This may sound a bit cliché but one my favorite national parks of all that I have visited is the Grand Canyon. It is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world and with good reason! The canyon is 1 mile deep and 18 miles wide and the first time you lay your eyes on this natural wonder, it will more surely than not look like a poster.
Although many people spend only a few hours here (rookie mistake!), I definitely recommend staying for at least a day to soak the beauty in and experience the charisma of the park.
I’ve gotten the chance to visit the park more than once and let me tell you, each time you visit, it is a totally different experience. The photos don’t do justice to the majestic canyon.
Which RIM to choose!! EAST, WEST, NORTH or SOUTH?
The park itself is split into 4 rims: North Rim, South Rim, East Rim and West Rim. The South Rim is the more popular tourist destination. It is easy to reach, has a ton of restaurants and lodging options and you have over 2 dozen spots to see from here. Generally, first timer visitors prefer the South Rim as it is more tourist friendly.
The Grand Canyon West and the Skybridge are a part of the Hualapai tribe and not a part of the National Park. The entrance fee for entering is independent of the national park fee. The close proximity to Las Vegas, the breathtaking view from here and the adrenaline rush from the glass floor makes the West Rim the second most popular rim.
The Grand Canyon East rim is gaining popularity in the recent years as it is only about 7 miles from the Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.
The North Rim though within the National Park system gain only about 1/10th of the crowd that visits the south rim. The North Rim is relatively colder than the other rims and can be visited only from may to October due to heavy snowfall. The North Rim is spectacular during fall and has more plant and animal life. The North Rim has only 3 viewpoints and I recommend it for people who are adventurous, who want a quiet getaway or for those who have already been to the south rim.
WHEN TO GO??
June-August is peak season for the Grand Canyon. Lodging and campsites get reserved far in advance during these months, so be sure to make your reservations as early as possible.
The South Rim is open year-round, and Spring and Fall are often considered the best times to visit. The North Rim is only open from mid-May to mid-October, as the roads are less accessible through the winter months.
Where to Stay??
There are a few lodges that you can stay at in and around the National Park. The Yavapai Lodge and Thunderbird are two of the more popular ones.
Food inside the park:
To be really honest, the food at the Grand Canyon park is surprisingly not bad. Although, a bit overpriced and being a vegetarian is always a bit of a struggle when in a seemingly remote location, I found plenty of options. I would still recommend picking up some food on your way here or getting food that you can reheat in your hotel room.
How to get here:
Getting to the grand canyon is pretty easy. There are a few options that you can choose from:
- Driving: Renting a car from Las Vegas and driving here is the easiest way to get to the canyon. You could also drive from Page, AZ. You have to pay a $25 per vehicle fee to enter the park.
- Tour Bus: You can also get a shuttle/tour bus for about $80.00 from Las Vegas, Flagstaff or Sedona. The buses have various packages including what points you want to see and some even have food included in the package.
MAP of South Rim: Grand Canyon South Rim MAP
No matter which season you go to the Grand Canyon, it is a unique experience. Winter’s in the canyon are surreal. The unpredictable hail storms, the fog, and the unexpected rainbow are all very likely here.
The Moran point is a great vista to see the North Rim and witness the marvel that is the canyon.
Each viewpoint gives you a different angle of the canyon and each time will blow your mind.
Desert View Point:
The desert-view point is a wonderful site to see sunsets. It has a view of the majestic Colorado River and an inspiring panoramic view of the canyon. You can climb on top of the old watchtower located here to get an even more awe-striking view of the park.
Other things that you can do here:
Helicopter Ride: There are many helicopter tours from the south rim taking you along the canyon. They cost around $100 per person and if you have a few extra bucks to spare, I would recommend this.
Havasu Falls: The Havasu is a tribal reservation located inside the canyon. The Havasu Falls Trail will take you to a picturesque waterfall with bright blue water. You have to make reservations to hike to the falls as it is very popular. Horseshoe Bend: Although it is closer to the East Rim, the horseshoe bend is really spectacular.
Grand Canyon Skywalk: If you don’t fear heights and want a view of the canyon from within the canyon, you can walk across a glass boardwalk and bask in the majesty of this grand creation.