The Best and Possibly Only Tip You Need if you’re like 90% of Grand Canyon Visitors, Go EARLY!!! I could not believe how long the wait was during Spring Break just to get inside the National Park! It was insane! Go Early. And when you think you’re early enough, go earlier.
I’m going to remind you constantly here that I’m not the Grand Canyon pro, this is just our personal experiences, which usually means what we learned the hard way, but I have some great resources! Outdoor Magazine’s My Grand Canyon has one of the best resources I found, and it’s my go-to.
They say most people NEVER see more of the Grand Canyon than from the Rim.
Sunset at Mather Point, South Rim One of the easiest ways to get the Grand Canyon Experience is sunset (or anytime) at Mather Point.
South Rim The Grand Canyon Visitors Center and Imax Theater This really is a must stop, but when the lines to get in the National Park are hours long, it’s hard to manuever over there. It’s one of the reasons I’d suggest staying at the entrance to the park. If you can’t get in, or like me just really like to be prepared, you can watch the movie on You Tube on the link above.
Bearizona, Williams We haven’t visited Bearizona, but I had so many people text, call and write me that we should that I feel I have to mention it because everyone just raved about it! I’m always worried about Animal Tourism places, but this one seems to do it right.
Grand Canyon Railway, Williams Take a train ride into the Grand Canyon and skip the ridiculous lines to get in the park!
Havasupai Indian Reservation Please read the recent updates. Sometimes I like to add places I haven’t been yet, but just can’t not mention in these post because they are high on my own Bucket List! Visiting Havasu Falls is at the top! It takes a hard to get permit, strenuous hiking and luck with weather but I can’t wait to do it myself!
The Grand Canyon Village History loves will enjoy taking a walk through the Grand Canyon Village.
Desert View Scenic Drive While you can’t drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, there is a nice, scenic 24-mile drive along the South Rim, the Desert View. There are 4 places to stop along the way, park and get our and take pictures, etc. Here’s an important Mommy Tip, watch your kids at these overlooks. It’s a long fall straight down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and my sometimes morbid daughter googled Grand Canyon deaths, and it’s a sad account of some children who have fallen to their death.
Red Route to the Hermit’s Overlook Board the shuttle early to enjoy this scenic bus ride.
Helicopter Tours One of the most amazing ways to see the Grand Canyon is by helicopter!
Bike Rides in the Canyon My next Grand Canyon Adventure, I’m going to bring my bike or rent one, because I was so jealous of all the bike riders while we sat in traffic over Spring Break just waiting to get in!
As I type this I’m planning our next trip to the Grand Canyon, and I want to ride the mules! It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl, and I’m going to do it! Here’s the basic information I’ve gathered.
The North Rim Remember the North Rim is closed during the winter. Rides are open on the North Rim from May – October, but check the website to confirm. Canyon Trail Rides gives you 3 options. The 1-hour, leisurely trail ride through the Kaibab National Forest and along the Rim, with great views of the canyon. There are 2 3-hour options, The North Kaibab Trail into the Supai Tunnel, with a 2,300 ft. descent, and the Uncle Jim’s Point following the Ken Patrick Trail. None of the rides on the North Rim take you down to the bottom of the canyon.
The South Rim Xanterra Travel handles the South Rim rides. They offer a 3-hour trail ride along the South Rim, with several stops to give information. The overnight rides to Phantom Ranch are offered on a lottery system, and consist of a mule ride down the Bright Angel Trail 10.5 miles, across the Colorado River on the suspension bridge and up to Phantom Ranch, with lodging and meals provided. – Currently, all reservation for 2023 are on hold.
Apache Stables in the Kaibab National Forest (outside the National Park) also offers 1 and 2 hour horse and mules rides.
Day Hikes If you’re interested in doing anything more than a day hike, this is not the page for you! Join the facebook group, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim. Hikers who have done it and are doing it give great, real time advice!
Rim Hiking The most popular hiking and the easiest, and you still get amazing views is to hike along the rim of the Grand Canyon. This is what we did on our first visit to the Grand Canyon and there was still so much to see! Best of all, if you brought your dog, this is a dog friendly hike!
Because of ice on the trail during much of the year, I’d recommend packing ice cleats for level hiking surfaces and trekking crampons for elevation changes.
There are so many hikes and depending when and where you go, you’ll see something completely different! The Bright Angel Trail is the most popular, a.k.a. the busiest, but it’s an easy walk down with plenty to see, just remember that you will have to hike back up, no matter how far down you go. Permits are required to camp anywhere below the Rim. For a day hike, 1.5 Mile Resthouse and 3 Mile Resthouse are great hikes! For anything longer, check with a Park Ranger for water availabililty. The Grand Canyon is dangerous, and you must be prepared! We encountered ice on the trail during the warmer spring months. I love this trail because you will see mules along the trail!
The South Kaibab Trail also takes you down to the bottom, with several day-hike options. This trail offers much less shade than Bright Angel, but you will pass mules on this trail as well. Listen to the mule guy, as this can be dangerous, both for you and the mules. Ooh-Aah Point (.09 mile) and Cedar Ridge (1.5 mile) are both great day hikes to get a feel for the canyon.
Grand Canyon Skywalk Glass Bridge in Grand Canyon West Not part of the National Park but in Grand Canyon West on land owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. You can walk the Glass Skywalk, see the river and even zip line, plus much more. The Indian Tribes, that have reservations on the Grand Canyon are really a big part of the experience of visiting the Grand Canyon, so do a little research before you go.
The Grand Canyon is home to all types of amazing wildlife, but we spotted elk on the drive in to the South Rim, and a pesky and street-smart ground squirrel who climbed inside a ladies bag on the Rim Trail to get a Dorito. Don’t feed wildlife.
Where to Eat
Pack a picnic lunch. Best advice I can give because I didn’t visit the Grand Canyon to eat. I baffeled me why someone would wait in those long lines to just eat. Pack a picnic with plenty of healthy and salty foods, and an ice chest with plenty of water. You’ll thank me later.
Where to Stay
This is really a tough question, and depends on why you’re there and for how long. Flagstaff is about 1.5 hours to the National Park entrances, and a great town with restaurants and more things to do. Williams is a cute, scenic little town and a must-stop so why not stay option. Then there are several hotels and other options just outside the South Park Entrance, but of course these are going to be more expensive.
Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn outside the South Entrance was our choice. It was great for experiencing the line to get into the National Park, and getting an early start.
Camping in the Park If you want to camp, check out these resources.
If you’ve been a long-time reader of mine, you know I love to do read as much as I can about where we travel. My favorite book was The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko. Likewise, I loved the documentary, Into the Grand Canyon with Kevin Fedarko and Peter McBride.
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