The Grand Canyon is beautiful, and indescribable. A must for any road trip.
The Grand Canyon can be experienced at four general destinations: the South Rim, Grand Canyon West, Grand Canyon East, and the North Rim.
Each rim offers a different experience.
The South Rim is the most visited rim, with close to a dozen viewing points. It is very popular due to its accessibility, and abundance of services. My family and I visited the South Rim (Grand Canyon South, Rim Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, USA), and still remain in awe with our experience.
The South Rim is organised around the Grand Canyon village, the main hub of the South Rim offering accommodation, restaurants and recreational activities, with the outlying town of Tusayan, merely 5 minutes away from the Grand Canyon Village. My family and I stayed in Tusayan, with many hotels including the Holiday Inn Express, accommodation is often more affordable, especially during peak times. More information on Tusayan will be provided below.
The South Rim is made easily accessible with its free shuttle bus service included with the national park entrance fee. In the U.S most national parks require en entrance fee.
Admission to Grand Canyon National Park is for seven days
and includes both the North Rim and South Rim.
No refunds are given due to inclement weather.
Grand Canyon National Park Vehicle Permit- $30.00 (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle and all its passengers. Organized groups are not eligible for the vehicle permit.
Grand Canyon National Park Motorcycle Permit- $25.00 (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one single, private, non-commercial motorcycle and its passenger(s).
Grand Canyon National Park Individual Permit – $15.00/person (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one individual when entering by foot, bicycle, park shuttle bus, Grand Canyon Railway and private rafting trip. Individuals 15 years old and younger are admitted free of charge.
Free Shuttle Bus
The four following free shuttle buses run. The Hermits’s Rest and Kaibab/Rim Route providing stops at viewing points, the Tusayan route stopping in Tusayan and the Village Route stopping at various points around the village. Pushchairs/Strollers are permissible on the shuttle but must be folded and stored in the area designated by the driver.
Follow this link for the general Grand Canyon guide, on restaurants, toilets, water filling stations, the visitor centre and more: https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/news/upload/sr-pocket-map.pdf
Sunrise and Sunsets:
Follow the following link for the best places to view sunrise and sunset, and tips on how to do so successfully. https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/grca_sunrise-sunset.pdf.pdf
Many try to view both the sunrise and sunset in one day however this can be exhausting especially for those with children. It is better to focus on either the sunrise or sunset.
Helicopter flights can be taken to view The Grand Canyon. We recommend taking the sunrise helicopter flight, because this means that when flying back, the canyon will be visible, compared to sunset when the Canyon will be shrouded in darkness.
Tusayan has a National Geographic Visitor Center, restaurants and hotels. We recommend We Cook Pizza and Pasta for scrumptious food.
You can also buy national park entrance tickets at the National Geographic Visitor Centre and the Red Feather Lodge to avoid queues at the visitor entrance at peak times.
What to take to the Canyon and other tips
- Take plenty of water. There are free water filling stations but we still remain dubious of the water hygiene.
- Make sure to go to the toilet before you get to the South Rim at your accommodation as toilets provided at some viewing points merely consist of a pit in the ground. YUCK! Hold it in until you get to the visitor center. All shuttle bus routes except one converge at the visitor center where you can swap to another route.
- The Hermit’s rest route DOES NOT go the Visitor Centre however there is an express shuttle running straight from the visitor centre to the start of the Hermit’s rest route,avoiding all the unnecessary stops on the connecting Village shuttle route. The express shuttle is not mentioned online and has an unofficial bus stop, written on laminated paper, however ask a bus driver on any other shuttle roue and they can confirm the location of the Express shuttle bus stop. This is very handy, and often people are unaware of the existence of this shuttle bus, meaning that queues are often very short. Don’t miss out on this tip.
- Pack a picnic basket.
- If visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, we recommend stopping of at the Hoover Dam and driving along route 66 for the real experience.
How Long to Stay
We suggest staying for at least two nights if you want a thorough but not strenuous visit, visiting most of the shuttle bus viewing points in one day, and the remaining viewing points including the Desert Watch tower, which is not served by a shuttle bus and is instead a 30 minute drive by car from the Grand Canyon village, on the other. Often many will leave their accommodation early, returning back to their accommodation in 12-3 pm to avoid the worst heat of the day and replenish energy stores with rest and food, before returning back to the canyon for the rest of the afternoon.This is advisable particularly in the summer months, as spending a long time in the sun can make many tired, especially those who are not used to the Arizonian sun.
If you wish to undertake hiking you must spend at least 3-4 nights as any less than this will leave you feeling unsatisfied.