Where? : Located in northern Arizona 1 and a half hour drive north of the city of Flagstaff.
What? : Probably the most famous nature wonder in the US, the mighty Colorado river cut it way to the south west in a 1.6 mile deep canyon.
When? : Year round, winter is cooled and snowy and summer can be very hot.
Last time we visit here (Christmas evening of 2016), the forecast was for a winter storm rolling into the aria the day after so we changed our plans and cut our visit after few hours. We drove south to our next destination, Sedona, it heavily snowed on the way and also over there. We were able to travel and hike after the snowstorm.
People that stayed that night in the Grand Canyon got stuck for a day or two.
My advice is check in advance the weather conditions and plan accordingly.
Due note 1: In this blog I’m referring only to the main south rim section of the Grand Canyon.
Due note 2: At winter the entrance on hwy 64 from Cameron Az can be close.
So if you are planning to come/go after the Grand Canyon to Page AZ you will need to go through Flagstaff.
Due note 3: Check in the website for travel arrangement, shuttle options and schedules especially at the busy tourist season.
Due note 4: At peak time the main park section near the Village can be packed with tourists. The parking lots can get full so try to come early as you can. You will not regret the early morning sunrise views and enjoy less crowded trails.
Due note 5: Many years ago, I took the helicopter trip and really enjoy it, check in advance. I think there is also 3D movie and other tourist attractions nearby if you want and have the time…
I was living in Phoenix Az 20 years ago, so we visited the Grand Canyon many times. Indeed, this is impressive to see for the first time this mighty canyon.
Stand on the top of the rim and look at the vast landscape, all rock layers and the deep canyon, so deep you can’t even see the Colorado river below.
But …. I found it that this park is “too big” for my taste, I miss intimacy feeling with the landscape, it is like looking on a picture from afar.
So…. although his is a must-see place at list once.
Assume you are not doing overnight hike down to the Colorado River or Rim-to-Rim day hike, I’m not sure I will recommend spending here more than one day.
In all the many times I visited the Grand Canyon I never did any significant hike, Usually we came and hike sections of the Rim Trail and enjoying the viewpoints.
At my last visit we planned to go halfway down the canyon and then climb up but due to early winter snowstorm we changed our plans.
I do recommend to start your park visit at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
Park near the visitor center and not near the Village.
From here you can hike the Rim Trail, usually with less people.
You can go out and walk to the east in the direction of South Kaibab Trailhead or you can walk west in the direction of the small but nice Yavapai Geology Museum.
You can keep going west for less than a mile and you will reach the main park Village, with a train station stores and few lodging & hotels.
if you want to cover more of the south rim viewpoints there are Shuttle Bus that connecting the different park section, check in the visitor center for exact schedule.
The bus is the only option to get to points like: South Kabiba Trailhead and Yaki Point at the east Rim Trail, or Hermits Rest road in the west.
no matter where exactly you walk the trail is flat and easy and you simply walking along the rim where the canyon is below you, the beauty of this walk is that every turn and viewing point has slightly different view.
Once you are done with your hiking you can take the shuttle to the next stop or walk back to your car.
The best time to visit the south rim as at the early morning, when the sun rise in the east and light the vista in front of you.
Another good time is at sunset.
During the extreme hot summer days, early morning and late afternoon may have lower temperatures.