Take four days to explore and marvel at this breathtaking mile-deep gorge in northwest Arizona.
Stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon and watch the aquamarine Colorado River slice through the chasm’s towering red-orange limestone walls nearly 6,000 feet below. Here is all the information you need to make the most of your Grand Canyon adventure.
The Colorado River started the slow process of carving the canyon five to six million years ago. Archeological evidence shows Paiute, Navajo, Zuni and Hopi tribes have lived in and around the canyon for almost 12,000 years. The Havasupai people also claim the Grand Canyon as their home as they have lived in and around the canyon for over 800 years.
Hopi guides led Spanish explorers to the Grand Canyon in the 1540s, and over 300 years later, U.S. explorer Joseph Ives came to the Grand Canyon while mapping the Colorado River in 1858. It wasn’t until 1919 that President Woodrow Wilson officially established the Grand Canyon as a national park.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Visit the Grand Canyon between April and June for the best weather and the fewest crowds as the sweltering park swells with visitors in the late summer. If you’re planning on staying at the North Rim, visit during the spring or fall since roads, restaurants and accommodations shut down during the icy winter months.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly into the major Phoenix Sky Harbors commercial airport and rent a car for a 3 hour 35 minute drive to the canyon. You can also fly into Las Vegas to Harry Reid International Airport—also known as McCarran International Airport— and take a plane from there into the Grand Canyon National Park Airport. If you’re staying at the South Rim, consider flying into the smaller international Flagstaff Airport, which is only a 1.5 hour drive from the canyon.
SEE / DO
808 Eagle Point Rd, Peach Springs, AZ 86434, United States
While at Grand Canyon West, visit the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that extends almost 70 feet over the canyon’s rim and gives spectacular views of the bottom of the abyss 4,000 feet below. Not for the faint of heart, the Skywalk gives the strange sensation that you are walking on air as you gaze down on the canyon floor far below the invisible surface of the bridge. Rest assured, however, that you are actually walking on a 4-inch-thick glass floor strong enough to hold seventy 747 passenger jets. To experience the dizzying thrill of the Skywalk, buy a $77 package that includes the price of admission, a shuttle to various viewpoints and access to the bridge.
Saddle up and ride down a dusty trail as you explore the Grand Canyon on the back of a sure-footed mule. Both the North and South Rims offer mule treks down into the canyon. A three-hour excursion from the North Rim to the Supai Tunnels includes a 2300-foot descent into the canyon along the North Kaibab trail. If you prefer a longer adventure, take a day trip along the canyon’s rim or an overnight ride to South Rim’s Phantom Ranch, a lodge at the bottom of the canyon.
To try for a spot on the Phantom Ranch tour, enter your lottery submission 15 months prior to your arrival. The overnight tour requires reservations 13 months in advance, so plan ahead and book your spot as soon as you receive confirmation from Phantom Ranch that you were selected in the lottery.
Phantom Ranch overnight mule ride lottery entries and bookings will be paused indefinitely starting Jan. 1, 2023 due to infrastructure projects at the ranch. Keep checking the Phantom Ranch lottery website for updated information about mule rides.
For unforgettable aerial views of the Grand Canyon, soar through the sky high above the gorge and look down on the emerald river and red rocks far below. The Maverick Helicopter company provides a plethora of ways to experience the majesty of the canyon from the air. One option is the Canyon Spirit flight, which takes off from the Grand Canyon National Park Airport at the South Rim. For $319, experience breathtaking views of the Painted Desert and blue-green Colorado River as well as the Dragon Corridor, the deepest and widest segment of the canyon.
Grand Canyon Railway
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, United States
Hitch a ride to the Wild West aboard the Grand Canyon Railway, a historic locomotive that shuttles visitors from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim. Before your train leaves, watch the town sheriff take on armed bandits in an 1800s-style shootout. After boarding the Grand Canyon Railway, sing along to western and cowboy songs as the train chugs through pine trees as well as wide open fields.
Upon arriving at the depot, take a short walk to survey the spectacular beauty of the South Rim and spend the next three hours exploring various trails that showcase the splendor of the canyon. The adventure isn’t over yet, though—train robbers are known to prowl the tracks, so be prepared for a gang of outlaws to hijack the train on your trip back to Williams.
Head to the Canyon Village Market & Deli for items that you may need for picnics, camping and gears.
El Tovar Dining Room
1 El Tovar Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, United States
Found in El Tovar Hotel, the El Tovar Dining Room offers a plethora of dishes to choose from, including: herbed cheese omelets, huevos rancheros and stuffed portabella mushrooms. Try the El Tovar Lounge Veranda if you’re craving parmesan truffle fries or chilled créme brulée. The dress code is casual for breakfast and lunch, but plan on dressing formally if you come for dinner.
10 Albright Ave, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, United States
Located in the Bright Angel Lodge, cuisine at the Arizona Steakhouse comes straight from Arizona ranches and family farms. The Steakhouse has a varied menu with dishes ranging from house-made tortilla soup to plant-based tamales and a turkey bacon ranch wrap. Sample the caramel flan or dig into the New York Style Cheesecake for the perfect finish to your meal.
Under Canvas Grand Canyon
979 Airpark Ln, Grand Canyon Junction, AZ 86046, United States
For a glamping experience that’s sure to impress, try Under Canvas Grand Canyon, located 25 minutes from South Rim. Relax in tan-colored upscale canvas tents at this unique campsite, an oasis of comfort in the dry sagebrush. A variety of activities are available, including: bike rides, painting, hikes and yoga.
Little America Flagstaff
2515 E Butler Ave, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, United States
A four-diamond resort, Little America Flagstaff boasts over 240 guest rooms, 10 meeting rooms and a buffet—as well as outdoor facilities that accommodate up to 350 people. As for outdoor attractions, Little America Flagstaff offers 500 acres of trails through the ponderosa forest right outside the hotel. If you’re on a road trip, stop in to the hotel’s Little America Travel Center to fill up on gas, do your laundry or visit the 24-hour Convenience Store.
5001 Diamond Bar Rd, Peach Springs, AZ 86434, United States
If cozy western cabins are your style, head to Hualapai Ranch at Grand Canyon West to roast some s’mores in between horseback and wagon rides. Travel back in time to an Old West town with stunning views of wispy white clouds above flat rock mesas. The cabins fit two people comfortably, so consider getting two cabins side-by-side if you’re coming with family or a larger group.
In the midst of your busy sightseeing, take time to stop at an overlook to sit for a while and contemplate the vastness of the majestic canyon. Soak in the beauty of red-orange rock layers while marveling at the enormity of the immense chasm.