Fly it, hike it, walk it, raft it – Adventure begins in Arizona at the magnificent Grand Canyon!
Visiting the Grand Canyon
- Around 5.5 million people each year see the 1 mile deep Grand Canyon each year.
- The canyon is 277 river miles long, and up to 18 miles wide.
- Most visitors (90%) see the Grand Canyon from the “South Rim” from overlooks accessed by free park shuttle buses or by their personal vehicles.
- The South Rim is open all year.
The South Rim includes:
- Historic Grand Canyon Village, reached by driving and served by Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona, 59 miles to the south.
- Scenic Hermit Road and Hermits Rest are west of Grand Canyon Village. Between March 1 and Nov. 30, the road is closed to private vehicles. Access is by free shuttle bus, foot and bicycle.
- Desert View Drive and Desert View (25 miles) are east of Grand Canyon Village
A much smaller number of people (10%) see the canyon from the North Rim, which lies just 10 miles across the canyon from the South Rim, but is a 220 mile drive by car. Averaging 8000 feet above sea level, the North Rim rises 1000 feet higher than the South Rim, and because of its remote location, is less accessible. The North Rim has a short season. Lodging and food services are open between May 15th and October 15th of each year.
The Inner Canyon includes everything below the rim and is seen mainly by hikers, backpackers, mule riders, or river runners.The inner canyon is a harsh desert environment with little shade and summer temperatures over 100°F. There are many opportunities here for adventurous and hardy persons to backpack, camp, take a mule trip to Phantom Ranch, or take a river trip through Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. River Trips can last anywhere from several days to three weeks.
The Grand Canyon by Air
Visiting the Grand Canyon is best done by air!
One of the most exciting ways to see the Canyon, and well worth forgoing lattes to save up for the trip, is to experience the vastness of the Grand Canyon from the air. The trip starts at dawn at the Grand Canyon airport on the South Rim where early risers board the 8-seat puddle jumper or helicopter for the ride of a lifetime. As the plane ascends, passengers are able to view the largest contiguous pine forest in North America.
From there the pilot turns north and flies over some of the most stunning scenery in America. As dawn ebbs away and the day takes hold, the colors and shadows of the Canyon change with the light. Far below, the Colorado River cuts through the rock appearing almost lazy when viewed from the air. Air tours are available from multiple companies and offer the opportunity for a visitor to experience the vastness of the Canyon in a way early explorers never could.
Grand Canyon River Trips
River trips are a way to get down in the Canyon and up close to the Colorado River. As visitors float down the river, they see the depths and beauty of the national park from the Canyon floor. Trips ranging from 1 – 25 days are available. Vacationers can opt for a leisurely 14-mile pontoon ride on a calm stretch of the Colorado starting at the Glen Canyon Dam. There’s time for lunch and a hike to see American Indian petroglyphs carved into canyon walls. As the rock cliffs soar overhead, there is time to imagine what the first visitors of the area saw and experienced.
For the more adventurous, longer, more arduous trips are available. They include rafting with varying degrees of rapids, camping, and hiking. The secluded river trips with camping provide the perfect chance to sleep under a canopy of stars.
Camping in the Grand Canyon
Camping in and around the Grand Canyon can be done at both the North and South Rims. There are tent and RV campgrounds within and outside of the Grand Canyon. Camping outside of the developed grounds requires a permit obtainable from the Backcountry Information Center. To protect the Grand Canyon and its beauty, permits are limited. Campers should apply for them well in advance.
For the ultimate Grand Canyon adventure, fly the Grand Canyon in the morning ending at the North Rim, tour the stunning Antelope Canyon, the most photographed slot canyon in Southwest America, with an Indian guide, then head for the river and float back down in the afternoon. This trip can be assembled individually or through one of the area’s many tour groups.
You’ll love visiting the Grand Canyon! Don’t you think it’s time to start to plan your Grand Canyon vacation?