Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Grand Canyon National Park

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  • Website link: Grand Canyon National Park.
  • Cost: $35.00 per car
  • Accommodations in the park: Lodges at the north and south rims. Campgrounds at the north and south rims.
  • Backcountry camping available.
  • Mule trips available at both rims.
  • Day hiking and many longer trails available.
  • Commercial and non-commercial river rafting trips available.
  • Restaurants, deli’s, stores available at both rims.
  • When to go: South Rim – anytime. North Rim is closed during the winter months.

For years, we shied away from Grand Canyon National Park. “Who wants to look at a big hole?” we would say, but then while on another trip, we decided to go. We arrived at the South Rim and were terribly disappointed when our first view was of…nothing! Zip, zilch, nada – no big hole at all! Turns out the canyon was experiencing a fairly rare weather phenomenon called an inversion. The entire canyon was full of gray clouds, which is kind of great now that we know we have witnessed a rare phenomenon, but it was disappointing at the time.

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Yep, this ↑ was our first ever view of the Grand Canyon. And to make matters worse, we were not prepared for high wind and torrential rain! (We are much better prepared travelers now, thankfully.) Finally, the storm blew past, the sun came out, and our trip was saved. Once we saw the breathtaking scenery, we couldn’t believe that we had been so stubborn about going. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Everyone should see this park.

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Getting There

Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim) is approximately:

230 miles from Phoenix, Arizona280 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada410 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico

We are starting our trip in Phoenix, Arizona. Stock up on your road snacks, and let’s get going!

*Recommended hotels in Phoenix: Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn.

From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff.

Bonus stop: Sedona, Arizona. Beautiful red rock scenery, lots to see and do. Great city to visit! (See our post about Sedona.)

At Flagstaff, take US Highway 180 to Highway 64. Take Highway 64 north to Grand Canyon National Park. Drive time between Phoenix, Arizona and Grand Canyon National Park: 3.75 hours.

⇒Alternate route: take a two hour and fifteen minute train from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim. The train leaves Williams daily at 9:30 am.

Destination: Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)

All of the roads on the south rim can be driven in your own vehicle, however, it is so much better for you (and for the park) to take the free hop-on hop-off shuttles. There is so much to see and do in this part of the park, you could stay for days and never see it all. With that said, we are only going to to be able to give you a taste of what you will see at the south rim.

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Hopi House at Grand Canyon Village (South Rim). Originally a workshop for making and selling Native American arts and crafts. Built in 1905.
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Historic El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon Village (South Rim). Wonderful food in the dining room here. Opened in 1905 as a Harvey House, and is now a National Historic Landmark.
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View of the Colorado River meandering through the Grand Canyon
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Desert View Watchtower (South Rim)
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Ceiling Artwork In Desert View Watchtower

While visiting (or before you go), you may want to learn about Mary Colter. She is the architect who designed many of the historic buildings at the South Rim, including Hopi House and Desert View Watchtower, among others. Her story is extremely inspirational, especially for young women and girls, as Mary Colter was a woman who was decades ahead of her time. While you’re at it, pick up a copy of The Harvey Girls – Women Who Opened the West, a wonderful book by Lesley Poling-Kempes. The book tells the story of the women who for years catered to travelers in many historic locations, including El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park. Very interesting read.

Now, let’s go to the the North Rim!

Getting There

The North Rim is approximately:

123 miles from Page, Arizona210 miles from the South Rim265 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada

We will start this trip from Page, Arizona since it is the closest city with an airport, though it is a small municipal airport with mainly tour and commuter type services.

*Recommended hotel in Page: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Page: El Tapatio – 25 S Lake Powell Blvd.

Campgrounds available in and around Page.

Travel tip: While in Page, check out the many activities this area has to offer, including Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam, or take a side trip to Monument Valley.

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Bison near the North Rim entrance

From Page, take US Highway 89 south for 2 miles. Bonus stop: Horseshoe Bend. Hike to the scenic viewpoint above the Colorado River for a breathtaking view. Be prepared for parking issues, large crowds, and high heat. Take water and good hiking shoes/boots.

Continue on US Highway 89 for 39 miles to Navajo Bridge. This is a very scenic drive to Marble Canyon, Navajo Bridge, and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.

Bonus stop: Navajo Bridge/Marble Canyon. Stop at the interpretive center for information about the area. The original Navajo Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. Look for rare California condors along the Colorado River in beautiful Marble Canyon.

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Navajo Bridge and Vermillion Cliffs
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Marble Canyon view of the Colorado River from Navajo Bridge

Continue on US Highway 89 to Highway 67. Turn south at Jacob Lake, Arizona to Grand Canyon National Park. Drive time between Page, Arizona and North Rim: 2.5 hours. Drive time between Jacob Lake, Arizona and North Rim: 1 hour.

  • North Rim Website link: North Rim Grand Canyon.
  • Cost: $35.00 per car.
  • Accommodations: Grand Canyon Lodge and one campground located inside park.
  • Alternative camping available outside the park
  • Dining services available in the park.
  • North Rim has fewer crowds than South Rim.
  • When to go: May through October.

Destination: Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)

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Stop at the visitor center for information about the park, then head to the patio at the Grand Canyon Lodge for exceptional views of the canyon. You might even get up close and personal with a cute little chipmunk, but remember: it is illegal to feed any wildlife.

Hike the trail to Bright Angel Point for the spectacular views. Or, drive the park roads to the other viewpoints at the North Rim. See the park map at the website link above.

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North Rim View

 

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View from Point Imperial (North Rim)

With everything there is to do and see at Grand Canyon National Park, it is easy to see why more than five million people visit the park annually. If you have never been to the Grand Canyon, we hope that you are now inspired to go see this amazing park. (Don’t be like we were and keep putting it off.) This is a fantastic vacation destination for the entire family! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye  

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

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