There are many things to do and see while you are at the Grand Canyon. To be honest with you, I did not realize there was so much to do. I was truly awestruck at the beauty I saw before my eyes. It was a spontaneous trip and I was going for the experience because I know the Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of the world but historically, I am not one to go out of my way for a layers of rocks or rock formations....These were my thoughts before visiting Joshua Tree and the Grand Canyon. After visiting both, I found I clearly I needed to put some "respeckk" on their names. I mean, the Grand Canyon is not a wonder of the world for no reason!! (me to me)
I tend to find myself more drawn destinations with bodies of water for water sports and activities but I was surprised to find that the Grand Canyon offered WAY more than expected :)
The Grand Canyon is of the Colorado and is a canyon composed of many canyons. It is a composite of thousands, of tens of thousands of gorges. The canyon is bounded by two great dams and the lakes they contain : Glen canyon Dam and Lake Powell upriver, and Hoover Dam and Lake Mead downriver.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 6000 feet deep and 18 miles at its widest! Most likely if you are coming to the Grand Canyon, you will be coming through the South Rim. The entrance fee for 7 days is $30 which is nice because there is so much to see and certainly not enough time to experience in a short amount of time. Also, to save more time, you can pre-pay the entrance fee and bypass the long lines
If you are thinking of taking a road trip to the Grand canyon , the National Park is 3.5 hours from Phoenix, Arizona, 4.5 hours from Las Vegas, 7.5 hours from Los Angeles, and almost 12.5 hours from the SF/Bay Area. If you are coming from the Bay Area, I would recommend either flying to Las Vegas or Phoenix, Arizona, sleeping over night and then driving to the Grand Canyon OR drive to Las Vegas, sleep over and then drive the rest of the way to the Grand Canyon. We drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas , stayed the night in Vegas and then drove to the Grand Canyon early the next morning. It's not too bad when you break it up!
To avoid waiting in line and just away from congested traffic in general, I would recommend parking outside of the entrance and taking a shuttle in. Also if you are someone who prefers to have quick and easy access to their car like myself, I would recommend arriving before 9am or else you will have a hard time finding parking, especially during the busy season. Whether you take the shuttle or drive, you get the chance to see beautiful wildlife like the deer captured in this video!
I often feel pretty irritable internally around crowds. Between families, couples, or individuals taking up full pathways walking slow or just people being super loud in a beautiful place in nature that to me is supposed to feel peaceful and serene...I prefer to find areas undiscovered. If you can relate, my suggestion here would be to check out lesser-known lookouts during the park's slow season to avoid crowds. It really changes the experience entirely!
Things to do:
The South Rim has more activities than the North or West Regions
Helicopter and plane tours
IMAX Theatre - 40min virtual experience of the Grand Canyon (this is perfect if you are crutched for time)
You can find the most up to date information on these activities on the National Park website as outdoor climate, prices, and the climate of covid can impact availability
There are also tour companies in each region that have region specific information.
Sights to See:
Seeing the Grand Canyon on TV or in the magazines does this place no justice. I mean I was completely awestruck when I stepped up to the lookout points to see the beauty that is the Grand Canyon. I mean between the layered rock, steep gorges, and unique ridges. I had to do more research on the history of this place!!
Desert view Drive
Desert view drive is a 25mile scenic route along the South Rim, containing 4 picnic areas and 6 developed viewpoints. Additionally, you can find the Tusayan site and museum along this drive. The Desert View Lookout is the end of the drive , where you will see a 70 foot watchtower the observes the Colorado river,
Hike below the ridge
To get a different vantage point , I would recommend taking a short hike below the ridge. The only way to truly see the different angles of random rocks would be to descend into the canyon or oddities like trees sprouting out of rocky columns, such as Moran point
Okay, so this one is a given, sunsets are beautiful anywhere you go but if you can, you must try to stay for the sunset! Hermit's Rest and Lipon Point are both great places to watch the hues of orange and dusty pink clouds billowing over through the panoramic canyon
Whether you are staying for a day or week to see the Grand Canyon, I recommend booking a stay at the hotels or lodges nearby. It makes things easy to get your day started immediately in the morning and not have to deal with too much traffic. As previously mentioned, this trip was spontaneous so we had pretty slim pickings, but the suite we got at the lodge was cute, not bad. I think most of the hotels in the area that had last minute vacancies were 3 star hotels. It was a quick trip for us so it got the job done!
I hope this post has enticed you to visit one of the wonders of the world in our own backyard (US residents) :)