Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world, it is impossible not to include the Grand Canyon in the itinerary. However, planning this trip has its challenges. Here, a complete guide that will help you make the most of your trip there.

Grand Canyon it is a spectacle in itself. Observing this work carved by nature is already the greatest reward for those who are willing to face long hours by plane and road to get there. The gorge is the result of a natural process that has been going on for millions of years. It is only possible because, in its entrails, the Colorado River, responsible for the erosions that shaped and sculpted the rocks.



The opportunity to connect with this huge rock sculpture It is a gift for nature and adventure sports lovers. And for those who like to delve into the origins, the park is a real class in geology, anthropology and archeology (the list could be much longer).

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Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Welcome to the Grand Canyon | Travel Tips – Grand Canyon National Park: The Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Where it is

Your area is contained in the so-called Grand Canyon National Park, located in the northwest of the state of Arizona in the US, near the borders of Utah and Nevada. The distance from Vegas to the Grand Canyon is 195 km.


It is possible to take a day trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. There are several companies that make these excursions with this proposal.


Directions

By car:

This is the option that will make the trip easier. If your itinerary starts in Las Vegas, like mine, you can rent a car and drive 4 hours there. I rented a Mustang for RentCars. It was with him that I traveled the typical American roads and passed through different parks, such as Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and Valley of Fire.

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By train:

There are two companies that tourists can use to get to the Grand Canyon by train. The most suitable is Grand Canyon Railway – see more information here. The train leaves at 9:30 am from Williams, which is located about 100 km from the park. Travel time is approximately two hours and fifteen minutes.

On the way back, the train leaves the Grand Canyon at 15:30 pm and arrives in the city of origin – Williams at 17:45 pm. I don't believe it is a worthwhile trip, as the travel time is long and the time you will stay in the park is short.

By airplane:

The closest airport to Grand Canyon National Park is Flagstaff. However, the most conventional is to take the plane to Las Vegas, rent a car and take a 4-hour drive to the park.


By bus:

It is possible to take a bus to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff or Williams. You can find information about prices and timetables on the Greyhound website and look for tickets from your place of origin to Flagstaff or Williams and then, in these cities there are transports that take you to the Grand Canyon.


Another option is to go from soil para Tusayan and take the bus from there, so you can contribute to the reduction of vehicles, which helps to preserve the park. The parks have their own transport – the shuttles – which also operate in the city, between the months of March a September. The point where you must get off is at the Visitor Center. See more information about the shuttle here.

What to take

When organizing your backpack to take to the Grand Canyon, take into account the weather conditions and temperature, so you don't get cold or hot. In that region, the temperature can change dramatically from day to night.

During the tours, essential items are water and sunscreen. You can not do without, especially for those who want to do the trails. Throughout the day, in addition to basic meals, it is also worth taking some fruit or energy bars. Hydrate yourself at all times.

How to visit

Grand Canyon Hours of Operation:

The Grand Canyon has two main entrances, the South Rim (Borda Sul) and North Rim (North Rim). The southern edge, which includes the Grand canyon village and the desert view, is the most accessible and the most visited by tourists. This entry remains open 24 hours a day, throughout the year, but according to the season, in winter for example, some facilities may be unavailable.


The northern edge, where most of the campsites and lodgings are located, remains open from mid-May to mid-October. Before planning, it's worth taking a good look at the official website here.


Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Entrance to the Grand Canyon from the South Rim is the most accessible and the most visited by tourists | Travel Tips – Grand Canyon USA: The Complete Guide to the Most Famous Park in the Country

Grand Canyon parking and transportation

Next to Visitor Center there is a free car park that you can leave your car there. You There you can find out about the use of the free transport system that operates in the park space shuttle – see more information about the shuttle here.

In some places, cars are not allowed. That's why the shuttle is the best option to get around and reach the main points of the Grand Canyon - viewpoints overlooking the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River and the trails. But if you choose to do some stretches by car, it is worth mentioning that it is possible to park very close to the viewpoints.

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

How Much and Where to Buy Tickets

The ticket price varies depending on how you arrive at the Grand Canyon. If you arrive by car, including all passengers, the value is U$ 35 e individual – on foot or cyclist the value is U$ 20 per person.

All tickets are valid for 7 consecutive days and can be purchased through the official website or directly at the Grand Canyon entrance gates. A tip, the North Rim entrance is only accepted cash, the other entrances also accept credit cards.

If you plan to visit the Grand Canyon more times over the course of a year, it is worth buying the annual pass to the Grand Canyon which costs US$ 70. Now if the idea is to visit other American parks, it is much more worth buying the annual pass. more here

Before starting to explore the Grand Canyon, the first thing I recommend to do when arriving – as in any other park – is to go straight to the Visitor Center. There, you get maps, directions for all possible activities, weather conditions, etc.

Now for the tips what to do in the grand canyon:

South Kaibab trail

The first trail I did was the South kaibab trail, located near the entrance to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This trail is the most popular and most sought after by tourists, and where the main activities are.

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Souht Kaibab Trail information at the Visitor Center – everything detailed: trail duration, amount of water and food to bring. Cool!

The trail is extensive, but only if you want to go to the end, you will spend 4 to 6 hours of moderate walking. I was a little more than half – I went through the Ooh Aah Point e Cedar Ridge - and took 2 hours.  As far as I went, I didn't find the route heavy, on the contrary, the two hours I spent on the trail were very peaceful. That's because I was enjoying the view and taking breaks on the walk to take pictures, especially on the way up. It is a trail that I recommend, mainly for the view, which is beautiful.

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

View from the South Kaibab trailhead | Travel tips

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Ooh Aah Point – One of the South Kaibab Stops | Travel tips

Desert View Drive

On the way back, I took the car and went to the Desert View Drive, a 35 km road that gives access to the Grand Canyon and has several viewpoints and stopping points. The first stop was at Watchtower. There is a tower there that is worth knowing, a place full of history and with a beautiful view, and it also doesn't pay anything to go up.

I went to Navajo Point – what a beautiful place! That point already announced the spectacle that was to come as he advanced on the road. The next point was Lipan Point, a place that, for me, provided the best view ever that I could see along the way. No words to describe it! For those who want to see a spectacular sunset, I recommend you go to Lipan Point. I also went through Moran Point and by Grandview Point, which is also the gateway to a track of the same name.

Speaking of the sun, it is worth mentioning that the most suitable places to watch the sunrise are: the Yavapai Point e Hopi Point. The most suitable for sunset are: Navajo Point, Mather Point and the Pima Point.

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Desert View Watchtower | Travel tips

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Lipan Point – the best view of the Grand Canyon | Travel tips

Red Route no Grand Canyon West

The next day I went to see the edge West of the Park (Grand Canyon West). For this I used the “red line” shuttle – the Red Route in English.

For those coming from the Visitor Center, it is necessary to take the Blue Line shuttle to the “Hermits Rest Village Transfer” stop, then just walk a few meters to the “Village Route Transfer” stop – this is the starting point for the viewpoints of the Red line.

There are 9 stops on the Red Rout, with the “Hermits Rest” being the westernmost point possible to reach by shuttle. On the way out, the shuttle stops at all 9 points, but on the way back only at three – Pima Point, Mohave Point and Powell Point

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Red Rout 9 Points Map | Travel tips

My itinerary on the Red Route

I highlighted some stopping points that I found most interesting. the first is the Trailview Overview and soon after Maricopa Point. They are two unmissable points, but they are separated by a certain distance, so I recommend taking the shuttle. From Maricopa I followed on foot to the Powell Point, a very interesting place for historical reasons. There, there is a memorial in honor of explorer John Wesley Powell, the first to organize an expedition along the Colorado River.

From Powell Point I went to the Hopi Point, which is also very close. Take advantage of this point to go to the bathroom, since the beginning of the route, I had not found any. Hopi Point is a beautiful place and is on the list of recommended places to see the sunset. #Tip: don't forget to bring water because it's hard to find supply points along the way.

Now Mohave Point, the main highlight is that from there you can have a nice view, although a little distant, of the Colorado River. It is an essential point for anyone who wants to contemplate this view combined with the Grand Canyon. Super recommended stop!

The penultimate stop, the Pima Point, as I said above, is one of the best places to watch the sunset. It's worth the wait!

A really cool tip is to do the Red Rout by bike, there are a lot of cyclists there. On some trails, the entry of a bike is not allowed, but this is easy to solve, just leave it parked at the entrance and continue on foot.

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Pima Point – is one of the best places to watch the sunset | Travel tips

Helicopter Flight in Grand Canyon

That was one of the experiences most amazing I had in my entire trip. Seeing the Grand Canyon from above, flying over the Mojave Desert, the Hoover Dam, the Colorado River and the Strip – the main avenue in Las Vegas – were moments of ecstasy.

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Helicopter flight in the Grand Canyon – Photo: Bruno Tavares | Travel tips

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

View of Colorado River after helicopter landing | Travel tips

Include Legendary Route 66 in your Roadmap

On the way back or on the way to Las Vegas, if you have a car, it is very worthwhile to include in your itinerary the Route 66. I left Tusayan around 5:30 am and headed for Williams, a historic town with old-style streets and bars, where you can hit the road.

Just be careful because the GPS will insist on directing you to Route 40, as it understands that this is the fastest route to get to Vegas. The trip is a charm, the way is full of small towns with a retro atmosphere and old cars, a scenario that gives a very special tone to the trip.

The road ends at Kingman, the heart of Route 66, still in the state of Arizona. From there, the quickest route is US route 93 to Las Vegas.

Discovering the Grand Canyon Surroundings

The area in which the Grand Canyon is located is home to rich attractions that go beyond the park's boundaries. If you are going to spend a good amount of time in the region, it is worth including in your itinerary, a visit to Kaibab National Forest (Kaibab National Forest), which borders the northern and southern rims of the Grand Canyon. Where it is also possible to go hiking, cycling and camping.

It is also worth adding a stop to get to know the Havasupai Indian Reservation, one of the oldest Indian reservations in the United States. The place is beautiful, and you can contemplate nature through trails, mule rides and waterfall baths. It is possible to camp there or stay in accommodation.

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Photo: Jon Roig via Flickr

how many days to stay

My tip is to book at least two full days inside the park. It is also worth staying nearby so that you can rest before and after your visit.

I had set aside three days to explore the park, but I was caught off guard by rainy weather and ended up “missing a day”. Which forced me to downsize my script to two days.

I was very satisfied with what I was able to see there at that time. Therefore, I believe that, with two days, you have enough time to plan an itinerary that covers from sunrise to sunset – I highly recommend seeing both!

In these two days you will be able to contemplate the incredible landscape of the Grand Canyon from different points of view. In addition, you will have time to do two or three trails. There is still time to have lunch in the park and have moments of pause, with contemplation and meditation in nature.

Here in our video you will find more tips about the Grand Canyon:

Best Time to Visit

If the proposal is to explore the Grand Canyon National Park at an adventure pace, plan your trip for any of the months between may and october. During this period the chances of enjoying the attractions in full are much greater.

But beware, the months when the park is busiest and hottest are July and August. This is all in the middle of summer and holiday season. As the heat in this period is intense, there are chances of storms. The park itself warns of lightning and lightning hazards. It is advised that on rainy days you stay away from the edges of the canyon.

If you want to know the Grand Canyon no inverno, it is important to know that there are setbacks. Between November and January – the coldest month – some roads can be blocked by snow. In addition, not all park facilities are open. But it will not be a wasted trip, as the landscape is beautiful with the Grand Canyon with that snow cover.

The main advantage of going at this time of year is that it has a much smaller number of visitors and hotel prices can drop. And not to miss the trip, by all means, keep an eye on the official Grand Canyon page, which is always reporting on road conditions and giving news about the weather.

Where to stay

To visit the Grand Canyon, I stayed in Tusayan. The city it is right near the south edge of the park and the Grand Canyon Village. Very easy to get to.

See the best lodging options in Tusayan and region

I stayed at Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon: A Complete Guide to America's Most Famous Park

Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon Hotel – Shuttle stop right in front

Find accommodation deals this week in the Grand Canyon region here


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