Grand Canyon Wall Painting

Gwen Hogan from Philadelphia shares great travel tips to Grand Canyon

From Landscapes and wildlife to history and adventure, what’s the one thing about the Grand Canyon that has intrigued you?

It’s BIG! A picture or guidebook cannot relay the feeling of wonder of the Grand Canyon. You simply have to experience it. Once you do, you don’t need to be a geologist or nature nut to appreciate it. We found we wanted to learn a little about everything. We’re partial to beatiful views and animals so we probably spent more time on those areas.

If this your first visit to the Canyon, what is motivating you to visit? If this a revisit, what’s your reason for wanting more?

I wanted my kids to see the Grand Canyon and I’d never been to the south rim before.

What are five things your Backpack to the Canyon must contain?

Water, hat, sunscreen, guidebook, camera

What according to you is the best way to get to the Grand Canyon – By Air, By Road or By Rail?

I’ve only ever traveled in and about the Grand Canyon by car. But I like the flexibility and control that allows, like stopping at the Navajo jewelry shacks on the drive up into the park.

What is travel to you in one word?


What are three tips for an awesome budget trip to the Grand Canyon?

ONLY THREE?? (1) Purchase an annual park pass before you go. If you’re going to more than 2-3 National Parks that year it’s probably your best bet. (2)Plan & schedule. Guidebooks for the road and literature at the park entrance help you plan the best ranger talks, concerts, walks, food and sites into your stay –getting you the most value. (3) Get up early and go to bed early. This helps you see the park when it’s most enjoyable, allows you get in more sights as you’re avoiding longer tram and restaurant lines at peak hours.(4)The GC has reasonably priced places to eat. But pack refillable (metal) water bottles and snacks anyway. You want to plan the food around the sight-seeing not vice versa to get the most out of your stay. Costs turn out better if you pack a cooler and plan your biggest restaurant meal at lunchtime (when it’s hottest anyway). How about an apple and ice cream for dinner!(5)Book your lodging 8-12 months out to get the cheapest and best locations. Don’t forget to reconfirm specifics like how many people in a room and if you’ll be  a late arrival. Changes at the last minute can cost you. (6)Set expectations for spending before you go and keep track. Souvenirs, sodas, desserts, snacks and such add surprising amounts of cost over the course of the trip with little extra enjoyment. (7) If traveling by car plan on gassing-up before getting into the park – usually best prices are in the bigger towns. (8) Paid tours are splurges to be used judiciously, most of the wonder of National Parks is free once you get through the gate! (9) If you haven’t been to the National Parks in awhile, realize that more visitors means cars can no longer go everywhere they used to. Trams are increasingly the norm, and take longer to get around the park. So consider planning extra time at the park to allow for this newer travel mode. Better to get in all the ‘must sees’ in one visit and move on, than to feel gypped or the need to revisit too soon.

Grand Canyon Elk

On your travels, what would you choose a book or a camera, and why?

A book! It helps you get the most out of your visit. When I’m enjoying myself, getting the right shot sometimes interrupts the fun of the moment.

What surprised you about the Grand Canyon?

(1)The south rim is a very different feeling from the north rim (2)A lot more people visiting than last time I visited (3)We were very impressed with the literature at the gate. (4)The staff! Housing staff bent over backwards to help make our trip more enjoyable by making sight-seeing recommendations and last minute housing request changes. The clinic staff was so super pleasant and fast that we hardly had to miss a moment of fun to address a strep throat and an infected hiker toe. We found the GC to have top-shelf service compared to other NPs.

Grand Canyon Wall Painting

As a travel destination, how would you rank the Grand Canyon from 1 to 10?


Did you visit the Visitor Center?  Did you see the IMAX movie, Grand Canyon: Rivers of Time?  What did you think?

No, we wanted to but couldn’t fit in the time.

Tell us a little about yourself!  This will be included on the web site.  What brought you to Grand Canyon? Where are you from? What do you do? What are your influences?

I live in the suburbs outside of Philly. We are a traveling family and have been for three generations. We love the US National Parks! They are beautiful, varied, and far more economical than going overseas!