Location: Various, throughout Arizona
Entrance Fee: $30/vehicle or free with Interagency Pass
Must-see: Rim Trail, Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail
How do you visit a gigantic hole in the ground that extends for hundreds of miles? A view so incredible that it seems more green screen backdrop than IRL. My suggestion is to start with the South Rim. We stuck to this side of the canyon near Grand Canyon Village, due to more amenities (greater availability of campsites, a grocery store, restaurants, etc.) and hiking trails and it was really worth it. We had a little less than two days and it was plenty to get the majestic views we were looking for.
The Rim Trail is an excellent starting point for first-time visitors. It begins at the Visitor Center at Grand Canyon Village. If your fear of heights prevents you from descending into the canyon, or you just can’t find the energy to descend hundreds of feet and then…yep, climb back up, then this trail is for you. For us, we just wanted to see the canyon, snap some photos and get a long hike in, so it was the perfect way to go. The trail is literally on the rim of the canyon, but is well-paved for most of the way. Another perk: it curves along the shuttle line, so hike as far as you want and then hop on the shuttle and return to the Visitor’s Center. We hiked its full 10 miles.
For those of you who are feeling adventurous, check out the Bright Angel or South Kaibab Trails. These descend into the canyon. Careful though, with dirt trails and steep inclines, they can be dangerous. Be sure to bring plenty of water and stop as soon as you begin to tire. That’s about all of the expertise I can offer on that. Not even my powerful adrenaline could kick in enough to convince me to hang off of the side of a slippery cliff for 8 miles, though I applaud those that complete the trek.
As far as camping at the Canyon, I had very few issues finding a campsite at Mather Campground, about a 10 minute drive from the Visitor Center and only $18/night. It’s also on the shuttle line, which is extremely convenient. Pay showers and laundry are available, too. If you’re looking for something a bit nicer, consider staying at one of the many hotels that the Grand Canyon Village offers. I won’t discuss them here, because what is the American road trip without camping, but I won’t judge you if that’s how you choose to go.
One last bit of advice: DO wake up for the sunrise before departing. Any lookout point near the Visitors Center will do. Yeah, you might be cold and grumpy, but when the sun peeks over the canyon, you won’t regret a thing.
As always, comment with questions.
Bye, Bye, Bye,