Grand Canyon National Park: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Grand Canyon National Park
IUCN Category II (National Park)
Location Coconino County & Mohave County, Arizona, USA
Nearest city Fredonia, Arizona (North Rim) and Grand Canyon, Arizona (South Rim)
Coordinates 36°3′27″N 112°8′15″W / 36.0575°N 112.1375°W / 36.0575; -112.1375Coordinates: 36°3′27″N 112°8′15″W / 36.0575°N 112.1375°W / 36.0575; -112.1375
Area 1,217,403.32 acres (4,926.6564 km2)
  (1,180,862.78 federal)

4,926.66 km²
Established February 26, 1919
Visitors 4,413,668 (in 2007)
Governing body National Park Service

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the United States' oldest national parks and is located in Arizona. Within the park lies the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, considered to be one of the major natural wonders of the world. The park covers 1,902 mi² (4927 km²) of unincorporated area in Coconino County and Mohave County.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Most visitors to the park come to the South Rim, arriving on Arizona State Route 64. The Highway enters the park through the South Entrance, near Tusayan, Arizona, and heads eastward, leaving the park through the East Entrance. All park accommodations are operated by the Xanterra corporation. Park headquarters are at Grand Canyon Village, a short distance from the South Entrance, being also the center of the most popular viewpoints. Some thirty miles of the South Rim are accessible by road. A much smaller venue for tourists is found on the North Rim, accessed by Arizona State Route 67. There is no road connection between the two within Arizona except via the Navajo Bridge, near Page, Arizona, entailing a five-hour drive. Otherwise, the two rims of the Canyon are connected via Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Hoover Dam.

1938 poster of Grand Canyon National Park

The rest of the Grand Canyon is extremely rugged and remote, although many places are accessible by pack trail and backcountry roads.

The area around the Grand Canyon became a national monument on January 11, 1908, and was designated national park on February 26, 1919. The creation of the park was an early success of the environmental conservation movement; its National Park status may have helped thwart proposals to dam the Colorado River within its boundaries. (Lack of this fame may have enabled Glen Canyon Dam to be built upriver, flooding Glen Canyon and creating Lake Powell.) UNESCO has declared it as a World Heritage Site.

The Grand Canyon itself, including its extensive system of tributary canyons, is valued for the combination of large size, depth, and the exposed layering of colorful rocks dating back to Precambrian times. It was created through the incision of the Colorado River and its tributaries after the Colorado Plateau was uplifted and the Colorado River system developed along its present path.

Grand Canyon seen from Spot Satellite
Grand Canyon National Park*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

100 2871 0257 edited-1.jpg
State Party Flag of the United States.svg United States of America
Type Natural
Criteria vii, viii, ix, x
Reference 75
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1979  (3rd Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Electric vehicles

Officials at GCNP has been selected by the National Park Service (NPS) to test the Segway Human Transporter, a self-balancing, electric-powered scooter.[1]

By the air

The Grand Canyon is a "special flight rules" airspace, and there are detailed charts indicating areas which are restricted, and other areas which have minimum flight altitude requirements. These rules were implemented to reduce noise and pollution in the Grand Canyon area. There is an airport outside of this airspace, designated GCN (Grand Canyon National Park).


Residents living in Grand Canyon Village in Coconino County attend schools in the Grand Canyon Unified School District.

See also

External links


  1. ^

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Grand Canyon article)

From Wikitravel

Grand Canyon landscape.
Grand Canyon landscape.

Grand Canyon National Park [1] is a United States National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located entirely in northern Arizona and is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States. There are two ways to approach the Canyon: the remote North Rim and the more accessible (and therefore more crowded) South Rim. Both areas have several options for camping, as well as hotels and restaurants. Expect all of these facilities to be overflowing with visitors during the busy summer season. Fall, spring, and winter are all great times to visit the Grand Canyon.


The Canyon is an overwhelming experience, and nothing can prepare a visitor for the sight. The Grand Canyon is a massive canyon carved over several million years by the Colorado River. Grand Canyon National Park boasts an elevation change of nearly 7,000 feet (2130 m) from Point Imperial (at nearly 9,000 feet or 2740 m) to the banks of Lake Mead (at just over 2,000 feet or 610 m). The canyon itself is, from rim to river over a mile (1610 m) deep. In spots the rock layers exposed in the canyon display over two billion years of geologic history.


The park was founded as Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and became a national park in 1919. Today the park contains over 1.2 million acres (490,000 ha), slightly less than the entire state of Delaware, and in 2004 received more than 4.3 million visitors.


Throughout the past century, hundreds of authors have attempted to depict the enormous landscape that is Grand Canyon. Not surprisingly, words most often fail to invoke the sense of awe and wonder that many visitors experience. Edward Abbey, a noted Southwest author, once penned: “Those who love it call it the canyon. THE canyon. As if there were no other topographic feature on the face of the Earth”.

There are, of course, other canyons on the planet. Some are longer, others wider, and even some that are deeper. Canyon visitors are often surprised to learn that Grand Canyon sets no records for sheer size. It is, however, simply regarded by most as the “grandest” canyon of them all.

Geologically, the canyon extends from Lee’s Ferry near the Arizona/Utah border to the Grand Wash Cliffs near Las Vegas, a distance of 277 miles. It ranges in width from about a quarter mile to over 18 miles wide. In places the canyon is over a mile deep.

However, it is not the statistics that define this landscape as “grand”, but rather a combination of factors. The desert environment and a lack of herbaceous ground cover reveal a geologic story that is unparalleled. Surprisingly, the rock layers displayed at Grand Canyon show little sign of wear. The layers have been preserved almost perfectly, as though they were layers in a cake. Nowhere else on Earth displays so many volumes of the planet’s history in such pristine condition.

The resulting landscape provides visitors with some of the most magnificent and unsurpassed vistas on the planet.

A raven sitting near the canyon edge
A raven sitting near the canyon edge

Arguably, the most famous animal in the park is the rare California Condor. They can occasionally be seen flying near Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. Common bird life includes Canyon Wrens, Stellar's Jays (with their peaked caps), swallows, hummingbirds, and the playful and entertaining Raven.

Mule Deer are common. Some of the largest Elk in North America can be found in the national park, and in the adjacent Kaibab National Forest. Desert Big Horn Sheep are also seen on occasion, mainly in the inner canyon.

You'll often spot Coyote no matter where you are in the park, and if you're lucky, you'll get to hear them sing. Other predators are Mountain Lions and Bobcat. Black Bears are rare, and they generally stay away from the inhabited areas.

Some of the smaller creatures that can be found in the inhabited areas of the park are the Ringtail (called a cat, but not in the cat family), which like to live in the rafters of some of the historic buildings on the rim. They are quick and stealthy, but they often forget how visible that tail is, and you'll see it hanging out over a beam.

A favorite with visitors is the Abert's Squirrel with their tufted ears. Other varieties of squirrels and chipmunks are also popular. They seem tame and like to beg for food behind the Bright Angel Lodge, near the Ice Cream fountain. But heed the warnings and resist the urge. One of the most common injuries in the park are squirrel bites.

You might also see the common Striped Skunk, and if lucky, you might even see the rarer Western Spotted Skunk (usually at lower elevations). Skunks here are also habituated to humans and may seem tame, but they will react as all skunks do, so don't come up on them suddenly!


For the reptile family, there are variety of small lizards, and a few snakes. The most striking (in more ways than one) is the Grand Canyon Rattlesnake; with its reddish (almost pink) coloring it neatly blends into the rocky terrain of the canyon. They are interesting to see as long as it is at a safe distance. Rattlesnakes are MORE afraid of you than you are of them. If given the chance, they will avoid any contact with humans. Most rattlesnake victims are young males that are chasing or trying to capture a snake.

Do not feed the animals. It is unhealthy for them, and may be unhealthy for you. A seemingly tame squirrel might bite you--they carry plague, rabies, etc. A deer or elk can charge at you without warning. If the animal is aware of your presence, you're too close.


Temperatures and weather within the park vary greatly by location. Temperatures on the North Rim are often 20 to 30 degrees F (11 to 16 degrees C) cooler than at the river. This is a land of extremes. It can be snowing at the rim, while others are comfortable sunbathing at the the river. Conversely, it can be cool and comfortable at the rim in the summer, while temperatures at the river exceed 120 degrees F (49 degrees C). It is not unusual for local canyon guides to encounter neophyte hikers in desperate shape. Some die. An unusual number of fatalities occur among young males who overestimate their abilities.

South Rim

(Average Elevation 7000 feet)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average High (°F) 40° 45° 51° 60° 70° 81° 84° 81° 76° 65° 52° 43°
Average Low (°F) 18° 21° 25° 32° 39° 47° 54° 53° 47° 36° 27° 20°
Average Precipitation (inches) 1.45 1.60 1.25 0.86 0.61 0.42 1.95 2.23 1.54 1.15 0.92 1.54

North Rim

(Average Elevation 8000 feet)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average High (°F) 37° 39° 44° 53° 62° 73° 77° 75° 69° 59° 46° 40°
Average Low (°F) 16° 18° 21° 29° 34° 40° 46° 45° 39° 31° 24° 20°
Average Precipitation (inches) 3.21 3.27 2.63 1.71 1.23 0.81 1.89 2.80 2.01 1.39 1.51 2.83

Inner Canyon - River Level

(Average Elevation 2100 feet)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average High (°F) 56° 63° 71° 83° 91° 102° 107° 103° 98° 86° 68° 57°
Average Low (°F) 36° 40° 46° 55° 62° 71° 77° 74° 68° 58° 45° 36°
Average Precipitation (inches) 0.61 0.73 0.80 0.43 0.34 0.33 0.80 1.55 0.83 0.65 0.37 0.69
Grand Canyon area map
Grand Canyon area map

The majority of visitors to the South Rim of the park arrive from the south on Arizona Route 64 (AZ 64) (conjoined with US highway 180). Alternately, one can enter the south rim from the east on AZ64.

For the south entrance: from Flagstaff, you can take US Route 180 (US 180) northwest to Valle where it joins with AZ 64, and continue north to the south rim; or take I-40 west toward Williams to the junction with AZ 64 and continue north to the south rim. Both routes are approximately 80 miles (129 km). The approx 60 miles (97 km) on US 180 is a narrow 2-lane mountain road through a heavily forested area. The I-40 west is a wide multi-lane interstate for approx 20 miles (32 km), to AZ 64 which is a slightly wider, less mountainous 2-lane highway, and the recommended route during winter weather. There are two lanes at this entrance reserved for pass and prepaid entrance fees (now lanes 1 and 4), which can be pre-purchased outside of the park at the National Geographic Theater/Visitor Center.

For the east entrance, take US 89 south from Page, AZ or north from Flagstaff to the junction with AZ 64 at Cameron. It is approx 25 miles (40 km) from the junction to the east entrance of the park, and approx 25 miles (40 km) from the east entrance to the south rim village area.

Visitors to the North Rim use ALT US 89 to AZ 67 (closed in winter).

By plane

Many Grand Canyon visitors fly into one of two metropolitan airports located within half a day's drive of the South Rim: Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS), which is 275 miles from the South Rim or Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX), 230 miles from the South Rim.

Flagstaff's Pulliam Field (FLG) is the nearest commercial airport to the canyon. Two daily flights from Los Angeles (LAX) are offered by Horizon Air [2], and US Airways [3] operates five daily flights from Phoenix. Commuter flights are also available from Phoenix to Page-Lake Powell, Arizona (PGA) on Great Lakes Air [4], 145 miles Northeast of the park .

Grand Canyon National Park Airport (GCN) is located just outside of the South Rim entrance in the town of Tusayan. It is primarily utilized by companies who provide Grand Canyon air tours and private aircraft. Scheduled air service from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon is offered by [5]Scenic Airlines, departing out of the Boulder City Municipal Airport (61B). Private charter service is available from other cities. Generally, though, visitors fly commercial airlines into the larger airports in Flagstaff, Phoenix, or Las Vegas.

By bus

Open Road Tours, 877-226-8060. [6] runs a daily shuttle service to the South Rim from Flagstaff.

There are currently no bus lines offering transportation to either rim. However, several commercial tour companies offer guided tours originating in Flagstaff, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and other locations, either directly to the South Rim or that include the South Rim as part of an itinerary, and a few offer tours which include a visit to the North Rim.

By guided tour

A number of companies provide guided tours of the Canyon that include transportation from the surrounding areas. Some companies will provide bus travel from nearby towns while others begin in the park. Some will provide just a brief tour with small stops, while others may take you on a hike, and arrange all your meals.

  • Angel's Gate Tours, 800-957-4557. [7] offers day tours, day hiking excursions, and overnight backpacking trips in the canyon. Transportation is available from Flagstaff, Williams, and the South Rim Area.
  •, 1-800-624-6323. [8]offers a variety of different tours, from the beginner to the expert, of the Colorado River including most parts of the Grand Canyon.*
  • Colorado River & Trail Expeditions, 800-253-7328[9]offers trips and tours to the best parts of the Grand Canyon. They specialize in rafting and hiking along the river corridor.
  • CenterFocus Experiences, +1-928-301-3211. [10] Offers fully guided day hikes and overnight backpacking trips in Grand Canyon National Park as well as Havasupai. Transportation is available from Sedona, Flagstaff, Williams, Tusayan and all South Rim hotel locations. CenterFocus prides itself on its ability to provide you with a once in a lifetime custom hiking adventure.
  • Discovery Treks, 1-888-256-8731 or 480-247-9266 [11]Rated one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure magazine, specializes in custom and semi-custom, guided treks at Grand Canyon National Park, Havasu Falls and Sedona. Arranges treks for small groups as well as corporate or large groups with trips for all fitness levels
  •, 800-618-0744. [12] Offers fully guided daily walking tours from Las Vegas. All tours include small groups of 10 or less, a picnic lunch on the rim, a McDonald's breakfast, CD slideshow of your tour, free t-shirt, and 3.0 hours at the South Rim.
  • Grand Canyon Tours, 800-301-7152. [13] Offers scenic views of the Canyon by airplane, helicopter, bus, Jeep, and more. Also serving the surrounding area with tours to and from Boulder City, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Sedona, Tempe, and Williams.
  • Hydros Adventures Tours, 928-310-8141. [14] Offers one day and overnight hiking, rafting, backpacking, and adventure tours to the Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona, and Southern Utah. Pickups in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon area.
  • Just Roughin' It Adventure Co, 877-857-2477. [15] Just Roughin It offers Grand Canyon hiking tours for backpacking, day hiking & canyoneering in Arizona including hermit trail, south bass, south kaibab, rim to rim, grandview trail, horseshoe mesa, Havasu falls, tonto trail and many more.
  • Maverick Aviation Group, 888-261-4414. [16] This Las Vegas-based sightseeing and charter services company offers an array of tours to both the West and South Rims of the Grand Canyon through Maverick Helicopters, Maverick Airlines [17], and Mustang Helicopters.
  • O.A.R.S. (Outdoor Adventure River Specialists), 800-346-6277. [18] Founded in 1969 as the first oar-powered, small raft outfitter in the Grand Canyon, O.A.R.S. helped pioneer whitewater rafting in the western U.S. The Grand Canyon is one of the company's most popular destinations in North America. O.A.R.S. offers a greater variety of trip itineraries than any other outfitter with a choice of a dory or raft expedition, ranging from our shortest trip of four days to our full canyon trip of 19 days.
  • Open Road Tours, 800-766-7117. [19] Offers a popular Grand Canyon and Navajo Reservation day tour that departs from Flagstaff. Other day tours are also available.
  • Pygmy Guides LLC, 877-279-4697. [20] Offers all inclusive day tours, day hikes, and overnight backpacking in Grand Canyon and surrounding areas. Transportation from Flagstaff, Williams, Tusayan, and Grand Canyon South Rim hotels.
  • Serenity Helicopters, 888-589-7701. [21] A variety of Las Vegas - Grand Canyon helicopter tours and private charters.
  • Silver Spur Tours, 800.600.4006 [22] Offers an all-day Grand Canyon South Rim Loop Tour from Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona. Customized Mercedes-built Sprinter Vans limited to seven tourists. VIP pickup at your hotel. Loop Tour includes scenic Desert View Drive with stops at popular overlook points. Gourmet picnic included.
  • Vaughan's Southwest Custom Tours, 800-513-1381. [23] offers both day and overnight tours, standard or customized, to the south rim from the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.

By train

The Grand Canyon Railway operates a train ride from the town of Williams to the Grand Canyon Village (travel time is 2.5 hours in each direction). The terminus at Grand Canyon Village is within walking distance of some accommodations. The train features an historic steam locomotive during the summer season, restored Pullman cars, and a staged old west style shootout. However, the Grand Canyon is not visible from the train. It is simply another option for traveling to the canyon, and takes about twice as long as driving to the canyon.

Amtrak's Southwest Chief, with trains operating daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, stops at Williams Junction, with connections to the Grand Canyon Railway.


All private vehicles entering the Grand Canyon must pay a $25 entrance fee, which is good for seven days. Individuals on foot or on a bike must pay a $12 entrance fee, also good for seven days. Exceptions: those holding an Annual Pass ($80, good for one year), Senior Pass ($10, good for life, available to US citizens 62 and older) or an Access Pass (free, available only to citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are medically determined to be blind or permanently disabled). Note: An Access Pass can only be obtained in person by showing proof of medically determined permanent disability, or eligibility for receiving benefits under federal law.

Get around

Some of the view points are reachable by car, park service shuttle, motorcoach tour or on foot.

The National Park Service runs an extensive shuttle service on the South Rim [24] with three interlocking routes. The service is free, and runs from approximately 4:30am until one hour past sunset or 11 PM, depending on the route. The shuttles run from May 1 to September 28, with buses every 15 minutes. Recently added is service between the nearest town, Tusayan, and the Canyon View Information Center. Park visitors staying in Tusayan can leave their cars there and take the shuttle to the Canyon.

You can go into the canyon by horse, by mule (through guided tours on the south rim from Xanterra [25]), on foot or by boat.

Private stock users (equines only) are required to follow a number of rules and restrictions while in the park, and must get a permit from the park service for overnight use. See Private Stock Use [26] on the park service website for specifics.

From March through November the West Rim Drive is not accessible to most private vehicles (handicap vehicles may request a variance at the entry gate). The park service runs a shuttle during this time. The shuttles are frequent, but long lines form during the busy summer months.

Trans Canyon Shuttle an independent shuttle service runs between the North and the South Rim (No website, Tel 1.928.638.2820).

The Watchtower.
The Watchtower.
  • Grand Canyon Village. Good views, the trailhead of the Bright Angel Trail, historic buildings, and massive crowds.
  • Desert View. The historic Watchtower is a popular stop for many travelers and provides an excellent vantage point for viewing the canyon and Colorado River.
  • Hermits Rest. Located at the West end of Hermit Road. This gift shop/snack bar was designed by Mary Colter (the same person responsible for the Watchtower at Desert View) so as to resemble a Hermit's abode, and fit in harmoniously with the landscape. Constructed of a mix of stone and wood.

There are several other viewpoints along the road between Hermit's Rest and Grand Canyon Village (West Rim) or Desert View and the village (East Rim).

North Rim

Located only ten miles from the South Rim by air, the North Rim is a 215 mile (346 km), five hour drive from Grand Canyon Village. At 8,000 feet (2,440 m) the elevation of the North Rim is approximately 1,000 feet (305 m) higher than the South Rim, and as a result features more coniferous trees and cooler temperatures. The roads to the North Rim are open only during the summer (from approx May 15 to the first fall snow fall), while the in-park facilities usually close by October 15, regardless of the weather. With far fewer visitors, this area can be a great place to enjoy the peace and majesty of the canyon. The main viewpoints are Bright Angel Point, Cape Royal (where the Colorado River can be seen), and Point Imperial (the highest viewpoint in the park).

Havasupai Indian Reservation

A popular destination in the canyon lies southwest of the park on the Havasupai Indian Reservation [27]. Havasupai can be loosely translated as "People of the Blue-Green Water". Entry into this remote portion of the canyon requires a $35 per person entry fee (plus an additional $17 per person/night to stay in the campground). Those venturing into Havasu Canyon are greeted by spectacular world class waterfalls. Although the Havasupai Reservation is somewhat impacted (trashy), the incredible canyon below the Supai Village is worth the visit. Access to Havasu Canyon is from Hualapai Hilltop north of Peach Springs, Arizona. It is an eight mile hike or horse back ride to Supai Village. Helicopter transportation to and from the village is available on a first come basis four days a week. An extremely rustic lodge is the only public accommodation available in Supai. A large mile long campground is located two miles down canyon between Havasu and Mooney Falls. This campground can be extremely crowded in the summer months; advance reservations are strongly recommended.

Looking down the canyon from Guano Point at the West Rim
Looking down the canyon from Guano Point at the West Rim
Grand Canyon skywalk
Grand Canyon skywalk

The Hualapai Reservation borders Lake Mead NRA to the West, and Grand Canyon National Park to the North and East. Tribal head quarters are located in the heavily impoverished town of Peach Springs, Arizona. The Grand Canyon Resort Corporation [28] is a collection of tourist enterprises wholly owned by the tribe. Activities include motorized rafting trips on last few miles of white water in the canyon, and pontoon boat rides on the smooth waters of Lake Mead. In addition, Grand Canyon West (located in the remote Northwest corner of the reservation) is a collection of viewpoints overlooking the last few miles of Grand Canyon and the stagnant waters of the Colorado River as it flows into Lake Mead. The Hualapai have partnered with dozens of commercial tour operators from the Las Vegas area, and a tour package purchase (ranging from $29-$109 per person) is required for entry to the Grand Canyon West area. Literally hundreds of helicopter flights ferry passengers from the "West Rim" to a multitude of landing zones near the lake shore.

At Eagle Point, the Grand Canyon Skywalk (a glass bottomed walkway extending over the rim) is now completed. This construction has received much recent news coverage. Access to this part of the Canyon is rather difficult, it requires you to drive for approximately 14 miles on a dust road ("Diamond Bar Road") after the town of Dolan Springs, Arizona.

Hualapai Reservation (West Rim) Fees:

  • 25$ parking fee per vehicle at West Grand Canyon Airport (a bus tour is required to visit any of the points)
  • 25$ per person for a bus tour which will take you to Eagle Point and a pile of stones beyond
  • 25$ per person to enter the skywalk
  • No photographs may be taken by yourself on the skywalk for security reasons, you may instead have a photograph taken of you (25$ per photograph)
Sunrise is a popular time in the Canyon
Sunrise is a popular time in the Canyon
  • Nature walks. Many visitors take a stroll along portions of the rim trail to enjoy the magnificent views. Deer, elk, big horn sheep are just a few of the animals that can be seen at Grand Canyon. This is one of the few places on earth where you may spot the endangered California Condor soaring in the seemingly primordial sky.
  • Hiking. Trails range in difficulty from fifteen minute loops to multi-week treks. The most popular trail is the Bright Angel Trail leaving from Grand Canyon Village near the Bright Angel Lodge. During the summer months water is available at the 1.5 mile (2.4 km) resthouse, the 3 mile (4.8 km) resthouse and Indian Gardens (4.5 miles or 7.2 km). However, check to ensure that the water is functioning before departing; water main breaks are common. The South Kaibab Trail down to Cedar Ridge (1.5 mi one-way) is also quite popular. There are numerous unmaintained trails throughout the park for the more adventurous. A few outfitters offer guided hikes (see guided tours in the 'Get in' section).

Whitewater rafting

Whitewater rafting expeditions depart daily during the summer months from Lee's Ferry. Commercial trips range from 3 to 18 days and cover from 87 to 300 miles. Trips book up fast so be sure to book your trip about a year in advance or you will have to get lucky with cancellations. The most popular section of river for the "true" Grand Canyon river experience lies between Lee's Ferry and Diamond Creek. The Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association [29] provides a complete list of outfitters for this section of river.

  • Rivers & Oceans, [30] (800)473-4576 works closely with all 16 outfitters offering between 1-16 day trips. They are an experienced professionals with over 21 years in the whitewater rafting industry and can save one much time finding the perfect river trip in an exact time-frame.

The only one day whitewater trip is available from the Hualapai Tribe's Hualapai River Runners [31] in the far Western portion of the canyon (outside of the park boundary) near Las Vegas. The only other option for a one day river trip is a one day flat water float by Colorado River Discovery [32] in Glen Canyon (just outside Grand Canyon National Park).

  • Colorado River and Trail Expeditions, +1-800-253-7328, [33]. Offers all inclusive rafting vacations. Expeditions range from 4 to 12 days. Special Interest Trips include Natural History, Hiking, and Kayak Trips. There is truly no better way to see the Grand Canyon than from the River. Not only is the canyon incredible, but so are all of the side canyons. Waterfalls, Indian ruins, springs, slot canyons, and old miner hideouts abound in the side canyons of the Grand Canyon.

Private (non-commercial DIY) river permits are also available for river trips up to 30 days in length. The new Colorado River Management Plan [34] has changed a 12-20 year waitlist to a new weighted lottery. For more information on obtaining a non-commercial permit, visit the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association [35].

  • Ranger programs. Programs include interpretive talks, rim walks, movies, and museums. At the South Rim, special Junior Ranger programs are available for children in the summer. Check "The Guide", a free publication distributed throughout the park for dates and times.
  • Motorcoach tours are available year round at the South Rim. Tours are offered for the East Rim/Desert View, West Rim/Hermit's Rest, and for Sunrise and Sunset. Smaller naturalist and geologist lead van tours originate from outside the park in Flagstaff, Williams and Tusayan (see guided tours in the 'Get in' section).
  • Mule rides. South Rim trips operate year round, and should be booked well in advance due to demand. Individuals can book by calling Xanterra [36] at 888-297-2757 (1-303-297-2757 from outside of the US). Weight limits of 200 pounds (90.7 kg), and other restrictions are strictly enforced.
  • Star gazing. On your own (fantastic for meteor showers), or with the Grand Canyon Star Party every June at Yavapai Point.
  • Imax Movie. Visitors to the south rim can go to the National Geographic Imax theatre outside of the park in Tusayan to see half hour presentation of "Grand Canyon, the Hidden Secrets". Showtimes are every hour on the half hour.
  • Air Tours. Fixed-wing (airplane) and Helicopter tours are offered by providers outside of the south rim in Tusayan at the Grand Canyon Airport, and also from Las Vegas, NV. Scenic flights are no longer allowed to fly below the rim within the national park. However, some helicopter flights land on the Havasupai and Hualapai Indian Reservations within Grand Canyon (outside of the park boundaries).
  • Bicycling is only allowed on park roads. It is not allowed on rim trails or in the inner canyon. The best mountain biking can be found on the North Rim and just outside the park in the Kaibab National Forest. Rim Tours [37] offers multi-day mountain bike tours on the North Rim, and bike rentals may soon be available on the South Rim.
  • Educational Courses The Grand Canyon Field Institute [38] offers short (1 to 5 day) courses at the canyon. Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff offers a Grand Canyon Semester [39] for college credit.


All types of tourist trinkets relating to the Grand Canyon, native American Indians, and the American Southwest are available in shops in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. The South Rim is overflowing with shopping options. The North Rim has only one shop located at the North Rim Lodge.

  • Hopi House. This gift shop designed by Mary E. J. Colter turned 100 years old in 2005. It specializes in Native American crafts: Navajo Rugs, Hopi Kachina's, Zuni Fetishes, pottery, jewelry as well as t-shirts and souvenirs. The upstairs gallery offers Native American artworks.
  • Lookout Studio. Also designed by Colter features spectacular views of the canyon from it's overhanging patio, and specializes in rocks and fossils along with the souvenirs.
  • Hermit's Rest. Another Colter building blends into the canyon and offers a variety of souvenirs.
  • Arizona Room. Located on the East side of the Bright Angel Lodge. Dinner 4:30PM–10:00PM (open seasonally), lunch seasonally. Also features partial canyon views.
  • Bright Angel Restaurant. Located in Bright Angel Lodge. Informal dining, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • El Tovar Hotel Dining Room. Fine dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations required for dinner (not accepted at other times). Dining room is a flashback to the 1910s and features partial canyon views. $20 for lunch, $30 for dinner.

Additional Cafeterias are located in the Maswik and Yavapai Lodges. There is a grocery deli at Market Plaza inside the grocery store, as well. Just outside the park, in the gateway community of Tusayan, are a number of dining selections.

  • Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room. Open daily, Mid-May through Mid-October (exact dates vary year to year), 6:30AM-9:30PM. Wonderful food and an unrivaled view of the canyon. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner reservations required. $7-$25.
  • Cafe On The Rim. Serves cafeteria-style snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Veggie burgers, salads, sandwiches. $1-$10.
  • Coffee Saloon. Located in the Rough Rider Saloon. Coffee, bagels, and pastries. 5:30AM-10:30AM.
  • Jacob Lake Inn and Gift Shop. Has exceptionally good cookies and malts. Located about 40 miles north of the rim itself, but still within the park.
  • El Tovar Lounge. South Rim in the El Tovar Hotel. Inside seating year round, patio seating overlooking the rim seasonally.
  • Bright Angel Bar. South Rim in the Bright Angel Lodge. Live entertainment seasonally.
  • Maswik Sports Bar. South Rim in Maswik Lodge. Pool table, darts, big-screen TV and more.
  • Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room. Serves cocktails.
  • Rough Rider Saloon.


There are a variety of hotels, lodges, and campgrounds both inside and outside of the park on both the North and South Rims. As lodging at the Canyon is fairly expensive, many visitors opt to base themselves in Williams or Flagstaff instead.


South Rim

The following lodges are located inside Grand Canyon National Park, reservations can be made by contacting Xanterra [40]. If you want to try your luck with same-day reservations, call (928) 638-2631.

  • El Tovar Hotel. Historic full service hotel on the rim, refurbished in 2005, open year round. The finest accommodations available on the South Rim, and reservations must be made well in advance. Some suites boast a canyon view. $150-300.
  • Kachina Lodge and Thunderbird Lodge. Rim lodges built in the 60s, but renovated in 2004, open year round. Half the rooms face the canyon.
  • Bright Angel Lodge. Historic Lodge at the rim, made up of cabins and lodge rooms generally rustic in nature. Some rooms without bathroom. Some are located rim side. Open year round.
  • Maswik Lodge. North section renovated winter 2006. Larger rooms are great for families. Located about a quarter mile off rim in a wooded area. Both North and South sections are open year round, and cabin rooms open in the summer.
  • Yavapai Lodge. East section renovated 2003. Located about a mile away from the rim in a wooded area, both East and West sections are good for families.

Just outside the South Rim - Tusayan

Hotels in Tusayan are often a better choice for families with children, or for those who are looking for a greater selection of amenities such as swimming pools and hot tubs.

  • Best Western Squire Inn, 800-622-6966. [41]. It's the canyons only resort-style property.
  • The Grand Hotel, 888-634-7263. [42]. The newest hotel in the area, with the lobby done up in a kitschy Wild West theme. Rooms are nondescript but adequate. Indoor pool, free wifi in lobby. Popular, so book ahead.
  • Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon, 888-473-2269. [43]. 164 guest rooms plus 30 one- & two-bedroom mini-suites as well as a new indoor pool & spa.
  • Red Feather Lodge, 106 Highway 64, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023 +1 800-538-2345, [44]. Get your Grand Canyon vacation off on the right foot by reserving a room at the Red Feather Lodge, an affordable, pet-friendly Arizona hotel convenient to Grand Canyon National Park Airport.

North Rim

  • Grand Canyon Lodge, 888-297-2757. [45]. Offers a variety of cabins and motel style accommodations.

Inner Canyon

  • Phantom Ranch is made up of cabins and dormitories (segregated by gender) with a dining hall. All Phantom Ranch accommodations and meals require advance reservations. There is no cooking allowed in the cabins or dorms, and guests without a meal reservation are not allowed in the dining hall at mealtimes. It is recommended that you reserve meals at the same time you reserve your bunk or cabin. Guests should check in at the Bright Angel Lodge Transportation desk before hiking down to Phantom Ranch, and can do so a day in advance of their hike. Individual reservations can be made by calling Xanterra at 888-297-2757 (outside of the US call 303-297-2757).


Campgrounds are located at both the North and South Rims. Reservations are highly recommended, especially at the busier South Rim. Outside of the park, Kaibab National Forest has numerous undeveloped campsites and "at large" camping is allowed for up to 14 days. Due to extreme drought conditions, check for closures and camp fire restrictions.

South Rim

  • Mather Campground (Year round). Located in Grand Canyon Village, this campground offers sites suitable for camping and RVs (no hookups). Facilities include water and flush toilets. Costs are $18/night from April through November, $12/night from December through March. Reservations can be made at [46] or by calling (800) 365-2267, outside the U.S. call (301) 722-1257.
  • Trailer Village (Year round). Located adjacent to Mather Campground, this campground offers RV sites with hookups. Costs are $25/night for two people, and $2 for each additional person. Reservations can be made by calling (888) 297-2757 (outside of the U.S. call 303-297-2757).
  • Desert View Campground (May - October). Located 26 miles east of Grand Canyon Village, this campground offers tent and RV sites (no hookups). Costs are $10/night. All sites are first-come, first-served.
  • Ten-X Campground (April - September). Located outside of the South Rim of the park, two miles south of Tusayan, this campground is operated by the forest service. Facilities include water and pit toilets. Costs are $10/night. All sites are first-come, first-served.

North Rim

  • North Rim Campground (May - October). Located along the North Rim, this campground offers sites suitable for camping and RVs (no hookups). Facilities include water and flush toilets. Costs are $15-$20/night. Reservations can be made at [47] or by calling (800) 365-2267, outside the U.S. call (301) 722-1257.
  • Jacob Lake Campground (Summer only). Located outside of the park, 45 miles (72.4 km) north of the North Rim, this campground is operated by the forest service. Costs are $12/night. All sites are first-come, first-served.


Any camping below the rim in Grand Canyon requires a backcountry permit [48]. Permits must be obtained through the Backcountry Country Office (BCO) at Grand Canyon National Park. Permits are currently not available online or via telephone. They are only available in person, by fax or by mail.

Permits are limited to protect the canyon, and become available on the 1st day of the month, four months prior to the start month. Thus, a backcountry permit for any start date in May becomes available on January 1. Space for the most popular areas, such as the Bright Angel Campground adjacent to Phantom Ranch, generally fill up by the requests received on first date they are opened to reservations. There are a limited number permits reserved for walk-in requests available on a first come, first served basis.

There are a number of outfitters that provide fully guided backpacking trips (including permits and gear) at Grand Canyon.

There is limited water available within the canyon, so backpackers should plan on carrying sufficient water with them.

All backcountry users are asked to follow "Leave no Trace" principles.

Stay safe

Hiking at the Grand Canyon often surprises people who attempt Inner Canyon trips. It can be hotter than you'd expect, colder than you'd expect, drier or wetter. A prepared hiker is better able to survive the extremes of the canyon. Even for short walks into the canyon keep in mind that it is a seducer: it seems easy hiking down into it but when you come back up you find that you have over-extended yourself. It's the opposite of climbing up a tall mountain, where you can stop and turn back when you get tired, knowing that the descent will be much easier.

In particular, do not attempt to hike to the bottom of the canyon and back in one day. Hundreds of hikers each year have to be rescued from the Inner Canyon due to exhaustion and dehydration. While the temperature on the canyon rim is cool due to its elevation, below the rim it can be very hot. The vertical distance from the bottom back up to the rim is nearly a mile straight up (1.5km), in addition to the distance you travel horizontally. If you plan to go to the bottom of the canyon, spend the night (permit required), and take enough food, water, shelter, and other backcountry camping equipment to keep yourself safe and sound. If you don't have the equipment, don't go.

For an eye-opening look at the dangers of hiking in and around the canyon unprepared, Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon by Thomas M. Myers (long time resident doctor at the south rim), and Michael P. Ghiglieri (biologist and river guide), describes the various ways in which visitors have lost their lives at the canyon. (ISBN 097009731X).

Get out

While literally getting out of the chasm may be the most difficult part of your visit, getting out of the national park is relatively easy.

Popular attractions near the North Rim include Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. The nearest major airport is in Las Vegas.

Travelers to the South Rim often head toward Flagstaff or Sedona. Phoenix and Las Vegas are the nearest major airports; however, there is a small commercial airport in Flagstaff as well.

This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information about the park including attractions, activities, lodging, campgrounds, restaurants, and arrival/departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!


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