Travel Guide: Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

The Grand Canyon is a steep canyon carved by the Colorado River in the state of Arizona in the United States. It is contained within and managed by Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the Hualapai Tribal Nation, the Havasupai people and the Navajo Nation. It stretches 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile 6,093 feet or 1,857 meters.

The Grand Canyon also exposes nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history. Studies suggests that the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago and since that time, the Colorado River continued to erode and form the canyon to its present day setting. Many U.S. presidents had visited the Canyon, but it wasn’t until the year 1919 that is was established as a National Park by an Act of Congress and signed into law by Woodrow Wilson.

Grand Canyon National Park has become one of the world’s premier natural attractions, attracting over five million visitors per year. It is truly an amazing sight to see and suggest that everyone pay a visit to this natural wonder at least once in their lifetime.

PREPARE YOURSELF

SLEEP

Hostels offer mixed dorm rooms at $20-25 per night, however; they are not centrally located in the heart of Grand Canyons south rim. The only two hostels are located within 60 miles of the park entrance. Hotels are going to be your best option, being that they are conveniently located much closer to the park. Rooms range from as low as $100 and as high as $250 plus per night with the major factors being location, season and amenities. You can even find some offering views of the canyon, just visit the Grand Canyon Lodges website for more info and reservations.

EAT

When exploring a huge National Park you would think that food sources would be scarce; however, that is not the case when visiting the south rim. Before entering the park you’ll notice an abundance of restaurants, from fine-dining to fast food. When eating at a sit down restaurant you can expect to pay anywhere from $12-20 for a meal and beverage, while a fast food restaurant will only set you back $5-10.

If you’re going to make a day out of the trip then look into packing your own food, you’ll need plenty of salty snacks and gallons of water to keep hydrated in the scorching hot sun. If you forget to pack your own food or hit with a sudden and overwhelming hunger, no need to worry because you can purchase snacks, sandwiches and drinks in the parks convenience store, or even dine at one of the hotel restaurants.

GETTING AROUND

Getting around the Grand Canyon can seem a bit overwhelming at first; however, its quite simple. You can enter with a single, non-commercial vehicle at a cost of $30 or a motorcycle for $25, with the pass lasting up to 7 days. There are plenty of parking lots with shuttles offering free rides to the different points of the south rim. If you are staying just outside of the park; then you can enter by foot, bicycle or park shuttle bus for a fee of $15 per person.

Once inside of the park you’ll mostly be on foot, whether you’re walking alongside the rim or on one of the many trails, so make sure you have on some comfortable shoes. If at any point you get tired or exhausted, just located a shuttle bus stop and it will gladly take you to the nearest parking lot where your vehicle or hotel are located.

THINGS TO DO IN GRAND CANYON

Historic District | Located in the village and the heart of development on the South Rim, predominantly built by the Santa Fe Railroad during the first half of the 20th Century.

The Train Depot | Take one of the walking tours, and imagine yourself back in the day when President Teddy Roosevelt and artist Thomas Moran spent time at the canyon. Trains arrive at the Grand Canyon Depot at least once a day.

Yavapai Museum of Geology | Offers spectacular views of Grand Canyon. The geological displays include three-dimensional models, powerful photographs, and interpretive exhibits that describe the complicated geologic story of the area.

Attend Free Ranger Programs | Learn more about the the nature, science, history and culture of the Grand Canyon with a park ranger as your guide. Download the current Ranger Program Schedule

Walking or Hiking | Walk part of the well defined, and mostly level Rim Trail, starting from any viewpoint in the village or along the historic Hermit Road and greenway. Day Hike in and around the canyon or backpack overnight below the rim. (permit required)