Destination Bucketlist: The Grand Canyon

Few places in the world can elicit the reaction that Grand Canyon can. This awe-inspiring canyon is proof that Mother Nature is indeed the greatest artist and when she’s in the mood to create, the result is raw perfection. 

Set in Arizona, the Grand Canyon spans more than the eye can see at 1,217,403 acres. The immense size of the Grand Canyon is not its most impressive feature. Geologic palettes and erosional sculptures bring about the unique and unpredictable landscapes of the canyon. 

Grand Canyon Activities

North Rim

North Rim

The North Rim is open during a season that usually runs from May through October. A North Rim adventure best starts with a trip to the Visitor Center. Not only will you find maps, brochures, and interpretive exhibits at the Visitor Center, you can also speak with park rangers that can help you make your vacation better. 

The North Rim has unique features that brings you to a whole different world. Its captivating scenery lends an isolated and wild feeling to the area. Mountain meadows play host to foraging turkeys and deer. You can take quiet hikes along the scenic trails where you can enjoy breath-taking views. 

Visitors can also explore the North Rim Scenic Drive that features a winding trip to Cape Royal and Point Imperial. It usually takes half a day to drive to the two points, including the stops at pullouts and the short walks at each destination. Don’t miss out on the mule trips, too. You can choose from one hour rides along the Grand Canyon Rim, a half day trip to Uncle Jim Point, or the more extensive inner canyon trip to Supai Tunnel on the North Kaibab Trail that takes half a day. 

Unlike the North Rim, the South Rim and Desert View are open all year long. Start your trip with a visit to the Visitor Center to get important park information. There are plenty of information centers that can steer your vacation in the right direction. Museums that house exhibits are also aplenty at the South Rim. 

If you want to experience Grand Canyon on another level, you can also attend free ranger programs to learn more about Grand Canyon’s exceptional history, nature, and culture. You don’t have to enter the ranger program to increase your canyon awareness, though. The Grand Canyon Visitor Center shows a park orientation film with the first showing starting early at 8:30 in the morning. 

Starting from any viewpoint on the village, you can walk along a portion of the Rim Trail. This trail is mostly level and well-defined, so most travelers will have an easy walk. From this area, you can also explore the greenway and Hermit Road. Visitors also have the option to hike in and around the canyon during the day or spend the night backpacking below the rim. 

Between the Yavapai Museum of Geology and the Verkamps Visitor Center, tourists can walk the Trail of Time. This exploration of the canyon rim gives information about the geologic history of this captivating area and features samples from each of the canyon’s layers. 

Want to have a memorable exploration of the Grand Canyon? Go on a south rim mule trip. The mule trips are offered all throughout the year. You can choose to make a three-hour journey along the stunning canyon rim with the Canyon Vistas Ride or go on an overnight ride to the canyon’s bottom with a stay at Phantom Ranch. 

Make the most of the free shuttle bus services during March to November and take the Scenic Hermit Road tour. You can take in amazing views of the river at Moran, Lipan, and Desert View Points by going on the Scenic Desert View Drive. The Watchtower at Desert View Point will give you a panoramic view beyond one hundred miles on a sunny day. 

Adventure seekers will have a marvelous time exploring the canyon while having an exciting time on the waters of the Colorado River. Book well in advance for whitewater trips through the mighty river as trips last from 3 days to 21 days. If you want a less heart-thumping journey, smoothwater trips that last for a half a day will bring you from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry. 

Travelers Tips

If you want to make the best out of your Grand Canyon vacation and make your stay as stress-free as possible, keep these traveler’s tips in mind:

Planning Essentials

Just like with every trip, preparation is key. Get a useful map or booklet of the Grand Canyon or download a pocket map and trip planner. Not only will you have maps of the North and South rims, you’ll also have essential information about the places you need to visit and other helpful tips. 

Permits

You want a problem-free vacation, so make sure that you secure a permit if you’re going on river trips, backcountry camping, and commercial tours. Weddings, scientific research, filming, and other special events need permits, too. 

Parking

South Rim Shuttle Buses

South Rim Shuttle Buses

Even in the great wilderness parking is an issue and is an inescapable factor in the success of your trip if you’re bringing a car. When visiting South Rim during the summer months, beat other park-goers and find good parking by arriving before 9 in the morning. Keep in mind that riding the South Rim Shuttle Buses are free of charge. You can leave your car in the parking area and ride the free shuttles to the scenic overlooks and around the South Rim Village. 

Camping

Living a life or ruggedness and freedom from the everyday cares of the modern world. Reign in your spontaneity, though, when it comes to camping at Mather Campground and the North Rim Campground. To ensure that you’ll have a spot to pitch your tent, make advance campground reservations. Camping season draws in hordes of outdoor lovers, so it’s better to book early than risk losing precious tent space. 

Lodging

For those who want to experience the great outdoors without foregoing modern luxuries, plenty of lodging can be found at Grand Canyon. Like camping, however, park lodging at South Rim and North Rim is a hot commodity. Places can fill up soon and if you don’t plan and book in advance, you might find yourself out cold - literally. Book as far ahead as possible, especially during the summer months and fall weekends.