Visiting the Grand Canyon is often high on travelers’ bucket lists. Part of the Grand Canyon makes up one of the most famous of all the US’s national parks, while other sections are located on lands still owned by Native Americans. Both sections of this massive UNESCO-listed site offers dramatic scenery, varied flora and fauna, cultural encounters, amazing vistas and an abundance of activities. Stretching for more than 270 miles and reaching up to 18 miles wide, not to mention the wealth of awesome sites found en route, knowing the best places to visit in the Grand Canyon is essential.
Grand Canyon Village
The most-used gateway to Grand Canyon National Park, the Grand Canyon Village provides easy access to some of the best viewing points in the park. As such, this is one of the best places to base yourself during a visit. Make sure to visit the Yavapai Geology Museum and all the stops along the Hermit’s Rest shuttle bus route to be blown away by the expansive views of rugged natural beauty. Visitors can easily spend an entire day exploring the trails around Grand Canyon Village. On of our favorites is the Bright Angel Trail. If you are traveling with children, don’t forget to pick up your Junior Ranger Booklet at the visitor center.
Looking for a great place to stay while at the Grand Canyon? Check out the El Tovar Hotel.
Grand Canyon Skywalk
Although some argue that the Grand Canyon Skywalk ruins the natural beauty of the area, there’s no denying that it offers visitors a thrill that cannot be found elsewhere. Located on lands owned by the Hualapai people, the skywalk is made from thick, reinforced glass. The Skywalk is found outside of the main area of the Grand Canyon Park, before you arrive to the village area. Are you brave enough to step out over the Grand Canyon? It’s definitely not for those who suffer from fear of heights!
The Historic District is a great place to spend a hot afternoon. Check out the amazing views from Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio, walk around the Grand Canyon Railway depot, visit the Kolb Studio and the Verkamps Visitor center. There are several restaurants and stores here where you can buy native arts, crafts and souvenirs. This is also the area where you can catch the bus for the Hermit Road tour, grab an ice cream at Bright Angel Lodge and start various hikes.
Havasupai Falls is one of the most picturesque places in the Grand Canyon. It also offers a pleasant change to rocky views. After a ten-mile hike through rugged terrain you’ll reach a spectacular desert oasis with a cascading waterfall, clear blue waters and lush greenery. The deep blue hues of the water are a striking juxtaposition against the red of the rocks. The falls are named after the local indigenous tribe that owns the lands. The Havasupai village of Supai is also within easy reach. A prime way to enjoy the area is as part of a guided hiking trip to Havasupai Falls. This is one of my bucket list items that I hope someday to get to with or without kid in tow!
Desert View Drive
The Desert View Drive is a scenic route to the east of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim running for about 25 miles. Stops along the way include several developed canyon view points, unmarked pull-outs as well as the Tusayan Museum and ruin site. One of the most famous of the viewpoints is the Desert View Watchtower, which provides incredible views of the Palisades of the Desert. Soaring 70 feet into the air, the observation tower sits at the highest part of the South Rim. Although it looks like an ancient stone tower, it was built in the 1930s and intentionally designed to appear as an older structure.
The lesser visited North Rim, provides a more rugged feel of the Grand Canyon with less services and more access to the undeveloped parts of the park. One site in particular, Cape Royal, offers the widest views of the Grand Canyon’s varied viewing points. The walk to reach the overlook is relatively short (about one third of a mile) and you’ll pass the natural arch known as Angels Window on the way. There is only one hotel on this side, which can fill up quickly, so book early if you plan to stay for more than a few hours.
The Grand Canyon offers various places to enjoy when visiting the area. Whether you are driving, hiking, exploring by mule, rafting down the Colorado River be sure to carry plenty of water and read up on things to do to help you to cope in the desert heat. Enjoy exploring one of America’s top natural wonders.
Have you been to the Grand Canyon? What are your favorite not to miss places?
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