The Grand Canyon is a national landmark in the United States. It is also one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country and the colors, particularly at sunrise and sunset, will never cease to amaze you. The canyon is entirely within the state of Arizona and has been carved over millions of years by the Colorado River. It stands at over a mile deep and you can easily see the layers of geology with the Canyon's dramatic colors. The park itself was created by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 as a national monument. It was later upgraded to a national park in 1919. It currently covers an area of more than 1.2 million acres and is visited yearly by more than four million guests.
There are hotel and accommodation options at both the North and South Rim, but more options are available at the South Rim. Lodges range in quality from luxurious and expensive to mid range or budget. Camping is also available within the park, and is a wonderful experience.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
There are countless overlooks where you can see the stunning Grand Canyon. One of the more popular places to stop is Desert View, which is a historic Watchtower where you can view the canyon and the Colorado River. Hermits Rest at the West end is also a popular place to stop.
Havasupai Indian Reservation and Hualapai Indian Reservation are both popular destinations near the canyon.
You can visit either the more isolated North Rim or the more popular South Rim. Both areas are within the national park, but the South Rim is more accessible. At the South Rim you will find Grand Canyon Village which has several historic buildings and the trailhead for Bright Angel Trail. The North Rim is ten miles from the South Rim as the bird flies, but 215 miles, or a five hour drive by road from Grand Canyon Village. It's higher than the South Rim and has far less visitors, making it a pleasant and beautiful place to visit.
There is no shortage of outdoor activities that you can enjoy in or around the Grand Canyon. Hiking is the most obvious and popular way to enjoy the canyon. Always carry plenty of water as the temperatures can climb surprisingly high and shade is limited on most hikes. Popular trails in the area include Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, Hermit Trail and Grandview Trail. Bright Angel Trail is the parks most popular trail. It starts at Bright Angel Lodge and follows a series of switchbacks into the canyon until it reaches Indian Gardens.
Other activities include whitewater rafting, flightseeing, ranger programs, mule rides, and educational courses.
Food and Dining
There are a handful of restaurants and markets where you can stock up on food and supplies within the park. Food and camping supplies are generally overpriced within the park however, so it is best to arrive prepared.
On the South Rim your options include the Arizona Room, the Bright Angel Restaurant and El Tovar Hotel Dining Room. There are cafeterias at both the Maswik and Yavapai Lodges and a grocery store at Market Plaza. There are some options just outside the park as well.
Options along the North Rim include Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room, Cafe on the Rim, Coffee Saloon, and Jacob Lake Inn and Gift Shop.
The only real way to reach the Grand Canyon is by private car. There are no buses or trains to the area, and without your own car, your experience will be extremely limited if not impossible. There are tours you can use to reach the Canyon if you do not have access to a vehicle. Tours can be arranged in nearby Las Vegas or other major cities. There are also several outside tour groups, including Contiki, that include the Grand Canyon on their itineraries.
The cost to enter the Grand Canyon is on a per vehicle basis and currently set to $25. It is possible to purchase a national park pass which will give you access to all United States national parks. There's a discounted senior national park pass as well.
Once you're in the park there is a park shuttle system. This system runs along the South Rim on three routes. Service is free and runs from sunrise until after sunset. It is most frequent during the summer months when additional shuttles are added. During the summer months there is also a park service shuttle that travels from Tusayan into the park.
Hiking into the canyon
By Bryan on Nov 7, 2011 in Entertainment
Hiking in and around the Grand Canyon is either very easy or very difficult. There is no middle ground. All of the hikes along the rim of the trail are flat and rated "easy" by the park service. In summer it can get hot, but trees offer shade and most of the trails are either very well marked or paved. On the other extreme, every other trail in the park is rated "difficult" by the park service because these are the trails that go down into the Canyon. These trails are steep, not paved, and require a great deal of physical exertion, especially in the summer. During the summer months, the temperature down inside the canyon can reach 30 to 40 degrees (F) more than the temperature at the rim. It is common to experience temperatures around 120 to 130 down in some parts of the canyon. Many hikers get very dehydrated and some pass out. Park rangers patrol the area for safety purposes. Take water and dress appropriately if you plan to do this hike, and keep in mind that you must come back up every step you take down.
Mules are available to take down into the canyon as well (as part of organized trips, not on your own). Inquire at the visitors center or at one of the lodges.