The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world. No one should miss the chance to see and explore its amazing geological and archaeological features. Each visitor can create a different experience, unique to what they enjoy most. The Grand Canyon has lodges, camping, tours, hiking, donkey rides, wildlife viewing, and much more.
Grand Canyon National Park is one of the gems of our national park system. At its widest, this Grand Canyon is 18 miles wide and, at its deepest, a mile deep. This stunning landscape was forged by the powerful Colorado River. Today, the Grand Canyon has 277 miles of river winding through it.
Most visitors to the Grand Canyon stop at the South Rim, which is open all year and has more lodging and visitor options. The South Rim has plenty of amazing sights and adventure options for all visitors. For visitors looking for a more rural and remote experience, a visit to the North Rim is a fabulous option. The North Rim is closed during the winter months due to the amount of snow it receives.
If you have time for a longer vacation, a visit to both the North and South Rims is ideal. Keep in mind, though, that the trip between the two rims is over two hundred miles by car.
Whenever you visit, bear in mind that the Canyon is a very popular destination. Advanced planning is very important, especially if you want to stay in the lodges or take one of the popular tours.
For travelers short on time, perhaps the easiest way to enjoy the amazing vistas is to take a car trip along the Canyon. You can take the Desert View Drive, which travels east along the Canyon for 26 miles between the Grand Canyon Village and the park’s east entrance. Along this drive, be sure to stop at the Desert View Watchtower, which is a replica of an Indian tower. This tower is the highest point along the South Rim and provides some of the most awe-inspiring vistas you will ever see.
At the Grand Canyon Village, you will find lodging, dining, and much more. You can learn about the area’s ecology and history at the Verkamp's Visitor Center, a great spot to get souvenirs and gifts for everyone you couldn't take with you on your trip. Canyon View Plaza is the South Rim's Visitor Center. Another great spot to stop is the Yavapai Observation Station. These different points are accessible from the free shuttle buses that travel around the South Rim. If you are looking for a scenic bus tour, the Hermits Rest Route is a great option.
For even more adventure, make advanced reservations for a mule trip. These guided trips by mule are a great option for visitors wanting to see more of the Canyon; however, these trips are extremely popular, so you will want to make reservations well in advance. You can sign up for North or South Rim mule trips and there are both short and long options.
The Grand Canyon is also a great place to go backpacking and hiking. There are many trails throughout the Canyon, both on the North and South Rims, and the trails range in difficulty and length. You can take a short day hike or plan a longer overnight backpacking trip. It is important to come well prepared for the experience if you decide to hike the Grand Canyon -- the temperatures vary greatly and many of the hikes go into the extreme back-country. Know what you are capable before you embark on a Grand Canyon hike.
Of course, the ultimate Grand Canyon experience is a river trip. You can choose between a day trip or trips that last up to 25 days. However, these trips are so popular that there is a lottery system for the noncommercial river trips. Be sure to research this lottery system and plan your trip well in advance.
The Grand Canyon has plenty of options for adventure outside of the national park, too. If you have time, be sure to visit is the glass-bottomed Skywalk. This Skywalk is a U shaped structure that stretches out over the Canyon, offering breathtaking views.