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Best things to do in Grand Canyon National Park

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Where in the world: USA  /  Arizona  /  Grand Canyon National Park

Top 15 things to do in Grand Canyon National Park

1. Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail begins at Grand Canyon Village and descends 1,335 m (4,380 ft) to the canyon floor. You can follow the trail another 3.2 km (2 mi) to the Bright Angel campground and Phantom Ranch. The path is the main trail used by hikers and mules on their journey through the Grand Canyon to the campground. During high season, the trail can be crowded, but adopt a slow pace to enjoy the views on the way down. Wear footgear with sturdy grips and bring plenty of water. You can stock up on supplies at the visitor center at the top of the plateau before heading down to the canyon floor.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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2. Rim Trail

For a non-strenuous hike along the inner canyon coupled with unrestricted views of the spectacular gorge, try Rim Trail inside Grand Canyon National Park. The park, a World Heritage Site, has made hikes along this trail easier thanks to the well-managed, paved terrain. You can appreciate the remarkable views of the 1.6 km (1 mi) deep canyon cut by the Colorado River from any of the viewpoints along the trail. The full trail is 21 km (13 mi) trail, but if you get tired beforehand, there are shuttles that run from various points along the trail throughout the day. For a memorable end-of-day view, head to Hopi Point to watch the sunset. The park urges you to carry water at all times, and remember to wear good walking shoes.
Suggested duration: 6 hours
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3. Grand Canyon South Rim

One of the grandest natural wonders in the world, Grand Canyon South Rim stretches 446 km (277 mi), reaching a width of 29 km (18 mi) and a depth of nearly 2 km (1.1 mi). Nearly 2 billion years old, the canyon walls expose nearly half of earth's lifespan, with layer after layer of rock cut by the Colorado River and its tributaries. For thousands of years this area was home to Native Americans, who built their settlements inside many of the canyon's caves. Today, the views offered by these ancient rocks attract visitors from around the world, who usually explore the South Rim's lookouts and Native American ruins. Hike along the Rim Trail to enjoy spectacular views of the canyon and surrounding desert landscape. Head back towards Grand Canyon Village to visit the Desert View Watchtower or the Buckey O’Neill Cabin, the longest continually standing structure on the South Rim. Most visitors do not hike. Of the nearly 5 million people who visit the Grand Canyon each year, 90% see it from the park's free shuttle buses or from their car at overlooks along the South Rim.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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4. South Kaibab Trail

Reward yourself with some of the best views Grand Canyon National Park has to offer by hiking South Kaibab Trail. From the trailhead near Yaki Point to the end of the trail at the Bright Angel Campground, the trail is 11.4 km (7.1 mi) long. With the elevation change of 1,460 m (4,780 ft), the trail is pretty steep and hiking its entirety is generally recommended only to seasoned hikers. Those who go the distance will be rewarded with breathtaking, 360-degree views of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon. The trail has little shade and no access to water until you reach the Bright Angel Campground, so dehydration is a serious hazard. It's absolutely essential to bring enough water as well as water purification tablets, because even the water at the camp is not always drinkable.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Grand Canyon Village

Designed to make your visit to the Grand Canyon easier, Grand Canyon Village provides hotels, campgrounds, parking lots, shuttle stops, restaurants, and much more. Head to the market and stock up on hiking snacks, or ask staff at the visitor's center for a map and suggestions for the best viewing points. Tour the historical buildings in use since the village's construction in 1901, including a Hopi house, railway station, and cabin. Choose from a long list of activities available, such as fishing, mule riding, and stargazing at breathtaking night skies.
Suggested duration: 6 hours
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8. Helicopter Tours

Experience the massive, colorful chasm of the Grand Canyon on a scenic helicopter ride. You'll hover over the impressive Mojave Desert, sparkling Lake Mead, and the mighty Colorado River. Your skillful pilot will take you past extinct volcanoes and the massive Hoover Dam on a low-level flight, while you listen to informative commentary on the geological history of the canyon over the headphones. A full-day tour leaves you plenty of time to walk below the canyon rim, marveling at one of America's natural wonders. Shorter--and less expensive--options of just a couple of hours are also available for visitors with limited time and budget.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. North Rim Visitor Center

Part of one of the world's Seven Natural Wonders, North Rim Visitor Center provides an inspiring and remarkable landscape without the massive crowds of the South Rim. Begin your trip at the visitor center, where you can pick up maps and brochures, talk to a ranger, and view exhibits about the canyon. One of the best ways to experience all that the North Rim has to offer is a hike through its wild and breathtaking scenery. If you'd rather not get that much exercise, cruise the scenic drive. Temperatures here are generally lower than the South Rim due to its greater elevation, so bring a sweater. North Rim guided mule treks are easier to book than South Rim mule trips, which generally must be booked 13 months in advance.
Suggested duration: 6 hours
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10. East Rim Drive

Try to comprehend the grandeur and scope of the Grand Canyon along East Rim Drive. The drive will take you to the highly-visited south entrance with the chance to stop at numerous viewing points along the way. This part is a less-crowded area of the park, offering scenic views. Make a stop at the watchtower, see the Colorado River, or watch for animals.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Mather Point

The main observation area for the Grand Canyon, Mather Point includes a visitor center and parking for canyon hikers. The interactive visitor center introduces you to the natural wonder using high-tech displays, film, and hands-on exhibits. The highlight of Mather Point is the viewing platforms, which allow you to walk to the edge of the plateau for a breathtaking view of the canyon's painted walls. Consider attending a ranger talk in the rim-side amphitheater.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Grandview Point

Take in famous the beauty of the Grand Canyon from the vantage point of Grandview Point, located at the start of a popular hiking trail on the canyon's southern rim. Often sought out at sunrise or sunset, the point offers panoramic views of the breathtaking landscape and the Colorado River winding through the canyon below. With the parking lot just steps away from the start of the trail, the point is accessible to both hikers and non-hikers. Remember to bring a picnic lunch, and don't forget your camera.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. Hermit Trail

Take the scenic route through the Grand Canyon by hiking Hermit Trail. This challenging route takes visitors through historic sections of the canyon, all the way to the Colorado River. The trail spans 14.3 km (8.9 mi) and reaches elevations of 2,020 m (6,640 ft). The trail draws mostly experienced canyon hikers, so come prepared with proper hiking shoes, food, water, and equipment. The road to the start of the trail is closed to private vehicles, so plan to take the shuttle bus.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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