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Why Go to Grand Canyon

"Grand" doesn't begin to do this canyon justice. Measuring approximately 277 miles in length, up to 18 miles in width and a mile deep, this massive chasm in northern Arizona is truly a natural wonder. For six million years, the Grand Canyon has expanded with the help of the mighty Colorado River, and for centuries, people from all over the globe have traveled to gaze out over its red and orange grandeur. Managed by the National Park Service and officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Grand Canyon leaves its approximately 4.5 million visitors per year awestruck.

But if you're seeking a secluded escape to Mother Nature, you should be prepared: The Grand Canyon can be very crowded. The South Rim — home to the Grand Canyon Village and the well-worn Bright Angel Trail — is particularly popular for sightseers and hikers. It is on this side that you'll find the most amenities. However, for a true escapist experience, head to the North Rim. This is the place for backwoods camping and hardcore hiking.

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Grand Canyon Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

U.S. News editors analyzed weather and price trends to recommend the top times to visit.

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What You Need to Know

  • You don't need a car While driving may seem like the easiest way to get to the Grand Canyon, you'll have to deal with winding roads and overcrowded parking lots. You're better off relying on public transportation.
  • Bring layers Even if you're visiting in the midst of summer, you can bank on chilly winds once the sun goes down. Make sure to bring a jacket just in case.
  • Don't forget your permits If you are planning on setting up camp away from the designated campgrounds, you will need a backcountry permit. You can pick one up at one of the park's visitor centers or ranger stations.

How to Save Money in Grand Canyon

  • BYOB Bring your own bed. Hotel rooms inside the park can be pretty pricey. Instead, reserve a spot in one of the campgrounds or purchase a backcountry camping permit for a fraction of the cost.
  • Arrive fashionably late If you're set on a summer trip, you'll have better luck finding deals on a place to hang your hat if you visit at the end of August.
  • Shuttle away Forget the car. You can save money on rentals, gas and parking by relying on the Grand Canyon's free shuttle bus service. It's the easiest way to explore the South Rim.

What to Eat

Many travelers prefer a quick meal at one of the on-site cafeterias in the South Rim, instead of an extended (and expensive) meal at one of the park's restaurants. Whatever you do, avoid the food in the nearby town of Tusayan, Arizona; recent travelers say that the city's restaurants are particularly disappointing. In fact, many recommend packing lunches from local delis.

Getting Around Grand Canyon

The best way to get around the Grand Canyon is by shuttle bus. Operated by the National Park Service, these shuttles will take you all around the South Rim for free. If you're visiting the North Rim, a car will be the most convenient option, but make sure to check the park's website for listed road closures. Getting to the area can be trickier; of the numerous airports, many travelers choose to fly into Phoenix's Sky Harbor International (PHX) or McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas. Amtrak trains, tour buses and car rentals are all available from both Phoenix and Las Vegas. To land closer to the canyon, consider flying into Pulliam Airport (FLG) in Flagstaff, Arizona, about 80 miles south of the South Rim. Trains, buses and car rentals are available here as well.

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