Which are the places you want to visit before you say bye to the world? Is Grand Canyon a part of your Wishlist? If Not, then you are missing something.
Visiting Grand Canyon is an experience of a lifetime. No matter how many times you have seen it in videos, travel shows, or movies, witnessing this mighty and magnificent natural wonder live, is something that cannot be described in words. During our visit to the USA, we spent 3 days in Grand Canyon and explored the locations in and around. Do check out more details in my next Blog.
If you have a day to spend in Grand Canyon, This one-day itinerary covers all the information required to plan a perfect family trip.
Grand Canyon, National Park, Arizona
Mile deep gorge, layered in different shades of red, brown, orange. It’s hard to believe that creation of this spectacular natural wonder is the work of a river. Can the water be that powerful?
5-6 million years ago, the Colorado River and its tributaries started to cut channels through the rocks layer by layer mending their way into the mountain, resulting in what we see like the Grand Canyon today.
This natural wonder is around 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).
Grand Canyon: Best Rim to visit
Grand Canyon can be visited at 4 destinations. The North Rim, South Rim, Grand Canyon West, and Grand Canyon East. North Rim and South Rim are the two areas managed by Canyon National Park services. Grand Canyon West is managed by the Hualapai Indian tribe.
South Rim is considered to be the best for its panoramic vistas of the Grand Canyon and Colorado river. If you are a first time visitor, it’s a good idea to start your exploration from South Rim. Each viewpoint in South rim has its unique feature to amaze you. The south rim is open all year round and offers more facilities while traveling with family.
How much time is enough to visit Grand Canyon, South Rim?
- 1 day – If you are planning to visit only the viewpoints (main attractions)
- 3 -4 days – If hiking some of the popular trails is what you have in mind. Hiking was not in our itinerary, instead, we visited Horseshoe Bend and Antelope canyon.
- Recommended: Minimum 3 days to cover viewpoints in South Rim along with Horseshoe bend and Antelope canyon.
How to reach Grand Canyon South Rim – Best mode of transport
The south rim is around 5 hours away from Phoenix or Las Vegas and is easily accessible from most of the major cities.
Buses, trains, airplanes, helicopter rides, and rental cars available. Check out more details here How to reach South Rim from Las Vegas
During our trip, we traveled from San Francisco to Las Vegas. From Vegas, we rented a car. Renting the car is the best option for flexibility and comfort it offers when traveling with kids.
1 Day trip to Grand Canyon National Park
Timings: The entrance to Grand Canyon National park is open 24 hours, all round the year. But the Visitor Centre is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during peak months of May to September and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October -April.
Entrance Fee: Private & non-commercial vehicle and all its passengers -$35 Motorcycle – $30, Bicycle, On Foot, or Shuttle – $20. Annual passes are also available.
Commuting within the Grand Canyon National Park
Free Shuttle services are available between the Grand Canyon village to different viewpoints. The free Shuttle operates on 4 routes,
1.The Village Route (Blue)
2.The Kaibab Rim Route (Orange)
3.Hermit Road Route (Red)
4.Tusayan Route (Purple)
Note that there is no shuttle service available from Grand Canyon Village to Desert view.
Now that you have all the necessary information. Let’s get started and explore the magnificent wonder – the Grand Canyon south rim
We stayed during the night in Williams, a small city around 1 hour away from Grand Canyon National Park. The next morning after breakfast, we started our journey to Grand Canyon national park.
In about 1.5 hours we were at the entrance of the park, which was not very crowded yet.
1. Grand Canyon Visitor Centre
The first stop for all travelers entering from the southern entrance is the visitor center. One-stop for all the information regarding the park, hiking trails, free shuttle services, etc. The visitor center also has the number of exhibits including historical artifact’s, trail details which helps you to understand the Grand Canyon and its offering better.
The visitor center also has 4 parking facilities. However, during vacations and public holidays, parking gets filled faster so make sure to reach early.
2. Enjoy the first view of Canyon from Mather Point
The wait was not too long, just a few minutes’ walk from the visitor center, we had our first encounter of the Grand Canyon. The Mather Point is the most popular viewpoint & crowded too. But nothing like having the first glimpse of this magnificent wonder, especially when you are visiting it for the first time. Although, Colorado river is not visible scenic vistas will captivate you.
3. Walk till Yavapai Point
Yavapai Point is 0.9 miles away from Mather point. A short and easy walk towards the west from Mather point takes you to Yavapai’s point. There are a geology museum and observation station at Yavapai point. Here you can learn about the history of the Canyon, its layers and also enjoy a better view, away from the crowd. Yavapai point provides the best view among all viewpoints in this section
4. Explore the gift shop at the visitor center
While returning to the visitor center, drop into the gift shop and check out some cool Grand Canyon themed souvenirs.
5. Enjoy a quick lunch at the Mexican Food Truck
By the time we walked back to the visitor center, it was noon & we were hungry. We stopped by at the only food truck available there and enjoyed a quick delicious Mexican meal. After filling our tummies with sumptuous tacos and burritos, it was time to amaze ourselves and explore the viewpoints.
6. Admire the Canyon layers at Moran View Point
A popular spot on the South Rim, Moran viewpoint is situated near the visitor center a few miles east of the Grand Canyon Village. This lookout offers the accentuated layers of the canyon with its tapestry of colors. the fascinating channel of the gorge along with the entire vista appears to be a painting on a large canvas.
7. Soak in the tranquility at Lipan View Point
Located 20 miles east of Grand Canyon Village, a little off from the scenic Desert view drive is the Lipan point. From here you can enjoy one of the most spectacular views of the Canyon. This was our favorite lookout. On one side you can witness the spacious panorama featuring formations resembling temple peaks, on the other hand, the Colorado river curving into the inner gorge. The river cuts through the deepest part of the Canyon here. Far below the rim is the Unkar Delta, which supported the farming efforts by Native Americans. Hance Rapid, one of the most hazardous rapid of Colorado river can also be seen from here. Compared to other popular viewpoints, Lipan’s point is less crowded and lets you connect with nature.
8. Walk the trail at Grand Viewpoint
The southernmost viewpoint on the South rim, at an elevation of 7400 ft the Grand viewpoint provides a grand view of the Canyon. Right next to the main lookout, is Grand view trail which dates back to 1898, we walked for half a mile along the trail and came across mesmerizing vistas of the canyon.
From Grand Viewpoint, you can see prominent buttes like Rama Shrine, Krishna Shrine, Vishnu Shrine, and Shiva Temple. You can also get a glimpse of the Colorado River.
9. Sunset at Desert viewpoint watchtower
The last spot in our itinerary and we choose it to enjoy the sunset. Desert viewpoint is located 25 miles east of Grand Canyon Village near the eastern edge of the Canyon. Desert View is a scenic drive that offers several panoramic vistas and viewpoints including the Lipan point and Grand viewpoints. Apart from a breath-taking view of the Grand Canyon, Desert View is popular for the watchtower. Build by Mary Colter’s in 1932 as a replica of a prehistoric Indian tower, the Desert View Watchtower aimed at providing the widest view of the Grand Canyon while maintaining the natural harmony. Build with stones, at 70 feet the watchtower is the highest point on the South Rim.Witnessing the sunset from this point was a great experience.At the desert viewpoint, you can find facilities like the Gas station, washrooms, camping ground, Restaurants, and gift shop.
Watchtower Kiva Shop 9 am to 5 pm, Watchtower stairs: 9 am to 4:30 pm.
Since the watchtower closes by 4.30. make sure to reach the spot before time
Some Quick Tips:
1) Do carry a map with you as most of the times your phone will not have any signals
2) Keep a stock of water and snacks, you won’t find any stores inside the park( except for one in the visitor center and Desert viewpoint)
3) Do carry your hat & sunscreen along
4) Check out the Sunset time, so you don’t miss out on the right moment.
Every spot in Grand Canyon National park is worth stopping by, it’s hard to decide which one to skip. With just one day in hand, we could visit the locations that give the very essence of the Canyon. Although someday I would like to go back and explore the trails too.
Have you taken any trail in Grand Canyon? Do share your experiences.
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