Updated Feb 24, 2020
Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon
The Visiting Center is where your Grand Canyon adventure begins – both on and offline. We’re here to equip guests with all the information they need to enhance their experience and get the very most out of their time at this famous landmark. The Grand Canyon is massive, spanning more than 1 million acres, and the amount of research available is equally sizable and often dizzying.
Nat Geo mines this comprehensive knowledge and concisely breaks it down to provide you with the top tips for visiting the Grand Canyon. Use our guide to help plan your trip prior to your arrival, and be sure to drop in once you make it to the National Park to access our full offerings.
Sights to See
Most travelers visiting the Grand Canyon come to the South Rim. There you can find the most breathtaking views and scenic sights. Visitors are awestruck by the layered red rock, steep gorges and unique ridges of the Grand Canyon, but what are its best vantage points?
Desert View Drive is a 25-mile scenic route along the South Rim that contains six developed viewpoints and four picnic areas, as well as the Tusayan ruin site and museum. The road ends at the Desert View lookout, where you’ll encounter a 70 foot watchtower whose roof-top observation points display incredible vistas of the canyon, Colorado River, San Francisco Peaks, and Painted Desert.
- Over the edge
To truly experience the Grand Canyon, take a short hike below the ridge and view it on a different scale. Descending into the canyon is the only way to observe random rocks jutting at precarious angles or oddities such as the pine tree that grows between two rocky columns at Moran Point.
Staying for the sunset is a must during your Grand Canyon trip. There’s nothing more magical than witnessing the glorious transformation of orange and dusty pink hues as they fill the panoramic canyon. Hang out at Hermit’s Rest, or take in the splendor of the sunset at Lipan Point, where you can watch colors dance on the river.
Things to Do
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon offers far more activities than its neighboring North or West regions. One of our best tips for visiting the Grand Canyon: select your activity based on budget, timeline, and agility. Some options include:
Note that some activities require back-country permits, such as overnight hikes or river rafting excursions. Most activities, excursions and tours require advanced reservations, so contact our Visitor Center for help.
Tips for Time
If you’re like most people visiting the Grand Canyon, your time is probably limited. You’re already off to a great start by reading through these tips in advance, but here are some additional suggestions for how to most effectively visit the park and make each minute matter.
- IMAX® “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets”
Seeing the entirety of the Grand Canyon is virtually impossible – until now. Located within our Visitor Center, this IMAX® Theater boasts a massive six-story screen enhanced by premium Dolby surround sound to deliver sensory technology which simulates movement. Explore below the rim, ascend to new heights, rush down rapids and climb crooked crags in only 34 minutes’ time. Pro tip for your visit to the Grand Canyon: purchase your tickets in advance online and save 20%.
- Avoid Crowds
Standing in line to snap a photo of the Canyon’s awe-inspiring overlooks can waste a lot of time. Try to save time by going to lesser-known lookouts or plan your trip during the park’s slow season to avoid tourists. January and February are the slowest parts of the year, but crowds start to taper off around October.
Steer clear of congestion and avoid waiting in long entry lines by parking your car outside the entrance and taking a shuttle instead. If you do plan on bringing your vehicle with you, be sure to arrive before 9:00 AM during the busy season or you might not be able to find parking.
Save yourself more time by pre-paying your Grand Canyon entrance fee at the Visitor Center, which enables you to use a special lane and bypass traffic. We’ve gathered accommodation options and consolidated them into one convenient list so you can easily find a place to stay. While you’reat it, read our packing checklist so you don’t need to worry about wasting your time on a quick trip to the store.
Also, Grand Canyon National Park is building a stronger telecommunications system, making it easier for visitors to document their trip in real time. Remember, the best service in the park is found within Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim.
Armed with these tips for visiting the Grand Canyon, you’re set to have the adventure of a lifetime. Nat Geo can supply you with all information you need for an unforgettable Grand Canyon experience; stop by our Visitor Center to learn more about how we can help.