You’re finally doing it — taking that once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to America’s grandest park. The Grand Canyon is one of the seven wonders of the world and at the top of many people’s bucket lists. With millions of visitors every year, the iconic Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. Whether you’re peering over the canyon’s edge or watching the sun creep over its rim, seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time is something you will never forget.
Here are our expert tips for visiting the Grand Canyon:
Stay overnight at the grand canyon
Photo Credit: Cassandra Ashley, YMT Tour Director
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular and accessible section of the park to visit. In addition to amazing views and trails, the South Rim offers many visitor services like food vendors, a wide range of nearby hotel options, museums, shops, and more. A vacation at the South Rim will allow you to experience the grandeur of the Grand Canyon with more convenience than its remote North Rim counterpart.
To make the most of your dream vacation, add spending the night in the park at the South Rim to your Grand Canyon trip planning. When you stay overnight, you minimize the time it takes to get to the canyon. You’ll also avoid the crowds of cars heading to the park. Not only does staying the night make things more convenient and less stressful, but it also opens up a host of opportunities you can only enjoy on-site. For instance, watch the sun break over the canyon’s millennia-old rim or witness the starry splendor of nighttime skies with late-night stargazing.
Where to Eat
From fast food to gourmet meals, this national park has a wide variety of dining options. After a long day of sightseeing, you’ll appreciate the good food and spectacular views the area affords. You’ll find everything from coffee shops and to-go food to family-style meals and gourmet establishments. If you can snag a reservation, make sure to dine in the iconic El Tovar Dining Room, an elegant but casual restaurant in the historic hotel of the same name.
What to Wear to the grand canyon
Trips to the Grand Canyon mean walking to take in spectacular views. Therefore, when packing your bag, comfort is key. Consider prioritizing items like well-worn walking or hiking shoes, high-quality socks, moisture-wicking tops, and relaxed bottoms. You’ll also want to pack layers since temperatures will vary throughout the day. For instance, the South Rim is perched 7,000 feet above sea level, so the temperature will be quite warm during the day and will drop in the evening. To prepare for this, you’ll want to bring a light sweater in case the evening air has a bit of a chill.
A few other items you’ll want to include alongside your clothes are sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
In your luggage you will also want to pack a refillable water bottle or a hydration bladder that fits in your backpack. The Grand Canyon boasts over 265 days of sun every year and Arizona’s dry heat can pull the moisture right out of you. In addition, walking to lookouts and sweating due to higher temperatures will mean you’ll need more water than normal. Even at nighttime, it’s important that you drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
What to See at the Grand Canyon
As one of the nation’s largest parks, fantastic options abound! With stunning surroundings, it’s impossible to go wrong. Begin your visit with an unforgettable sunrise walk to the edge of the canyon. Marvel at the natural beauty of daybreak over breakfast at the historic El Tovar Lodge. Choose from one of the over 100 great hiking trails in Grand Canyon National Park, many ideal for the whole family.
Be sure to catch sunset over the South Rim—you’ll watch in amazement as the colors change and deepen, painting the landscape a mix of fiery red, burnt orange, and golden yellow. And for the ultimate in fine dining, grab a picnic dinner from one of the park’s food stores and take a seat at one of the wooden benches dotting the rim to watch the display. Or opt to experience this landmark and its majestic colors on the back of a Hummer or from the skies on a helicopter.
If you have an additional day or two, make the roughly five-hour scenic drive to the more remote North Rim to take in the views of Bright Angel Point or venture out to the East Canyon to the famed Horseshoe Bend.
Explore the Grand Canyon with YMT Vacations
The Grand Canyon is just one of the stops on YMT Vacations popular Crimson Canyon & Mesas National Parks Tour. This 10-day journey also features Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Arches National Park. You can also experience the Grand Canyon on our Historic Route 66 Tour, which traces the famous highway that spans from Chicago to Santa Monica.
To learn more, contact your travel professional or call YMT Vacations at 888-756-9072.