Grand Canyon National Park is one of the oldest national parks (15th oldest park) in America and was included in the list of UNESCO heritage sites in 1979. The national park has the sublime beauty and takes pride in the Colorado River, swaying curves of the Grand Canyon, the unfathomable gorge and; what adds beauty to the Grand Canyon is the colourful fencing of the rocks.
The Grand Canyon bisects the park and the primary public area of the park is South Rim and North Rim of the Grand Canyon. If you are excited to see the other part you have to go for the pack trail and backcountry roads as you will find the areas utterly secluded, & rugged.
Do remember to read about the trip planner before you drive to the Grand Canyon Park for a lovely vacation or a short trip. The trip planner can help you know the park better and it contains all the useful information and maps that you would anyhow need it when you are here.
Whether you are taking a trip to South Rim or North Rim, it’s all about the good time. Interest, timing and above all the weather condition at the time of visit does a tricky job in making your stay good or better or the best.
Explore the places virtually to have a good idea as a whole.
So explore the two points virtually – South Rim and North Rim and learn about them in brief as what they have to offer us, & the things you can do there.
Mostly it is the South Rim that people prefer to visit more. The South Rim is open round the year with the facilities of lodging, camping and food. Before you are here do make the reservation to avoid any last moment hassles, you can make a reservation for the lodging and for the camping ground. As the place gets more visitors, it is natural that the place is crowded so be prepared to get stuck in the traffic, & hunt for the parking space, especially in summer. It is less crowded from November to February and so if you are looking for a relaxed time, this is it. You can also use the shuttle bus system that runs from the Grand Canyon village to here. You can check for the newspaper providing detailed information on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
North Rim has not as much public as you can see in the South Rim because it is not that easily accessible as the other point. The North Rim is not visitor’s place throughout the year and if you talk about the lodging facilities then the lodging and stores for this year are open from May 15th to October 15th 2015. The same rule applies what applies for the South Rim as far as the reservation is concerned- for both lodging and campground. You can check for the additional facilities in Kaibab National Forest, the Kaibab Lodge area, and Jacob Lake.
Please take a note that the ‘Shoulder season’ with limited lodging facilities is available from October 15th till the road closes for the snow. Though the park is inaccessible by road, there are hikers, snowshoers, and skiers, who come here during winter for the activities (all need permission for the backcountry).
Things to Do In South Rim:
South Rim is a preferred destination for many visitors due to the available facilities and accessibility.
The South Rim & desert view is open round the year and there are many activities that you can undertake to have a gala time.
The ranger program is an interactive session for the adults and kids (they can enroll for the junior ranger). The program is free and offers you a great chance to know about the Grand Canyon in details- science, history and culture related to it. The program is subjected to the weather change and lighting dangers. There are safety measures to be strictly followed to avoid any mishap.
Visitor Centre and museum:
There are a few museum and visitor information centre. There are Grand Canyon visitor centre and Verkamp visitor centre where you can get all the required information about the Grand Canyon once you are here. The Grand Canyon visitor centre has an indoor exhibit to help you plan your trip and moreover, a bookstore across the plaza. The Yavapai Geology museum is the answer to all your questions regarding the Grand Canyon- the 3D models, photographs and exhibits will let you understand the Grand Canyon for better.
Watch an Educational Movie:
The Grand Canyon; A journey To wonder is a movie that you can watch at the Grand canyon visitor centre. The show is 20 minutes long and runs in 2 slots- 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. Also, you can use your phone to learn about the park, a fun way, isn’t it?
The park rangers take you on an audio tour to various points of interest on South Rim. The history of the Native Americans, night sky or the Grand Canyon’s geology, everything is covered on the audio tour.
Walking and Hiking:
You can choose to walk along the well defined Rim trail or along the Hermit road and Greenway. The South Rim day hikes include Rim trail, Bright angel trail, south Kaibab trail, Grandview trail. Remember it is safer to hike in the day or otherwise if you are planning for the night hike do get the permission in advance. The safety measures have to be followed strictly and the essentials have to be carried. If you want to go for the guided hiking then Grand Canyon Field Institute can help you.
South Rim Mule Trip:
South Rim offers the mule trip round the year, but it is recommended that you make reservations well in advance as the waiting list is always long. A trip on a mule into the Canyon seems to be a good idea, isn’t it?
You are allowed to bring your own bicycle for the tour and if you don’t have one then you can rent a bicycle here and also avail the facility of the guided bicycle tours. Mostly the bicycle tour can be done between March 15 to October 31 otherwise the bicycle tour is subjected to the weather changes. The visitor centre offers this facility and they also have the quick serving food items for the bikers and hikers.
During the busy season from March 31st to November 30th, there are a free shuttle bus services that run on the Hermit road offering you the chance to look at the scenic beauty. The road is then closed for the private cars. In the winter months (December to January) the road is open for the private vehicles but it may be closed due to the snow, particularly in the evening.
Desert View Drive:
You can go for a scenic pleasure to the east of the Grand Canyon either on your private car or commercial bus. View the Moran River, Lipan and the desert viewpoints. At the desert point you can climb the historic 70 ft watchtower- the replica of the prehistoric tower found on the Colorado plateau. The gorgeous panoramic view that you see from the top is just unbelievably amazing.
Get a glimpse of the Pueblo Indian’s lives here (they lived here some 800 years ago). The indoor exhibit is worth a view. You can also walk a self-guiding trail.
Whitewater and Smooth-water raft trips: Whitewater trips are as short as 3 days and as long as 21 days. Plan your trip in advance and make reservations. Half day smooth-water trips are arranged by the lodges from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees. There are 1 & 3-18 days commercial trips, 2-5 & 12-15 days non commercial trips, less ferry to diamond Creek River for both commercial and non-commercial.
Grand Canyon is synonymous to the lighting and if you are here then do visit the photo hot spot where you can click the pictures with the lighting effects. Lighting is most visible during the morning time than the evening. The photo hot spots include desert view watchtower, Cape Royal, Yavapai observation station, El Tovar hotel, Havasu falls, etc.
You can also take part in the Grand Canyon Field Institute Learning Adventure where the guided educational tours are offered by the experts – geology, history, photography while backpacking, camping, and hiking.
The North Rim is open only from May 15th to October 15h 2015 so we are taking a comprehensive look at the things you can do there.
North Rim Visitor Centre:
It is located at the Bright Angel peninsula, just adjacent to the parking lot. The centre has the books, brochure; maps that can help you plan your trip. You can speak to a ranger who would help you plan your trip here.
They are offered daily from the dates mentioned as above.
You can go for a day hike and sight the beautiful nature across the trail. The secluded North Rim is favourite for the people who want to go and enjoy the scenic beauty of the North Rim. The Mule trip is offered here with respect to the said months.
Few things to take care of while travelling to the Grand Canyon:
The Grand Canyon is a remotely located place so make sure you have the gas tank full as the next station may be very far of what you can think of.
Have a spare car keys in case you lose the original one, the availability of the locksmith is not much appreciating and imagine the long wait!
Films are available at South Rim, but the camera repair is available only at Phoenix, AZ.
Carry as much water as you, you never know about the road and maybe you need a lot more than you thought, particularly in summer.
Make a lighting safety plan – ask the visitor centre, the lodge for the weather around your trip.
As more and more visitors visit the place, Travelling Green is encouraged. It is an initiative that can help the Grand Canyon stay more in its pristine stage. People are encouraged to travel more by public transportation and less by their private vehicle. It is a drive to help the environment stay clean, reduce carbon emission and save money.
The Grand Canyon has the wonderful flora and fauna, thanks to the water it gets through the river Colorado; rocky and rough terrains and, of course, the main feature- the lighting. Plan you trip well in advance and enjoy a safe trip. If you are adventurous and lover of the untouched beauty then go to have a memorable trip to the Grand Canyon and enjoy the time amidst the rocks, river and gorges.