Travel Arizona’s Awe-Inspiring Grand Canyon

One of America’s Best Sightseeing Trips

You have seen it in the movies now see the West Rim of the Grand Canyon for yourself. The signature attraction oat the West Rim of the Grand Canyon is the Sky Bridge constructed by the Hualapai Indian Nation. A visit to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is a great way to spend a day with your family away from the activity and excitement of the city. Only 158 miles or two and a half hours, the Hualapai adventure is the best way to see the wonder of the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon Sightseeing Trips

It’s the crown jewel of the southwest, and perhaps of all of North America. The Grand Canyon is something that needs to be seen to be appreciated fully. A great sightseeing trip to the Arizona canyon can include a multi-day road trip around the rim, hiking from the South Rim to North Rim, or even rafting the Colorado River. The red, white, and orange hues at sunset and sunrise are something not to be missed for photographers and any outdoor traveler. Read on for some beautiful photos that only hint at the beauty of a Grand Canyon sightseeing trip.

What to See

First is the spectacle of the Grand Canyon itself. Cut a mile into the surface of the earth, this canyon has amazed countless millions of people dating back to the first inhabitants of the area. The desert area that you travel through to reach the canyon is an interesting experience for those not familiar with desert and southwestern terrain.

The Tours

The “Legacy Package” offered by the Hualapai tribe is a great value. This tour is a self-guided experience that includes live performances, unlimited use of the shuttle bus to travel over Indian land to the Sky Bridge, scenic viewpoints, and cultural activities. Two short hikes can be found at stopping places along the way that will add that extra adventure to the trip. About four hours will be needed to complete the “Legacy Package” tour.

The Platform

The centerpiece of the tour is the “Sky Bridge.” The glass platform is not only an architectural marvel but provides a once in a lifetime experience of walking in air. With the Grand Canyon descending 4000 feet below your feet, it is an incredible experience. Distractors have had their say, but the trip and the walk into the air are well worth the time and effort to get there.

Sky Bridge Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Facts and Information

The geological marvel of Arizona’s Grand Canyon

  • The Grand Canyon was formed over approximately 6 million years by the Colorado River.
  • The canyon is 277 miles long, and up to 18 miles wide at some points.
  • Garcia Lopez de Cardenas was the first known European to visit the canyon in 1540.
  • The Grand Canyon game preserve was established on November 28, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt.
  • The park was declared a National Monument on January 11, 1908, and a National Park on February 26, 1919.
  • The park is home to 34 mammal species.
  • Over 600 people have died in the canyon, from drowning, airplane crashes, exhaustion, and stroke.
  • The Grand Canyon Skywalk opened in 2007, a glass structure over the Grand Canyon which extends 66 feet beyond the edge.
The spectacular colors of the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon showing off it’s range of colors in this beautiful HDR shot by Wolfgang Staudt.

Staying Around the Grand Canyon

Cities and towns near the rim

The Grand Canyon offers an awesome camping opportunity, but also has local hotel accommodations in nearby towns. Grand Canyon Village is just outside the gate of the South Rim, while Flagstaff and Williams are a bit further. Both of these towns have a range of hotels in different price ranges. Phoenix and Sedona lie much further south but are major tourist sites in Arizona.

Grand Canyon Floor

Rafting, camping and hiking the canyon floor

The Grand Canyon floor is a popular place for camping, rafting, and of course, hiking. For camping on the canyon floor, you need a backcountry permit and reservations in advance. Plan on staying at least a few days to make the trip up and down the canyon comfortably.

Floor of the Grand Canyon | Ryan Grimm | Flickr
Floor of the Grand Canyon; photo by flickr/ryangrimm

Rafting reservations fill up fast and should be made far in advance. Rafting trips can travel the whole 240 miles of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon floor to Lake Mead, or travel sections. These trips can last weeks or days. Here are some of the popular rafting websites for the canyon:

  • Western River Expeditions
  • Oars
  • Outdoors Unlimited Grand Canyon Rafting

The North Rim

The less crowded rim, and a better view

The North Rim is the ideal alternative for those looking for a less crowded scene. It’s slightly higher in elevation, and much harder to reach by car. A near 200 mile trip around the canyon will eventually lead to the north rim. I’ve visited both rims by car and found the north rim to have better views and far fewer crowds. Like the south rim, the night skies of the north rim are the blackest black you’ll ever see. There’s no light pollution contaminating the nighttime skies, so you can clearly gaze at the stars. If you live on the east coast of the U.S. prepare for it to be especially eye-opening in contrast to the light pollution we experience! The hike down to the bottom of the canyon is longer than the south rim but offers spectacular views.

Map of the Grand Canyon

The South Rim

Open 365 days a year, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most visited rim. It’s the most accessible by car and the most popular hiking route. The elevation is slightly lower than the North Rim, so it’s also a little hotter. Most of the accommodations and large cities lie to the south of the south rim, where you’ll also find the crowds. The busiest times of year are during school vacation, late June – early September. If you can, plan your trip at another time, or head to the canyon early in the day.

Cloudy, Winters Morning on the South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Photography in the Grand Canyon

Take the best possible photos in this world wonder!

The Grand Canyon can provide an endless variation of photographs, as the canyon becomes cast in shadowy reds, oranges, and browns during dawn and dusk, intense oranges and deep reds in the late afternoon, and a spectrum of light browns and white tones during the midday. One of the preferred times to take photos is either at sunset or sunrise, as the colors are the most vibrant. Winter also provides excellent opportunities for unique shots of the white snow against the warm tones of the canyon. From above, the canyon is best photographed in the middle of the day to avoid cast shadows.

Grand Canyon as seen from above
Grand Canyon, as seen from above during the middle of the day. Photo by kla4067 on flickr

A Helicopter Ride Through the Grand Canyon

Get up close and personal with the Grand Canyon’s scenery

There are several companies that offer helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon. This can be a great alternative to driving and hiking, but expect to pay over $200 per person. These are usually approximately 90 minutes-3 hours. Many of the major hotels in Las Vegas offer helicopter tours accessible directly via shuttle from the hotel.

Here are a few of the more well known Grand Canyon helicopter tours:

  • Heliusa.com
  • Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours
  • Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters
  • Maverick Helicopter Tours

Geology, Backroads & History of Arizona

The Grand Canyon state, in books

Arizona is more than the Grand Canyon, it’s a way of life. There are other spectacular sites to see within the state of Arizona, like the Petrified Forest, the “energy vortexes” of red rock Sedona, the old ghost towns like Tombstone, the desert city of Phoenix, and the serenity of Saguaro National Park. You can find more about these exciting places in these recommended guides to the history and activities of the state of Arizona.

Havasu Falls

Also known as Havasupai Falls of Grand Canyon

The beautiful waterfalls seen in photos of the Grand Canyon are often from Havasu Canyon, home to Havasu Falls, Navajo Falls, and Mooney Falls. You have to hike to this area, but it’s well worth it. The water is a unique blue-green, while the falls crash into the water from hundreds of feet above.

Grand Canyon Hiking

A few of the trails and hikes in the canyon

Hiking trails abound on the rim, and you’ll need a lot of preparation before the trip. Are you ready for the strenuous, long hike down one rim and up the other? Take a peek at some of the extraordinary views as you read Ramkitten’s journal chronicling each day of her hike from the rim to rim here.

Other Activities

Although not part of the Grand Canyon National Park, the Hualapai Reservation extends 108 miles along the rim of the Grand Canyon and covers a million acres of land. Touring the reservation and taking part in the Native American activities presented by the Hopi, Navajo, and the Hualapai tribes at the Indian Village is a great way to spend the balance of the day. One-day rafting tours through the Grand Canyon, as well as horseback excursions through the reservation are other activities not to be missed. If your wish is to stay beyond the single day, overnight lodging is available in the reservation. The Las Vegas area is filled with outstanding natural wonders and day excursions. This day trip should not be missed!

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