Grand Canyon

“The Grand Canyon – Do nothing to mar its grandeur – Keep it for your children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see” – Theodore Roosevelt

Located entirely in northern Arizona, the park encompasses 277 miles of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. One of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the world, Grand Canyon is unmatched in the incomparable vistas it offers to visitors on the rim. Grand Canyon National Park is a World Heritage Site.

Less than 130 years ago, the area known as the Grand Canyon was the largest uncharted portion of the country. In 1869, Major John Wesley Powell’s first geological expedition down the Colorado River revealed this natural wonder to the world. Today the Grand Canyon is one of the top vacation destinations in the nation.

Expect crowds during the spring, summer, and fall months. During these months reservations for camping and lodging are essential. The least crowded time is November through February. However, winter weather is a major consideration when planning a trip during these months.

Most visitors come to the South Rim (facilities open all year). The North Rim (services and overnight facilities open mid-May through mid-October) has fewer facilities and is more remote. About 200 miles/322 km one way by automobile from the South Rim to the North Rim, a 5 hour drive for most. When making reservations for lodging and camping, remember to identify the rim you plan on visiting.

North Rim

The beautiful drive along US Hwy 89 and Hwy 67 to the Grand Canyon North Rim climbs through the vast and dense Kaibab National Forest. Mule deer graze the meadows and the rare white-tailed Kaibab squirrel is found exclusively in the area. Gradually you ascend the Kaibab Plateau and find yourself at 9000 feet when suddenly the plateau opens to a chasm one mild deep, 18 miles wide and 277 miles long- the Grand Canyon. You’ll be awe-struck as you gaze upon the various shades of blues and purples as they extend from horizon to horizon. The canyon’s size is so enormous you may find it difficult to believe that the Colorado River was responsible for its erosion, which in turn, reveals 2,000 million years of geology.

A rustic lodge is located at Bright Angel Point, the main overlook. Visitor information can be found at the lodge, at the entrance station, and at Jacob Lake. If you plan to stay in the park, reservations must be made well in advance. Excellent accommodations are available throughout Southern Utah.

If you’re the adventurous type, take a mule ride into the canyon or hike along the well-marked trails. There are short or long hikes along the rim and self-guided nature trails. It’s a good idea to check with the visitor center or ranger before undertaking a hike into the canyon. In the evening, the park has entertainment and interpretive talks.

The North Rim is closed to vehicles from late October to mid-May. The high altitude brings deep snow in the winter months and keeps the temperatures crisp even in the summer.

Must See & Do

Hiking

Day hiking in Grand Canyon is one way to experience some of the canyon’s rich natural beauty and immense size. No permits or fees are required for day hikes. When hiking into the canyon, plan 1/3 of your time to walk down and 2/3 to trudge back. Assuming that you are physically fit and have adequate food and water (at least 3 quarts / liters per person). Always check the status of trails before traveling to the trailhead.

Bright Angel Point Trail
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A short walk on a paved trail leads to a spectacular view of the canyon. Distance is 0.5 miles/0.8 km round trip; 30 minutes approximate round trip. The trail begins at the log shelter in the parking area by the visitor center or at the corner of the back porch behind the lodge. Obtain self guiding nature trail pamphlets from a box along the trail.

Transept Trail
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Trail follows the canyon rim from Grand Canyon Lodge to the North Rim Campground. Distance is 3 miles/4.8 km round trip; 1.5 hours approximate round trip.

North Kaibab Trail
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Distance and hiking times vary. This is the only maintained trail into the canyon from the North Rim. Distances and locations for North Kaibab trail, and information about canyon hiking are listed in the North Rim Grand Canyon Guide & Map. Under no circumstances should you attempt to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day. Even a short hike to Coconino Overlook (1.5 miles / 2.4 km round-trip) or Supai Tunnel (4 miles / 6.5 km round-trip) can give you an appreciation for the canyon’s rich natural beauty and immense size. A hike to Roaring Springs and back is extremely strenuous and takes a full day (7-8 hours) – begin your hike before 7 a.m. Roaring Springs lies 3,050 feet / 930 m below the canyon rim and is 9.4 miles / 15 km round-trip. A day hike beyond Roaring Springs is not recommended. Many years of experience have shown that hikers who proceed beyond this point during the hottest parts of the day have a much greater probability of suffering from heat-related illness, injury, or death. Round trip to the Colorado River is 28 miles/45 km and the trail descends almost 6,000 feet/1,800 m.

*The opening of the North Kaibab Trail may be delayed due to severe winter damage. This trail is also used by mules.

Cape Royal Trail
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An easy walk on a flat, paved trail providing views of the canyon, Angels Window, and the Colorado River. Distance is 0.6 miles/1.0 km round-trip; 30 minutes approximate round-trip. Markers along the trail interpret the area’s natural history. Trail begins at the southeast side of the Cape Royal parking area.

Roosevelt Point Trail
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This trail is a short, secluded woodland loop with spectacular views. Distance is 0.2 miles/0.3 km roundtrip; 20 minutes approximate round-trip hiking time. Offers benches for relaxed enjoyment of the canyon.

Canyon Trail Rides

One-hour rides along the rim and half-day rim or inner canyon trips are usually available each day. Register at the Canyon Trail Rides desk in the lobby of the Grand Canyon Lodge.  Open daily 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., call (435) 679-8665. or visit www.canyonrides.com.

Colorado River Trips

Commercial whitewater raft trips through the canyon last from 1 day or 3 – 18 days and require reservations well in advance. Ask at the visitor center for a Trip Planner with a list of river trip concessioners or visit: www.nps.gov/grca.

Smooth Water Raft Trips

Colorado River Discovery provides half-day trips on the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry. (888) 522-6644 or www.raftthecanyon.com.

Ranger Activities

Discover the Grand Canyon with the rangers who know it inside and out.

Schedules for these activities are available at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and in the park newspaper.

Kids Stuff

Jr Ranger Badge – if you are working to earn a Junior Ranger Badge you must attend one ranger-led activity in order to fulfill your requirements. You may attend any ranger program to finish your books.

Day Camps are FREE five and a half hour long programs for youth ages 7-12yrs. Youth, led by a Park Ranger, will walk and ride the bus, play games and do activities to discover more about Grand Canyon’s plants, animals, rocks and people. Youth will earn a Junior Ranger badge at the conclusion of the day camp. Inquire inside the Park Headquarters, found by Parking Lot A, for information and to fill out a release form for your child.