Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is more than a great chasm carved over millennia through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. It is more than an awe-inspiring view. It is more than a pleasuring ground for those who explore the roads, hike the trails, or float the currents of the turbulent Colorado River. This canyon is a gift that transcends what you can experience. Its beauty and size humble us. In its vast spaces you may find solace from your hectic lives. The Grand Canyon you visit today is a gift from past generations.
A powerful and inspiring landscape, the Grand Canyon overwhelms your senses through its immense size; 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. Nearly five million people see the 1 mile deep (1.6 km) Grand Canyon each year. Most of them see it from their car at overlooks along the South Rim (this includes Grand Canyon Village, Hermits Rest, and Desert View). The South Rim is the most accessible part of the park and is open all year.
A much smaller number of people see the Canyon from the North Rim, which lies just 10 miles / 16 km (as the condor flies) directly across the Canyon from the South Rim. The North Rim rises a thousand feet higher than the South Rim, and is much less accessible. Heavy snows close the road to the North Rim from late October to mid May of each year. Even in good weather it's harder to get to. It is 220 miles / 354 km by car from the South Rim, or 21 miles / 34 km by foot across the Canyon by way of the North and South Kaibab Trails.
The Inner Canyon includes everything below the rim and is seen mainly by hikers, mule riders, or river runners. There are many opportunities here for adventurous and hardy persons who want to backpack, ride a mule to Phantom Ranch, or take a river trip through the Canyon on the Colorado River (which can take anywhere from a few days to three weeks - there are no one-day river trips through Grand Canyon).
There are three different river trip opportunities through Grand Canyon National Park.
1 Day Commercial River Trips - Half-day and full-day whitewater and smooth water trips on the Colorado River. Some take place between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry (northeastern end of Grand Canyon), and others launch from Quartermaster or Diamond Creek (western end of Grand Canyon).
2 to 5 Day Noncommercial River Trips - Noncommercial trips that launch from Diamond Creek and takeout at Lake Mead typically are 2 to 5 days in length. Permits for these whitewater trips are available to the public starting one year in advance and are distributed on a first-come first-served basis.
Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek River Trips - Motorized and non-motorized whitewater rafting trips which launch from Lees Ferry and take-out at Diamond Creek vary greatly in length. Motor trips usually take a minimum of seven days to reach Diamond Creek, but half trip options are available for those who wish to hike in or out at Phantom Ranch. Individuals can choose between commercial and noncommercial trips.
3 to 18 Day Commercial River Trips. These are professionally guided raft trips, available to the public and often reserved a year or two in advance.
12 to 25 Day Noncommercial River Trips. These are self-guided raft trips, sometimes referred to as private river trips. Permits for these trips are made available to the public through a weighted lottery.
Bicycling in the Grand Canyon is an excellent way to explore the park. Bicycles are permitted on all paved and unpaved park roads and the new 2.8 mile / 4.5 km Hermit Road Greenway Trail (South Rim.) Bicycles are not permitted on all other trails, inside the canyon, and also including the Rim Trail. Bicyclists must obey all traffic regulations. Always ride single file with the flow of traffic. See and be seen; wear bright colors and a helmet.
Visit the Scenic Hermit Road West of Grand Canyon Village, tour by free park shuttle bus, on a commercial bus tour, on foot, or by bicycle. This newly improved road winds eight miles/ 11km past numerous canyon overlooks to the historic Hermits Rest. Open to private vehicles only during the winter. Visit the Scenic Desert View Drive East of Grand Canyon Village, tour in your private vehicle or by commercial bus tour. 25 miles (42 km) one-way. Views of the river at Moran, Lipan and Desert View Points. You may exit or enter the park to the east. (via Arizona highways 64 and 89)
The North Rim Campground
Open from mid-May to mid-October. Operated by the National Park Service.
There are no hook-ups, however, there is a dump station within the campground. Pets are allowed, but must be leashed at all times, and may not be left unattended. Wood and charcoal fires are only permitted in provided campsite grills. No gathering of down wood - wood may be purchased at the general store. Coin operated laundry and showers are located at the entrance to the campground. Accessible campsites and restrooms are available.
South Rim Campgrounds
Mather Campground - No hook-ups - 30-foot trailer or RV maximum Open year-round. Operated by the National Park Service and located in Grand Canyon Village, this campground offers tent and RV camping. Accessible campsites and restrooms are available. Pets are allowed, but must be leashed at all times, and may not be left unattended. Wood and charcoal fires permitted in provided campsite grills only. No gathering of down wood, wood may be purchased at the general store. Laundry and showers located near the campground for a fee.
The best time of year to fish for trout within the park is in the fall and winter. Bright Angel Creek by Phantom Ranch permits unlimited trout fishing; unlimited striped bass; unlimited catfish. Trout taken at Bright Angel Creek shall be killed and retained as part of the bag limit or immediately released. A current Arizona state fishing license is required to catch fish in the park. Make sure you know the regulations before you fish. Special artificial lure regulations and bag limits apply to various stretches of the Colorado River.
Many options are available for day hikers. Both the South Rim and the North Rim offer rim trail hikes that have spectacular views of the inner canyon, some on paved trails. Or you can choose to day hike into the canyon. Permits are not required for non-commercial day hikes. If you would like to join a guided hiking and/or camping trip that is educational in nature, consider the Grand Canyon Field Institute. Day hiking can be a safer and more enjoyable choice than an overnight trip into a difficult area that is beyond the capabilities of any single member of your group.
Going on a hike is wonderful way to experience some of the canyon's rich natural beauty and immense size. However, even if you are an avid hiker, hiking the Grand Canyon is very different from most other hiking experiences. Mental attitude and adequate water and food consumption are absolutely essential to the success of any Grand Canyon hike, particularly in summer. The day hiker and the overnight backpacker must be equally prepared for the lack of water, extreme heat and cold, and isolation characteristic of the Grand Canyon.
Hiking in the Grand Canyon is so demanding that even people in excellent condition often emerge sore and fatigued. Yet small children, senior citizens, and people with physical disabilities have successfully hiked the canyon. A hike into the Grand Canyon will test your physical and mental endurance. Know and respect your limitations. Moderation is the key to an enjoyable hike.
At Desert View Point, you can also climb to the top of a 70 ft. tall (21.5 m) stone Watchtower for a panoramic view that extends for more than 100 miles on a clear day. The historic Watchtower is a replica of the prehistoric towers found on the Colorado Plateau and was designed in 1932 by legendary architect, Mary Jane Colter.
South Rim Mule trips may be booked 13 months in advance and fill up early. A waiting list is maintained for cancellations, but chances of obtaining reservations on the waiting list are slim. If you wish to make a trip into the canyon on a mule, plan ahead!
Three hour Abyss Overlook Mule Rides depart twice daily, through October, and once daily through mid March from the Historic Mule Barn just a short walk from the Bright Angel Lodge. You will pass through a Ponderosa Forest and a Piñon and Juniper woodland filled with abundant wildlife on your way to a magnificent cliff at the edge of the canyon.
Overnight Rides stay the night at Phantom Ranch, a rustic oasis nestled deep in the Canyon near the Colorado River. This service must be reserved and purchased in advance. Overnight rides include accommodations and meals. Please contact the ranch for prices.
Ample picnicking areas in a variety of locations across the park, mainly in campgrounds.
Mostly commercially run, Whitewater rafting is permitted in the Grand Canyon. Some take place between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry (northeastern end of Grand Canyon), and others launch from Quartermaster or Diamond Creek (western end of Grand Canyon). Noncommercial trips that launch from Diamond Creek and takeout at Lake Mead typically are 2 to 5 days in length. motorized and non-motorized whitewater rafting trips which launch from Lees Ferry and take-out at Diamond Creek vary greatly in length. Make sure to check if a permit is needed.
Of the 34 mammal species found along the Colorado River corridor, 15 are rodents and eight are bats. The mammalian fauna in the woodland scrub community consists of 50 species, mostly rodents and bats. Three of the five Park woodrat species live in the desert scrub community. The conifer forests provide habitat for 52 mammal species. Porcupines, shrews, red squirrels, tassel eared Kaibab and Abert squirrels, black bear, mule deer, and elk are found at the park's higher elevations on the Kaibab Plateau.
The park remains open in the winter and many hiking trails can still be traveled in the winter season. Winter closing do occur despite the warmer temperatures. Be sure to look for icy areas and take caution while in the park.
The South Rim: Open All Year
The South Rim is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All visitor services: camping, lodging, and restaurants are available year round. Reservations are strongly recommended during the busy summer season. Some facilities are closed during the winter. A free shuttle bus system operates in the Grand Canyon Village area. Make your visit easier by parking your car and using the shuttle to get around. Make sure you stop at the park's visitor center at Canyon View Information Plaza, which are reached only by shuttle. The average distance across the canyon "as the condor flies" is ten miles (16 km). However, traveling from the North Rim to the South Rim requires a five-hour drive of 215 miles (345 km). The North Rim: Mid-May to Mid-October
North Rim Lodging and camping along with all other visitor services and facilities are only open from mid-May to mid-October. Reservations are strongly recommended. Additional facilities are available in the surrounding Kaibab National Forest, the Kaibab Lodge area, and Jacob Lake.
During winter months, the road to the North Rim, Highway 67, is often closed due to snow. After the close of visitor facilities in mid-October, there may be a period when the North Rim is open for day use only. (before the snow comes) During this time there are no services or overnight facilities available inside the park. The road from Jacob Lake to the North Rim (Highway 67) is subject to closure due to snow with little or no notice during this interval and then remains closed until mid-May.
The Grand Canyon Association has been providing quality support to Grand Canyon National Park and its visitors for more than 75 years. The National Park Service is proud of its long-standing partnership with the Grand Canyon Association. The association's staff is committed to cultivating knowledge, discovery and stewardship for the benefit of the park and its visitors. With their financial support the Grand Canyon Association has been able to offer high-quality programs and services to millions of visitors throughout the years. They look forward to a continued partnership with the association as they enter a new era of education and interpretation to engage people in making enduring connections to one of America's most spectacular places--the Grand Canyon.(800) 858-2808
The lodges, retail shops, restaurants and other concessions such as mule rides and motorcoach tours at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park are operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts' Grand Canyon National Park Lodges. The company manages seven distinctly different hotel properties, the only lodging in the park, 11 restaurants and 11 retail shops. Many structures have become recognized for their historic significance and are famous in their own right.
Grand Canyon Railway, owned and operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts gives park visitors an opportunity to experience the parks by train. The Grand Canyon Railway made its first journey to the Grand Canyon in 1901, long before Arizona was dubbed the "Grand Canyon State." With the arrival of the train, people could get to the legendary canyon with ease and comfort. Today, you can travel from Williams, AZ to Grand Canyon National Park along the same rail line your parents or grandparents did. Select from one of four vintage classes of service, which have been lovingly restored, or select a hotel package that includes lodging at Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and Maswik Lodge at the Grand Canyon or stay at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park. Dine at Grand Depot Cafe, which sits across from the hotel and adjacent to the depot track-side. The 350-seat restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner for Grand Canyon Railway passengers and patrons. For reservations and more information, call (303) 843-8724 or visit http://www.thetrain.com.
Delaware North Companies offers the Grand Canyon General Store which offers camping items, outdoor adventure gear and rental of camping gear. The phone number for the General Store is (928) 638-2262.(800) 297-2757
Car - Grand Canyon Village (SOUTH RIM) is located 60 miles north of Interstate 40 at Williams via highway 64, and 80 miles northwest of Flagstaff via highway 180. Only ten miles from rim to rim as the crow flies, the North Rim is 215 miles (about 4 1/2 hours) from the South Rim by car.
The NORTH RIM is 44 miles south of Jacob Lake, AZ, via highway 67. Visitor services and facilities inside the national park on the North Rim are only open from mid-May through mid-October.
Commercial air carriers serve Las Vegas, Nevada, Phoenix and Flagstaff, Arizona.
There is limited air service into the Grand Canyon Airport (10 miles / 16 km south of the park) from Las Vegas and elsewhere. All scenic air tours are based outside of Grand Canyon National Park. Both fixed-wing and helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon region are offered daily.
Journey to Grand Canyon National Park aboard Grand Canyon Railway From Williams, Arizona (along Interstate 40) the Grand Canyon Railway carries more than 230,000 people by rail to Grand Canyon National Park each year.
Grand Canyon Coaches operates the Grand Canyon Eco-Shuttle between hotels and businesses in Tusayan and the Backcountry Information Center in Grand Canyon Village. Call (928) 638-0821 for prices and schedules.
Shuttle service between Phoenix and Flagstaff, and between Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Village is offered by Open Road Tours (800-766-7117).