Grand Canyon National Park, an iconic name is one of the world’s great natural wonder perched at the edge of its towering cliffs. Before 1869 Grand Canyon was known as the “Great Canyon” or the “Big Canyon’ and for the first time, a US soldier John Wesley Powell used the name ‘Grand Canyon. This is the second most popular national park in America just after the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson granted Grand Canyon as a national park and recently on 26 Feb 2019 it has celebrated the centenary. It is the most famous awe-inspiring natural attractions of America and has the unique feature of copper-colored Colorado River, the colorful rock layers of billions of years history and around 70 different species of animals. This park is not only limited to its geology but also contains several major ecosystems.
This park is around 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles long with 18 miles wide and considered as one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world. The Colorado River begins to carve about 20 million years ago which turned into the Grand Canyon and its eastern end at Marble Canyon and exiting via Kanab Canyon. The Colorado Plateau starts to uplift around 17 million years ago and causes the river to cut deeper.
The beauty of Grand Canyon is beyond expression. Its scenery touches the heart like paradise. The best ways to take Grand Canyon’s beauty is to view the Canyon from its north and south rims, hike down to the Inner Canyon, and boat tour, finally take an aerial tour to get a bird’s eye view of the below. Though the North Rim and South Rim are accessed from opposite sides of the canyon, every year around 5.5 million people visit Grand Canyon and most visitors (90%) visit the Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim as the South Rim is open year-round. A smaller number of people (10%) visit the canyon from the North Rim of the park as it has a short season. And the Inner Canyon holds everything below the rim and is seen mainly by hikers, backpackers, mule riders, or river runners.
Grand Canyon National Park Weather:
Grand Canyon’s weather varies from rim to rim. From any rim, the average temperature at the Grand Canyon differs 15-20 F° (11 ºC) between the top of the Grand Canyon and the inner Grand Canyon.
The South Rim:
It is 7,000 feet above sea level. It means cool nights in summer and snowfall in winter which often makes a special (less crowded) time of year to see the Grand Canyon. In summer, hiking at Grand Canyon National Park, you’ll feel warm temperatures along the Colorado River as temperatures can reach 120 ºF / 47 ºC. In winter average temperatures range starts from a low of 20 ºF to a high of 43 ºF. And average temperatures at Phantom Ranch, ranging from 38 ºF to 58 ºF. This rim is the most popular rim to visit where visitors enjoy moderate temperatures and open year-round.
The North Rim :
The North Rim is over 8000 feet above the sea level. In winter, Grand Canyon Park is closed because of snow. It is the remote area of the canyon and receives snow throughout most of the year. The park is open here seasonally (May 15- October 15).
The West Rim:
It is located nearest to Las Vegas, is the warmest rim year-round and features the Grand Canyon Skywalk. During summer, this rim is hot so take protection from the sunburn and keep hydrated yourself to make the most of your visit.
The inner canyon:
Here belongs a harsh desert environment with little shade and summer temperatures over 100°F. (>38°C).
After discussing the weather of Grand Canyon I can suggest you visit the Grand Canyon National Park March to May and September to November when the daytime temperature is cool and the crowds are thin. If you decide to travel during the summer (the park’s peak season), very limited lodging is available because of tourists. During winter you can find hotels, but much of the park (including the entire North Rim) closes after the first snowfall.
Grand Canyon National Park Map:
Grand Canyon is located entirely in the northwest corner of Arizona in the USA. close to the borders of Utah and Nevada. It starts at Lees Ferry and ends at the Grand Wash Cliffs. The two major cities closest to the Canyon are Phoenix and Las Vegas. The closest city of this park is Flagstaff AZ, though it is a smaller city from the south rim which has an international airport and the second closest is Tusayan town to Grand Canyon Village which also has a small public airport.
Grand Canyon National Park Flights:
You can fly into either Las Vegas or Phoenix International Airport to get to Grand Canyon. Most of the Grand Canyon’s visitors fly from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport as it is the nearest chief international airport to the South Rim, which is the most visited part of the National Park. The location of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is at downtown of Phoenix, in Maricopa County, Arizona, the US that is a civil-military public airport. This airport is Arizona’s largest and busiest airport and 8th busiest airports among in the United States.
The fastest way to get from Phoenix Airport (PHX) to Grand Canyon Village is to fly. American Airlines is used to Phoenix Airport to Flagstaff Airport and then travel by bus which costs in total $170 – $350 and will take 3h 32m.
The cheapest way is to drive which costs $23 – $35 and takes 3h 56m.
Though there is no direct bus from Phoenix Airport (PHX) to Grand Canyon Village you can also take a bus from Phoenix Airport (PHX) to Grand Canyon Village via Flagstaff, AZ which will consume your visiting time and will take around 6h 10m.
Where to Stay in Grand Canyon National Park:
Firstly I will explain where a tourist can take place in Grand Canyon National Park according to the rim side and then I will share some hotels, cabins, campground, etc.
Grand Canyon National Park Lodges:
The South Rim:
Lodging Inside the park:
Especially during the summer be sure to make reservations with advance as soon as possible. These Reservations are controlled by Delaware North and Xanterra Parks & Resorts. The parks mentioned below are handled by Xanterra Parks & Resorts-
- Bright Angel Lodge: Location-9 North Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, Phone Direct: (928) 638-2631.
- El Tovar Hotel: Location- 1 El Tovar Road, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, Phone Direct: (928) 638-2631.
- Kachina Lodge: Location-5 North Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, Phone Direct: (928) 638-2631.
- Thunderbird Lodge: Location- 7 North Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, Phone Direct: (928) 638-2631
- Maswik Lodge: Location- 202 South Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, Phone Direct: (928) 638-2631.
Delaware North handled the below park-
- Yavapai Lodge -Trailer Village RV Park.
If you need online reservations then visit grandcanyonlodges.com
Lodging outside of the park:
In South Rim lodging outside of the park means staying in Tusayan, Arizona. If you are staying in Tusayan lodges during peak-season, (March through September) the national park provides free shuttle bus service between Tusayan Hotels and the South Rim Visitor Center with a valid park entrance pass.
- Best Western Canyon Squire Inn-Phone:800-995-2521 or 928-638-2673.
- Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel-Phone:800-995-2521 or 928-638-2673
- The Grand Hotel-Phone:888-634-7263 or 928-638-3333
- Holiday Inn Express-Phone:888-473-2269 or 928-638-3000
- Red Feather Lodge-Phone:866-561-2425 or 928-638-2414
- Seven Mile Lodge-Phone:(928) 638-2291.
Hotels at the Grand Canyon National Park:
- The Grand Hotel-Location: 149 AZ-64, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, USA, Phone: +1 928-638-3333.
- Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel-Location: 406 Canyon Plaza Lane, Grand Canyon, AZ, 86023, USA.
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites-Location: 226 Highway 64 N, Grand Canyon, AZ, 86023, USA.
- Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn-Location: 74 State Route 64, Grand Canyon, AZ, 86023, USA.
- Red Feather Lodge-Location: 300 State Route 64,AZ, 86023, USA.
- If you need online reservations then visit Hotels.com.
Grand Canyon National Park Restaurants:
- El Tovar Lodge Dining Room (Speciality- American, Southwestern, Bar, Soups, International, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options).
- Phantom Ranch,
- Lodge Dining Room (Speciality- American, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options),
- Arizona Room (Speciality- American, Soups, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options)
- Bright Angel Restaurant(Speciality- American, Vegetarian-Friendly, Decent food),
- Yavapai Tavern(Speciality- American, Bar, Pub, Brew Pub, Vegetarian-Friendly),
- Roughrider Saloon(Speciality-Pub, Bar),
- Bright Angel Restaurant, Fountain & Bar (Speciality- American, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options),
- Harvey House Café(Speciality- American, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options),
- Cafe on The Rim,
- Pizza and Grill,
- Grand Cookout Experience(Speciality-Barbecue),
- Plaza Bonita(Speciality- Mexican, Southwestern, Vegetarian-Friendly, Gluten Free Options, Vegan Options),
- Coronado Room(Speciality- International, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options),
- Hualapai Ranch(Speciality- Barbecue Chicken, Ribs, Baked Beans, Potatoes).
Cheap Eats Restaurants:
- Bright Angel Bicycles and Café,
- Maswik Food Court(Speciality- Mexican, American, Fast Food, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options),
- North Rim Country St
- The Coronado Room,
- Plaza Bonita,
- We Cook Pizza & Pasta,
- RP’s Stage Stop(Speciality- Delicious Sandwich),
- Big E Steakhouse & Saloon,
- Navajo Room at the Best Western Premier(Speciality-Quick and Casual Dining in the Tusayan Area),
- Canyon Room at the Best Western Premier.
Local Cuisine Restaurants:
- Phantom Ranch,
- Lodge Dining Room,
- Arizona Room,
- El Tovar Lodge Dining Room,
- Bright Angel Restaurant, Fountain & Bar,
- Coronado Room,
- Plaza Bonita.
Getting Around Grand Canyon National Park:
Shuttle Bus is the best way to get around the Grand Canyon National Park. These free shuttles will take you all around the South Rim that is operated by the National Park Service.
It works on four routes in spring, summer, and fall, which connect the visitor center with various lodges, cabins, campgrounds, and park attractions. The four routes are known as the Village(Blue) Route, the Kaibab Rim (Orange) Route, the Hermit Road (Red) Route, and the Tusayan Route/Park & Ride. In winter, the park offers only the blue and orange shuttle routes. The shuttle Buses, which are white with a green stripe, show the route name on the front and side panels and run every 15 to 30 minutes free of charge.
If you’re exploring the North Rim or remote parts of the national park area like Havasu Falls, a car will be the most convenient option. Though having a car can be suitable for you but be prepared to pay an extra fee at the park entrance especially for remote areas. In summer, if you get there early, you can get the opportunity of parking. But on a winter trip, check the Grand Canyon website for any road closures.
Grand Canyon Railway:
The beautiful Railway runs between Williams, Arizona, and the Grand Canyon Village, which is about 60 miles one-way.
Things to Do in Grand Canyon National Park:
One of the most gorgeous falls in the Grand Canyon is Havasu Falls, but it is so tough to reach. Havasu Falls is a desert oasis, complete with crystal blue waterways and gushing falls to the dry canyon, is lauded by tourists. If you don’t have any plan on spending the night camping, then avoid Havasu Falls. But despite the hassles, the stunning beauty of the falls and the fun of swimming made it all worth.
Grand Canyon Skywalk
It is a long drive from both the South Rim and the North Rim. The transparent glass floor of the Skywalk is 4,000 feet above the floor at Eagle Point. It is 10 feet wide, and the horseshoe-shaped attraction prolongs 70 feet out from the rim of the canyon. At first, tourists purchase a Hualapai Legacy Day Pass, which allows them to entry to tribal land and includes shuttle services to Eagle Point, Guano Point, and Hualapai Ranch and the Skywalk glass bridge is an add-on.
Grand Canyon Railway
Historic Railway was originally used to transport from the Anita mines, which is built in the late 1800s, just north of Williams, Arizona. It began traveling to the in 1901, which made the park accessible to the public. In 1968, the park Depot saw its last passenger train and lost business because of rising automobile use. The Railway was reopened in 1989. At present, this historic train carries passengers between Williams and the South Rim’s Grand Canyon Depot.
Grand Canyon Village
Grand Canyon Village suffers from heavy crowds in the peak seasons ( spring, summer, and fall) because of its most popular entryway into the park and It’s home to Yavapai Point, which is one of the best views of the canyon. If you don’t like camping then you can stay in a lodge within the national park area.
Horseshoe Bend is one of the top listed of attractions for tourists coming to the here from the eastern end. It is 5 miles outside from this National Park in Glen Canyon.
Black Suspension Bridge
Black Suspension Bridge is also called by Kaibab Bridge because it connects the North Rim with the South Rim via the Kaibab Trail. After constructed in 1928, it became the first safe passageway between north and south Kaibab. Black Suspension Bridge is popular with rim-to-rim hikers, visitors to Phantom Ranch, and guests on inner canyon mule rides.
Bright Angel History Room
It is dedicated to Grand Canyon’s great architect Mary Colter that is located inside Bright Angel Lodge in here Village. The rock fireplace is built according to Colter’s architectural style.
Visitors noticed that the geological sequence of the rocks in the fireplace reflects the same sequence as from river to rim along the Bright Angel Trail. 800 million to over one billion years old granite-veined rock is used in the fireplace base. It’s a scientific representation of the geological natural environment of the Grand Canyon.
Canyon Trail Rides
Along the North Rim of here, mule rides are guided by Canyon Trail Rides. It is the lesser-visited side of the canyon, where many visitors find more fascination.
- Tusayan Ruin and Museum
Tusayan Ruin and Museum is about 800 years old. It is one of this great archeological sites and contains a small U-shaped pueblo with a kiva, living area, bookstore, and storage rooms. In this museum, tourists will find 2,000 to 4,000-year-old artifacts that tell the story of the prehistoric people who lived there.
Yavapai Geology Museum
In 1928, the Yavapai Geology Museum was built precisely so that geologists could understand the geology of the canyon. It highlights interpretive panels, three-dimensional models, and exquisite artwork. This museum also has a souvenir shop and book store.
- Hualapai River Runners Rafting,
- Papillon Helicopters,
- Paragon Skydive,
- Ranger Program,
- Scenic Hermit Road,
- South Rim Mule Trips,
- Bar 10 Ranch,
- Bicycle Trails and Tours,
- Bright Angel Bike Rentals and Tours,
- Brewing Company.
Free Things to Do at Grand Canyon National Park:
- Bright Angel Trail-hiking free,
- Village-free neighborhood/area,
- Havasu Falls- hiking, natural wonders, free,
- North Kaibab Trail-hiking free,
- Parashant National Monument- hiking, monuments, and memorials, recreation free,
- Lees Ferry-historic homes/mansions, sightseeing, free.
Best Places to Visit in Grand Canyon National Park:
The best way to enjoy the beauty of Grand Canyon National Park is to visit the viewpoint on the rim. Though there’s nothing like seeing sunrise or sunset from the edge of Grand Canyon luckily there are some great viewpoints on the South Rim and the North Rim. From my own experience, here I gather best viewpoints to visit according to its Rim position-
The South Rim:
One of the best viewpoint for most South Rim visitors in Grand Canyon is Hopi Point. If you are in a quick visit, you should not be missed it. It offers dreadful views to the east and the west and a great place for both sunrise and sunset. It also offers excellent views of the stone “temples” which have arisen from the depths of the Canyon and you will pass several good viewpoints along your pathway of Shiva Temple, Isis Temple, Zoroaster Temple, etc.
The location of Hopi Point is along Hermit Drive. Private vehicles are restricted in Hermit Drive from March to November, but there’s a free shuttle of Bright Angel Lodge. You also can walk to Hopi Point along the Rim Trail.
Lipan Point offers some of the most surroundings and far-reaching views of the South Rim and reflects the deepest and widest part of the Grand Canyon. The beautiful landscapes are insight from this point which makes it special for visitors.
Horrific western exposure has made Mohave Point a great place for the sunset and it is a little crowded. When you will look closely you can see Hermit Rapid, which formed when debris flowed into the Colorado River from an adjacent side canyon.
Terrific eastern exposure has made Powell Point a great place for sunrise which is named after John Wesley Powell, the first man who successfully flowed the Colorado River through here.
Yavapai Point is perched on a dramatic point and offers sweeping views to the east and west. It has the best views between the visitor center and Village. You will get here the Yavapai Geology Museum where you can learn about this incredible geology, then look outside and view the Canyon in a whole new light.
It is the easternmost viewpoint on the South Rim. It displays most beautiful views like, to the north, the Colorado River emerges from Marble Canyon and to the west, Colorado flows into a labyrinth of towering rock formations and also to the east, a barren landscape expands to the Painted Desert. Visitors can climb to the top floor of Desert View Watchtower, a 70-high stone tower that offers 360-degree views.
Shoshone Point: This South Rim viewpoint is almost always uncrowded.
The North Rim:
Bright Angel Point:
It is the most popular viewpoint on the North Rim which lies at an elevation about 8,148 feet higher than the South Rim. It offers the views of Village on the South Rim and Roaring Springs some 3,000 feet below. Bright Angel Point trail leads the spot with panoramic views of Grand Canyon National Park along the way.
Cape Royal Point.
The Grand Canyon National Park is completely safe for tourists of any age, but like any of adventurous destination, it comes with its share of dangers. So here I gather some precautions according to my traveling experience to help you be ready for your next adventurous trip at the National Park-
- Be alert and keep an eye on your kids at all times,
- Bring lots of snacks and water with you,
- Don’t rely on your stroller all the time,
- Plan your trip schedule according to your kids’ ages and interests,
- At hiking time, stick to the Rim trail,
- Don’t feed the animals which can be dangerous for you.
Finally, I say, Travel carefully. Hope you enjoy it.Thanks for having us. Have a nice trip.