The Ultimate Guide to the Grand Canyon, America’s Most Iconic National Park

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Categories: Travel

Maybe it’s just us, but boy, are we glad to move beyond the days of virtual experiences. Most things are arguably better in person: Friendships. Museums. Happy hours. Travel. For example, can you really comprehend the overpowering magnitude of the more-than-a-mile-deep Grand Canyon from your phone? Absolutely not.

Friends who’ve been to Grand Canyon National Park have likely come to you, wide-eyed, and expressed how pictures fail to do it justice, warning that “you won’t believe how BIG it is until you see it in person.” We would argue that even once you do see it in person, you might still struggle to believe how truly BIG it is: Spanning an awesome 277 miles from end-to-end, this natural wonder is one of Arizona’s—nay, one of America’s most distinguished landmarks, a bucket list mainstay you have to visit at least once.

Obviously, you can’t just stroll up to the thing. The park is (understandably) enormously popular—in fact, it’s one of the most popular national parks in the US, with 4.53 million visitors in 2021. Luckily, the vast red-rock chasm—carved out over millions of years ago by the Colorado River and designated a national park in 1919—has more than enough room to welcome the tremendous crowds that descend upon it each year. And if its layers of two billion-year-old rock are any indication, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Read on for info on the Grand Canyon’s most iconic sights, the best places to stay nearby, and more cool spots to hit on your next Arizona road trip.

Maybe it’s just us, but boy, are we glad to move beyond the days of virtual experiences. Most things are arguably better in person: Friendships. Museums. Happy hours. Travel. For example, can you really comprehend the overpowering magnitude of the more-than-a-mile-deep Grand Canyon from your phone? Absolutely not.

Friends who’ve been to Grand Canyon National Park have likely come to you, wide-eyed, and expressed how pictures fail to do it justice, warning that “you won’t believe how BIG it is until you see it in person.” We would argue that even once you do see it in person, you might still struggle to believe how truly BIG it is: Spanning an awesome 277 miles from end-to-end, this natural wonder is one of Arizona’s—nay, one of America’s most distinguished landmarks, a bucket list mainstay you have to visit at least once.

Obviously, you can’t just stroll up to the thing. The park is (understandably) enormously popular—in fact, it’s one of the most popular national parks in the US, with 4.53 million visitors in 2021. Luckily, the vast red-rock chasm—carved out over millions of years ago by the Colorado River and designated a national park in 1919—has more than enough room to welcome the tremendous crowds that descend upon it each year. And if its layers of two billion-year-old rock are any indication, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Read on for info on the Grand Canyon’s most iconic sights, the best places to stay nearby, and more cool spots to hit on your next Arizona road trip.

Maybe it’s just us, but boy, are we glad to move beyond the days of virtual experiences. Most things are arguably better in person: Friendships. Museums. Happy hours. Travel. For example, can you really comprehend the overpowering magnitude of the more-than-a-mile-deep Grand Canyon from your phone? Absolutely not.

Friends who’ve been to Grand Canyon National Park have likely come to you, wide-eyed, and expressed how pictures fail to do it justice, warning that “you won’t believe how BIG it is until you see it in person.” We would argue that even once you do see it in person, you might still struggle to believe how truly BIG it is: Spanning an awesome 277 miles from end-to-end, this natural wonder is one of Arizona’s—nay, one of America’s most distinguished landmarks, a bucket list mainstay you have to visit at least once.

Obviously, you can’t just stroll up to the thing. The park is (understandably) enormously popular—in fact, it’s one of the most popular national parks in the US, with 4.53 million visitors in 2021. Luckily, the vast red-rock chasm—carved out over millions of years ago by the Colorado River and designated a national park in 1919—has more than enough room to welcome the tremendous crowds that descend upon it each year. And if its layers of two billion-year-old rock are any indication, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Read on for info on the Grand Canyon’s most iconic sights, the best places to stay nearby, and more cool spots to hit on your next Arizona road trip.

If you get hungry…
For the most part, the food options inside Grand Canyon National Park have reopened after the pandemic (a few restaurants, including Yavapai Lodge Restaurant and Desert View Deli, remain closed due). Still, you’ll find your choices are relatively limited, so it’s probably best to pack your own meals. You can find essentials at Canyon Village Market and General Store and a coffee bar at Bright Angel Bicycles at Mather Point, where you can conveniently rent a cruiser for the day.

The best sights and hikes in the Grand Canyon
The best-known sight in the Grand Canyon is…well, the Grand Canyon. Goodie for you, it’s pretty damn hard to miss. Jokes aside, the park is split into two main parts—the North Rim and the South Rim—both with their own unique viewpoints, hikes, and pros and cons.
The South Rim, which is open year-round, generally sees the most foot traffic. It’s home to the Visitor Center and Mather Point—the most popular (and often crowded) viewpoint in the entire park—as well as the rest of the century-old Grand Canyon Village and overlooks like Yavapai, Yaki, and Ooh Ahh Points. From the South Rim, you can also access Desert View Drive and Hermit Road, along which sit—you guessed it!—even MORE immaculate scenic overlooks.

Along with the Rim Trail, which stretches from the Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest, you can also access several hikes down into the Canyon from the South Rim, including the South Kaibab Trail, Bright Angel Trail (along which there are several resting points), the Hermit Trail, and the Grandview Trail.

On the North Rim—which, it bears repeating, closes for the winter from about mid-October to mid-May—you’ll find far fewer tourists. Along with the North Kaibab Trail—the only maintained hiking trail on the North Rim that’ll take you down into the canyon—out this way, you’ll find more trails varying in length from less than one mile (Bright Angel Point Trail, Roosevelt Point Trail, Cape Royal Trail) up to approximately 10 miles (Ken Patrick Trail, Widforss Trail). Also worth mentioning is the 1.5-mile Coconino Overlook, where you can get a clear understanding of the canyon’s immensity without absolutely exhausting yourself.

Looking for the Grand Canyon SkyWalk? You’ll actually find that on the Hualapai Tribal Lands on the West Rim of the Canyon. There, you can step out onto the glass overlook, which stretches out 70 feet over the canyon’s edge, and gaze down 4,000 feet to the Canyon floor below.

On the North Rim—which, it bears repeating, closes for the winter from about mid-October to mid-May—you’ll find far fewer tourists. Along with the North Kaibab Trail—the only maintained hiking trail on the North Rim that’ll take you down into the canyon—out this way, you’ll find more trails varying in length from less than one mile (Bright Angel Point Trail, Roosevelt Point Trail, Cape Royal Trail) up to approximately 10 miles (Ken Patrick Trail, Widforss Trail). Also worth mentioning is the 1.5-mile Coconino Overlook, where you can get a clear understanding of the canyon’s immensity without absolutely exhausting yourself.

Looking for the Grand Canyon SkyWalk? You’ll actually find that on the Hualapai Tribal Lands on the West Rim of the Canyon. There, you can step out onto the glass overlook, which stretches out 70 feet over the canyon’s edge, and gaze down 4,000 feet to the Canyon floor below.

On the North Rim—which, it bears repeating, closes for the winter from about mid-October to mid-May—you’ll find far fewer tourists. Along with the North Kaibab Trail—the only maintained hiking trail on the North Rim that’ll take you down into the canyon—out this way, you’ll find more trails varying in length from less than one mile (Bright Angel Point Trail, Roosevelt Point Trail, Cape Royal Trail) up to approximately 10 miles (Ken Patrick Trail, Widforss Trail). Also worth mentioning is the 1.5-mile Coconino Overlook, where you can get a clear understanding of the canyon’s immensity without absolutely exhausting yourself.

Looking for the Grand Canyon SkyWalk? You’ll actually find that on the Hualapai Tribal Lands on the West Rim of the Canyon. There, you can step out onto the glass overlook, which stretches out 70 feet over the canyon’s edge, and gaze down 4,000 feet to the Canyon floor below.