Are you planning on visiting the Grand Canyon? If so, I think this is a fabulous idea. 😉 The Grand Canyon is not called “grand” for just any reason. It reaches 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.
It’s basically a massive carved out bedrock that receives over 6 million visitors a year. And is one of America’s most popular national parks and tourist attractions. Ready to learn everything you need to know for your visit to the Grand Canyon? Let’s go!
The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon
About the Grand Canyon
So fun fact, the Grand Canyon is actually not the deepest canyon in the world. So this may lead you to ask, what makes it so darn compelling? Well, the Grand Canyon is visually overwhelming.
It has fantastic vistas showcasing it’s vastness and magnificence. Other canyons don’t have this. At the Grand Canyon, we are able to see just how massive this landmark truly is. Add to that a colorful landscape (especially at sunset!) and top-notch hiking. No wonder people flock from all over to see it. This natural wonder is just waiting to be explored.
Grand Canyon Location
The location of the Grand Canyon frequently causes confusion. That’s because it actually lies on on the border of two states, Arizona and Utah. Depending on which side of the canyon you choose to visit, will determine which state you will be in.
The 277-mile long canyon (with the mile deep Colorado River creating the barrier) separates the National Park into the North and South Rims. Entering the North Rim is done on the Utah side of the canyon, while the South Rim is accessed on the Arizona side.
Which leads to my next point, which rim do you want to visit? The North Rim or the South Rim?
Deciding Which Rim to Visit
The South Rim
The South Rim is the most popular and most visited location. It is also most likely where all of those drool-worthy Grand Canyon photos were taken. The South Rim is open all year and is the easiest to access. You can access it from Route 64 off Interstate 40. There is also an airport nearby and a free shuttle bus system within the National Park. All of this makes the South Rim super accessible and easy to travel to different locations along the canyon.
The North Rim
The North Rim is less popular and harder to access, via Route 67. It also has a reputation for being more wild and secluded. If that’s what you’re into, then it could be tons of fun! An important note, however, is due to its higher elevation and snowfall, it is closed throughout the wintertime. The North Rim is only open from May through October.
Note: Due to the South Rim being more popular (and the likely travel destination), this guide will focus on the South Rim.
I’ve Arrived at the Grand Canyon, Now What?
If entering the Grand Canyon through the South Entrance station, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the area. Your best bet is to head straight to the Visitor’s Center. Here you can grab some maps, get shuttle bus info, and talk with the National Park Rangers.
I’d recommend finding the best viewpoints (more on this below!) and trails based on how much time you have. And of course, where you are wanting to go. Also worthwhile is checking out the Yavapai Geology Museum and Market Plaza. The Market Plaza is like the business center of the South Rim. Here you can find a general store, US Post Office, and a bank with ATM.
Note: Even if you already have your permits and camping gear and are ready to set out, it’s still worth a stop just to make sure there are no last minute changes or closures.
Best Location for Sunset Views
For the best sunset views over the Grand Canyon be sure to stop by Hopi Point. My recommendation? Get there early. It get crowded and you want a good spot, especially if you’re setting up a tripod.
Read More: 10 Tips for Taking Great Photos of Yourself
Grand Canyon Accommodation
Lodging can be found inside the park at the Grand Canyon Village. For cheaper accommodation there is also lodging outside the park (about 7 miles south of Grand Canyon Village). Check out this link for detailed information about lodging within Grand Canyon Village and outside the park.
Note: Be sure to book well in advance, especially if you are visiting during the summer months.
Camping at the Grand Canyon
The South Rim
There are three “developed” (meaning vehicles are permitted) campgrounds along the South Rim within the Grand Canyon National Park. Two of the three campgrounds (Mather Campground and Trailer Village), allow reservations to be made in advance.
1. Mather Campground
This campground is open all year round and is within Grand Canyon Village. It provides tent and RV camping, however there are no RV hook-ups. Due to its popularity, it is strongly recommended to make a reservation if planning to visit between March 1st and mid-November.
2. Trailer Village
This campground is adjacent to Mather Campground also within Grand Canyon Village. It is the only campground offering an RV park with full hook-ups.
3. Desert View Campground
This campground is located 25 miles to the east of Grand Canyon Village and does not include RV hook-ups. It operates on a first come, first serve basis, and is closed during the wintertime.
For more information regarding campgrounds and how to make a reservation, check out this link.
The North Rim
The North Rim also has a campground that offers tent and RV camping, however there are no hook-ups available. It is closed during the wintertime, however reservations are available and suggested when it is open. For more information check out this link.
If wanting to camp anywhere in the park other than the developed campgrounds on the North or South Rims (mentioned above), you have to obtain a permit from the Backcountry Information Center at Grand Canyon National Park. However, if you are simply doing a day hike, a permit is not required.
It is important to request permits well in advance. Use the Earliest Consideration Guide on the nps.gov website when deciding how far in advance you should reserve your permit. By rule of thumb, requesting 6 months in advance is recommended. For detailed information on how to obtain a permit, check out this link.
Note: It’s important to note that the Backcountry Information Center does not make reservations for hiking and camping on the Havasupai Reservation. In order to do that, check out this link.
Grand Canyon Activities
There are a plethora of activities to partake in at the Grand Canyon. You can do mule trips, jeep and van tours, helicopter tours, and even white water rafting through the canyon!
Below are some good links for planning out some activities:
The Grand Canyon Railway
A fan favorite (especially for kids) is to enter the Grand Canyon in style on the Grand Canyon Railway. The train departs from Williams, Arizona and arrives at the Grand Canyon Village in approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. The journey includes on-board entertainment, cowboys, and a mock train robbery that’ll make you feel you’ve taken a step back into the Wild West. You can find more information on the railway here.
Like this post? Pin it for later!
Plan on visiting the Grand Canyon? Love to know in the comments below!