The Grand Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located entirely in northern Arizona. This is one of the most famous and most popular tourist places in USA. The canyon consists several distinct areas, most famous of which is Grand Canyon National Park which is United States National Park. The national park is itself divided into two main areas: the remote North Rim and the more crowded (because it’s more approachable) South Rim. The park was founded as Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and became a national park in 1919.
How to get there
If you are traveling by and you head to South Rim of the park you will enter from the south on Arizona Route 64 (AZ 64). Alternately, one can enter the south rim from the east on AZ64. If you are entering from south – from Flagstaff, you can take US Route 180 northwest to Valle where it joins with AZ 64, and continue north to the south rim. Both routs are about 129 km long. If you are flying to USA especially for the Garand Canyon, land on one of two metropolitan airports which aren’t very close but are in fact the closest to the Grand Canyon and are within half a day’s drive of the South Rim – Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS), (443 km) from the South Rim and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (370 km) from the South Rim. Flagstaff’s Pulliam Field (FLG) is the nearest commercial airport to the canyon. Grand Canyon National Park Airport (GCN) is located just outside of the South Rim entrance in the town of Tusayan. If you are taking a train, The Grand Canyon Railway transits from the town of Williams to The Grand Canyon Village (the route is approximately 2.5 hours long in one direction).
What to see
The most important thing you will see here is the magnificent natural creation that is The Grand Canyon as well as The Grand Canyon Village. Here you can have amazing view at the Bright Angel Trail and you can see some historic buildings. Be prepared for crowds.
If you want to see the Desert View, head to the historic Watchtower which is a popular stop from where you can see the canyon and Colorado River.
Hermits Rest is located at the West end of Hermit Road. This gift shop/snack bar was designed by Mary Colter (the same person who created the Watchtower at Desert View.
Havasupai Indian Reservation means “People of the Blue-Green Water” and if you want to visit this part of the canyon you will have to pay $35 per person (plus an additional $17 per person/night to stay in the campground). Visit the Havasu Canyon to witness the amazing waterfalls.
What to do
Hiking in the Grand Canyon is unique experience. The trails range from fifteen minutes easy walking to trails that you won’t be able to finish in days.
Bright Angel Trail is the park’s most popular trail which starts near the Bright Angel Lodge. This trail traverses a seemingly unending series of switchbacks down the canyon wall before leveling out somewhat around the oasis of Indian Gardens.
South Kaibab Trail is a bit steeper than the Bright Angel trail, and starts from Yaki Point and follows a ridgeline into the canyon. From this track you can have a spectacular and wide open view of the canyon. The only bad thing about this trail is that there are no trees along, so if you are taking this trail in summer it would be pretty hot. There is not even a spring of natural water nearby. If you are still going to go, make sure to have a sunscreen, hat and lots of water.
Hermit Trail is a steep, unmaintained and rocky trail that descends from the South Rim to the river, passing fossilized reptile tracks and abandoned camps from the early 1900s along the way. There is no water or shade available along this trail.
Whitewater rafting is for the wild at heart. Expeditions depart daily during the summer months from Lee’s Ferry. Check Arizona River Runners, Grand Canyon Whitewater, or Colorado River & Trail Expeditions when you arrive there.
Ranger programs include interpretive talks, rim walks, movies, and museums. At the South Rim, special Junior Ranger programs are available for children in the summer.
Star gazing is perhaps one of the most magical things you can witness when night comes down. It’s free and you can see fantastic meteor showers. If you are visiting the Canyon in June, you won’t miss the Grand Canyon Star Party (it’s at Yavapai Point).
This is the dream place for cyclists but cycling is only allowed on park roads. It is not allowed on rim trails or in the inner canyon. The best mountain biking can be found on the North Rim and just outside the park in the Kaibab National Forest.
Weather and nature
Temperatures and weather within the park vary greatly by location. Temperatures on the North Rim are often 11-16°C. It can be snowing at the rim, and the sun can shine bright down by river. Conversely, it can be cool and comfortable at the rim in the summer, while temperatures at the river can go up to 49°C. The best months for visiting are March to May as well as September to mid November when the temperatures are bearable. The Grand Canyon is home to some of the rarest kinds of animals and plants. Whatever you are going to see here will take your breath away. It’s not uncommon to see small lizards, snakes, ravens, Abert’s Squirrel with their tufted ears, Striped Skunk, and if lucky, you might even see the rarer Western Spotted Skunk. No matter how tempted you are, do not feed the wild animals because whatever food you have, is not good for them and you might get yourself in danger.