Every week I’ll be posting a Destination Feature, and this week I’m blogging about the Grand Canyon. With Independence Day approaching, I thought it only fitting to talk about a National Park. If you’re interested in visiting the Grand Canyon, this will help give you a good idea about what to expect when you visit. If you’re not interested in visiting the Grand Canyon, this will give you a good idea about what to expect when you visit—because you will visit; it’s awesome!
To get you hyped up about visiting the most beautiful hole in the ground, here are some pictures:
You’re definitely ready to go visit now; I can tell!
Where to Stay
There are two main sides of the Grand Canyon: the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim has the most accommodations and is therefore the most popular. The North Rim has only one lodging, so it’s ideal for people looking to get away (because believe me, the South Rim is quite crowded). Both the South and North Rim have campsites, if that’s your preference. If you’re feeling adventurous enough to hike to the bottom, you should stay the night. The views from the bottom (especially on a clear night) are really once-in-a-lifetime. Phantom Ranch is the only lodging available in the canyon (unless you plan to camp with a backcountry permit). As you can imagine, space at Phantom Ranch is extremely limited, so reservations must be made well in advance (or through your travel counselor, wink wink).
When to Go
I don’t think there’s a bad time to visit the Grand Canyon, but depending on your activity level and tolerance of crowds you might disagree. There’s a simple way to break it down: summer is good for hiking and crowds, winter is good for unique pictures and no crowds. Spring and autumn are generally less crowded, but late or early freezes might make it difficult to hike.
· The South Rim has a (free) bus system within the park. However, if you’re planning on taking a shuttle into the park and using the buses/walking as your main form of transportation, be aware that they can be quite crowded and bus drivers do not appreciate you bringing luggage onto the buses. They may not let you ride with luggage. (I say this from personal experience. Whoops!)
· It will take you twice as long and twice as much water to hike out of the canyon as it does to hike into the canyon. Prepare accordingly.
· Make time to see at least one sunset!! It’s really, really worth it (really). But be warned, designated sunset spots get crowded surprisingly early before sunset. And I know you’d never do this, but don’t leave as soon as the sun sets, you’ll miss out on the best part!
· Take advantage of the free guided hikes and programs the rangers put on. First of all, they’re free, and second, the rangers really know what they’re talking about.
Why You Should Go
Um, because it’s even better than you could possibly imagine!
Seriously, pictures and poems and videos and whatever else cannot prepare you for the experience that is the Grand Canyon. This is a geologic phenomenon you need to see in person, and it’s perfect for hikers and non-hikers alike. Most places I visit I would love to go back to, but I'd live if I couldn't. But the Grand Canyon is still on my bucket list. I’ve been there, seen it, and I won’t consider my life complete until I see the Grand Canyon again. That’s how stunning it is. But don’t take my word for it, visit it yourself!
A Little Extra
Plan on extending your trip a few days? You can pick up shuttles in the park that take you smoothwater and whitewater rafting. Consider adding that to your trip. (I can vouch for the smoothwater. It was gorgeous and I got to see pictographs. And obviously I’ve included pictures below!)
Want to see more of Arizona? Think about a trip to Sedona (also full of beautiful red rocks) or to a Native American reservation. Native Americans living on reservations are some of the most disadvantaged people in the United States. A visit and a souvenir purchase are small, easy ways you can help make life on the reservation a little easier.
Need help planning your trip? Luckily for you, you already know a travel counselor. Send me an email or give me a call to start planning your trip today!
Now get out there and go!