Visiting Grand Canyon National Park

Visiting Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the wonders of the world. This beautiful, river-carved canyon is a jewel in the National Park System. I’ve been to Grand Canyon several times. Each visit is a remarkable experience. The colors, rocks, wildlife, and other visitors help make each visit special and unique.

A few facts from Grand Canyon National Park website (link below): The canyon is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. The rim is 7,000 feet (2134m) above sea level.

There are several ways to spend your visit. You can enjoy the views while you drive along the canyon’s roads, park and ride the shuttle bus (highly recommended!), or spend your time hiking the trails which range from easy, paved canyon-rim walks, to extremely difficult, great elevation gain hikes. You can also plan ahead and backpack deep into the canyon and camp, if that’s your desire.

Most of the millions of annual visitors spend one day at Grand Canyon. If you arrive toward the south entrance, Tusayan, AZ, just south of the park entrance, is home to restaurants, lodging, camping, and tourist activities. I highly recommend the IMAX Theater, which shows the National Geographic Grand Canyon movie.

Once inside the park, you can park your car at the main visitor’s center (or one of eight parking areas) and take advantage of the shuttle bus system to visit many of the Grand Canyon view points and attractions. This includes many of the best view points (Mather Point, Yaki Point, Bright Angel Lodge, Shrine of Ages, Hopi Point, The Abyss, etc.) During much of the year, the park bus is the only way to visit Hermit’s Rest.

There are restaurants, stores, and gift shops throughout the park. It’s important to note that they no longer sell bottled water in Grand Canyon National Park. Instead, they offer water stations fed by the Grand Canyon’s springs. Be sure to bring your water bottle so you can stay hydrated in the park.

You’ll want to take the time to drive the 25 miles along Desert View Drive to the Watchtower. Designed by famed park architect, Mary Colter and constructed in 1932. At the base is a gift shop. Above is an observation deck that, on a clear day, allows breathtaking views of the canyon for 100 miles or more. Inside the four story tower are replicas of ancient Native American petroglyphs and pictographs.

There is so much to explore and experience at Grand Canyon. There are burro rides, camping opportunities, hikes ranging from easy ¼ mile to extremely difficult multi-day excursions, and ancient Tusayan ruins to discover. You can stay in the park and camp or enjoy one of several lodges or hotels. Or, you can simply drive through the park and enjoy the views and spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

No matter how you spend your time at Grand Canyon, you’ll have moments of beauty that will offer inspiration and wonder, and that’s what I always take away from my time at Grand Canyon National Park.


Grand Canyon National Park website:

Hiking Grand Canyon National Park, 3rd: A Guide to the Best Hiking Adventures on the North and South Rims (Regional Hiking Series)

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