The Grand Canyon Trip Planner

picture of the grand canyon
The Grand Canyon: you have to see it to believe it

Quick Introduction

The first time you see the Grand Canyon it will take your breath away. It is one of the most amazing sites you’ll see in your life.

Most people will see it for a few hours and move on. But there is so much more to the canyon than just the views.

The charming Grand Canyon village is like a trip back in time. Daily steam engines arrive while mules wait to carry riders to the bottom of the canyon. Thirsty elk meander through the village looking for precious water.

The best thing to do at the Grand Canyon is to see it! There are plenty of viewpoints, and they’re all great. But the trick is getting variety and enjoying the canyon in different ways.

Basic Geography

Everyone knows about the Grand Canyon: it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the natural world. It is 277 miles long, running from Glen Canyon Dam in Utah to Hoover dam in Nevada. It’s 11 miles wide (in some spots), and nearly a mile deep (in some spots).

There are FOUR sections of the Grand Canyon:

  • South Rim. The National Park owns this and it’s the most visited section in the park by far.
  • North Rim. The National Park also owns this and it receives only 10% of the total park visitors, making it a nice escape from the crowds.
  • Grand Canyon West. This is owned by two Indian Tribes: Hualapai and Havasupai. Popular attractions here are the Skywalk and Havasu Falls.
  • “Grand Canyon East.” This is an informal designation. Some of this area is Tribal land, some of it is federal land. Popular sites include Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Navajo Bridge, and Lee’s Ferry.

The National Park

The National Park contains only the central portion of this massive canyon: the North and South rims. The rest is owned by Native American tribes or is classified as monuments.

The South Rim is the most visited and provides the most iconic views you typically see online. Mather Point is the most popular viewpoint, but there are many. It also has the Grand Canyon Village (video), home of the elegant El Tovar hotel.  Hermit’s Rest and Desert View watchtower also dot the south rim. 

You can see the North Rim from the South Rim. It’s only 11 miles away as the raven flies (and there are many ravens flying over the canyon), but it takes 4 hours to drive from rim to rim. 

The North Rim is all about the atmosphere. It’s less crowded and more relaxing. Grab a drink at the Roughrider saloon and take in views of the canyon from the deck of the Grand Canyon Lodge. The drop-offs aren’t quite as sheer as the south rim, but the views have more colorful red rock and greenery. 

Visiting the National Park

The challenge of the Grand Canyon is it’s so big, it’s hard to wrap your arms around it. Sometimes it feels like we are looking at a painting — look but don’t touch.

Don’t walk away feeling like you just looked at a postcard. Experience the canyon. Get inside the canyon, even for only a short hike. Do a train, bike, or mule ride.  Enjoy architectural creations such as Hermit’s Rest and Desert View Tower.

Resources

Our Guide

Our guide provides a step-by-step itinerary to structure your days and get the most out of the park. It also comes with an audio guide to listen to while driving. You’ll hear stories and the history of the park. This is a must for getting the most out of your visit! It’s like having a personal guide in your car, but for a fraction of the cost.

Articles

Here are some articles we’ve written that will help you plan your trip.

South Rim:

North Rim:

General:

Videos

We’ve made many trip-planning videos for the Grand Canyon to help you.