Tips on What To Do in Grand Canyon
While in the Canyon, writers recommend enjoying the views above all else, accessible from a series of vantage points along both the South and the North Rims, including the Desert View Watchtower on the South Rim and the Grand Canyon Skywalk on the Hualapai Reserve. Hiking, camping and rafting are popular outdoor activities within the canyon. Professional travelers and recent visitors urge you to bring a guide or accompany an experienced outdoorsman when hiking, and never hike alone.
- Tour the South Rim from Hermits Rest east to Desert View, driving through the Navajo reservation and Marble Canyon area before winding up the Kaibab Plateau to Jacob Lake and the canyon’s quiet north side, for a sampling of scenery, history, and activity."-- Moon Travel Guide
- During peak season, May through September, hotel rooms sell out months in advance, ditto for those mule rides, and certain raft trips can be a year-long wait or more. Ah, wilderness!"-- New York Times
Many Grand Canyon visitors choose the South Rim as their home base because of the many attractions clustered in the Grand Canyon Village. Start your tour of the Grand Canyon Village at the Grand Canyon Railway Depot; this cabin-like train station still acts as a stop on the Grand Canyon Railway plus it houses the Park Services offices. From here, you can head to one of the village's several art studios -- like the Kolb and Lookout Studios -- or historic buildings. Check out the Bright Angel Lodge and the Buckey O'Neill Cabin to learn about the settling of the Grand Canyon area. Or, if you're more interested in the history of the area's native tribes, check out the Hopi House, a large adobe structure that represents what a Hopi home and crafts workshop could look like.
The South Rim is also home to the Bright Angel Trail. This is one of the Canyon's most popular hikes; you'll also enjoy the scenery along Bright Angel if you're hiking by mule.
- You need to spend several days to truly appreciate this marvelous place, but at the very least, give it a full day. Hike down into the canyon, or along the rim, to get away from the crowds and experience nature at its finest." -- Fodor's
- Outside of the village, Hermits Rest on Hermit Road and the Watchtower on Desert View Drive are also of historical significance." -- Frommer's
Unlike the South Rim, the North Rim is severely lacking when it comes to historic and cultural attractions. But that means you won't have to worry about beating the crowds to enjoy the North Rim trails or views. Nature lovers flock to this side of the Canyon to stretch their legs along the North Kaibab Trail or to gaze out over the canyon from popular viewpoints like Point Sublime and Bright Angel Point. Bear in mind that, because of its higher elevation, the North Rim sees much more precipitation than the South Rim. And the area is closed to visitors in winter due to heavy snowfalls.
- Visitor facilities on the northern edge are all clustered in the relatively small area around Grand Canyon Lodge, a rustically elegant castle-style hotel with terrific views from its terraces and dining rooms." -- Travel Channel
- It's a five-hour drive to the North Rim, but you'll want to allow an additional two to four hours for sightseeing, so get an early start. Beginning just south of Mather Point, Highway 64 travels along the East Rim 25 miles to Desert View. Stop at Grandview Point to gaze down at Horseshoe Mesa, then continue to Tusayan Ruin." -- Moon Travel Guides
Grand Canyon West & Supai
While many travelers restrict themselves to the trails and the sights along the South Rim, travel writers say that the western part of Grand Canyon National Park shouldn't be ignored. Grand Canyon West offers several ways to enjoy the canyon, including helicopter rides, horseback rides and the popular Skywalk, a glass walkway that hovers 70 feet over the edge of the canyon.
For both beautiful surroundings and a healthy dose of culture, head farther west and visit the Havasupai tribe in Supai, a small village northwest of the Grand Canyon Village along the Havasu Canyon. Supai is surrounded by numerous natural attractions, including the spectacular Havasu Falls. However, because it is so remote, you'll need to set aside about two and a half hours to drive from Grand Canyon Village to Supai.
- Be sure to call the Havasupai Tourist Enterprise before visiting for more information." -- Fodor's
Sports & Leisure
More than two-dozen trails line the North and South Rims, providing hikers an excellent day's hike and unforgettable views. If you're an amateur hiker, you may want to stick to some of the easier hikes -- such as the Rim Trail and the Bright Angel Trail -- along the South Rim. You can also travel the Bright Angel Trail by mule, which is one of the most popular Grand Canyon experiences. For more experienced hikers, North Rim trails -- like the North Kaibab Trail, the Widforss Trail and the Transept Trail -- are a bit more challenging with a more secluded setting.
Whether you're a beginner or an expert, hiking in the canyon (especially off the trail) can be very dangerous. It's best to travel with an experienced guide and to never hike alone.
If you're up for a real challenge, consider experiencing the Grand Canyon from below. A whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado River beckons to thrill-seekers. Companies like Colorado River Discovery and Hualapai River Runners offer daytrips, while those looking to spend a few days on the river can sign up to raft with O.A.R.S. or Wilderness River Adventures.
- If you're a birder, bring your binoculars, because September and October are great months to watch migrating raptors use the canyon as a flyway."-- Moon Travel Guides
- The South Rim's most popular walking path is the 13-mi (one-way) Rim Trail, which runs along the edge of the canyon from Mather Point (the first overlook on Desert View Drive) to Hermits Rest. This walk, which is paved to Maricopa Point, visits several of the South Rim's historic landmarks. Allow anywhere from 15 minutes to a full day; the Rim Trail is an ideal day hike." -- Frommer's
- Keep in mind that seats fill up fast due to the restricted number of visitors allowed on the river each season by the National Park Service. Due to the limited availability, reservations for multiday trips should be made a year or two in advance." -- Fodor's