Travel to Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National ParkGrand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona, and is centered on a Colorado River canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.

Nearly two billion years of Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut  channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted.

Grand Canyon National Park was established as the 17th U.S. National Park by Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919.

The Park is one of the world's most popular natural attractions, with attendance exceeding 6 million visitors a year.

We have enjoyed multiple trips to the Grand Canyon over the years, and include in this review some of our travel tips, experiences and recommendations.

 

Vista overlooking the Grand Canyon in Arizona
Vista overlooking the Grand Canyon in Arizona

Location and Access to Grand Canyon National Park

The park is located about 270 miles east of Las Vegas, and about 75 miles northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona.

There are two access routes to the Grand Canyon, the most popular one being Highway 64 north from Williams, located on Interstate 40. Another option is taking Highway 64 west from its junction with U.S. 89 at Cameron.

Grand Canyon Railway unloading passengers at the parkGrand Canyon Railway unloading passengers at the park

Those visitors approaching the park from Flagstaff will take U.S. Highway 180 northwest from Flagstaff to Valle, and then U.S. 64 north to the park.

Another mode of transportation into the park is via the Grand Canyon Railway, which runs from Williams, Arizona directly into the park. The railroad has operated since 1901.

The South Rim of the canyon, with an elevation of about 7,000 feet, is open year-round, while the North Rim is open only part of the year, during the warmer months.

 

Weather in the Grand Canyon in Arizona

Weather in the Grand Canyon varies according to elevation. The forested rims are high enough to receive winter snowfall, but along the Colorado River in the Inner Gorge, temperatures are similar to those found in Tucson and other low elevation desert locations in Arizona.

Temperatures vary widely through the year, with summer highs within the Inner Gorge commonly exceeding 100 °F and winter minimum temperatures sometimes falling below zero degrees F.

View from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona
View from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona

Things to Do at Grand Canyon

Popular activities include  rafting, hiking, walking, skydiving, nature studies, geology exploration and helicopter tours. The floor of the valley is accessible by foot, muleback, or by boat or raft from upriver. Hiking down to the river and back up to the rim in one day is discouraged by park officials. However, hundreds of experienced hikers complete the round-trip down and back every year.

Camping on the North and South rims is restricted to established campgrounds, and reservations are highly recommended, especially at the busier South Rim.

Permits are required for backcountry camping, river trips, weddings, commercial tours, filming, scientific research, special events and activities.

Read reviews about things to do at the Grand Canyon from TripAdvisor travelers

Getting Around the Grand Canyon

During the summer and on holidays, it is recommended that visitors arrive on the South Rim by 9 am to avoid crowds and find parking.

On the South Rim, it is best to park your vehicle and ride shuttle buses around the village and to scenic overlooks.

 

Shuttle stop at Grand Canyon National Park
Shuttle stop at Grand Canyon National Park

Lodging Options in and near Grand Canyon National Park

Park lodging books well in advance, so reservations are encouraged as early as possible before your trip. Lodging is available in the park, and outside the entrance to the park. We have stayed at the El Tover Hotel, right on the South Rim. Other area lodging options are available in Flagstaff and Williams, Arizona.

Visiting Grand Canyon and need lodging in/near the park?

Read traveler reviews, check availability and make reservations at TripAdvisor

El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon

Yavapai Lodge

Maswik Lodge

Bright Angel Lodge

Phantom Ranch

Thunderbird Lodge

Kachina Lodge

Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge

Visiting Grand Canyon and staying in Flagstaff?
Read reviews and make reservations at over 60 hotels & motels

Visiting Grand Canyon and staying in Williams, Arizona?

 

The Historic El Tovar hotel on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
The Historic El Tovar hotel on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Photos of the Grand Canyon from our Road Trips to the Park

Hazy, smoky day at the Grand Canyon in Arizona
Hazy, smoky day at the Grand Canyon in Arizona

View inside Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona
View inside Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

 

 

The lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona
The lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona

View from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
View from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon


 

Interactive Map of the Grand Canyon National Park


After the Grand Canyon... Visit Nearby Sedona

Read reviews and make reservations at Sedona hotels

For More Information about the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park official website at the National Park Service or phone (928) 638-7888