Grand Canyon AttractionsThings to Do in Grand Canyon National Park
Only two hours from Sedona is the majestic Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the most visited national park in North America. This awe-inspiring geological wonder offers sublime vistas across the shockingly beautiful one-mile deep, 18-mile wide and 277-mile long chasm.
The views are so expansive and the colors of the stone and bright blue sky so vivid that it’s easy to spend hours simply staring into the canyon—and there are seemingly limitless vantage points from which to do just that.
The Grand Canyon is immense. The crevice is a mile deep and over 275 miles long. The park encompasses over 1,200,000 acres, and it is 10 miles wide in many sections. The 6 million year old Grand Canyon is made up of buttes, plateaus and mesas that cover two billion year old igneous and metamorphic rock.
In addition, there are historic sites along the canyon rim, hiking opportunities throughout the park, rafting trips, pristine nature to be experienced, and any number of family adventures to be had.
There are many overlooks accessible by car that offer spectacular views of the canyon. Desert View Drive (Highway 64) follows the canyon rim for 26 miles/42 km east of Grand Canyon Village to Desert View - the east entrance to the park. Desert View Drive is open to private vehicles throughout the year. Hermit Road follows the rim for 8 miles/13 km west from Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest. Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles much of the year, but the park runs a free shuttle bus to provide transportation to overlooks.
Grand Canyon is heavily visited for most of the year and it is imperative to plan ahead for lodging, camping, backcountry permits, or mule trips. Persons planning day visits only should arrive early in the day as parking is limited.
The nearest major airports are in Phoenix and Las Vegas, and the most convenient way to get to the canyon from either airport is to rent a car and drive.
No visit to Grand Canyon is complete without checking out the local attractions.
Grand Canyon Area Map
South Rim Village Map
Grand Canyon Photos
Grand Canyon, Arizona weather
What to See
You will get a copy of The Guide, the park newspaper, when you pass through the park entry gate. It's an invaluable resource that will include announcements about activities and information about any unexpected closures.
Grand Canyon South Rim
The South Rim is the most popular destination within the park, and arguably offers the most picturesque views of the canyon, as well as the most visitor amenities for great Grand Canyon sightseeing. You’ll find the majority of lodging and dining options here, and plenty of shops that offer souvenirs, artwork, and books—and everything is clustered together within easy walking distance.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon attracts over 5 million visitors each year and is the most visited attraction in Arizona.
During summer vacation months, visitors should expect heavy traffic and parking problems.
If you want to avoid crowds, the best time to visit is from November through February. During the winter, heavy snow at the high altitude could be a travel consideration.
The Canyon South Rim is only 60 miles north of Williams, Arizona on State Route 64 and about 90 miles northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona on Highway 180 to SR 64. There are hotels at the Grand Canyon South Rim area, but many visitors prefer hotels in Williams or Flagstaff hotels.
Experiencing the Grand Canyon The majority of the Grand Canyon's visitors drive along park roads on the canyon’s South Rim, stopping at scenic viewing points, such as Desert View, Mather Point and Grandview Point, marveling at formations such as the Vishnu Temple.
Grand Canyon Railway
Another way to get to the Grand Canyon is to climb aboard the Grand Canyon Railway. The Grand Canyon Railway is the fun and easy way for the whole family to visit the incredible Grand Canyon. This vintage train departs from the town of Williams and takes you on a journey back in time. This train service has been operating since 1901. Now you can book a hotel in Williams and climb aboard a restored train and see the sights along the way to the Grand Canyon just as tourists did a century ago.
Grand Canyon Skywalk Must See Attraction
Imagine yourself suspended in air 4,000 feet over the majesty of the Grand Canyon … view the glory of the Colorado River below, witness the sunrise over the canyon’s carved peaks, and listen to the stillness of Mother Nature. The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West is a unique glass-bottomed cantilever observation deck that spans 70 feet over the canyon's rim.
Grand Canyon North Rim
The quieter North Rim is accessible only in the warmer months, from late spring to early fall, and provides a more relaxing Grand Canyon vacation—although it is prohibitively far from the South Rim (about four to five hours by car), so it’s best to pick one or the other for shorter vacations. The North Rim or Grand Canyon West is closer from Las Vegas.
Grand Canyon West
About a four-hour drive from the South Rim, and well beyond the national park boundaries, is Grand Canyon West, a tourist destination being developed by the Hualapai Tribe, which owns the adjoining Native American reservation.
Unlike the South and North Rim, Grand Canyon West is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park. It is located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation at the western Grand Canyon corridor about 120 miles east of Las Vegas and about 72 miles northwest of Kingman, Arizona. Because the West Rim is located much closer to Las Vegas than the South Rim
The canyon floor itself—which is accessible by foot, mule or river raft—holds untold treasures for the hearty souls who are up to discover them.
Mather’s Point is the first viewpoint you’ll come across and is also one of the most crowded. While it’s the first, it’s not necessarily the best, especially if you can’t find a parking spot.
Yavapai Observation Station at Yavapai Point offers panoramic views of the canyon, including the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch.
White Water Rafting / Adventures Some visitors choose river-rafting trips along the calmer portions of the Colorado River. Others prefer to bronco ride the more challenging of the canyon’s 60 rapids, and a few commit themselves to the entire 277-mile span, becoming so at one with the canyon that after 17 days they feel their lives have been altered and the canyon has become a part of them.
Grand Canyon National Park is in a remote part of the country. Remember:
- Bring an extra set of car keys; it could be a long wait for a locksmith.
- Film is available at the South Rim, but the closest camera repair is in Flagstaff.
- There is an automobile mechanic on the South Rim, but you may experience delays waiting for parts.
- Distances are deceiving in this part of the country. It may look like you can visit three parks in one day, but reality is often different.
- Keep your gas tank full. The next gas station may be quite a distance down the road.
- Carry water in your car, particularly during summer months.
Kolb Studio, South Rim
Once the home and business of the Kolb brothers, pioneering photographers at Grand Canyon, this building has been restored. The bookstore and auditorium are open to the public. Art exhibits are on display in the auditorium. Located in the Village Historic District, at the Bright Angel trailhead.
Tusayan Museum, South Rim
A visit to Tusayan Ruin and Museum will provide a glimpse of Pueblo Indian Life at Grand Canyon some 800 years ago. A self-guiding trail leads through the adjacent 800-year-old ruin. Ranger-led ruin tours are offered daily. The museum is located 3 miles west of Desert View and 22 miles west of the Grand Canyon Village on Desert View Drive.
Yavapai Observation Station, South Rim
Contains temporary exhibits about the fossil record at Grand Canyon. A panorama of the canyon is visible through the building's large windows. Located 5 miles north of the park's south entrance.
South Kaibab Trai
One of the two superhighways into the Canyon, the other being the Bright Angel Trail, this path runs along a ridge offering stunning views. During the summer, visitors are advised to bring at least two quarts of water along because it can get very hot and the trail offers no shade.
Bright Angel Trail
One of the two superhighways of the Grand Canyon, this well maintained and popular trail offers breathtaking vistas, some shaded areas, plus a number of rest stops that have drinking water.
Acrophobes may want to avoid this overlook, on the remote part of the North Rim, which provides awesome Canyon views from sheer cliffs nearly 3,000 feet high above the Colorado River.
Grand Canyon Village
The hub of activity at the Grand Canyon's South Rim, this busy village offers hotels, shops and restaurants from fast food to fine dining.
Colorado River & Trail Expeditions
Colorado River & Trail Expeditions-Grand Canyon Rafting Colorado River & Trail Expeditions offers whitewater rafting expeditions with an emphasis on hiking to the best spots in the Grand...
Historic Navajo Bridge
Stretching more than 750 feet in length, this graceful bridge rises 470 feet above the Colorado River.
Lipan Point is one of the nicest spots for sunset photos!
Zion National Park
Zion National Park, in Utah, portrays the type of beauty that stops us in our tracks, gaping in awe. Nature's extreme forces and the violence of Mother Nature have created perfection in the heart of Utah's Color Country.
Western Discovery Museum, Tusayan
Grand Canyon Deer Farm
Looking for activities that are child friendly?
Often called the "Shangri-la of the Grand Canyon," visitors can hike, camp or just soak up the sun around these beautiful falls where rushing water spills from red cliffs into brilliant aquamarine pools.
Kid-friendly Things to Do in Grand Canyon National Park
There's only so many art museums a five-year-old can take. When it's time to let the kids run loose, it's time for Grand Canyon's family-friendly attractions. But it's not all playgrounds and jungle gyms; these attractions are truly fun for the whole family.
Grand Canyon Caverns Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Grand Canyon IMAX Theater Show Grand Canyon Tour Sycamore Canyon Planes of Fame Museum Grand Canyon Airlines - Canyon Smooth Water Float Trip Ten-X Nature Trail
About 70 million years ago the collision of tectonic plates caused the Colorado Plateau to rise from sea level to 10,000 feet. Then the Colorado River began its work of cutting through the rock, a powerful force chiseling away at limestone, sandstone, shale, schist and gneiss. Wind, rain and melting snow contributed to the erosion. Rocks split off and came crashing down. Slowly, the canyon’s magical formations took shape.
As the Colorado River continues to wind its way through the Grand Canyon like an unfurling ribbon, the process of sculpting also goes on—one inch every 500 years. Today, some of the exposed canyon walls are a fascinating geology lesson, their layers a history of the earth through time. The oldest rocks at the bottom of the canyon (gneiss and schist) go back 2 billion years. Kaibab Limestone, deposited 260 million years ago, forms most of the cap rock.
Official Grand Canyon
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