The Grand Canyon National Park is home to the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Located in Arizona, the park covers over one million acres, predominantly consisting of the canyon landscape.
Every year, millions of people visit the national park to amaze at the incredible natural sight of the largest canyon in the world. One of the main things to do in the park is checking out the numerous viewpoints for stunning photos of the scenery.
Additionally, there are many historical landmarks, archaeological sites, and more located along the rim and canyon floor.
Visiting the Grand Canyon National Park is the perfect opportunity to experience the Grand Canyon attractions. Before you arrive, make sure to add some of these things to do and stay during your visit.
Things to Do:
- Grand Canyon Visitor Center
The Grand Canyon is so vast that a stop by the Grand Canyon Visitor Center is highly advised when you first arrive. You get access to all the information about the park – pick up maps and other resources for planning out your days in the park.
Grand Canyon National Park has multiple visitor centers around the park, but the center near the South Rim entrance is the most popular. It features exhibitions highlighting artifacts collected from around the canyon. It also has a café for coffee and ice cream.
Nearby the center is Mather Point, one of the canyon’s best viewpoints.
When you’re ready to begin your journey into the park, the center is the hub to catch the shuttle, rent bikes, or find tours.
- Rim Trail
Hiking is one of the most popular activities to do in Grand Canyon National Park. It has lots of hiking trails around the entire park, each with various difficulties, lengths, and perspectives of the canyon. Rim Trail is a favorite hiking trail located in the South Rim.
Rim Trail extends 13-miles, but it’s one of the easiest trails to take for anyone attempting it, from young kids to elders. Visitors enjoy the trail because of the incredible views you’ll have along the way. The trail runs along the rim, so you’ll have unobstructed views of the canyon as you trek from one end to the other.
Along the trail, you’ll pass several notable locations worth stopping for, such as Grand Canyon Village, Hermit’s Rest viewpoint, and Discovery overlook.
- Desert View Watch Tower
Mary Colter is a famous architect who designed many historical buildings around Grand Canyon National Park. The Desert View Watch Tower is one of the last built structures and one of her most famous designs. The tower was completed in 1932 in Desert View with incredible interior design and views of the canyon.
The Desert View Watch Tower is modeled after Ancestral Puebloan watchtowers, which also influenced the interior design. It contains four floors, with each level designed and decorated with petroglyphs to have a specific meaning.
From the ground level gift shop, you can see to the top (the roof also features a petroglyph mural). Climb the stairs to the top level to reach the observation deck to see an excellent viewpoint of the Grand Canyon.
- Horseshoe Bend
The Grand Canyon has countless viewpoints worth seeing during your time in the park. One of the biggest challenges is finding the best location for views and photos of the canyon. Well, here’s a tip: stop by Horseshoe Bend.
Horseshoe Bend is one of the most photographed views in the Grand Canyon National Park of the breathtaking natural occurrence. The Colorado River curved around the red rocks in a horse-shoe shaped path, creating the picturesque scenery.
The overlook to Horseshoe Bend is 1,000-feet above the river, giving a great perspective of the shape. It’s located in the East Rim of the park. There is a hiking trail leading to the overlook – one of the most popular times to go is at sunset.
- Grand Canyon Skywalk
Most of the Grand Canyon views involve standing close to the ledge and peering into the canyon – but what if you could go over the canyon? The Grand Canyon Skywalk lets you do exactly that!
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a loop bridge extending over the Grand Canyon ledge. Built with a glass bottom and glass siding, you’ll feel like you’re walking in the air looking down 4000-ft to the canyon floor.
The skywalk was developed by the local Hualapai Indian tribe who is constructing additional attractions for experiences and highlighting the culture. It opened in 2007 and became one of the main tourist destinations, with more than one million visitors walking the skywalk.
You’ll find the Grand Canyon Skywalk at Eagle Rock in the West Rim section of the national park.
Best Places to Stay in the Grand Canyon National Park
The great thing about visiting the Grand Canyon National Park is that you don’t have to worry about leaving until you’re done exploring once you enter. Many of the permits allow you to stay multiple days in the park, so find a campground near your favorite area and get comfortable.
You’ll have a lot of campgrounds near Grand Canyon Village. Two of the favorites are:
- Bright Angel Campground
- Indian Garden Campground
Both of the campgrounds are backcountry camping experiences at the bottom of the canyon. The campgrounds are only accessible via hiking down into the canyon.
If you prefer to stay on the top of the rim, consider staying at the Mather Campground. It’s one of the largest campgrounds with hundreds of designated campsites. It’s also developed for visitors with showers and laundry. Since it’s at the top of the rim, you’ll have great views overlooking the canyon, and even accessible for RVs.
Best Time to Visit the Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon features several sections – two of the most popular areas are the North Rim and the South Rim. If you’re planning a trip to the park, consider which section you want to explore.
The North Rim is seasonal and closes during the winter due to the weather. The South Rim is open all year long.
The peak travel season for the Grand Canyon National Park is during the summer. It’s the hottest time in the park, but when you’ll find most of the park’s activities happening. Keep in mind that if you’re planning to stay overnight, the campgrounds fill up fast during the summer.
Alternative times to visit are during the spring and the fall. The weather is slightly cooler to enjoy hiking around the canyon, and you’ll also avoid the tourist crowds.