To many, the Grand Canyon may not appear to be a fun or exciting vacation destination. The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, covering an area of over 1,900 square miles and contains the Grand Canyon National Park, the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the Hualapai and Havasupai Indian Reservations, the Navajo Nation, and the Kaibab National Forest. Many visitors are unaware of the many activities available within the park and its surrounding areas and miss out on many great opportunities and experiences because of this.

Interested in visiting the Grand Canyon or any of its neighboring attractions? Keep reading to get some great tips and tricks to help you plan your perfect vacation.

Decide Which Area(s) To Visit

The main tourist sections of the Grand Canyon are the South Rim and the North Rim, which have different opening times throughout the year. The South Rim is open all year round and includes the South Rim Desert View and the South Rim Village. Every day, from 8 am to 7 pm, Grand Canyon guides teach and lead classes, tours, and hikes. The South Rim Village is great for those that are interested in nature walks, hikes, historical information, and fossil/geology tours. For those more interested in the history and culture of the canyon, the tours and presentations available at South Rim Desert View are ideal. Each week, demonstrations are held on basket weaving, Navajo beading and sculpting, and carving.

The North Rim is open every year from around mid-May to mid-October and is closed to vehicles during the offseason, with no visitor services available. From 8 am until 6 pm, the North Rim provides visitors with beautiful canyon views and restaurants and gathering locations for sunset observations. There are two types of lodging (Grand Canyon Lodge and a National Park Service campground) and several restaurant options available at and near the North Rim, in addition to Bright Angel Point (a classic canyon viewing point).

Choose Your Lodging

Camping at the Grand Canyon campground or staying at the campus lodging can be difficult to secure due to the canyon’s popularity. There are a number of hotels available near the Grand Canyon, but many of them can be fully booked for a number of months and it is necessary to plan for your lodging as far in advance of your trip as you can. If you are interested in camping at one of the campgrounds, the Mather Campground on the South Rim is available all year round and can be reserved in advance. The North Rim Campground is open during the open season each year and is also available for advanced reservation before your trip.¬†Trailer Village, the third campground, is the only campground with RV hookups and is open all year round, but unavailable for advanced booking. The Desert View Campground, the final camping site, is available only on a first-come, first serve basis and is open during the season only.

Once you have decided on the area(s) you would like to visit, the attractions you’ll be visiting, and the lodging of your choice, visiting the Grand Canyon becomes much less stressful and the possibilities for enjoying your vacation become endless. When all of your plans are made, there are a few small tips that will help you navigate the park safely and efficiently.

  • Visit the park during slow periods or the offseason to avoid crowds and lines
  • Pack snacks, water, and first aids kits when hiking or exploring trails
  • Travel slowly, as altitude sickness can affect certain visitors while ascending and descending the canyon
  • Adhere to all safety precautions and stay at least three feet away from all canyon rims
  • Visit the visitor’s center for directions and guidance before exploring to prevent getting lost and to help plan the course of your trip
  • Take note of sunset timings and do not venture into the canyon within 1-2 hours of sunset and begin heading out of the canyon within that same time