Grand Canyon National Park On a Budget
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.
SightsThere 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.
NeighborhoodsYou 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.
ActivitiesThere 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, as many hikes are considered to be some of the best hikes in the USA. 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 park's most popular trail. It starts at Bright Angel Lodge and follows a series of switchbacks into the canyon until it reaches Indian Gardens.
Another terrific route in the Grand Canyon is hiking to Skeleton Point, which can be long and tiresome, but well worth the views and adventure.
Other activities include whitewater rafting, flightseeing, ranger programs, mule rides, and educational courses.
Food and DiningThere 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.
TransportationThe 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 $35 (for 7 days). It is possible to purchase a national park pass which will give you access to all United States national parks (prices vary). 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.