The incredible size of the Grand Canyon can be both a draw and a challenge. After all, the 277-mile-long canyon offers hundreds of miles of roads, trails, and waterways to experience. The sheer amount of space to explore, however, means that taking in everything you want to see is a tall order. Here are three ways you can explore the Grand Canyon and see some of the best sights at one of the most impressive natural wonders of the world.
One of the most straightforward ways to enjoy many different parts of the Grand Canyon is to drive around the perimeter. A great place to start is the more populated South Rim, where nine out of 10 of the park’s annual visitors stop.
While this makes the South Rim the more crowded of the two sides, it also allows access to some of the most iconic viewpoints in the Grand Canyon. These include Yavapal Point and Mather Point. The South Rim is open year-round, which means you can visit during the off-season months in winter, avoiding crowds and the massive number of cars on the road.
Alternatively, you can head to the North Rim. The North Rim is the wilder, more rugged and higher side of the Canyon. You can even drive from the South Rim around the canyon to the North Rim. Be prepared, however, as this 200-mile trip will take upwards of five hours.
The Grand Canyon is the product of the unimaginable power of the Colorado River. Over millions of years, the river has surged down the landscape, carving out the mile-deep canyon. Experience the strength and fury of the river by floating down the length of it.
You have multiple options for how you can float the Colorado River. There are many commercial services available, which offer short day-long trips that let you see a small portion of the canyon. Most of these companies also offer much longer trips that let you experience the entirety of the canyon, some of which last up to 18 days.
Another option is to apply for a permit for a private river trip, if you have the expertise and equipment to do so. Some of the most desirable of these permits are only available through a weighted lottery system. However, these long-term permits will afford you the opportunity to enjoy the canyon and its beautiful sights at your own pace.
While hiking may not be the best way to cover ground quickly at the Grand Canyon, it is the best way to appreciate the majesty of the park. Moreover, it makes the perfect complement to either driving or floating through the park.
There are miles and miles of excellent trails, and with a little research, you are sure to find one that appeals to your skill level and what you want to see. Be aware, however, that hiking in the hot, dry, Grand Canyon can be a challenge even for seasoned hikers. Hike with plenty of water and consider avoiding the activity when temperatures reach their zenith during the summer months.