The Grand Canyon
Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.
Although first afforded Federal protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve and later as a National Monument, Grand Canyon did not achieve National Park status until 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service. Today Grand Canyon National Park receives close to five million visitors each year – a far cry from the annual visitation of 44,173 which the park received in 1919. One of the most popular parks to visit in our country, the Grand Canyon is considered one of the top 5 parks and easily one of the top 3 if you were to ask an American, or any visitor, what the most picturesque parks in the country are. With so many activities, this park offers activities for any level….from the timid to the wildly adventurous!
Not All Who Wander Are Lost: The Best Campgrounds and Trails to See While in Grand Canyon National Park
Experience winter in the desert! The North Rim has the shortest season of all at the Grand Canyon, running from May 15th to October 15th. That is because this rim sits at such a high elevation of nearly 8,000 ft, it is common for snow to appear, and stay, all winter! Those with ambulatory problems should be wary of staying at this portion of the park, and should speak with their doctor.
One of our go-to recommendations is always going to be a Ranger-led program. These programs, that happen either around a campfire, during the day or even on guided hikes are the best ways to learn about the area before adventuring through. Stop by the North Rim Visitors Center to grab a schedule of planned programs, and then make your way over to Bright Angel Overlook to see picturesque and Instagram worthy scenes of the canyon. The Visitors Center is a short walk away from the North Rim Lodge for a libation, relaxation and views that never get old.
This is the only matintained trail on the North Rim of the park and is the only access into the Canyon from the North Rim. What is great about this trail is the ability to change and shape it to fit your needs based on your level of mobility!
The shortest version of the hike is Coconino Overlook, topping out at about 1.5 miles, this quick excursion brings you to a scenic overlook for another social media worthy snapshot. If you continue on, you’ll run into the Supai Tunnel, this 4 mile hike really shows you how immense and beautiful the canyon is, without committing for a full descent or rim to rim hike. For those feeling that much more adventurous, extend your trip out a bit more and head for the Roaring Springs;
This hike is not for the faint of heart, as it brings you from the North Rim down to the Colorado River.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular section of the entire 277 mile canyon! Offering numerous activities and open all year round, this destination is a must if you want to truly experience the Grand Canyon.
Known as the primary visitor’s center in the park, you can adjust your experience to whatever fits your needs. As with the Ranger Programs and Junior Ranger program that we recommend, the South Rim offers more opportunities into understanding the uniqueness that is the Grand Canyon. Start with a short, 20 minute film Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder shown every hour and half-hour in the Grand Canyon Visitor Center to orient yourself. The world and canyon is literally at your fingertips from this vantage point; whether you decide to visit one of the numerous museums, or begin an activity the South Rim has you covered.
A mostly flat and easy to discern trail makes this a favorite of many visitors. With most of the trail being paved, this makes for a quick easy hike to take in views of the inner canyon, maxing out on 2.8 miles. This is one of the few pet friendly trails within the NPS system, so take fido out to enjoy the views too! Shuttle buses available at pick up and drop off points.
Apart from the Visitor Center located on either side of the rim, the South Rim also houses the Yavapai Museum of Geology, which gives those who are science focused an insight into the geology of the canyon and “make the outdoors intelligible”. The Tusayan Ruin are the preserved remains of a small Ancestral Puebloan village and work to bring the pueblo to life! Admission to both museums are free and worth the trip!
The Trail of Time is a walking, interpretive, timeline that uses the vistas and unique rock formations of the Grand Canyon to help guide visitors to “ponder, explore and understand the magnitude of geologic time and stories encoded by Grand Canyon rock layers and landscapes.” A truly unique experience for a first time, or repeat, visitor to the canyon. This is a self-guided tour, however, walking guides are available at both ends of the trail! The Trail of Time can be accessed either through Grand Canyon Village or the YAvapai Geology Museum.
Looking for something a little more adventurous? The Grand Canyon is filled with adventure, you just have to look in the right spots! With enough advanced planning, you can truly have an unforgettable experience
If you truly want to experience the immense size, the best way to see it is through an extended hiking trip. If you love to backpack, but maybe your family doesn’t, combining the two trips with a trailer rental and a backpack trip in between is the best way to please everyone! Permits are required for backpacking trips and can be as simple as a single rim to river night, or the high reaching Rim to Rim trail over multiple days. Guided backpacking trips are also available.
Available on both the South Rim and North Rim, Ranger led day hikes are a unique way to experience the beauty of the canyon, while also working out your brain with new and interesting facts. Schedules and specific hikes are located at www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/ranger-program.htm
Pick your adventure! With trip options lasting from 3 to 21 days or half day smooth water trips (no rapids!) available daily. For the adventurer who wants to float all 277 miles of the canyon, or for the adventurer who just wants to experience the canyon from the floor rather than the rim, even if just for a few hours. Rafting is a unique way to experience the grandeur of the canyon while also having a once in a lifetime experience.
Trailer Village adjacent to Mather Campground and offers paved RV sites that accommodate rigs up to 50’! There are full hookups located at the Village and reservations are highly encouraged.
It’s located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It accepts both trailers/RVS (max of 30’) as well as tent. Open year round, Mather Campground does accept pets, however they must be leashed and not left unattended. Laundry and showers are available on site, but please keep in mind that there are no RV hookups available on site. Located within walking distance of the general store and post office. Reservations are strongly recommended, as the sites tend to fill up by noon March 1st through mid-November.
Desert View Campground has 50 mixed use (RV/trailer and tent) first-come, first-served sites available just 26 miles east of Grand Canyon Village. Sites are usually filled by early afternoon during the summer months, so getting to Desert View early is beneficial. There is a 7-day camping limit, with no sewer, utility or water hook ups.