Thursday, May 29, 2014

Exploring Arizona: The Grand Canyon

Text and images by Kathryn

Welcome to I Heart AZ! We write all about things to do in Arizona. We are the Grand Canyon State, so I am here to give you some tips for exploring this incredible natural wonder of the world.

There are three ways to view the Grand Canyon:  North Rim, South Rim and from inside the Canyon.  Most people view the Grand Canyon from the South Rim because it is the closest travel time to the Phoenix area.  

When choosing which rim to explore, below are some things to consider:


North Rim:  
The North Rim is less touristy, closes in the winter and has an amazing lodge.   At the North Rim you can dine at the lodge or stay in a quaint cabin.  From the Phoenix area, travel time to the North Rim is about 2 hours farther than the South Rim.  Via this route, you go as if you are heading to Page and go through Jacob's Lake.  You get to pass over this awesome bridge.  Take time to stop and enjoy.




The views at the North Rim are pretty similar to the South Rim.  The reason that I would pick the North Rim over South Rim is if you are wanting a dinner with the best view in the world. Check out this lodge!  Click here to book a reservation and to see what else the North Rim has to offer.  



You will definitely want to make reservations for dining at sunset.   

South Rim:
The South Rim is the most accessible and is open year round.  It is home to the Main Visitor's Center with more educational information for kids and adults.  There are several historic lodges to choose from if you want to stay overnight.  The South Rim has a free bus shuttle that will take you to different parts of the South Rim.  It stops at all the lookout points and you can choose which ones you want to get out at and walk around.  Then you just hop back on the next shuttle when one loops around again.  My girls thought riding on a bus was just as awesome as the Grand Canyon.   





The cost to get into the canyon is $25 per car no matter which rim you choose.  Paid admission is then good for seven days.  There are a few free days throughout the year. 

In 2014 those days were:

·         January 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

·         February 15-17: Presidents Day weekend

·         April 19-20: Opening weekend of National Park Week

·         August 25: National Park Service Birthday

·         September 27: National Public Lands Day

·         November 11: Veterans Day

These days are updated yearly here and include all national parks.  

Traveling from rim to rim:
You can hike into the Canyon from either the North or South Rim.  But, if you decide you want to drive from rim to rim, don't expect a quick trip.  Obviously, there is a huge canyon in the way.  Going from rim to rim by car will take about 4 or 5 hours.  You can hike rim to rim, but that would prove a little more exhausting and takes a bit longer.  (My husband ran rim to rim last year in 7 1/2 hours.  He plans to improve that time this coming year, but the 24-mile trek down and up the canyon walls is not an easy feat.)  So, 

Hiking the Grand Canyon:
There are lots of opportunities for hiking at the Grand Canyon. You can take a short hike or a long hike, just remembering that it will be downhill on the way in and uphill on your way out! 

If you choose to hike all the way into the Grand Canyon, you will be rewarded with breathtaking scenery at the base.  My husband has done a few of the hikes offered at the Canyon and has loved them.  However, before you begin to hike, do your research.  Plan ahead and prepare.  

If you want to stay overnight at the bottom of the Canyon, you will need a permit.  Also, did you know the bottom of the Canyon can be 30 degrees hotter than the top of the Canyon? My family owns a whole book on people who have died at the Grand Canyon (a weird souvenir, I know).  Don't become one of those people.  Plan and prepare with enough water and proper training and you will be just fine.  Click here for frequently asked hiking questions.  Both rims offer mule trail rides, and you can pay for a helicopter ride out of the base of the canyon if you choose.       

These pictures of Havasupai Falls are unedited.  Raw Arizona beauty!




Tips for visiting the Grand Canyon with kids:  
Not all places around the Grand Canyon are fenced and well protected for kids.  Hold tight to little hands and reinforce a no running rule way ahead of time.  Believe me, I had a firm grip on my twin three-year-olds the entire time.  One way we saved money (and kept kids happy) is we stopped at a grocery store in Williams to buy snacks so that we did not have to buy any at the Canyon. 

Other things to do in Arizona:
Finally, if you are traveling to the Grand Canyon from out of state, you'll definitely want to spend some time exploring other parts of Arizona. Here are some of our other posts to help you find some fun things to do:

Do you have any tips for traveling to the Grand Canyon or other parts of Arizona? Please leave any more suggestions in the comments or on our I Heart AZ Friends facebook group.   


Enjoy!
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