How to Explore the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon National Park is the perfect getaway for those seeking adventure and the outdoors. The canyon is cut in half-the North Rim, which is more isolated, and the South Rim, which is more populated-by the rapid waters of the Colorado River. The landscape is exuberant with its thousands of canyons and plateaus, deserts and pygmy forests, wildlife and old lodges. The Grand Canyon stretches for 216.8 miles and can be as high as one mile; additionally, the canyon is composed of layers upon layers of limestone and clay, their shades of yellow, terra cotta, red, and white constantly changing as the sun ascends the horizon. As the sun moves through the bright-blue sky, the canyons´ shade and light patterns change, and the multicolored layers of rock seem to move and transform into new shapes every minute.

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As I mentioned before, the Grand Canyon is the ideal place for nature/adventure lovers. There are numerous hikes-which can vary from thirty minutes to many days-bike trails, lookouts, rafts, exploring, and wildlife. However, there are lodges and hotels to stay at for those who prefer staying in an actual room, and I heard there are spas and indoor things to do too…not sure though.

I spent four days exploring and adventuring throughout the Grand Canyon and I´ll be beyond happy to guide you through a “highly adventurous what-to-do list”, but don’t worry, I´ll write about all of the ways you can explore this beautiful place:

Where to Sleep

Camp-there are campgrounds available year round, but some of them need a reservation (some campgrounds are highly competed for). Also, not every campground has showers, thus, do a little research beforehand.

Rv/Trailer-most, if not all, of the campgrounds won´t allow 30+ ft Rvs/trailers, so make sure you come with a little one. Also, the sites don’t have full hook-up, you would have to drive to a specific area for that.

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Making some S´mores at the campground

Lodge-there are many lodges throughout the park, some obviously more expansive than others. Lodges that offer cheaper food ($14.99 or less) are Yavapai Lodge and Maswik Lodge; lodges that offer more expansive food are Bright Angel Lodge ($14.99-24.99) and El Tovar Hotel ($14.99-25+). If you are planning to stay in one of the lodges, make sure you call beforehand because there are usually waitlists.

Where to Eat

There are a few places to grab a bite or go grocery shopping in the Grand Canyon NP: 1) the hotels and lodges 2) the cafes throughout the park 3) the General Store, which is the best option to go grocery shopping 4) the Desert View Market. I know for a fact that the El Tovar Hotel has great food; nevertheless, I would mostly shop at the General Store and prepare my own food and snacks.

Top Attractions

Sightseeing-catch the best views of the Grand Canyon at the Mather Point, Yaki Point, Hopi House (great place to shop for Native American arts), Trailview Overlook, Hopi Point, Hermit Trailhead, Navajo Point, and Grandview.

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Biking-bike the Grand Canyon´s Rim! It´s a breathtaking ride-contouring the edges of the canyons while seeing all of its glorious formations. Bikes can be rented at the Visitor Center at the Bright Angel Bicycles; there they will shuttle you to the Hopi Point and from there you will be able to bike down to Hermits Rest (5.8 miles biking in flat and downhill trails). Instead of going back to the Visitor Center with the shuttle, we decided to bike all the way back (about 22 miles).

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View from bike ride

Hikes-there are numerous hikes to choose from when visiting the Grand Canyon-from easy to extraneous and from 1 mile to many days-and we decided to hike the Plateau Point. The Plateau Point trail is 12 miles/19.2 km, has an elevation change of 3080 ft/940m, it usually takes from 9-12 hours to hike it (we did it in 6 hours), and it is considered to be an extraneous hike-it is simply gorgeous! The view at the end is worth the hard work; additionally, if you wish to spend the night, the Indian Garden Campground is like an oasis in the midst of the dry canyons. A HUGE tip is to start your hike-if it’s a long one-around 3 pm, this way the weather won´t be too hot and the trails are emptier (just remember to bring flashlights for the way back). Additionally, you will be able to stargaze while hiking, and trust me, stargazing in the Grand Canyon is simply breathtaking!

Because of the high temperatures, desert landscape, and exceedingly steep hills, there are a few things you must take with you while hiking: 1) water (at least two liters per person) 2) food (protein bars, fruits, nuts, and anything salty and loaded with calories) 3) maps or trail guide 4) flashlight or headlamp (we used these two a lot during our hike)  5) sun protection (hats, sunscreen, long sleeve shirts, sunglasses) 6) correct gear (hiking/old tennis shoes, loose cotton clothing, and hiking poles).

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Views like this one can be easily accessed with the many trails

Others-a couple other attractions are the mule riding (they take you down the canyon), which is quite full, so just make sure to book at least a year beforehand; furthermore, there´s the Grand Canyon Skywalk, which I have heard is simply beautiful (quite pricy though).

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