Grand Canyon National Park Travel Guide
|Grand Canyon National Park|
Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona, and is centered on a Colorado River canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.
Nearly two billion years of Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted.
Grand Canyon National Park was established as the 17th U.S. National Park by Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919.
The Park is one of the world's most popular natural attractions, with attendance exceeding 6 million visitors a year.
We have enjoyed multiple trips to the Grand Canyon over the years, and include in this review some of our travel tips, experiences and recommendations.
Location and Access to Grand Canyon National Park
The park is located about 270 miles east of Las Vegas, and about 75 miles northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona.
|Grand Canyon Railway unloading passengers at the park|
There are two access routes to the Grand Canyon, the most popular one being Highway 64 north from Williams, located on Interstate 40. Another option is taking Highway 64 west from its junction with U.S. 89 at Cameron.
Those visitors approaching the park from Flagstaff will take U.S. Highway 180 northwest from Flagstaff to Valle, and then U.S. 64 north to the park.
Another mode of transportation into the park is via the Grand Canyon Railway, which runs from Williams, Arizona directly into the park. The railroad has operated since 1901.
The South Rim of the canyon, with an elevation of about 7,000 feet, is open year-round, while the North Rim is open only part of the year, during the warmer months.
Vista overlooking the Grand Canyon in Arizona
View from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona
Lodging Options in and near Grand Canyon National Park
Park lodging books well in advance, so reservations are encouraged as early as possible before your trip. Lodging is available in the park, and outside the entrance to the park. We have stayed at the El Tover Hotel, right on the South Rim. Other area lodging options are available in Flagstaff and Williams, Arizona.
|El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon (below)|
Things to Do at Grand Canyon
Popular activities include rafting, hiking, walking, skydiving, nature studies, geology exploration, jeep tours and helicopter rides.
The floor of the valley is accessible by foot, muleback, or by boat or raft from upriver. Hiking down to the river and back up to the rim in one day is discouraged by park officials. However, hundreds of experienced hikers complete the round-trip down and back every year.
Camping on the North and South rims is restricted to established campgrounds, and reservations are highly recommended, especially at the busier South Rim.
Permits are required for backcountry camping, river trips, weddings, commercial tours, filming, scientific research, special events and activities.
Many tourists visiting the Grand Canyon also like to take road trips on the nearby Historic Route 66. It passes through Flagstaff and Williams and other Arizona towns.
Getting Around the Grand Canyon
During the summer and on holidays, it is recommended that visitors arrive on the South Rim by 9 am to avoid crowds and find parking.
On the South Rim, it is best to park your vehicle and ride shuttle buses around the village and to scenic overlooks.
|Shuttle stop at Grand Canyon NP
Weather in the Grand Canyon in Arizona
Weather in the Grand Canyon varies according to elevation. The forested rims are high enough to receive winter snowfall, but along the Colorado River in the Inner Gorge, temperatures are similar to those found in Tucson and other low elevation desert locations in Arizona.
Temperatures vary widely through the year, with summer highs within the Inner Gorge commonly exceeding 100F and winter minimum temperatures sometimes falling below zero degrees F.
Interactive Map of the Grand Canyon National Park
The beauty and depth of the Grand Canyon
Lodge at North Rim
|North Rim view
More Popular National Parks
After the Grand Canyon ... Visit Nearby Las Vegas
Visiting National Parks During the COVID-19 Outbreak in 2021
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the national parks of the United States offer wide open spaces, and opportunities for family fun, hiking, fishing, biking, plenty of fresh air and a break from the rigors of Coronavirus Lock Downs.
The National Park Service is closely monitoring and responding to the pandemic. Some facilities and services may be limited. As operations are changing on a park-by-park basis, we recommend visitors check with individual parks for specific details about their operations, including campgrounds.
So if you are visiting the Grand Canyon or another national park, plan ahead ...
For More Information about the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park official website at the National Park Service or phone (928) 638-7888