The Grand Canyon is a humbling testament to nature’s power. Carved by the mighty Colorado River, this northwestern Arizona wonder is 277 miles (444 kilometers) long and more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep. It’s no wonder Grand Canyon National Park is one of America’s most popular attractions, with over 6 million annual visitors.
While the canyon itself is an obvious draw, there’s much more to Grand Canyon National Park than its stunning geology. The area is a hiker’s paradise, a haven for desert flora and fauna, and a rich historical site—ancient ruins, lava fields, volcanic remnants, and sweeping views are just a few of the park’s many highlights. The Grand Canyon’s South Rim and West Rim tend to be the most popular areas to visit.
Adventurous travelers can take a day hike on the famous Bright Angel Trail; head out on a white-water rafting trip; hop into the saddle of a sure-footed mule; or soar high above the canyon on a helicopter tour from Phoenix or Las Vegas. Bus tours from Flagstaff and Sedona also allow visitors to see a wide range of sites, including ancient Wupatki ruins, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and the historic Cameron Trading Post. For a scenic treat, head to the Grand Canyon on a evening tour to photograph the park’s spectacular sunset and perhaps enjoy dinner at Bright Angel Lodge.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Remember to bring sun protection, hiking shoes, and plenty of water.
- Bring warm layers—the elevation of Grand Canyon Village is 6,800 feet (2,074 meters), so cool temperatures are common in the evenings.
- The canyon’s four rims are quite far from one another, meaning that travelers should choose the area best suited for them for their visit.
- To save time, take advantage of the shuttle bus that runs between the park’s many lookouts.
- All park shuttles are wheelchair accessible, but visitors using wheelchairs may need assistance on the rocky terrain.
How to Get There
The easiest way to get to Grand Canyon National Park is by road or guided tour. The canyon’s South Rim is 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Williams and 80 miles (129 kilometers) northwest of Flagstaff, while the North Rim is 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Jacob Lake. The town of Tusayan is only seven miles (11 kilometers) from Grand Canyon Village, and free shuttles connect Tusayan with the South Rim in summer. The West Rim is the most easily accessible area from Las Vegas.
When to Get There
The Grand Canyon is a scenic place to visit year-round, with its colors ranging from blazing summer reds to snowy winter hues. Summer is the busiest season, when it’s essential to book tours and lodgings well in advance. Only the South Rim and West Rim are open mid-winter, while the North Rim is the least visited rim and has only a short opening season from mid-May to mid-October.
The Grand Canyon Railway
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Grand Canyon Railway has been transporting passengers since 1901. As riders make the 2-hour trip to the canyon from Williams, Arizona, they can soak up the unforgettable scenery of Grand Canyon National Park while enjoying entertainment from authentic characters and musicians who bring the Old West to life.