Grand Canyon Basics
When to Go
South Rim is open all year; North Rim facilities are closed from mid-October to mid-May. Ariz. 67 usually closes due to deep snows late November to mid-May. Hikers and mule riders to the inner canyon, where temperatures reach 118°F, prefer spring and fall; the prime river season is April through October.
How to Get There
South Rim: From Flagstaff, Arizona (about 80 miles away), take US 180 skirting the San Francisco Peaks to South Rim entrance, or take US 89 to Cameron, then Ariz. 64 with views of the Little Colorado River Gorge to Desert View entrance.
North Rim: Take Ariz. 67 from Jacob Lake through the Kaibab National Forest to North Rim entrance. The two rims are 10 air miles apart but 215 miles by car, a 5-hour drive. Airports: Grand Canyon near South Rim; Flagstaff; Las Vegas; Phoenix.
How to Visit
On a one-day visit to the South Rim take the Hermit Road west of the village for classic views of the main canyon. The drive is closed to automobiles March through November, but free buses take you to the overlooks. The best second-day activity is the Desert View Drive tour east of Mather Point for great views of the Colorado River and eastern canyon.
On a longer stay, take the North Rim's Cape Royal Road for broad panoramic vistas. You may also enjoy a hike on a backcountry trail; a mule ride down the Bright Angel Trail; a week-long raft trip through the canyon on the Colorado River; and a scenic flight for a bird's-eye view of the canyon. The mule and raft trips and backcountry hikes require reservations far in advance.
Where to Stay
There are four campgrounds within the park; reservations can be made through the park reservation service. The properties inside the park are operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts. Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins have 89 units, many with shared baths. The Phantom Ranch is the only lodging inside the canyon and offers dorm-style rooms and cabins.
- Nat Geo Expeditions