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A photographer’s dream and a poet’s delight, it only takes one glimpse to understand why Grand Canyon National Park is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Located entirely in northwestern Arizona , the Canyon, incised by the Colorado River , is immense, averaging 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles. Nestled within are numerous side canyons abundant with greenery, wildlife, waterfalls, raging rapids and calm, glassy pools.
The historic South Rim is open year-round while the more remote North Rim is closed in winter. The Canyon can be explored on foot, or mule, by raft or air. Hikes range from flat, easy rim hikes to rigorous multi-day backpack trips. For a narrated airborne journey, helicopter and airplane tours operate out of Grand Canyon Airport.
For white-knuckle fun in the Canyon, book a rafting trip (these trips do not originate at GCNP South Rim); the rapids are some of the most exhilarating in the country. Outfitters use rubber inflatable rafts or wooden dories, feed passengers massive amounts of food, and offer hiking trips up beautiful side canyons. Raft trips last from one day to three weeks, depending on whether motors or oars are used. All but the Grand Canyon West trips on the Hualapai Reservation start from Lees Ferry near Page, although some trips offer the option of hiking in and joining midway at Phantom Ranch. One-day smooth water float trips travel from Page in Glen Canyon below the Glen Canyon Dam. Motorized trips typically take 6-8 days, while oar-powered trips last 2-3 weeks.
Mules carry riders into the depths of the Canyon on day trips or down to Phantom Ranch for overnight stays. Mule wranglers recount historical and geological tidbits during the descent. Grand Canyon National Park Lodges operates seven hotels within the park, including Phantom Ranch, the only noncamping lodging at the bottom of the canyon. Also located in Grand Canyon Village are Park Headquarters and many tourist facilities, including several restaurants, a bank, Post Office, and a general store.
A few miles south of the Canyon is Tusayan, which has a wide variety of lodging options, a general store, air and ground tours and the IMAX Theatre.
Located between Grand Canyon
National Park and Lake Mead, the
nearly one-million acre Hualapai Indian reservation along the West Rim offers
one-day river rafting adventures and the only access to the bottom of the Grand Canyon by automobile. This area is not accessible from Grand Canyon National Park, and is not part of GCNP.
The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West is a glass walkway that extends out 70 feet over a side canyon of the Grand Canyon with a view of the Colorado River in the distance. Entrance fees apply. Grand Canyon West is a private Native American tribal park. Visitors wishing to reach the park by private automobile need to know that a portion of the trip is on a poorly maintained dirt road which may not be permitted by rental car contracts; a parking area and shuttle service into the park are available once reaching the area.
The Hualapai and private tour providers also offer scenic bus tours from Las Vegas with guides to remote overlooks and helicopter trips to the bottom of the Canyon. Rafts operate mid-March to late October. Restrooms, food, lodging, groceries, gas and camping are all available at Hualapai Lodge at Peach Springs.
An eight-mile hike into Havasu Canyon rewards visitors with the Havasupai Indian Reservation, which features four major waterfalls (Navajo, Havasu, Mooney and Beaver) and many minor ones. The mighty roaring falls plunge into travertine pools surrounded by sand beaches. Restrooms, food, lodging and camping are available. Best seasons to visit include late spring, early summer, or early fall. Only use the main trail; side trails are closed to visitors and animals must be on a leash.
Visitors wishing to go to Havasu Falls should realize that a minimum of 2 days is recommended for a visit. Access to the tribal lands is in a very remote area; this is not close to Grand Canyon National Park and cannot be accessed from the park.