PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO THE GRAND CANYON
Information You Can Use To Plan Your Grand Canyon Vacation
Getting There From Where You Are
The first consideration in planning your trip to the Grand Canyon is probably how you will get there. One of the most informative web sites we discovered while researching this article was Grandcanyon.com. Their web site contained information on just about anything you'd want to know as you plan your trip. While we can only present a small amount of the available information in this article, this is one place you can go for even more.
If you plan to fly to the area, commercial airlines serve Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas, the closest major airports to the Grand Canyon. From there you can rent a car and drive the rest of the way, or there is bus transportation from these and other nearby towns. If you are anywhere in the general vicinity, you may want to drive there yourself, and you can reach the Canyon easily from Flagstaff or other nearby towns like Williams or Jacob Lake--both in Arizona. It's a further trip from Las Vegas, but if you are already in Las Vegas, a side-trip to the Grand Canyon is certainly within the realm of possibility for you.
Grand Canyon Tours
There are a variety of tours available to see the Grand Canyon, and from a number of locations nearby. Here are some of the popular ones:
- Jeep Tours
There are several jeep tours of the Grand Canyon, including the Inner Grand Canyon tour which is an all-day tour, and shorter tours ranging from 1 1/2 to 5 hours in duration. They depart from the South Rim of the Canyon, and Williams, Arizona. Several of the tours leave just before sunset, which is the ideal time to enjoy the beauties of the canyon. Others leave earlier in the day.
- Bus Tours
If you will be departing from Las Vegas, you can book a bus tour to Grand Canyon. It's about a 5 hour trip each way, and one meal is included in the package price. Additionally, there is a brief stop at Hoover Dam for picture-taking. The total time, including bus rides, is approximately 15 hours.
- Air Tours
If time is limited or if you want to see the Grand Canyon--all of it--quickly, consider one of the air tours available from either the Grand Canyon, or from Las Vegas if you will be in that city. Both tours are from a 19-passenger twin engine airplane.
- Helicopter Tours
Another popular way to tour the Grand Canyon is by helicopter. Most are less than an hour in duration, although there is a combined helicopter/hiking tour which lasts about 7 hours. You can depart from the Grand Canyon or from Las Vegas
- Tours by Mule
This tour is not recommended for anyone in less than ideal physical shape, as it is very grueling. If you do not book at least 6 to 8 months in advance, you probably will not be able to view the Grand Canyon by this method. There is a weight limit of 200 pounds, with a minimum height of of 4' 7". Riders must speak and understand fluent English. Each rider must be in excellent physical condition, not afraid of heights or of large animals. There is some risk on this tour due to trail conditions and other wildlife, but if one carefully follows the guide's instructions, chances of accidents are greatly minimized. If you meet all the qualifications and are the adventurous type, you will enjoy this tour. Many do, as evidenced by how far in advance the tours book up. You can book a one day or a two day/one night mule tour.
- Tours by River
Another popular tour is by river on one of the rafting tours of the Colorado River as it flows through the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River Oar tour departs from Page, Arizona every morning, and ends about 5 p.m. that same day with a motorcoach ride from its end point at Lees Ferry. There's a white water rafting tour which departs daily from Peach Springs, Arizona, travels some 42 miles down the Colorado River to its final destination at Grand Canyon West, culminating in a helicopter ride back to the canyon rim, then a motorcoach ride back to Peach Springs and the Hualapai Lodge.
Places To Stay
You'll probably need a place to stay during your Grand Canyon visit, and there are many fine hotels in the area. The Best Western Grand Canyon Squires Hotel is the only resort hotel in the Grand Canyon area. Others choices include the Red Feather Lodge and Grand Hotel, both at the South Rim; the Canyon Plaza Quality Inn, located about 5 minutes from the entrance to the Grand Canyon; and in nearby Williams, the Grand Canyon Travelodge, Howard Johnson's Express Inn, the Canyon Railway Hotel, the Buffalo Pointe Lodge Bed & Breakfast, and the Canyon Country Inn Bed and Breakfast.
Enjoy camping? There are many campsites, both RV and tent, in the Grand Canyon area. For in-park camping in an area other than a developed campground, a permit must be obtained in advance from the Back Country information center. All Inner Grand Canyon camping is by permit only. For developed campsites at or near the South Rim, there are several choices: the Mather campground, located in Grand Canyon Village, offers tent and RV camping, although there are no hookups. Trailer Village, adjacent to Mather, does offer RV hookups and making reservations are strongly suggested. There is also a commercial campground 7 miles south of Trailer Village in Tusayan, and a Forest Service campground in the Kaibab National Forest, which is 2 miles from Tusayan. For North Rim camping, try the North Rim Campground (no hookups), or two Forest Service operated campgrounds either 16 or 45 miles from the North Rim.