Updated Feb 24, 2020
The Grand Canyon is just that…‘Grand’ and sometimes overwhelming in its magnitude. Looking for some local perspective on how to make the most of your short visit to the Grand Canyon? If you want to make the most of the Canyon in under a day, and experience some great moments, here are the suggestions you were looking for. Get tips on what to see, when to see, what to do, what to eat and what to avoid.
Drive Around: Don’t get straight to the national park. Most visitors take 180 north to get the park. Take Highway 89 North to Cameron and enter through the lesser-used East Entrance instead. Stop at the Cameron Trading Post and sample some delicious Navajo tacos, a local special. There are plenty of viewpoints along the way at Little Colorado River Gorge, so drink them all in.
Hike To the Rim: Each Rim offers a different side to the Canyon. No pun intended. But the truly popular views lie along the South rim. Make sure you get to at least one of these. And don’t stop there. Take a short hike into the canyon. There are several short trails that will give you the visuals you need and still leave you with plenty of time. Try the 3 mile Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge trail, the 6 mile skeleton point hike or the 2.5 mile Grandview Trail. Give in, and go over the edge.
Avoid Crowds: Peak season is the summer months of June through September. Try catching the Canyon in springtime from March to June. If you like weather surprises, then this is the best time to beat the crowds and take in the Canyon’s splendor with a lot more elbowroom. The Grand Canyon in winter is a sight to behold. If you can beat low temperatures, visit during December through February to take in a side to the Canyon you never knew existed.
Take A Rocking tour: Rock your world with a geology tour. Go back in time and understand the geology and natural history of Grand Canyon. Stop by the recently restored museum at Yavapai Point. There are several short geology expeditions which are informative, entertaining and invigorating. Choose the one that suits you best.
Ride a Mule: Precarious cliff paths, dusty ledges, furry yet sure footed animals, and your very first ride into the Wild West. It is a rough ride, but one that will be a really memorable highlight of your trip. Make sure you take one.
Catch the sunset: Head out to the Hermit’s Rest Road on a shuttle bus and just walk around from one view point to another to get spectacular views of a Monet-like sunset over the craggy canyon cliffs. This is where you say ‘some of the best things in life are for free’.
Dine With a View: After a long day, unwind at the El Tovar or the Arizona room. Both offer panoramic views of the Canyon and are a great way to wind the day. Old world elegance meets contemporary cuisine to leave you all your senses satiated.
Remember, off-peak visits to a National Park mean maximum nature with minimal gridlock and less money out of your pocket.
In late March, Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park have hiking, biking, sun and in-park lodging that cost less than summer pricing. (For example, staying a night at The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon costs $280 in March, compared to $350 in the summer.)