The Grand Canyon is a popular tourist destination for a reason – it’s awesome! Like most national parks, it’s massive and you cannot see it all in a day. Here are a few recommendations based on my first visit.
Reserve a room early. I happened to be staying at an Airbnb a couple of hours away and drove to the Grand Canyon on a day trip. If you want to stay in one of the Grand Canyon’s eight lodges, booking your room a year in advance is recommended. You may also want to check into which restaurants require reservations. When I go back I want to stay at the El Tovar. I would love to enjoy breakfast on the balcony with a view of the Grand Canyon (and a cup of tea of course).
Weather. Check ahead – plan accordingly. The temperature is regularly in the 100s in the summer. Monsoon season is mid-June to mid-September. During monsoon season be prepared for strong winds, thunder storms and possible flash floods. These rainstorms can be dangerous if you’re hiking.
It’s not free. Be prepared to pay to get into the park. According to the National Park Service website. “Effective June 1, 2018 the park entrance fee will be $35 per vehicle or $30 per motorcycle, for a seven day pass. An annual park pass will cost $70.” Check this link for current fees.
Shuttle buses. Keep in mind that certain parts of the park are only accessible by shuttle bus most of the year. You will park your car in one of the main lots. I liked the shuttles. They ran often and on time, but it will not be a quick trip back to your car. So take a back pack with any essentials you may need during the day.
The View. If you want to take in the classic Grand Canyon view where you can peer over the edge of the rim go to the South Rim. If you want a quieter experience with less people and more nature head over to the North Rim.
Take a hike. There is so much more to the park than the South Rim view. To really experience the Grand Canyon leave the crowds behind. If you do go for a hike, start early so you can make it back before dark. There are multiple restaurants in the park, but you are going to want to bring your own food and a water on the trail. There are water bottle filling stations along the way. I decided to hike the Bright Angel Trail. Climbing down was a little challenging for me and it actually got hotter as I descended the canyon. When I got to the three mile marker I looked back up the trail and thought, “What did I just do? I have to climb back up.” Since I’m not an experienced hiker, I decided that was far enough. The climb up was even tougher and it felt longer. In the end only hiked six miles, but it was an experience that left me with a real sense of awe and accomplishment. Plus, I can now say I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon.
Looking back up from the 3 mile marker.
There is wild life. Be respectful. Give wild animals their space. The pictures I took may look like I was close, but trust me I’m all about the zoom feature.
Bring your camera, but be present too. You could not ask for a more dramatic back drop for pictures than the Grand Canyon. The sunset the day I went was just beautiful. Even though there are huge crowds there every day, you can still manage to take pictures that look like you are the only one visiting the park that day. My travel companions also figured out how to have some fun taking pictures that looked like they were hanging off the cliff. If you only visit the Grand Canyon once, it would be a shame not to capture “all” those moments, but take some time to “live” in the moment too. I had no cell service while hiking down the canyon. Sometimes a visit to a national park will force you to unplug and that’s a good thing!
The “I look like I’m hanging off a cliff” picture
If you know me you know I always travel with these guys.
Gummy bear adventures.
I always travel with these guys (gummy bear adventures).