At 450 kilometers long, it would be impossible to visit the Grand Canyon in its entirety in one trip. A whole life might not even be enough! It is certainly not for nothing that this is one of the most visited national parks in the USA. So plan a minimum of one day on your trip to the Grand Canyon. Unique things to do when visiting the Grand Canyon with this quick travel guide. Learn all about places to stay, and the best time to visit Grand Canyon.
In order to guide you on how to organize your visit to the Grand Canyon, we have created this ultimate guide on visiting the Grand Canyon. However, keep in mind that it is best not to plan too much for a single day, and allow yourself enough time to be able to enjoy the beauty of the landscape.
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Best Time for Visiting the Grand Canyon
The summer months are the peak travel season for the Grand Canyon. If this is the only time you can visit, book lodging well in advance and prepare for crowds of tourists. Hit the trails and the popular viewpoints before 10am if you want to avoid the crowds.
If your schedule is more flexible, the best time to visit the Grand Canyon is the shoulder months, March-May and September-November. Temperatures are a little cooler than in the summer and the crowds are thinner. Accommodations are also a little cheaper and easier to find.
Driving in from Flagstaff, Arizona offers the best views as you drive up to the Grand Canyon. This entrance is considered the most impressive, although it is a little more remote and slightly more difficult to access. The traffic is relatively light, though, so you will avoid any traffic jams.
The Flagstaff/Pulliam Airport (FLG) is also the closest airport to the Grand Canyon – just 90 minutes from the South Rim. Larger airports, such as Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) and Las Vegan McCarran (LAS), are located 5 hours away. There are direct flights to FLG Airport from Denver Airport, Dallas Fort Worth Airport, Phoenix Airport.
Book your airline tickets at least three months in advance to find the best price. At the same time, you can also reserve your airport parking space if you plan to drive. If you have never done this before, it’s a great travel hack so you don’t have to waste time circling the airport to find a parking spot. You can save even more money if you book with an off-site parking lot. If you are flying from Denver Airport, you can easily search all the DIA parking lots online and book instantly.
Where to Stay
The South Rim has more to do if you are a first-time visitor to the Grand Canyon. The South Rim has six lodges on-site to choose from, but the space fills up quickly, so book well in advance. The lodges are open year-round and most are within walking distance of the canyon rim.
The North Rim sees fewer tourists generally, so it can be a great place to stay if you are looking to escape the crowds. However, there is only one lodge and one campsite on the North Rim. Check availability for the Grand Canyon lodges on their website.
There are plenty of hotels and accommodations located outside of the park. If you are going with your family, a vacation rental might be a great idea. This way, you will have a kitchen so you don’t have to eat out every night and there is more space to relax for the whole family.
The Hyatt Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows
Top choice for staying with your family. For an unforgettably relaxing and comfortable stay right in the middle of all the action of Scottsdale.
The backdrop of the stunning Camelback Mountain and Sonora Desert is unforgettable while you unwind and rejuvenate in the eclectic bungalows. The picturesque setting is why this resort is very popular for hosting weddings and other large events. They have on-site staff to take all of the planning and preparation off of your hands, so you can focus on what really matters.
Where To Eat
Scottdale is the Phoenix suburb for the best of the best when it comes to dining. It’s considered one of Arizona’s top culinary destinations.
A well-known restaurant located in downtown Scottsdale. They’ve served up modern American food with Mexican, Southwestern, and Italian flavors for over 20 years. Some local favorites include the medium-rare steak rubbed with Asian five-spice and ancho chile pepper, paired with sesame-infused basmati rice.
The Greene House
For a casual dining experience after a long day of shopping, head over to The Greene House for a laid-back lunch or dinner. The menu has something to suit any palate, including bacon-wrapped tenderloin, burgers and flatbread, and skirt steak. Relax on the gorgeous patio with friends and share a bottle of wine.
Unique Things to Do in the Grand Canyon
Scottsdale is guaranteed to help you create memories to last a lifetime. You can hike in the Scottdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve, enjoy the sights from a hot air balloon, or take a peaceful horseback ride while watching the sunset.
Old Town is the downtown district of Scottsdale offering boutique shopping featuring art, jewelry, and souvenirs. This is also where you would go for nightlife entertainment including bars, restaurants, and clubs within a short distance from each other.
Visit Some Museums
If you are an art enthusiast, visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Western Spirit or the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Near the northern edge of Old Town is the Southwest’s largest shopping plaza Fashion Square.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is fun for the whole family of every age. The park offers mini-train rides, concessions, and model railroading. The kids will love the Magma Arizona Railroad locomotive, the museum, gauge railroad, and much more. There is every gauge of a model train known to man, with interactive buttons allowing you to operate various equipment and parts. There is also a gift shop to purchase souvenirs and snacks, a carousel, and a large-sized park with several play areas.
A fun, casual place for a memorable day out is the Butterfly Wonderland. This state-of-the-art facility has a magnificent glass atrium that is home to thousands of butterfly species from all over the world. Watch these beautiful creatures fly freely and then take the kids to the interactive insect exhibits. When you’re finished, sit back in the café and discuss the amazement of the day.
Desert View Watchtower
Start your visit with a stop at the Desert View Watchtower, a Puebloan-style tower with a gorgeous view of the canyon. Climb to the top to see the Colorado River, the Painted Desert, and the San Francisco Peaks. If you are visiting on the weekend, you might come across a cultural event featuring the Navajo or Hopi tribes.
Grand Canyon Village
Your next stop should be at the Grand Canyon Village located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Visitor Center is a great place to inform your trip to the Grand Canyon and learn all about it’s intricate history. You can also grab some food and water before you head out to walk around the canyon.
There are two viewpoints within easy walking distance of the Village. Just 5 minutes away is the Mathew Point viewpoint, then you can continue walking along the Rim Trail for another 15 minutes and come across Yavapai Point.
Once you have taken in the views at Yavapai point, jump in the car and drive down the stunning 7-mile long Hermit Drive. There are nine scenic lookouts along the way, including Powell Point, Hopi Point, and Mohave Point.
Hopi Point is a popular viewpoint because it’s so spectacular, so expect crowds. Mohave and Powell Point are less popular points, so they are great spots to have some peace and quiet. Mohave faces the west, so it is excellent for sunsets, while Powell faces the east, so it’s ideal for sunrises.
Take a Hike
Bring comfortable shoes and enjoy a bit of hiking while visiting the Grand Canyon. Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail are the most well-known trails. However, these trails are not day-hikes. You must get a hiking permit and reserve a place at a campsite in order to hike these trails. The difficulty of these hikes can be deceptive because the hikes start downhill into the canyon. Coming back out of the canyon will take twice as long because the trail is going uphill on the way back. Always make sure you have enough food and water when you go hiking in the Grand Canyon.
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Grand Canyon Skywalk
Located on the western side of the Grand Canyon, the Skywalk is a 70-foot transparent bridge that looks down 1.2 kilometers to the canyon floor below. This is a great activity for the entire family to do. Kids and adults of all ages love this dizzying experience and its unique point of view. The only downside is that it is about 4 hours away from the Grand Canyon Village, so it will take an entire day to visit. But the experience is entirely worth it, as it will create memories that last a lifetime.
Rafting through the Grand Canyon
Although seeing the views from of the canyon from the rim is nothing short of spectacular, there is truly something to be said for experiencing the canyon from down below. Rafting through the Grand Canyon will be a highlight experience for your family. You can do a half-day rafting trip or, if you are really feeling adventurous, an 18-day rafting trip. Be sure to sign up well in advance, because these tours are very popular.
Mule Ride Across the Canyon
Riding a mule to get across the canyon is immensely popular for a long period of time. The mules are used to transfer the supplies to some of the deepest and remote locations, like the Phantom Reach.
Take a Look at the Wide Night Sky
The natural Canyon spreads over a vast area, and the best part is the wide, open-top area, which directly gives you the feeling of being quite close to the sky. Under the shimmering starlit night sky, spending days won’t be too bad, especially when will be away from the sounds of the city life. A close view will make you know that you can view almost the entire Milky Way Galaxy from the Canyon.
Walk the Rim Trail
For a limited tour at Grand Canyon, don’t choose the long-time hikes because that will kill most of the time. That’s why the rim trail is ideal for a short vacation in Grand Canyon. This trail runs for thirteen miles, from the South Kaibab Trailhead to the Hermits Rest. The best part of this hiking journey is that you will have buses to avail of, thereby shortening the time and reaching the destination earlier than expected. Some of the paramount viewpoints along the trail of the Rim are- the Yavapai point, the Trail View Overlook, the Hopi Point, and the Pima Point.
Fo Biking at the Desert View Drive
The Desert View Drive runs for twenty-five miles across the Canyon, connecting the Grand Canyon Village and the Desert View Watchtower. Covering such a long distance amidst the rough, rocky terrain seems to be quite exciting, especially if you love to travel. Now, in Desert View Drive, you will have six developed viewpoints and five normal places. All these eleven landmarks will offer you different viewpoints of the Canyon, thereby luring the photographers who wish to capture the serenity of the place in their camera.
Watch the Sunrise
The height of the canyon is one of the most luring features as it gives you the feeling of being an eagle, perched on top of the mountain. And so, you can take a Grand Canyon Helicopter tour to watch the sunrise from such a high area. The moment the sun peeks from the horizon, its golden rays illuminate the different strata of the geological terrain and cast a wonderful glow over the entire rocky surface of the canyon.