Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon View from Mather Point
Mather Point at Grand Canyon National Park © Jim Roth

Grand Canyon National Park is located entirely in northern Arizona, the park encompasses 277 miles of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. One of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the world, the Grand Canyon is unmatched in the incomparable vistas it offers to visitors on the rim. The Grand Canyon runs from the southern terminus of Glen Canyon Recreation Area, which at at Lees Ferry, to the eastern boundary of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The Grand Canyon became a National Park February 26, 1919 and was made a World Heritage Site in 1979.

Grand Canyon Hotels, Lodging and Camping

The South Rim has quite a collection of Lodges and Hotels in Grand Canyon National Park. These include the El Tovar Hotel, Bright Angel Lodge, Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge, Maswik Lodge, and Yavapai Lodge. There is also a large campground at the Grand Canyon Village called Mather Campground (Open year-round) and the Desert View Campground which is open from mid-May through mid-October. In the town of Tusayan just outside the south entrance station there is the Grand Canyon Squire Inn, Grand Cayon Suites, Holiday Inn Express, Quality Inn, Red Feather Lodge, Seven Mile Lodge and the Grand Hotel. On the North Rim the Grand Canyon Lodge is the only lodging inside the Grand Canyon National Park. The North Rim also closes in the winter when snows block the roads. The North Rim Campground is open from mid-May to mid-October.

Activities and Park Use in the Grand Canyon

The canyon may be viewed from the rim at a number of overlooks along Desert View Drive (26 miles from Grand Canyon Village to Desert View) and Hermit Road (nine miles from Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest; closed to private vehicles during shuttle bus season, when it may be accessed by free park shuttles). Visitors may also hike along the rim on the Rim Trail or below the rim on a number of inner canyon trails. All hiking at Grand Cayon is strenuous, due to altitude (the South Rim is 7000 feet above sea level) and extreme temperatures (up to 120° F in the inner canyon). A trip from rim to river and back is a two-day trip for most; visitors may spend the night at Phantom Ranch (with advance reservations) or camp at Bright Angel Campground, adjacent to Phantom Ranch (with a Backcountry Permit). Phantom Ranch is also accessible by mule tours (a two-day trip). The park offers free programs throughout the year. The concessioner offers a variety of activities at the Grand Canyon including mule tours, helicopter tours, bus tours, jeep tours, train rides, and plane flights throughout the year.

Climate of Grand Canyon National Park

The South Rim is 7000 feet above sea level, which means snow in winter and cool nights even in summer. Inner canyon hiking (below the rim) is another story, however: summer temperatures along the Colorado River at the canyon bottom can reach 120º F. The North Rim is 8000 feet above sea level and can receive snow throughout most of the year. Weather is particularly changeable in spring and fall; visitors should be prepared for a variety of climates.

Visitation of the Grand Cayon

Over five million a year. Peak season runs from April through October; winter holiday week-ends are also crowded. Summers are extremely crowded.

Location of Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon, AZ

Trails and Roads at Grand Canyon National Park

The inner canyon is accessed via the so-called “Corridor Trails”: The Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail from the South Rim, and the North Kaibab Trail from the North Rim. There are other less heavily traveled and more remote inner canyon trails, as well. All overnight travel below the rim requires a Backcountry Permit (see Permits, below). The Rim Trail on the South Rim offers vistas along the South Rim; a variety of rim trails are also available through the more heavily forested regions on the North Rim. All main park roads are paved. A large network of gravel roads exists in the Kaibab National Forest outside the park (on both rims).

Adjacent Visitor Attractions to Grand Canyon National Park

The town of Tusayan is just outside the south entrance station and offers additional opportunities for lodging, dining, and shopping. The Grand Canyon IMAX theater is located in Tusayan. Just south of Tusayan is Grand Canyon National Park Airport. Ten-X Campground (U.S. Forest Service) is also located just south of Tusayan.

Grand Canyon National Park – Official Site

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