Your Guide to Getting the Most Out of the Grand Canyon
Vast, red and untamed, the Grand Canyon is arguably nature’s most spectacular wonder (and is considered to be one of the seven wonders of the natural world). Featuring vast rock formations carved by rivers and lifted by tectonic plates, the 1.8km deep canyon is a manifestation of nature at work.
Yet given that the Grand Canyon is a massive 446km wide, figuring out how to best experience it can be a challenge. Many people opt to simply visit the major lookouts and landmarks – which is fine, but sticking to the trodden path can mean that you miss out on some spectacular and less well-known sights.
Get your hiking boots out – here are some tips for making the most out of your trip.
See it from (way) up above
Viewing the canyon from the inside of a Grand Canyon helicopter tour is a great way to get an incredible aerial perspective (as well as some amazing photos!). Depart from Boulder City for a 70 minute adventure of a lifetime as you travel across the Grand Canyon learning about its rich history from your friendly tour guides. Seeing the canyon from this high up isn’t something that many people get to experience; it’s worth doing for the stunning views. Travelling by helicopter is a lot of fun, too.
See it from down below
While it may not be as impressive as seeing it from above, getting a lower angle of the canyon is definitely worth doing. This is a unique angle that allows you to appreciate the beauty in the little things – from seeing elk up close to witnessing pine trees growing out of rocks. Take a day trip from the top of Scenic Rim to see the bright blue Havasu Falls, or try the South Kaibab Trail if you’re after a short (but steep) hike.
Dodge the crowds
Choosing the right time of year to visit the Grand Canyon is essential if you want to stop large crowds of people ruining your photos and your peace and quiet. The busiest times to visit are from the end of May to the start of September. Crowds start to fade from late August, when kids start going back to school. December through until February is the quietest time of year as people try to avoid going out in the cold winter season.
But if you can brave the cold, you’ll be rewarded with some beautiful and unique views of the canyon. Snowy peaks, striking sunsets and gentle mists make for some great photos. Be sure to visit the Scenic Rim rather than the North Rim as the latter is closed during the winter.
If you happen to be around during the busier months, try walking away from the busiest tourist areas and carparks – Soshone Point, Desert View and Ten-X campground are some of the quieter spots.
Visit Yavapai Point Geology Museum
Think rocks are boring? Prepare to be proven wrong. The museum at Yavapai Point offers stunning views and fascinating information on the natural history and geology of the Grand Canyon. Rangers also offer guided history programs, field guides and short hikes explaining the local geology and ecology of the area.
Extending your stay in the Grand Canyon is the best way to get the most out of your trip. Staying for a day just won’t cut it – the area is so expansive you could spend months in it! Utilise some of the many available campgrounds to pitch your tent as you explore as much of the canyon as possible. However, make sure to book your campsite well in advance – waiting lists can be as long as eight months.