If you haven’t been to the Grand Canyon – it needs to be added to your bucket list ASAP. I’ve wanted to go since I can remember and I’m so happy we were able to include it in our travel plans this summer.
Before this summer, I’ve only flown over the canyon which boasts insane views, but it’s not the same as being there and seeing it up close and personal. Any pictures or Goggle Earth searches just do not do this wonder justice.
We flew into Phoenix and drove to Sedona to stay the night there. I feel like if you’re going through Phoenix to get to the Grand Canyon you need to check out Sedona too! It’s equally as amazing. The drive to Grand Canyon from Sedona wasn’t bad either – only 2 hours. From Phoenix, it’s 3.5 hours. The drive between Sedona and Grand Canyon National Park is incredible, you drive through the mountains and are surrounded by lush greenery, crisp air, and breathtaking views.
Okay, now that I’ve convinced you to go there let me give you some tips and recommendations.
You can stay close to Grand Canyon National Park, but the hotels are limited which is why we chose to stay in Sedona. Check out their website for lodging options nearby if you want to stay closer.
To enter the park there is a $35 fee which lasts for 7 days. They give you a pass to put in your car. They prefer debit/credit cards so don’t worry if you don’t have cash. You could do three days there easily, however, we only had time to check out the south rim. When my kids are a little older we will definitely stay a few days and get some hiking in too!
There is ample amount of parking and shuttles if you get there early, that can take you all throughout the park. They have shuttle services from outside the park as well. I recommend parking in lot A or B at the South Rim Visitor’s Center when you first come in. There are several villages and market places inside the park at different lookout points for food, beverage and souvenir shopping. We scored some yummy tacos at a food truck inside the park. You can also enter the park from the west and north if you’re coming from those directions. If possible, go on a weekday or right when they open. The crowds didn’t get too big until around noon. Right at 9 am or after 4 pm are the best times to go.
Parents – the south rim at Mather Point does have rails and large rocks blocking the edge. I was really concerned about this because my little one cannot be trusted. I felt safe walking throughout this lookout point with the boys. If you want to venture a little off to the sides of Mather Point you can get some views without rails if you’re the daredevil type. I am not.
There’s a nice path to walk up to the rim and once you get there you truly cannot believe your eyes. Like I mentioned before, pictures never do it justice. The canyon is so vast it’s hard to believe it’s real. There are tons of spots for great pictures, some rocks you can even walk out on for more beautiful views. Again, we only chose the ones with rails. Check out more of these views!
If you want to head north to the north rim, plan on a few hours of driving. Grand Canyon North Rim’s season is relatively short as well, so check to see if it’s open before you go. The main visitation area of Grand Canyon North Rim is much smaller than that of the South Rim. While the South Rim has close to two dozen major viewpoints, the North Rim has only three. So, if you only have a day there and are with small kids, I suggest the South Rim.
Next time we go when our kids are a little older, we will definitely make it to the north side to see Horseshoe Bend. The trail to Horseshoe Bend is 1.5 miles round trip, so not bad with kids. Walking time is said to be about 1 hour and it will give you plenty of gawking time at the canyon’s edge. Because you’re in the desert, don’t forget to go prepared with lots of water and sunscreen.
If you’re going to check out Horseshoe Bend, then it’s a must to check out Antelope Caverns as they are close to each other. You can do guided tours through Grand Canyon Adventures. They run all day and include transportation, the best photo ops, and lunch.
If you’re a hiker and want to get the ultimate hike in – the Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point (12.2 miles total). The Bright Angel trail ends at an insane view overlooking the Colorado River. A less intense hike is the Cedar Ridge trail which is only 3 miles.
Lastly, if you’re looking for something a little extra but don’t want to hike, you can head to the Grand Canyon Skywalk at Eagle Point, located at the West Rim. According to the website, the Skywalk is a 10-foot wide, horseshoe-shaped glass bridge extends 70 feet out over the rim of the Grand Canyon. Look down and you can see right through the glass platform 4,000 feet to the floor of the Canyon below. The glass can withhold the weight of 70 fully loaded 747 passenger jets – so don’t worry about it cracking while on it! The Skywalk is an extra ticket and in my opinion pretty pricy, but it is the experience after all. It’s about 4 hours from the South Rim so this is a better area to visit if coming from Las Vegas. I have read that you are not allowed to carry bags, purses or cameras on the Skywalk. Photographers are there to take photos for you, but of course, at an extra charge. All and all you’ll pay $60-$80 per person, plus photographs.
Our short trip to the Grand Canyon was enough for me to want to go back and feast my eyes on more of this natural wonder! If you have any tips about visiting the Grand Canyon, let me know in the know in the comment section!