Located in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is one of the United States’ most iconic national parks. Carved out over millions of years by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is now one of the 7 Wonders of the World. The largest canyon on earth, people come from all over the world to experience the majesty of this fantastic monument. If you’re headed to the Grand Canyon for the weekend, you’ll want to hit the highlights to make the most of your trip.
What to Do
The South Rim is the most popular part of the Grand Canyon as it’s easily accessible and offers magnificent views of the canyon and Colorado River. For that reason, the South Rim attractions can get a bit crowded. The Grand Canyon Visitor Center is also located here, which you can stop into to view a 20 minute informational video, and enjoy the shop and cafe.
Located on the other side of the Grand Canyon, the North Rim offers phenomenal views of the canyon but is more remote and therefore less visited. North Rim roads are only open during the summer, so make note of that when planning your trip. The major viewpoints here are Bright Angel Point, Cape Royal, and Point Imperial. There is a North Rim Visitor Center here as well.
Havasupai Indian Reservation and Hualapai Indian Reservation
These two Indian reservations are located in the western and southwestern regions of the canyon and can be interesting for a visit. There are no day hikes allowed on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, but you can make a reservation to stay in one of the lodges there overnight. On a trip to the Havasu Canyon here, you will experience fantastic waterfalls.
The Hualapai Indian Reservation offers a variety of organized tours and activities, including river rafting trips, pontoon rides on Lake Mead, and helicopter tours to various West Rim canyon viewpoints.
There are a variety of hiking trails ranging in difficulty throughout Grand Canyon National Park. Some of the park’s most popular trails and vistas include the following: Bright Angel Trail, Rim Trail, Havasu Falls, West Rim Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and Mather Point.
A popular activity in the Grand Canyon, summertime whitewater rafting trips down the Colorado River depart daily from Lee’s Ferry. The majority of these trips are multi-day but there are several tour companies providing single-day rafting tours.
A great way to experience the Grand Canyon is by flight! Airplane and helicopter tours are widely available, both from Tusayan at the Grand Canyon Airport and from Las Vegas.
Mule rides are a popular way to explore the Grand Canyon from the inside. Mule trips operate from the South Rim year round, but must be booked well in advance as they tend to fill up quickly.
Where to Stay
There are several lodges located inside Grand Canyon National Park where you can book your overnight accommodations. The South Rim offers a variety of lodges and hotels in Grand Canyon Village, and the town of Tusayan also has several accommodation options for Grand Canyon visitors. The North Rim also offers one lodge accommodation, which you should book far in advance. Phantom Ranch, which is located inside the canyon on the Colorado River, is another great lodging option and can be accessed by mule, raft, or on foot.
Camping is another popular option for where to stay in Grand Canyon National Park. There are plenty of available campgrounds at both the North and South Rims, however reservations are necessary well in advance.
How to Get There
The nearest airports to the Grand Canyon are in Flagstaff, AZ; Phoenix, AZ; and Las Vegas, NV. From there, it’s best to rent a car and drive yourself to whichever part of the Grand Canyon you’re planning to visit during your trip. You can also opt for a guided tour which will pick you up, drive you to the canyon, and show you the highlights.