Plan a Trip to Grand Canyon– A visit to the Grand Canyon is on almost everyone’s travel bucket list, and for good reason.
Some people leave with a mix of delight and awe at the sheer scale of the place, while others are completely underwhelmed.
Perhaps because this canyon is simply too large to comprehend in its entirety and, as a result, is not as bright and beautiful as some people imagine.
We took our children to the Grand Canyon South Rim and the Grand Canyon North Rim, and here are all of our recommendations for a successful trip!
Facts about the Grand Canyon
- UNESCO has designated the Grand Canyon National Park as a World Heritage Site.
- The gorge is approximately 450 km long, up to 1,800 m deep, and up to 30 km wide in places, with a total area of 4,900 m2 (twice the size of Saarland).
- The Grand Canyon was formed over millions of years by a combination of water, wind, and the elevation of the entire soil. Each year, the Colorado River removes about the thickness of a sheet of paper from the rock.
- The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the United States, with around six million visitors per year.
Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon (South Rim)
Avoid traffic jams, parking searches, and the midday heat by getting to the park early, and you might even catch a glimpse of a spectacular sunrise at the Grand Canyon (I heard – we rarely make it to see a sunrise).
For sunrise, the Visitor Center recommends Yaki Point, Mather Point, Yavapal Point, and Hopi Point; for sunset, Lipan Point, Mather Point, Yavapal Point, and Hopi Point.
You first drive through the forest after passing the Grand Canyon ticket booth. The visitor centers are right on the edge of the rim.
Check out the Grand Canyon map ahead of time. The routes of the free shuttle bus are also marked on the map!
If you want to go down into the canyon on one of the hiking trails, start early in the morning. A tip that should not be overlooked while visiting the Grand Canyon is to bring plenty of food, water, and sun protection.
Wanderwege Grand Canyon South Rim
If you want to learn more about the Grand Canyon’s formation, the Trail of Time on the South Rim is a great place to start!
This trail is especially recommended for families visiting the Grand Canyon with children because it is paved and can accommodate prams. Between Yavapai Point and the Verkamps Visitor Center is the Trail of Time.
When visiting the Grand Canyon with children, we recommend walking to Mather Point. This section is very popular, but it also offers spectacular views of the gorge!
The Bright Angel Trail in the Village and the South Kaibab Trail are both good places to start a hike down into the mighty canyon.
Both paths are difficult (after all, you must descend into a gorge and then ascend again), the path is narrow, close to the edge of the abyss, and there are no fences or other barriers.
So it’s not suitable for small children or people who are afraid of heights. A portion of the South Kaibab Trail was walked by us. However, because my legs were shaking (height is not for me! ), we had to turn around at the Ooh Aah Point.
Desert View Drive
We took Desert View Drive from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Navajo Territory. Make a point of stopping at the Desert View Watchtower if you’re in this part of the Grand Canyon.
The Colorado River can also be seen from there, as well as another breathtaking view of the canyon and the North Rim.
With the camper at the Grand Canyon South Rim
On the map of the South Rims (pdf download), the parking facilities for mobile homes are marked. If you want to go hiking on the popular Bright Angels Trail, you won’t be able to park right there (there are only parking spaces for cars).
So either walk to the South Rim first or take advantage of the free shuttle buses (not available during our COVID-Summer 2021 visit). It’s also worth noting that the Visitor Center’s RV parking spaces fill up quickly.
We parked our mobile home in the Kaibab National Forest for free the night before our visit to the Grand Canyon South Rim-right in front of the national park’s entrance, thanks to Camperdays.com*.
We then stayed two more nights at the Mather Campground, which charges a fee (reservation required in advance via the NPS app; see this blog post for tips on motorhome trips in the United States).
It took about half an hour to walk from the campsite to the rim. A free dumping station can be found there.
Tips for the Grand Canyon North Rim
As previously stated, the North Rim is about 300 meters higher than the South Rim, with an elevation of over 2,400 meters. According to the Junior Ranger program, it snows more here than in Anchorage, Alaska.
Note: Before planning a trip to the Grand Canyon North Rim, check the National Park Service website to ensure the park is open.
If you don’t have a mobile home and want to stay in the national park for the night, the Grand Canyon Lodge is a great option.
Some of the homes are right on the rim, with a view of the canyon from the comfort of a rocking chair. How breathtaking!
Grand Canyon hiking trails, North Rim
The majority of the trails are located near the North Rim Visitor Center (see map). We hiked the Transept Trail along the rim and returned via the bridle path through the forest.
Both ways aren’t worth seeing. Bright Angel Point, near the Grand Canyon Lodge, offers a spectacular view of the canyon.
The longer hiking trails, such as Uncle Jim and Wildforss Trail, were not tested.
The Walhalla Overlook/Cape Royal scenic drive is highly recommended. From the Cliff Spring Trail trailhead, you can get a first glimpse of the Angels Window on the way.
The view of the canyon and the Colorado River from the Angels Window on the Cape Royal Trail is a must-see!
North Rim with RV
If you can’t find a spot at the Grand Canyon North Rim’s national park campsite with your RV, we recommend the DeMotte Campground (no electricity, water, or sewer).
There are a limited number of RV parking spaces at the Visitor Center, as well as a large parking lot at Cape Royal. The Scenic Drive is a winding, narrow road.
Nonetheless, we were able to travel there without difficulty in our 30-foot mobile home, but the route is not recommended for vehicles that are even longer!
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South Rim or North Rim?
We briefly debated whether to visit the “South Rim” or the “North Rim” of the Grand Canyon.
A quick search revealed that the South Rim is easier to get to and more popular than the North Rim, so it gets more visitors. On the other hand, the North Rim is far more unique.
We decided to visit both sides of the Grand Canyon because we had time during our long trip across the United States (3 months from east to west coast).
So, what’s the difference between the Grand Canyon’s South and North Rims? The North Rim is about 300 meters higher than the South Rim on average.
As a result, the North Rim gets a lot of snow in the winter, and the Grand Canyon’s northern section is only open during the summer.
It’s colder there, and the scenery is drastically different. The aspen forests on the North Rim were especially beautiful!
Because the South Rim is more developed, the parking spaces there are more developed as well.
On the North Rim, it was much more difficult to find a parking spot (especially with an RV), and the streets were clogged with parked cars, making driving on the narrow streets more difficult.
We even got the impression that the North Rim was “fuller” than the South Rim during our visit in summer 2021.
However, many countries were subject to the Corona Travel Ban at the time. This is most likely why the majority of the travelers were from the United States.
An important note about the Grand Canyon: the visitor centers on the South Rim have far more information and exhibits than those on the North Rim. On both sides, we thought the prospects were fantastic.
Should you go to the South or North Rim?
- Would you like to learn more about the Grand Canyon’s formation and history while you’re here? Visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon!
- Check the North Rims’ opening hours; it might not be open yet (it usually opens at the middle or end of May).
- Are you traveling without a vehicle and willing to pay a premium for a room on the rim? We’re heading to the North Rim!
- Are they both on your way? To form your own opinion, visit both rims!
Other ways to experience the Grand Canyon:
- The Hualapai area encompasses the Grand Canyon’s western rim. When purchasing tickets, keep in mind that you will be charged an area entrance fee in addition to the skywalk and parking fees. You can’t take your own pictures. Instead, you have to give up your cell phones and other personal things, and you can buy photos.
- A helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon is available (South Rim).
- On the Colorado River, multi-day rafting trips depart from Lee’s Ferry near Page. Mark has added it to his bucket list!
Horseshoe Bend: Glen Canyon Recreation Area
Horseshoe Bend is most likely the image that most people associate with Arizona. The Colorado River, which is not part of the Grand Canyon, curves in a perfect arc along the red cliffs.
This travel tip is provided because this particular photo location is frequently sought after. The parking lot is pay-to-park, and you’ll arrive at the photo location after a short walk.
If you’re traveling by motorhome, you can combine a visit to Horseshoe Bend with an overnight stay at Lone Rock Beach. Hiking along the Colorado River at “Lee’s Ferry” is also enjoyable.
Tips Plan a Trip to Grand Canyon
In the blog post “National Parks of the United States,” we go over how to visit a national park in the United States, as well as how to purchase the “America the Beautiful” annual pass (which costs $80 and is well worth it if you want to visit more than three national parks). You can also learn more about the “Junior Ranger Program” for kids.
When visiting the American Southwest, the Grand Canyon is a must-see attraction.
As a result, it may be full. As a result, you should book your accommodations and pitches ahead of time. If you’re renting an RV, see our tips for RV travel in the United States in a separate blog post.
The following is a possible route for your Grand Canyon visit:
Possible route for your visit to the Grand Canyon: Los Angeles – Joshua Tree – Route 66 (Kingman – Seligman – Williams) – Grand Canyon South Rim – Lake Powell – Monument Valley – Arches NP – Canyonlands – Bryce Canyon – Zion NP – Las Vegas and Hoover Dam – Death Valley – Sequoia NP – Yosemite NP – San Francisco – Hwy 1 – Los Angeles
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