the rest is history! There are so many things to see and do at the Grand Canyon, use this guide to plan your perfect trip to this awe-inspiring National Park.
Grand Canyon Basics
- Mailing Address: P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
- Hours: South Rim – 24 hours
- Cost: All permits are good for 7 consecutive days
- Vehicle: $35
- Motorcycle: $30
- Individual Permit: $20 per person
- You can buy a digital entrance pass here.
Getting To The Grand Canyon
The closest airport to Grand Canyon National Park is Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. This airport is just over 3.5 hours from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. If you want to get around Arizona and the Grand Canyon easily you will need a rental car.
How Many Days Do You Need At The Grand Canyon?
Anytime at Grand Canyon National Park will be amazing, but a minimum of 3 days is recommended. Even one day at the Grand Canyon will allow you to hike, check out the viewpoints and marvel at the grandeur.
Grand Canyon National Park Entrances
The Grand Canyon is split up into 4 distinct sections. Only 2 of those sections are in Grand Canyon National Park, the South Rim and the North Rim. The Grand Canyon West Rim is managed by the Hualapai Tribe, and is about 4.5 hours from the park’s popular South Rim. Grand Canyon East Rim is located north of the South Rim and is known for bringing guests closer to the Little Colorado River.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round and is by far the most popular destination at Grand Canyon National Park.
The North Rim is closed during the winter months and typically opens in May and closes in October. The North Rim is about 1,000 ft higher than its southern sibling.
Where To Stay Inside The Park
South Rim Lodging
- Bright Angel Lodge – 9 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023: The Bright Angel Lodge is one of the most popular lodging options near the South Rim. There are 90 lodging units with free wifi access. If you choose the Bright Angel Lodge you’ll have quick and easy access to some of the park’s most beloved hiking trails and attractions. Find out more here.
- El Tovar Hotel – 9 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023: El Tovar opened in the early 1900s at the end of the railroad lines and was regarded as one of the most elegant lodges west of the Mississippi. This 78-room lodge offers an on-site restaurant and concierge services. You can find out more here.
- Kachina Lodge – 5 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023: This modern lodge is right along the Grand Canyon Rim, meaning many of the rooms have partial canyon views. This 49-room lodge offers wifi, no elevators, and limited cell phone service. It’s perfect for those looking for beautiful views and wanting to unplug. You can find out more about the lodge here.
- Thunderbird Lodge – 10 Albright Ave, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023: The Thunderbird Lodge is one of the more budget-friendly options when it comes to park lodging. This 55-room property is located between El Tovar and Bright Angel Lodge. There are no elevators in the Thunderbird Lodge, and you’ll need to check-in at the Bright Angel Lodge. If you’re on a budget then this lodge is a great option for you. You can find out more about the lodge here.
- Maswik Lodge – 202 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023: You’ll find the Maswik Lodge is nestled in a Ponderosa Pine Forest. The lodge gets its name from a Hopi Kachina who legend has it, guards the Grand Canyon. This 280-room lodge is in a great location and is a little more budget-friendly than other lodgings in the park. Find out more about the Maswik Lodge here.
North Rim Lodging
- Grand Canyon Lodge – AZ-67, North Rim, AZ 86052: The Grand Canyon Lodge is the only accommodation option at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The lodge was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1987 and closes during the winter months. This is a budget-friendly option that includes laundry facilities, a coffee shop, and a general store, among other amenities. Find out more about the Grand Canyon Lodge here.
Things To Do At Grand Canyon National Park
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is by far the most popular part of the park. The fact that it’s open year-round means that those visiting in the winter can only visit the South Rim, but there is so much to do and see at the South Rim.
Hiking The South Rim
The Grand Canyon National Park has some great options for hiking, whether you are looking for a challenge or an easy family-friendly hike, some of the most popular South Rim Trails include…
Bright Angel Trail
- Distance: 15.3 miles
- Rating: Difficult
- Elevation Gain: 4,478 ft
For a day hike, you can’t beat the Bright Angel Trail, which drops into the canyon right at the village, making it an incredibly convenient hike. This hike is not for the faint of heart with a rating of difficult and a distance of 15.3 miles. Bright Angel Trail is also one of the most popular trails in the park, but it’s an out and back trail making it possible to go as far as you would like.
South Kaibab Trail
- Distance: 2.8 miles
- Rating: Moderate
- Elevation Gain: 1,102 ft
The South Kaibab Trail is another popular south rim trail that begins at Yaki Point. It is a day hike to the mule-hitching post of Cedar Ridge. Be prepared because this trail offers very little shade, no water, and a steep incline. In the winter and early spring, it can also become incredibly icy. The South Kaibab Trail is also the quickest way to the bottom of the canyon.
Grand Canyon Rim Trail: Mules To Mather Point
- Distance: 6 miles
- Rating: Easy
- Elevation Gain: 413 ft
The entire rim trail stretches from the South Kaibab Trail to Hermit’s Rest and is 13 miles long. This is a great trail for all skill levels as it’s mostly paved and lined. This dog-friendly stretch offers spectacular views of the South Rim.
Grand Canyon Rim Trail
- Distance: 12.7 miles
- Rating: Easy
- Elevation Gain: 583 ft
This dog-friendly trail takes you around the entire South Rim in an easy 12.7 miles. This easy trail is great for all skill levels and is paved. You’ll notice markers telling you how far you’ve traveled both in feet and in years. This easy walk provides stunning views of the South Rim and there are several shuttle bus stops along the trail.
North Rim Hiking
- Distance: 9.1 miles
- Rating: Moderate
- Elevation Gain: 1,036 ft
The North Rim provides a completely different hiking experience than the South Rim. On the Widforss Trail, you’ll experience a blend of spectacular forest and canyon scenery. The trail was named after Gunnar Widforss, who lived at and painted the Grand Canyon in the 1930s.
Boat The Colorado River
There are 2 different ways to boat the Colorado River, you can either use a paddle raft or a motorized raft. The motorized rafts are immense at around 30 feet and are packed with riders. While the human-propelled counterpart provides a more nature-friendly option. There are dozens of rafting companies that offer boat rides on the Colorado River. These companies offer everything from 1-day trips down the Colorado to 18-day epic adventures. Here are some of the most popular:
Visit The Skywalk Of The West Rim
While the West Rim of the Grand Canyon technically isn’t inside of Grand Canyon National Park, the Skywalk is a can’t miss on your trip to the canyon. The West Rim is on the tribal lands of the Hualapai, and the Skywalk itself is a horseshoe-shaped bridge with a glass bottom. It gives you unparalleled views of the canyon below, all while helping you conquer your fear of heights.
Take A Pink Jeep Tour Of The Grand Canyon
Pink Adventure Tours has so many options for amazing and unique Grand Canyon tours. They offer 6 different tours of the gorges that are meant to transport you into the nooks and crannies of the Grand Canyon. These include spectacular tours like Desert View Sunset, Desert View Grand Canyon Tour, and the Hermits Rest Hike and Jeep Grand Canyon Sunset Tour.
Stop At As Many Viewpoints As Possible
The Grand Canyon is known for its insanely gorgeous views in every single direction. Make sure to stop at as many viewpoints and overlooks as possible. Here are a few favorite South Rim scenic viewpoints:
- Mather Point: Mather Point is the go-to scenic viewpoint on the South Rim, and for good reason. It’s an iconic view that is a great introduction to the absolute immensity of the Grand Canyon.
- Hopi Point: The Hopi Point viewpoint is along the South Rim Trail and is known for being the best sunset location in the entire park. You’ll get stunning views of the Colorado River cutting into the canyon as the sun sets.
- Shoshone Point: An underrated viewpoint that provides stunning views, but you’ll need to walk an easy 20 minutes to get to the actual overlook here. It’s worth the walk for the 180-degree views of the Grand Canyon.
- Desert View: This unique viewpoint provides gorgeous views of the open canyon. The Desert Watchtower was built in 1932 and still remains on the cliff’s edge.
Take A Helicopter Tour
There are several companies that offer this unique birds-eye view of the Grand Canyon. Whether you are looking for a quick jaunt or a full 60-minute fly over you will find yourself breathless at the stunning beauty of Grand Canyon National Park. Some of the top-rated tours are:
Where To Eat At Grand Canyon National Park
- Market Plaza
- Yavapai Lodge Tavern
- Yavapai Lodge Restaurant
- El Tovar Dining Room
- El Tovar Lounge
- Bright Angel Restaurant
- Maswik Food Court and Pizza Pub
- Desert View Deli
- Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room
- Roughrider Saloon
- Deli In The Pines
Tips For Visiting Grand Canyon National Park
Pack your patience! Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in the United States, and you’ll have to deal with crowds no matter what time of year you visit.
The Grand Canyon is dog friendly, in fact, your pups can hike the entire rim trail with you. However, they are not permitted below the canyon rim. Make sure to watch temperatures if pets accompany you during the summer months.
Do not feed the wildlife! People have been injured by many of the park animals including squirrels, bison, deer, and elk. It’s important not to approach or feed animals for their safety, as well as yours.
Be prepared for excessive heat if you are visiting in the summer and hiking. Summer temperatures inside the canyon can easily exceed 115 degrees in the summer.
No matter what you do during your visit to the Grand Canyon, one thing is for sure, you won’t forget the time spent at the picturesque canyon. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience! What are you waiting for?