Grand Canyon

Vast, magnificent and inarguably beautiful, the Grand Canyon is easily Arizona's most distinguishable landmark — a natural wonder you must see to believe. Stretching 277 miles from end to end, the Grand Canyon's rocky walls descend more than a mile to the canyon’s floor, where the wild Colorado River continues to carve away at the rugged landscape. Everyone should see the Grand Canyon at least once in their lifetime, and area businesses and outfitters make experiencing the canyon accessible to everyone.

Grand Canyon

From the Rims

If you are short on time or prefer to take in fantastic panoramas from paved viewing points, simply visiting the Grand Canyon creates memories that stick with visitors forever. Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim is the most popular visitor area, with plenty of places to eat, shop and stay the night in area hotels or campsites. The Grand Canyon Railway offers a fun family alternate for a short visit to the canyon. It operates turn-around trips from Williams to the South Rim year-round, with a three-hour window to see the canyon. Its annual Polar Express excursions are the stuff holiday traditions are made of. While less developed with fewer services and closed during the colder months, the North Rim is open from May to October and offers a unique and uncrowded way to explore the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon West is also a favorite for short visits. Its Skywalk takes Grand Canyon visitors out over the rim on a glass bridge that hovers 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. Choose your vantage point and get ready to take pictures you will never delete.

From the Canyon Floor

If your group leans more toward the adventurous side, find many ways to fully immerse yourself in this natural wonder of the world. Trailheads at any of the entry points lead to steep switchbacks that take visitors into the canyon. Commit to a few hours to hike to plateaus fully encircled by the canyon walls. To hike to the Colorado River on the canyon floor, plan to camp overnight before hiking back up from the river to the rim. Many experienced hikers join seasoned outfitters on grueling rim-to-rim hikes or multi-day backpacking adventures to fully immerse themselves in the splendor of the canyon. Outfitters also offer Grand Canyon white-water river rafting adventures on the Colorado River, which can last from half a day to two weeks. Helicopter tours, mule rides and mountain bike rim trails offer other memorable ways to see the canyon in person. Survey the adventure level of your travel companions, and then use the following resources to plan the adventure of a lifetime in the Grand Canyon.

3 Perfect Days in the Grand Canyon

This three-day itinerary in Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim covers all the must-see stops and gives you the scoop on where to photograph the sunset.

The Grand Canyon

3 Perfect Days in

The grand canyon, ways to explore.

Getting Here

Plan Your Trip

Getting to the grand canyon.

Find the best routes to reach the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon.

South, North, and West Rims

South, North, and West Rims

The Grand Canyon is like a paintbrush, dipped in golds and pinks and oranges and purples, swept over narrows and crags in an area that’s an...

Around the Rim Tours

Arizona's Must Sees

Around the Rim Tours

Explore the Grand Canyon with a guided tour or ride – on a bike, on foot or perched atop a friendly mule.

First-Timer's Guide to the Grand Canyon

Outdoor Adventures

First-Timer's Guide to the Grand Canyon

For those making their first trip to the Grand Canyon, here's an expert take on when to go, where to stay, and how to get around.

Air Tours

Grand Canyon Air Tours

See the canyon from high above with a helicopter or airplane tour.

Hiking

Outdoor Adventure

Hiking the Grand Canyon

Explore the Grand Canyon by foot. From the most popular hike on the Bright Angel Trail to many more hikes that offer a scenic view.

Canyon Rafting

Rafting the Canyon

Choose from motorized or oar-powered expeditions ranging from four days to two weeks for a new perspective.

For Kids

Family Activities

Grand Canyon for Kids

Find out how your kids can become Junior Rangers during your Grand Canyon vacation.

Accommodations

Accommodations

Historic lodges, hotels to rugged campgrounds, the Grand Canyon has a wide range of places to stay – book early.

Awesome Grand Canyon Fun for Families

Awesome Grand Canyon Fun for Families

Experience Arizona's world-famous landmark through the eyes of a child (although these family friendly activities promise fun for all ages).

Grand Canyon

More to Discover in Arizona

The Old West, Wilderness and Wine: Traveling in Southeast Arizona

Road Trips & Tours

The Old West, Wilderness and Wine: Traveling in Southeast Arizona

Discover the Wild West with gunfight reenactments and cowboys; savor treats from food trucks and fine restaurants; sip microbrews and...

13 Experiences You Can Only Have in Arizona

13 Only-in-AZ Experiences

Arizona's a big state with a lot to see and do for just about anyone, but these 13 experiences are only found here.

Arizona's Roadside Attractions

Arizona's Roadside Attractions

Find all kinds of roadside sights—odd, unexpected and one-of-a-kind— across Arizona.

Grand Canyon After Dark

Grand Canyon After Dark

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the best places in Arizona to view the night sky and go stargazing.

The Old West, Wilderness and Wine: Traveling in Southeast Arizona

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From the abundance of Saguaro cactuses and unique wildlife in the Sonoran Desert to the high country and forests of the White Mountains to the breathtaking Grand Canyon, Arizona’s regions are full of experiences that don’t disappoint.

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Everything to know about Grand Canyon National Park

Here's what to see and do when visiting the park millions of years in the making.

Established: 1919 Size: 1.2 million acres (4,856.23 sq km) Annual Visitors: 6.2 million Visitor Centers: South Rim, North Rim Entrance Fees: $30 per vehicle; $15 per individual

Imagine the Grand Canyon with no people. Just the psychedelic-colored canyon walls, the wind, and the river silent at the bottom of the gorge. That’s how it must have looked to the Native Americans who lived in and around the Grand Canyon 12,000 years ago, and to the Spanish explorers who laid eyes on the rift in the 16th century.

Fast forward to today, when more than six million people a year visit Grand Canyon National Park to experience its visitor centers, mule trips, train tour, helicopter rides, and more. There are so many things to do that it might seem impossible to escape the admiring crowds, but we have a few off-the-beaten-path suggestions.

Can't-miss experiences

Cruising the Colorado River in a dory instead of a rubber raft may seem like a stately way to travel, but in reality it’s a much wilder ride, not very different from how John Wesley Powell and his team first navigated through the Grand Canyon bottom in 1869. Dories have evolved in design to be nimble and quick to swing around rocks and over rapids, but the boats tend to go through waves rather than over them like a raft would, making for exciting—and wet—adventures. Only a few outfitters are licensed to operate dories on the river. Trips range from five to 18 days, including all meals and riverside camping throughout the trip, and many book a year or more in advance.

Stargazing in Grand Canyon is an exceptional experience. The clarity of the night skies was recognized in summer 2019 when the park was officially designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association . In preparing for the recognition, the Park Service converted thousands of lights across the park to dark-sky compliant options. Not only does this afford guests a better view of the heavens above the cliffs, but it benefits wildlife that can be disrupted by artificial light . Every June, visitors can take advantage of star parties , with telescopes set up for free use, plus astronomer talks and photo workshops.

River Confluence

The Little Colorado River (at right) meets the bigger Colorado River in the park, marking the beginning of the Grand Canyon's central section.

The Shoshone Point turnout doesn’t overlook the canyon—most cars whiz past it on their way to the money shot—but the relatively easy 2.2-mile trail from the parking lot to the edge is one of the least crowded along the popular South Rim. The view from the end is wonderful: well worth the moderate hike.

Hiking below the rim appeals to very few visitors to Grand Canyon National Park—less than 5 percent venture away from the top. But there are several spots that lend themselves to a quick dip down into the canyon to experience looking up at the walls, superb examples of the land’s reaction to weather over the millennia. One of them is the South Kaibab Trail . For those who don’t want to trek the six-plus miles to the canyon floor, Ooa-Aah Point about a third of the way down offers spectacular views.

Toroweap Overlook, the North Rim’s most remote viewpoint of the canyon, is not for the faint of heart but it pretty much guarantees a unique experience. At the edge of the overlook is nothing but air; 3,000 feet down runs the largest rapid on the Colorado River. Ancient lava flows and black cinder cones invoke a time when volcanic eruptions sculpted the canyon into what we see now. Just getting to the overlook is a challenge; the road is unpaved and studded with rocks that require a high-clearance vehicle to drive. And if you’re looking to stay at Tuweep , the campground at the overlook, you’ll need a backcountry permit and plenty of preparation to stay in this area with no services.

Grand Canyon Village

With its exhibits on the park’s natural and human history, Grand Canyon Visitor Center on the South Rim is an excellent starting point. You can leave your vehicle there and walk or take a shuttle bus to other landmarks along the South Rim. Right behind the visitor center are Mather Point and the 13-mile Rim Trail to other stunning viewpoints like Yaki Point to the east and Yavapai Point to the west, where a geology museum illuminates nearly two billion years of canyon history.

Beyond Yavapai Point (1.3 miles) is the Village and the eclectic architecture of its historic structures, which together comprise a national historic landmark district. Many of the buildings were designed by pioneering female architect Mary Colter , including the distinctive Hopi House (1905), an homage to the indigenous architecture of the Southwest that now houses the park’s largest souvenir store and a Native American art gallery. Verkamp’s Visitor Center (1906) harbors a bookstore, information desk, and exhibits on the canyon’s pioneer history. Among other noteworthy structures are the Kolb Studio (1904) and Lookout Studio (1914), both vintage photo studios that now blend shopping and exhibit space.

The village train station (1910) is the terminus for the historic Grand Canyon Railway , a scenic passenger line that runs 64 miles through the pine forest and meadows of the Coconino Plateau between the South Rim and Williams, Arizona. Passengers can ride the train as a day trip to the Grand Canyon or combine it with overnights at South Rim lodging.

The South Rim

During the slower winter months, you can drive all the way to Hermits Rest. But during the busy peak season (March 1 to November 30), Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles west of the village. That leaves hiking and the shuttle bus as the two means to explore this awesome 7-mile stretch of the South Rim. “Must see” stops along the way include the Abyss with its 3,000-foot vertical drop-off and Pima Point , where you can see a slice of the milk-chocolate-colored Colorado River far below. At the end of the road, Hermits Rest is a faux frontier cabin (host to a gift shop and snack bar) fashioned by Colter in 1914.

  • Nat Geo Expeditions

Grand Canyon aficionados debate which overlook along this stretch is best, from the aptly named Grandview Point to Moran Point with its view of Hance Rapids and Lipan Point, where you can gaze down on that big bend in the Colorado River. Tucked between the turnoffs is the small but interesting Tusayan Museum with exhibits on local Native American culture. Behind the museum, a short self-guided trail leads to the Tusayan Ruin , the remains of a 12th-century Puebloan village and one of 4,300 archaeological sites so far identified inside the national park.

Inspired by the Puebloan style, Colter fashioned the nearby Desert View Watchtower in 1932 as a perch for an even higher view down into the canyon. Eighty-five steps lead to an observation deck that sits more than 5,000 feet above the canyon floor, past murals of ancient Native American life rendered by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie . A snack bar, store, and gas station round out Desert View’s amenities.

The North Rim

From Desert View Tower, the drive to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim is nearly 200 miles. But it’s a journey into a different world. For starters, the North Rim averages a thousand feet higher than its southern counterpart. That may not seem like a lot, but that extra elevation makes a huge difference in climate, vegetation, and even the animals you come across. The North Rim is slightly cooler in the summer and often inaccessible during winter because of snowstorms. Tourist facilities are open only from May 15 to October 15.

The Visitor Center is a great place to start, especially if you plan on hiking the rim trails or driving the spur roads. Grand Canyon Lodge (1937) balances on the very edge of the chasm, and its back patio offers perhaps the best place in the entire park to sit, stare, and contemplate the geological wonder that spreads out before you. For an even more vertiginous view, hike the short (0.5-mile) trail to Bright Angel Point .

Scattered around the village are trailheads to paths including the 4.7-mile Uncle Jim Loop, the 9.6-mile Widforss Trail to a very secluded overlook, and the 9.8-mile Ken Patrick Trail all the way over to Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim, with views into the canyon’s northeastern corner. You can also drive to Point Imperial via Cape Royal Road, which switchbacks up onto the Walhalla Plateau and other celebrated panoramas like Vista Encantada and Angels Window. Adventurous drivers can test their mettle on the rough, unpaved road that leads out to Sublime Point, 18 miles west of the village. Four-wheel drive and high clearance are essential; a tow strap and saw (for cutting down fallen trees) are highly recommended.

Given the absence of roads, there are only three ways to explore the Grand Canyon below the rims: hiking, mule trips, and river flat trips.

Around 40,000 people a year backpack into the canyon for overnight stays that can vary from one night to several weeks. Far more people are day hikers who venture a short distance down one of three main trails for a taste of what it’s like to stare up at the imposing canyon walls.

Whether on a multi-day trek or an hour-long hike, walkers should always check out trail and weather conditions before plunging down the path. The most timely and accurate information is available from the national park visitor centers or the Backcountry Information Center on the South Rim.

Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim is the safest and best maintained route into the canyon and includes shade structures, emergency phones, toilets, and taps for refilling water bottles. With a trailhead just west of the South Rim Village, the Bright Angel dives quickly downward via a series of switchbacks to Indian Garden (4.8 miles) and a suspension bridge over the Colorado River to Bright Angel Campground (9.5 miles) and nearby Phantom Ranch. The route more or less follows a path that Native Americans and 19th-century prospectors took into the canyon.

The only path into the canyon from the opposite rim is the North Kaibab Trail , a 14-mile hoof down to Phantom Ranch and the river. Several trails wind through the canyon, including the rugged, multi-day Tonto Trail, which wanders 70 miles from east to west below the South Rim.

Mule trips into the canyon are offered from both rims. The South Rim features day trips and multi-day pack trips with stops at Phantom Ranch; the North Rim offers only rides.

WHERE TO STAY

Hotels South Rim Reservations: 888-297-2757 or grandcanyonlodges.com • El Tovar: Historic national park lodge opened in 1905 by the Fred Harvey Company; air conditioning, restaurant, bar • Bright Angel Lodge: Modern rooms and rustic cabins on the edge of the canyon, designed by Mary Colter in 1935; restaurant, saloon, soda fountain • Phantom Ranch: Very basic cabins and dorm rooms, and shared baths. It is the only indoor lodging at the bottom of the canyon; air-conditioning, restaurant; reserve up to 13 months ahead

North Rim Reservations: 877-386-4383 or grandcanyonforever.com • Grand Canyon Lodge : Cozy cabins and motel-style rooms on the North Rim; restaurants, bar; open mid-May to mid-October Camping Campground reservations: 877-444-6777 or www.recreation.gov • Three campgrounds: Mather at Grand Canyon Village (all year), North Rim (May 15 to October 15), and Desert View (mid-April to mid-October) • Trailer Village : RV campground with full hookups

Other things to see

• Havasu Canyon : Renowned for its waterfalls and aquamarine swimming holes, this sideshow to the main canyon lies inside the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Year-round camping and lodge. • Skywalk at Eagle Point : Perched 4,000 feet (1,219.2 m) above the canyon, this horseshoe-shaped glass walkway on the Hualupai Indian Reservation is the ultimate vertigo experience. • Bearizona Wildlife Park : Featuring both drive-through and walking portions, this nature reserve in Williams, Arizona, tenders close encounters with bears, wolves, bobcats, birds of prey, and other local animals. • Lake Mead National Recreation Area : One of the world’s largest reservoirs backs up behind Hoover Dam into the western end of the Grand Canyon. Overnight houseboat trips from Callville Bay Marina offer a unique perspective from down below.

Sixteen companies own concessions from the Park Service to run float trips down the Colorado River between Lees Ferry and Diamond Creek. A full list of river rafts is posted here .

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16 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions at the Grand Canyon

Written by Lana Law Updated Dec 27, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

The Grand Canyon is one of America's most famous and awe-inspiring natural attractions and has been a road-tripping destination for generations.

The North Rim and South Rim are accessed from opposite sides of the canyon, but most people visit the Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim. The North Rim is closed in winter, but the South Rim and West Rim are open year-round and easily accessible from tourist destinations like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff, and Williams.

The attractions listed below are all found on the South Rim, with the exception of the Skywalk at Eagle Point , which is located at the West Rim.

Grand Canyon

The main access point for the South Rim is the South Entrance , where the main visitor center is located. It is also possible to enter via the east, at the Desert View Entrance , but for most people, this is a less convenient option.

From the South Entrance Visitor Center, you have two main options for exploring the park by road: Hermit Road runs west, past the small resort area of Grand Canyon Village, more commonly known as the Village, to numerous overlooks. This road is open to private vehicles from December 1 to the end of February, but outside of these dates you must use the park shuttle buses.

The other option, open to cars at any time of year, is the Desert View Drive , which heads east from the Visitor Center for 22 miles to the Desert View Watchtower. Both of these drives are fantastic and provide different perspectives of the canyon.

A variety of tours offer exceptional ways to experience the Grand Canyon, from helicopter rides to white water rafting. Some of these start right at the Grand Canyon, others depart from nearby cities, such as Las Vegas.

Deciding in advance when to visit and what to see once you get here can help maximize your time and make your visit more relaxing and fun.

Accommodation is available in the national park at the Village, and is operated by a concessioner of the park. Just outside the South Entrance is the small town of Tusayan , with a much larger variety of chain hotels, as well as restaurants and other services.

On This Page:

Grand canyon south rim attractions, grand canyon west rim attractions, grand canyon tours, getting to the grand canyon, where to stay at the grand canyon, 1. visitor center & mather point overlook.

Mather Point Overlook

If you are entering the park at the South Entrance, from the direction of Williams, the best thing to do is head directly to the visitor center. A few displays show a brief overview of the park and a little about the history. The park staff are on hand to answer questions and provide information on hiking trails and attractions.

From the visitor center, a short path leads to Mather Point Overlook . This is one of the most popular lookouts in the park, not only because it is spectacular, but because it is easy to reach. Here, a couple of large viewing areas on a peninsula jut out into the canyon, offering beautiful vistas over the landscape. It's a wonderful spot to watch the sunrise over the Grand Canyon.

2. Rim Trail

Rim Trail

The Rim Trail is a mostly paved walking path that follows the rim of the Grand Canyon for 13 miles. It runs from South Kaibab Trailhead , east of the Visitor Center, to Hermit's Rest , at the far west end of Hermit Road.

This nearly level path, with a mix of sun and shade from scattered trees, is one of the most scenic walks in North America , with fabulous views along the entire distance of the trail.

You can access it in front of the visitor center at Mather Point, in the Village, or from any of the scenic stops along Hermit Road. If you have limited time and are only interested in a short walk, a good option is the section from Mather Point, heading west to Yavapai Point and the Geology Museum.

3. Geological Museum

Geological Museum

One of the most interesting and informative exhibits in Grand Canyon National Park is the Geological Museum. The location for this museum was chosen by a group of high profile geologists in the 1920s because the views from here were the most representative of the geology of the canyon.

The museum describes in detail the layers of rock visible as you look out the long wall of windows. Huge diagrams describe the formation of the canyon, from the uplifting of the rocks to the erosive power of the water running through the canyon far below.

From the windows, you can see the hiking trails below, including a great view of the route out to Plateau Point, an offshoot of the Bright Angel Trail, and a side path leading down to the Colorado River.

4. Hermit Road Drive

Hermit Road Drive

Hermit Road is a seven-mile scenic drive along the canyon rim , with numerous viewpoints. This is the most popular route in the park.

If you are visiting between the beginning of December and the end of February, you can do this drive in your own vehicle. From March 1 to November 30 you must use the park shuttle buses, which operate every 10 to 15 minutes and stop at nine overlooks.

All the overlooks along this route offer incredible vantage points over the canyon. Although it may be the source of some debate, some of the best views can be had from Maricopa Point , Hopi Point , The Abyss , and Pima Point . If you are short on time, you may want to skip the last stop, Hermit's Rest.

5. Bright Angel Hiking Trail

Bright Angel Hiking Trail

The most popular hike in the park is the Bright Angel Hike, which departs from the Village, where the shuttle bus to Hermit's Rest begins its route. This is a long hike, but many people choose to walk down the trail only a short distance to get a feel for the hike. The complete route, round-trip to Bright Angel Campground, is 19 miles and takes two days .

Many serious hikers choose to go to Indian Garden Campground , which is a nine-mile round-trip hike , and takes between six and nine hours. Keep in mind, this includes a strenuous hike with more than 3,000 feet of elevation change.

For a short sample of the trail, the Upper Tunnel is only 0.4 miles round-trip and takes less than 30 minutes , and the lower tunnel is 1.7 miles and takes between one and two hours. This hike hugs the canyon walls, with steep cliffs and sharp drops off the outer portion of the trail. It is not suited for anyone with a serious fear of heights. Some portions of the trail are in shadow and may be snow or ice-covered, even when conditions at the top are warm and dry.

The park service, in conjunction with private donors, has recently made significant improvements to the Bright Angel trailhead. In the past, finding the trailhead was not always the easiest thing to do, but now, with a brand new plaza and improved signage, that issue is long gone. In addition to the new plaza, you'll now find flush toilet washrooms, a sitting area, a shade structure, and a water-bottle-filling station. A new parking lot accommodating 90 cars and improvements to the walking trail to make it wheelchair accessible were also added.

6. Desert View Drive

Moran Point on Desert View Drive

While most people tend to gravitate towards Hermit Road, the 22-mile Desert View Drive is equally, if not more stunning. One of the main differences is the view to the Colorado River, which is much more visible from some of the stops along this drive than on the route further west. Here, you can see white water rapids, and long, wide sections of the river snaking through the canyon in the distance.

There are fewer stops along this route, but they are all worth taking the time to enjoy the lookouts. Moran Point is definitely a highlight, with a beautiful view over the Colorado River from the far east side of the parking area and a myriad of different colors visible in the rock walls across the canyon.

Lipan Point has more wonderful views to the Colorado but is also a noteworthy location for birders . This is the most direct route across the canyon for migrating birds, which use this more narrow section on their flight path.

Grandview Point is one of the highest lookouts on the South Rim. From the viewing area, the Grandview Hiking Trail leads down in a steep descent, quickly disappearing out of sight. This is a strenuous hike on an unmaintained trail and best suited for serious hikers. The trail conditions here are more difficult than Bright Angel; slippery in the spring and hot in the summer.

From Navajo Point , the last stop before Desert View Watchtower, the watchtower is visible off to the right, and can be a good photo opportunity if you have a long lens. The last stop is Desert View , with the watchtower standing proudly on the cliff edge, and it is definitely a highlight on this drive.

Also found along Desert View Drive is the Tusayan Museum and Ruin . The museum itself is quite small, with information on the people who inhabited this area and a short trail leading through the ruins offering a close-up look at the dwellings.

7. Desert View Watchtower

Desert View Watchtower

Desert View is the first stop in the park if you are coming from the east and entering the park through the Desert View Entrance. This is a full-service stop with a general store, trading post, and camping, but the main attraction is the famous Indian Watchtower.

Despite its appearance, the 70-foot tower is not an ancient, crumbling stone ruin. It was built in 1932 and is one of four structures in the park designed by Mary Jane Colter, all of which are on the National Register of Historic Places .

The structure is designed to look like an Anasazi watchtower, and much attention was given to detail in its creation. The tower is built around a concrete and steel structure, but the stone exterior, with uneven rooflines, creates a dramatic effect, as it blends in with the surrounding colors. The interior walls, visible on every level from the circular balconies and stairways, are covered with what is meant to look like petroglyphs and ancient artwork.

There is an outdoor observation deck on the second level and an enclosed observation deck on the top floor, with incredible views out over the canyon and beyond to the desert on the east side.

8. Lookout Studio and the Kolb Gallery

Lookout Studio

In the Village, the Lookout Studio and the Kolb Gallery are both perched along the canyon wall. The Lookout Studio is housed in one of the Mary Jane Colter Buildings that are found throughout the park, with a traditional stone design, meant to resemble a ruin. The Studio sells souvenirs and trinkets but also has two outdoor viewing decks that look out over the Grand Canyon.

Just a short walk to the west of here is the Kolb Gallery , in a dark brown, wooden structure. This historic Victorian home was built in 1905 and belonged to the Kolb brothers, who were early adventurers in the park. Today, the building serves as an art gallery, with changing exhibits, a small store selling books, and information on the life of the Kolbs. The Kolb Gallery is near the start of the Bright Angel Trail.

9. Wildlife Viewing

Elk at Grand Canyon

While most people don't come to the Grand Canyon for the wildlife viewing, it's more than likely you will see at least some animals if you are driving through the park. One of the usual suspects that can often be spotted along the Rim Trail is elk .

Although you are less likely to see them, mountain lions live in the park forests, and signs along the Desert View Drive advise drivers to watch for them on the road. Also found in the park are bighorn sheep; hog-nosed skunk; mule deer; Arizona's state mammal, the ringtail; and many other smaller critters, including the Kaibab squirrel.

10. IMAX Movie at the National Geographic Visitor Center

IMAX Movie at the National Geographic Visitor Center

In the town of Tusayan, just outside the South Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, is one of the oldest IMAX Theaters in existence , and seeing a movie here has been a long standing tradition for families coming to the canyon.

The movie, Grand Canyon: The Movie (Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets), one of the longest running IMAX movies to be shown in the same location, is a 34-minute film and begins on the half hour. In addition to seeing the film, visitors can also get information on the park or grab a bite to eat at the on-site café.

11. Nearby: Little Colorado River Overlook

Little Colorado River Scenic Overlook

Leaving Grand Canyon National Park via the east side of the South Rim, through the Desert View entrance, the first sign-posted scenic lookout offers an incredible view over the Little Colorado River. This stop is on Navajo land, and in the parking area, Navajo artists sell handmade jewelry.

A short stroll along a wide trail beyond the parking lot leads to two picnic tables and a lookout area (with railings) with direct views over a portion of the gorge. From the edge, the Little Colorado River is visible far below.

12. Skywalk & Eagle Point

Skywalk & Eagle Point

If you've seen pictures of the glass bridge jutting out over the Grand Canyon and have your heart set on this experience, Eagle Point, at the West Rim , you can reach it in about a four-hour drive from the South Rim . This horseshoe-shape glass walkway extends out 70 feet over the canyon, allowing you to peer straight down.

You can also dine at the Sky View restaurant and look out over the Skywalk. Other things to do here include watching Native American dancing and visiting the Native American Village.

13. Helicopter Flight over the Grand Canyon

Helicopter at the Grand Canyon

If you want to fully appreciate the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, take a 25-minute Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour and soar out over the abyss to get a bird's-eye view. These tours leave from the Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan, less than a 10-minute drive from the South Entrance of the park. This flight takes you out over the Dragon Corridor, the widest and deepest section of the canyon, and several other key attractions.

14. Grand Canyon Railway Adventure from Sedona

Grand Canyon Train

You can combine a luxury train ride through the desert with sightseeing at the Grand Canyon on a full-day Grand Canyon Railroad Excursion from Sedona .

This tour offers pickup from your hotel in Sedona and takes you to the train station in Williams. The train then travels through the Arizona high country to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, where you then have free time to explore and a guided rim tour.

This is one of the easiest ways to see the Grand Canyon, with no driving or parking hassles.

If you have time to spare, you can enjoy a bit of sightseeing in Sedona or Williams .

15. Grand Canyon White Water Rafting Trip from Las Vegas

Rafting on the Colorado River

Raft 40 miles of the Colorado River on a one-day Grand Canyon White Water Rafting Trip leaving from Las Vegas. This is a 15-hour trip leaving at 4am, with hotel pickup and drop off, a van ride and short helicopter flight to the Colorado River, a full day of white water rafting through the Grand Canyon, and a return trip to Las Vegas.

16. South Rim Mule Rides

Mule rides

If you are interested in heading down into the Grand Canyon but are not up for the hike, mule rides are offered year-round from the South Rim. The mules carry guests down the Bright Angel Trail on a 5.5-hour trip for an overnight stay at Phantom Ranch and then return the next day. http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/things-to-do/mule-trips/

The Grand Canyon, as the name suggests, is big. Planning a trip here requires a bit of thought on where to stay and how to reach it. Making the trek to the South Rim, in the far northern reaches of Arizona, can take time.

If you are heading to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas , plan for a long day of driving, as it will take you 4.5 hours one way. You may also want to consider taking a tour.

Phoenix is a slightly closer option, with a one-way drive time of 3.5 hours. You have several options for getting from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon if you don't want to drive yourself.

Closer yet is Sedona at two hours. The drive is scenic, but you may want to look around rather than watch the road. You can easily base yourself in Sedona or Flagstaff and visit the Grand Canyon on a day trip. You'll find some spectacular resorts in Sedona and a range of accommodation in Flagstaff.

Read More: From Sedona to the Grand Canyon: Best Ways to Get There

Grand Canyon Lodging

There are four lodges at the Village in Grand Canyon National Park, and these can only be booked through the concessioner of the park. All other accommodation near the South Entrance is in the town of Tusayan, a five-minute drive from the park gate. Here, there are a variety of hotel options, along with restaurants that range from fast-food chains to upper-end dining. Below are some highly-rated hotel options in Tusayan:

  • Renovated top to bottom in 2016, the luxurious Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon offers well-appointed rooms with a rustic charm.
  • The Holiday Inn Express is also newly renovated, with large rooms complete with microwaves and fridges. A breakfast buffet is included in the room rate.
  • The only hotel in Tusayan that accepts pets (fee applies) is the Red Feather Lodge . This property consists of two buildings; one is a motel style with drive-up rooms, and the other is a traditional hotel with interior corridors. A complimentary park shuttle is available to guests mid-May through mid-September.
  • Also offering a free shuttle is the Canyon Plaza Resort , with oversized rooms and an on-site restaurant.

All these hotels offer seasonal, outdoor pools and lie within close proximity to each other and within easy walking distance to restaurants.

Map of Attractions & Things to Do at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ - Climate Chart

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A Grand Canyon National Park Guide for Seeing the Best of the Natural Wonder

By Emily Pennington

Grand Canyon National Park Guide The Best Treks Camping and Vistas

A mile-deep gash in the rust-red surface of the earth, the  Grand Canyon is often called one of the “seven natural wonders of the world.” 

Carved by the mighty Colorado River for six million years, the canyon’s oldest rock—the exceptionally named  Elves Chasm Pluton —lies at its lowest point, while newer sandstone sits on top. Hiking into the ravine is like traveling back in time for geology-loving visitors. And the park is rich with human history, too: It was the home of the ancestral Puebloan people, and the oldest found artifacts date back to the Paleo-Indian period roughly 12,000 years ago.

More recently, the Grand Canyon became a storied tourist attraction that boomed in popularity when the railroad arrived in 1901. The area was finally set aside as a national park in 1919 under President Woodrow Wilson. Today, eleven  federally-recognized tribes have connections to this land, with the Southern Paiute, Hualapai, and Havasupai sharing boundaries with the park and offering nearby experiences in the canyon—like the hair-raising  Skywalk on the Hualapai Reservation.

But whether you’re looking to leisurely cruise along the park’s scenic byways or trek down thousands of feet to camp along the river, one thing’s for certain–there’s nothing quite like the thrill of feasting your eyes on the Grand Canyon for the first (or fourth) time. The hardest part? Narrowing down how to spend your time, with so much on offer. 

Read on for our expert tips on where to stay and what to see, for a standout Grand Canyon National Park visit.

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park

With an elevation spanning 2,000 feet to 8,000 feet, Grand Canyon experiences a wide range of temperatures on any given day. Thus, the best season to visit greatly depends on what your top adventure priorities are.

If you’re planning to raft “the big ditch” with a guide, go between April and October for warm, sunny days that perfectly contrast the 50-degree Colorado River. Hoping to hike to the bottom and camp at Bright Angel? Don your favorite  traction devices atop the canyon to crunch through seasonal ice and book a  backcountry permit for late fall, winter, or early spring. Auto tourists who want to explore the canyon’s south rim by car can travel in virtually any season—just be prepared for crowds in summer months and occasional snow closures at the height of winter.

Lastly, a good rule of thumb for intrepid travelers hiking down into the canyon is that you’ll gain  roughly 5 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet you descend. Plan on it being 20 degrees warmer at the bottom of the canyon than it is at the rim. The National Park Service (NPS) does not recommend hiking to the bottom of the canyon during summer months, as temperatures at Phantom Ranch often surpass 100 degrees.

How to get there

If you’re planning to fly in, the closest major airports are  Sky Harbor International in  Phoenix and  Harry Reid International in  Las Vegas , but both are at least a three-hour drive away, and you’ll want to rent a car and crank up the tunes to brave the journey. Regional airports are freckled around the area, most notably in small-but-commercial Flagstaff and in charter-only  Sedona and Tusayan. There’s also a vintage  train service that runs daily from Williams, Arizona.

Notably, Grand Canyon National Park is a stone’s throw away from one of the most iconic road trips the U.S. has to offer–historic  Route 66 . Running from  Chicago all the way to the Pacific Coast in Santa Monica, California, this legendary trip ventures across northern Arizona on Interstate 40.

Hiking into the Grand Canyon ravine is like traveling back in time for geologyloving visitors.

Hiking into the Grand Canyon ravine is like traveling back in time for geology-loving visitors.

Things to do in Grand Canyon National Park

Scenic drives.

Spanning 23 breathtaking miles between Grand Canyon Village and the Desert View area,  Desert View Drive is the only scenic byway in the park that’s open year-round to private vehicles, and it’s an excellent way to escape the village throngs and strike out in search of amazing red rock vistas at its six developed pullouts. Enjoy Mary Colter’s iconic  Desert View Watchtower , which was inspired by ancestral Puebloan architecture and features murals by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie, at the park’s far-eastern edge.

Another popular destination along the South Rim is a winding road west, toward the remote trailheads and historic stone structures that date back to 1914 found at  Hermit’s Rest . The drive is only open to private vehicles in December, January, and February; all other months, travelers must utilize the park’s  free shuttle system , hopping on and off at popular sites.

Where the Stars Shine Brightest

Though the hiking distance between the canyon’s north and south rims is a scant 21 miles, the drive to get between the two is a circuitous 220 miles. As a result, only 10 percent of the national park’s visitors set foot on the just-as-striking  North Rim . This high-elevation outpost (over 8,000 feet) and  log cabin-style lodge have a shorter visitation season than the South Rim (you’ll have to travel there between May 15 and October 15 most years), but adventurous drivers desperate to escape the crowds should make a beeline for the pinyon and ponderosa pine-studded views of crumbling crimson sandstone along  Cape Royal Road . Plus, you’ll be within easy driving distance to  Zion , if you’d like to extend your journey.

Hiking and backpacking

If you’re into hiking past dramatic vermillion outcroppings, secret waterfalls, and hanging gardens, you’re in the right place. The Grand Canyon also boasts some of the most stunning wheelchair-accessible paths in the country (check out the 13-mile, mostly-paved  Rim Trail ), as well as hamstring-busting overnight treks into the belly of the ravine.

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For an epic out-and-back excursion with much of the expansive red rock scenery you’d find on a longer jaunt, head to  South Kaibab Trailhead and venture .9-miles downhill to the aptly named Ooh Aah Point. Want a little more bang for your buck? Continue down to Skeleton Point for a sweeping panorama of the Colorado River (six miles round-trip).  Bright Angel Trailhead is another iconic starting point for a day hike or overnight trek into the canyon. Lace up your boots for a three-mile round-trip stroll to the shade structure at Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse or, if you’re an experienced hiker looking to sweat, start early for an all-day 12-mile journey to jaw-dropping views of Plateau Point. 

Trekking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back is the stuff hiking bucket lists are made of. But, due to midday heat and the extremely strenuous nature of these hikes, the National Park Service does not recommend aiming to complete such a journey in a single day. It’s highly recommended to nab a  backcountry permit and camp overnight at one of the many  below-the-rim sites (like Bright Angel Campground or Havasupai Gardens). Pro tip: Use the free park shuttle and create a loop starting at South Kaibab and ending at the Bright Angel Trailhead. Heading for the quieter North Rim? Tramp down the  North Kaibab Trail for two miles (one way) to Supai Tunnel.

Find our full list of the best Grand Canyon hikes here.  

It’s rare that a national park offers a designated  bike path along its most iconic sights, but at the Grand Canyon, visitors can spin for roughly 13 miles along the park’s dreamy South Rim vistas. BYO-bike or rent one at  Bright Angel Bicycles , in the village, then steer onto the paved Greenway Trail to South Kaibab. Or, utilize the free shuttle system (yes, they’ve got bike racks) and ride the bus to Monument Creek Vista, then cruise along the South Rim to  Hermits Rest . Guided  day trips are also available.

North Rim visitors hoping to escape that South Rim fervor can enjoy loads of rugged mountain biking. A 12.1-mile swath of the enormous, 800-mile  Arizona Trail runs right through the park.

Guided tours

There are dozens of phenomenal guided tours available for guests who aren’t comfortable backpacking alone or want a unique type of experience. Mule rides are a storied part of the canyon’s past and how many early tourists ventured into the canyon (sometimes in full  Victorian regalia ). Though it might seem like a rough place for a working animal, mules are much better equipped to handle heat and steep, rocky terrain than their horse counterparts. Plus, these rides offer below-the-rim access for visitors with mobility concerns. Today, both short day trips and extended overnight ventures to Phantom Ranch on muleback are available for those looking to pay homage to a bygone era.

For a brag-worthy addition to your hiking checklist, seek out Wildland Trekking’s  guided Rim-to-Rim backpacking journeys (or, in winter, go big and test your skills on a  Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim hike). Craving something off the beaten path? The remote, five-day  Hermit Loop offers miles of fire-red sandstone plateaus. For those who’d rather not rough it in a tent, REI Co-op offers  lodge-based Grand Canyon tours, which guarantee official national park lodging with sweeping canyon views. 

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the second-to-none river rafting to be had at Grand Canyon National Park.  Grand Canyon Expeditions and  Western River Expeditions have been guiding for decades and both offer first-class service for intrepid travelers looking to go the distance on the mighty Colorado.

Just outside the East entrance to the park, Dineh-owned  Big Hogan Enterprises offers guided tours with Indigenous storytelling and history on the far western end of Navajo Nation (make sure to stop by their  Likaan Grill for hiking fuel in the form of Navajo tacos and blue corn cupcakes). 

The retrochic High Country Motor Lodge is one of the more comfortable accommodations near to the Grand Canyon National Park.

The retro-chic High Country Motor Lodge is one of the more comfortable accommodations near to the Grand Canyon National Park.

Where to stay in and around Grand Canyon National Park

Whether your style is a luxury lodge with post-hike spa treatments or more of a rough-and-tumble pitch-your-own-tent vibe, there’s sure to be  accommodations to pique your interest in or near the Grand Canyon.

The national park hosts four campgrounds, two of which (Mather and Trailer Village) are open year-round. For amenity-rich car camping (think showers, campfire rings, and laundry machines) and easy access to the South Rim’s most selfie-worthy viewpoints, head to  Mather Campground . Or venture off the main drag and book a site at seasonal (April or May through October)  Desert View or  North Rim . Trailer Village is the only in-park  camping area with full RV hook-ups.

Hotels and rentals

The sheer variety of lodging options near the Grand Canyon is enough to make anyone’s head spin. From historic national park lodges perched atop the cliff’s edge, like  El Tovar Hotel , to luxe glamping tents loaded with creature comforts at  Backland , there’s no end to the fabulous places to hit the hay when your day of exploring is done. Road tripping up from Sedona? Dream sweetly surrounded by sandstone escarpments at  Enchantment Resort . Looking for something retro? Snag a Cosmic Cottage at  High Country Motor Lodge (vintage tape deck included). Bringing the whole fam? Revel in wood paneling and Americana decor at  Sunset Ridge Log Cabin .

Find more editor-approved Grand Canyon hotels here.  

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Grand Canyon National Park   Travel Guide

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Why Go To Grand Canyon National Park

"Grand" doesn't begin to do this canyon justice. Measuring approximately 277 river miles in length, up to 18 miles in width and a mile deep, this massive chasm in northern Arizona is truly a natural wonder. For 6 million years, the Grand Canyon has expanded with the help of the mighty Colorado River, and for centuries, people from all over the globe have traveled to gaze out over its red and orange grandeur. Managed by the National Park Service and officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Grand Canyon leaves its approximately 4 million visitors per year awestruck.

But if you're seeking a secluded escape to Mother Nature, you should be prepared: The Grand Canyon can be very crowded. The South Rim – home to the  Grand Canyon Village and the well-worn  Bright Angel Trail  – is particularly popular for sightseers and hikers. It is on this side that you'll find the most amenities. For a break from the crowds, head to the  North Rim . This is the place for backwoods camping and hardcore hiking. For an unforgettable view of the canyon, consider signing up for a helicopter tour .

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  • # 1 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona
  • # 1 in Best Day Trips from Phoenix
  • # 2 in Best U.S. National Parks for 2023

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Best of Grand Canyon National Park

Best hotels in grand canyon national park.

  • # 1 in Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn
  • # 2 in The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon
  • in Bright Angel Lodge

Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn

Best Things to Do in Grand Canyon National Park

  • # 1 in Grand Canyon Village
  • # 2 in South Rim
  • # 3 in Mather Point

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Popular Tours

Grand Canyon Helicopter 45-Minute Flight with Optional Hummer Tour

Grand Canyon Helicopter 45-Minute Flight with Optional Hummer Tour

(114 reviews)

from $ 364.00

Helicopter Tour of the North Canyon with Optional Hummer Excursion

Helicopter Tour of the North Canyon with Optional Hummer Excursion

(118 reviews)

from $ 239.00

45-minute Helicopter Flight Over the Grand Canyon from Tusayan, Arizona

45-minute Helicopter Flight Over the Grand Canyon from Tusayan, Arizona

(1687 reviews)

from $ 349.00

Grand Canyon National Park Travel Tips

Best months to visit.

The best times to visit the Grand Canyon are March through May and September through November, when daytime temperatures are cool and crowds are thin. If you decide to visit during the summer (the park's peak season), be prepared for hordes of tourists and very limited lodging availability. You can find deals on hotels during the winter, but much of the park (including the entire  North Rim ) closes after the first snowfall. The South Rim is open throughout the year.

Weather in Grand Canyon National Park

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

Bring layers  Even if you're visiting in the midst of summer, you can bank on chilly winds once the sun goes down. Make sure to bring a jacket to keep warm.

Don't forget your permits If you are planning on setting up camp away from the designated campgrounds, you will need a backcountry permit. You can find information about necessary forms and fees on the NPS website .

Consider a daytrip to Antelope Canyon The majestic Antelope Canyon is located about 130 miles northeast of the Grand Canyon Village. Find must-know tips, as well as some of the best Antelope Canyon tours here .

Keep an eye on the time With the exception of land that is part of the Navajo Nation, Arizona (including the Grand Canyon) does not observe daylight saving time. 

How to Save Money in Grand Canyon National Park

BYOB  Bring your own bed. Hotel rooms inside the park can be pretty pricey. Instead, reserve a spot in one of the campgrounds for a fraction of the cost.

Arrive fashionably late  If you're set on a summer trip, you'll have better luck finding deals on a place to hang your hat if you visit at the end of August.

Forget the car You can save money on car rentals and gas and avoid parking headaches by relying on the Grand Canyon's free shuttle bus service . It's the easiest way to explore the South Rim. If you just want to visit for the day, consider signing up for an organized tour. Many of the best Arizona tours offer daytrips from cities like Flagstaff to the national park. With a tour, you can ditch the car and enjoy the guidance of an experienced local.

What to Eat

Unlike many other national parks, the Grand Canyon is home to several restaurants and grocery stores, meaning you won't necessarily have to stock up on supplies before you enter the park. There is an abundance of establishments at the South Rim (especially Grand Canyon Village ), and fewer resources on the North Rim .

Many of the Grand Canyon's restaurants are housed within the park's lodges, including the El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Lodge. Travelers often prefer a quick meal at one of the on-site cafeterias in the South Rim instead of an extended (and expensive) meal at one of the park's restaurants. Notably, some recent vacationers were disappointed with some of the restaurants in nearby Tusayan, Arizona.

The greatest safety concern in the Grand Canyon is the outdoors. It is not advisable to hike or camp alone in the park, even if you know the canyon very well. Even experienced hikers have become lost in the park because they were not well-acquainted with certain trails, which can prove to be dangerous. Be sure to bring an adequate amount of water for your trip and wear sunscreen. Also check the weather before hiking, since lightning during summertime thunderstorms can be deadly.

Encountering wildlife can present another danger. The park service advises travelers keep a distance of at least 100 feet (or about two bus lengths) away from the park's larger animals, such as elk, deer, bighorn sheep, California condors and mountain lions. As for smaller animals, such as squirrels, birds and reptiles, visitors should stay at least 50 feet (about one bus length) away.

The Grand Canyon is a relatively safe park in terms of crime. If you park your car within the canyon, be sure to lock your vehicle and safeguard any belongings just in case. For more information, see the National Park Service's website .  

Getting Around Grand Canyon National Park

The best way to get around the Grand Canyon is by shuttle bus. Operated by the National Park Service, these free shuttles will take you all around the South Rim. If you're visiting the  North Rim , a car will be the most convenient option, but make sure to check the park's website for updates on road conditions and closures.

Getting to the area can be trickier; of the numerous airports, many travelers choose to fly into  Phoenix 's Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) or Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in  Las Vegas . Tour buses (such as those featured in the best Arizona tours ) and car rentals are all available from both Phoenix and Las Vegas. To land closer to the canyon, consider flying into Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) in Flagstaff, Arizona , about 80 miles south of the South Rim. Amtrak trains, buses (such as those provided by Groome Transportation ) and car rentals are available here as well.

Rafting along the Colorado River is a great way to see the Grand Canyon from a new vantage point.

Explore More of Grand Canyon National Park

South Rim

Things To Do

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The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon

Everything you need to know to fully experience the natural wonder, whether you’re there for a weeklong stay or a sunset..

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10 Best National Parks and Monuments in Arizona and How to Visit Them

Arizona may take its nickname from the Grand Canyon, but there are far more natural wonders in the state.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

At 277 river miles long and 18 miles across at its widest point, the Grand Canyon is big . So big, in fact, that you could spend a week exploring and barely see one rim (let alone the depths of the canyon). To make it all less overwhelming, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to getting the most out of your first visit, whether you have a day or a week.

Let’s start with the basics: The Grand Canyon follows the southwest course of the Colorado River, which sliced a gorge through the Colorado Plateau over a period of 6,000 years. To orient yourself, think of the landscape in terms of the South, North, West, and East Rims, keeping in mind that there’s no way to cross the canyon by car—you have to drive all the way around.

The South Rim is the most widely recognized area of the Grand Canyon, with the greatest number of viewpoints, visitor services, and hotels. More than 1,000 feet higher, the North Rim gets a good deal of snow and, as a result, is only open from May to October. A 215-mile, four-hour drive from the South Rim, it’s perhaps best reserved for a separate or extended visit.

Fight vertigo on the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass-bottomed bridge 4,000 feet above the canyon.

Fight vertigo on the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass-bottomed bridge 4,000 feet above the canyon.

Courtesy of Arizona Office of Tourism

The West Rim , known as Grand Canyon West, sits on the tribal lands of the Hualapai and includes the Grand Canyon Skywalk , a horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge with a glass bottom, perfect for conquering that fear of heights. Finally, the East Rim , which is lower in elevation at 4,000 feet, is part of the Navajo Nation and features numerous smaller canyons carved by the Little Colorado River.

Before we dive in deeper, note that not all of the Grand Canyon lies within Grand Canyon National Park . Around the park live four tribes—the Hualapai, Navajo, Havasupai, and Hopi—whose reservation rules and policies govern those areas. Also keep in mind that the season and weather will play a role in your Grand Canyon planning, with roads, viewpoints, and services subject to closure.

If you only have one day . . .

Most people aiming to see the canyon in one day will prioritize the South Rim, where it’s possible to see and do the most in the least amount of time. You’ll have your sightseeing cut out for you, though, so use the following plan to check all the most important boxes in a short visit.

Start with sunrise

Waking up before dawn will seem well worth it when the first rays make the canyon walls glow gold. Mather Point is the go-to spot to watch the sun come up, but you can’t go wrong anywhere along the Rim Trail.

See the main South Rim sights

The primary attractions sit in a loop along the rim, connected by a hop-on, hop-off shuttle. If you get the early-morning start suggested above, you can realistically see them all in one day, though most people tend to skip a museum or two.

Grand Canyon Visitor Center : Watch an introductory movie, check out the relief map, sit in on a park ranger lecture, and catch the rim shuttle.

The El Tovar Hotel is widely considered the crown jewel of the National Park Lodges.

The El Tovar Hotel is widely considered the crown jewel of the National Park lodges.

Courtesy of El Tovar Hotel

El Tovar Hotel : Peek into the lobby of one of the grandest of the historic National Park lodges.

Hopi House : Tour this 1905 building designed by Mary Colter—one of the first female architects in the United States—to resemble a Pueblo village. It’s now used to showcase Navajo and other American Indian arts and crafts.

Kolb Studio : Visit the early 20th-century home and studio of pioneering photographers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb to see pictures and antique photo equipment.

Verkamp’s Visitor Center : Shop for souvenirs and get your questions answered in this 1906 family home.

Yavapai Geology Museum : Learn about the forces that formed the canyon and take in the views at Yavapai Point.

Walk the Trail of Time

A section of the Rim Trail signed with detailed explanations of geological history, the short but worthy Trail of Time helps make sense of the colorful layers that give the canyon walls their candy-stripe appearance.

Located along the South Rim, Hopi Point is the perfect place to watch the sunset.

Located along the South Rim, Hopi Point is the perfect place to watch the sunset.

Photo by Francisco Blanco/Shutterstock

Explore Hermits Rest and Hopi Point

West of Grand Canyon Village, a series of overlooks along Hermit Road offer some of the canyon’s most beloved views. For the best experience, follow the crowds to Hermits Rest at sunset and watch the rays turn the canyon crimson. When the road is closed to private cars from March 1 through November 30, shuttle buses ferry visitors to nine lookouts, including Mojave and Pima Points and the Abyss.

Drive to Desert View

Alternatively, you could watch the sunset at Desert View. After stopping at a few viewpoints along Hermit Road, take the scenic, 25-mile Desert View Drive , which passes the stunning Grandview Point, Moran Point, the Tusayan Ruin, and Navajo Point. The route finishes at the Desert View Watchtower, designed by Mary Colter in 1932. From the top, you can see for well over 100 miles on a clear day.

If you have three days . . .

More time means more opportunities to take in the canyon’s variegated colors and gravity-defying formations from different angles and directions.

Hike into the canyon

It’s hard to fully appreciate the depth of the Grand Canyon without going to the bottom and looking up. The most popular route down is the Bright Angel Trail , which, at nine miles one way, can’t be done without camping overnight at Indian Garden or Bright Angel campgrounds. Don’t delay in applying for a backcountry permit because sites fill up fast.

If you’d rather make it a day trip, hike part of the way down to one of the rest houses at 1.5 or 3 miles, then head back up (remember: coming up takes longer than going down) with a far greater appreciation for the canyon’s geological marvels.

More rugged and less crowded—it typically sees a tenth of the visitors of the South Rim—the North Rim is cooler and covered in forests of aspen, birch, and maple trees. While snowfall limits the official visitor season to May through October, hikers and cross-country skiers can still access the area during winter months.

Hike into the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail, then spend the night at the Bright Angel Campground.

Hike into the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail, then spend the night at the Bright Angel Campground.

Photo by Serj Malomuzh/Shutterstock

A favorite activity here is hiking the North Kaibab Trail , which descends 14 miles to the Colorado River and Bright Angel Campground, with memorable views along the way. For something slightly less strenuous, hike the first part of the trail to the Supai Tunnel, four miles round-trip, or book a mule excursion with Canyon Trail Rides .

Visit Grand Canyon West

Just a 90-minute drive from Las Vegas, the West Rim has become the second most popular area of the Grand Canyon, attracting more than 1 million visitors annually. Located outside the national park on the lands of the Hualapai tribe, it’s best known as the site of the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass bridge that extends 70 feet past the edge of the canyon rim. If you don’t mind touristy attractions, walk its length while gazing past your feet to the canyon floor 4,000 feet below. Afterward, keep your adrenaline pumping with a ride on the West Rim Zip Line , or opt to check out the traditional craft studios at Eagle Point instead.

If you have one week . . .

Human beings have been living in and around the Grand Canyon for 12,000 years, and they’ve been exploring it in myriad ways. The more time you spend in the canyon, the more its marvels reveal themselves to you.

Hit the water

White-water rafting through the Grand Canyon offers a memorable adventure.

White-water rafting through the Grand Canyon offers a memorable adventure.

Photo by Jim Malouk/Shutterstock

Ask anyone who has rafted the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon about their experience and you’ll be treated to a story of adventure. Guided trips, ranging from 3 to 18 days, stop at places like Lees Ferry , Phantom Ranch , and Whitmore Wash, navigating distances of up to 226 river miles. Among the many outfitters recommended by the National Park Service, we suggest Oars , Grand Canyon Expeditions , Arizona Raft Adventures , and Arizona River Runners .

Witness Havasupai Falls

Plan ahead and score a permit to see Havasupai Falls.

Plan ahead and score a permit to see Havasupai Falls.

Photo by Ariene Waller/Shutterstock

The iridescent waters of Havasupai Falls have long inspired adventurers to make the 10-mile trek through the verdant Havasu Canyon, home of the Havasupai tribe. The hike has become so popular, however, that in 2019, the Havasupai imposed strict visitation rules, requiring all visitors to obtain permits and stay for at least three nights at their campground or lodge .

Day hiking on the reservation is strictly prohibited, but AirWest Helicopters flies to and from the falls several days of the week (Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and Friday from March 15 to October 15; Sunday and Friday from October 16 to March 14). The 15-minute flights into the canyon leave from a broad shelf below the Havasupai Trailhead parking lot, while return flights depart from an area between the tourism office and café. Flights are first-come, first-served, so it’s best to arrive early. Expect to pay $85 one way.

Adventure into the east

Located within the Navajo Nation, the East Rim is the most remote area in the Grand Canyon, with fewer access roads and viewpoints. The most popular attractions here are Antelope and Marble Canyons, as well as Instagram darling Horseshoe Bend , a dramatic viewpoint over the Colorado River. Many road-trippers to the east side head northeast to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area , which encompasses Lake Powell.

Get a bird’s-eye view

Many raptors make their homes in the red rocks. Hawkwatch International maintains a counting station at Yaki Point on the East Rim, where educational interpreters are happy to explain migration ecology, raptor identification, and their efforts to monitor long-term trends in the raptor population. As of fall 2019, researchers had identified more than 20 species of raptors living in the canyon, including sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, and red-tailed hawks as well as peregrine falcons and bald eagles.

More tips and tricks

To make things even easier, follow these final pointers.

Enlist the experts

One way to take the pressure off your planning is to get some expert help. The Grand Canyon Conservancy offers a series of guided field adventures that include time to take in the views and learn about the canyon’s geology and ecosystems.

Take a class

Free National Park Service programming like daily “Geology Glimpse” talks at the Yavapai Geology Museum and “Critter Chats” at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center help you get up to speed quickly, while the Junior Ranger program (available year-round at the South Rim and from May to October at the North Rim) provides kids with a richer experience.

Go by train

Most people drive to the Grand Canyon—and a car is necessary if you plan to visit more than one area along the rim—but a fun, relaxed, and scenic alternative is to take the Grand Canyon Railway , which makes daily round-trips between Williams, Arizona, and the Grand Canyon Depot. Featuring vintage rail cars with live music, the train winds through thick woods and across broad meadows, offering views of unsuspecting wildlife along the way. The cowboy characters who bring the Old West to life aboard make the trip particularly fun for children .

This article was originally published in January 2020. It was updated in August 2022 with new information.

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11 EPIC Things to Do on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Julie Last updated: January 15, 2024 United States 44 Comments

Grand Canyon Best Things To Do

For millions of years, the Colorado River has carved its way through the Colorado Plateau, forming this expansive, awe-inspiring landscape that we call the Grand Canyon. And it certainly is grand. Words cannot describe what it is like to gaze across the Grand Canyon for the first time.

On a visit to the Grand Canyon, there is more to do than just look out over the canyon from the Visitor Center. Walk along the rim, watch the sunrise, take a helicopter flight, tour the viewpoints by bicycle, or hike below the rim.

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most accessible and most popular section of the canyon to visit. This article focuses on the best things to do in the Grand Canyon on the South Rim. At the end of the article, we give you itinerary ideas and tips to help you have the best experience.

Table of Contents

While in Grand Canyon National Park, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

Facts About the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long. It is estimated that the Colorado River has been at work for 5 to 6 million years, carving out the canyon.

The Grand Canyon officially became a national park on February 26, 1919.

In 2022, the Grand Canyon was the 2nd most visited park in the United States, with 4.7 million visitors.

The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Grand Canyon Infographic

Best Things to do in the Grand Canyon

Here are some of the best ways to experience the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

1. Visit the South Rim Viewpoints

There are dozens of viewpoints along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Each one of these viewpoints offers a spectacular view, but some viewpoints are just better than others. Some offer panoramic vistas, some are less crowded, and some make fantastic sunrise and sunset destinations.

There are three sections to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon: Desert View Drive, Grand Canyon Village, and Hermit Road. Each of these sections offers a slightly different experience, and if you have the time, it is worth it to visit each spot.

Near Grand Canyon Village

To get between these viewpoints, you can walk the Rim Trail or take the shuttle (Kaibab Rim Route, orange line).

  • Mather Point  – most popular viewpoint on the South Rim; expect huge crowds and decent views
  • Yavapai Point   – panoramic views with less crowds than Mather Point
  • Yaki Point  – Stunning views of the Grand Canyon and you can see the South Kaibab Trail weaving its way to the Colorado River
  • Ooh Aah Point  – located on the South Kaibab Trail and it is one of our favorite viewpoints of the Grand Canyon

Yavapai Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Yavapai Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Yaki Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Yaki Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Along Hermit Road

Hermit Road is 7 miles long. From March 1 to November 30 you must take the Grand Canyon Shuttle (red line). During the winter months, you can drive to the viewpoints but parking can be limited.

  • Powell Point  – jaw-dropping views with outcroppings of rock that make great photo spots
  • Mohave Point  – more amazing views; there are several different photo spots that offer slightly different views
  • Pima Point   – another great location for panoramic views of the Grand Canyon

Mohave Point Sunrise | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Mohave Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Along Desert View Drive

The Grand Canyon Shuttle does not travel to these viewpoints so you will need a car. This road is 25 miles long. If you are entering or leaving the Grand Canyon through the east entrance (for example, if you are also visiting  Page, Arizona  or  Monument Valley ), you can visit these viewpoints as you drive to/from Grand Canyon Village.

  • Shoshone Point  – Great spot to leave the crowds behind; short hike to the viewpoint
  • Grand View Point  – The name says it all
  • Moran Point  – Explore the rocky outcroppings to find your favorite photo spot
  • Desert View Point  – Easternmost viewpoint on the South Rim; climb the watchtower for 360° views

Moran Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Moran Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

For a full list of the viewpoints, and ideas on how to plan your time, don’t miss our article: 17 Amazing South Rim Viewpoints.

2. Bike Along Hermit Road

Hermit Road is 7 miles long. It starts at the Grand Canyon Village and ends at Hermit’s Rest.

You can visit the viewpoints along Hermit Road by shuttle (from March 1 to November 30), by car (only between December 1 and February 28), by foot, or by bike.

Out of these options, touring Hermit Road by bicycle sounds like the most fun. Plus, this is one of the best family friendly things to do in the Grand Canyon. You can visit the viewpoints on your own schedule, without hopping from shuttle from shuttle or dealing with finding a parking spot. And it’s much quicker than walking the entire 7 miles.

Bright Angel Bicycles has a package where you can rent bicycles for one day. With their Hermit Shuttle Package, you cycle from Hopi Point to Hermit’s Rest. A shuttle transports you back to the Grand Canyon Village so you do not have to bike 14 miles round trip. This is a great option for families with kids and those who do not want a long bike trip.

3. Walk the South Rim Trail

The South Rim trail is a flat, mostly paved trail that heads along the edge of the rim. It is 13 miles (21 km) long, stretching from Hermit’s Rest to the South Kaibab trailhead.

Of course, you don’t have to walk all 13 miles. You can pick a small section of the trail to walk, using the Grand Canyon shuttle to hop your way along the South Rim Trail.

Learn more here.

4. Hike Below the Rim

One of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon is to hike below the rim. There are several options to do this from the South Rim.

Bright Angel Trail

The Bright Angel Trail is a very popular trail. It’s easily accessible, starting right in the Grand Canyon Village. This trail starts on the rim and ends at the Bright Angel Campground near the Colorado River. It is 9.5 miles long and descends 4380 feet.

Hike Grand Canyon | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

The view from the Bright Angel Trail | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Bright Angel Trail | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Switchbacks on the Bright Angel Trail | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

The National Park service discourages people from hiking from the rim to the Colorado River and back to the rim in one day. Over 200 people are rescued every year due to fatigue and heat exhaustion.

You can hike a portion of the Bright Angel Trail and still have a great experience. Here are 4 day hike options.

1.5 Mile Resthouse: Distance: 3 miles round-trip. You will rapidly descend from the rim on a switchback trail. The view is good, but honestly, it’s not spectacular. Much of the Bright Angel Trail descends through a canyon, so you don’t get those sweeping views like you get from the rim. This hike is more about the experience going below the rim than having a stunning view.

3 Mile Resthouse: 6 miles round-trip. Descend further into the canyon. The views do not change much from the 1.5 Mile Resthouse hike.

Indian Garden: 9 miles round-trip. Just past 3 Mile Resthouse, the trail “levels out.” You are still walking downhill, but at a lower grade than on the first part of this hike. Indian Garden is a small campground with water. The NPS website recommends going no farther than this point in the summer. We hiked up the Bright Angel Trail in June as part of our rim-to-rim hike . At 1 pm, the thermometer read 98 degrees at Indian Garden and temperatures got even hotter the closer you got to the Colorado River.

Plateau Point: 12 miles round-trip. At Indian Garden, you can take the trail to Plateau Point for a stunning view over the Colorado River.

Visit the National Park Service website for more information on these hikes.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Hiking down the Bright Angel Trail is going to be a lot faster and a lot easier than hiking back up. Make sure you start early in the day, bring plenty of salty food and water, and plan to give yourself plenty of time for the return hike back up to the rim. If this is your first time hiking, especially during the summer months, consider turning around at 1.5 Mile Resthouse or 3 Mile Resthouse.

South Kaibab Trail

The South Kaibab Trail also starts on the rim and ends at the Colorado River. It is shorter and steeper than the Bright Angel Trail (it’s 7 miles long with 4800 feet of elevation loss). It is also more spectacular, in my opinion. There is a lot more exposure on the trail, which gives you expansive, jaw-dropping views of the Grand Canyon.

To get here, you will need to take the Grand Canyon shuttle or walk the rim trail to the South Kaibab trailhead.

Here are day hike ideas for the South Kaibab Trail.

Ooh Aah Point:   1.8 miles round trip. Amazing viewpoint! Tyler and I were here at sunrise and this is one of my favorite spots in the Grand Canyon. It’s a very steep descent to get here (and a hefty climb back up to the rim later in the day) but it’s worth it for this view.

Ooh Aah Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Ooh Aah Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Ooh Aah Point Sunrise | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

View from Ooh Aah Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Cedar Ridge: 3 miles round-trip. Enjoy more everchanging views as you descend farther into the canyon.

Skeleton Point: 6 miles round trip. Just past Skeleton Point you get your first view of the Colorado River. The NPS website recommends going no farther than this point as a day hike. From here, it’s still a very long ways to go until you reach the Colorado River.

Bright Angel or South Kaibab? If you only have time for one trail, without a doubt, the winner is the South Kaibab. The views are much better and this trail tends to be a little bit less crowded, since you have to take a shuttle bus to get here. For most of the hike on the Bright Angel Trail you are in a canyon, so you don’t get the same expansive views like you do on the South Kaibab Trail.

South Rim to Colorado River to South Rim

In Two Days

You can connect the Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail into one epic hike. Most people will hike down one trail to the Colorado River, spend the night at Phantom Ranch or camp at Bright Angel Campground, and hike up the other trail on day two. In order to do this, you need two days and a permit to camp or very good luck (and advance planning) to get a reservation at Phantom Ranch.

South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Tyler Hiking Grand Canyon

Colorado River | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Even though the National Park Service discourages it, it is possible to hike from the South Rim to the South Rim in one day. But this is not a decision to be made lightly.

The entire round-trip hike is 16.5 miles with a massive descent at the beginning and nearly a mile of elevation gain at the end. This is a long hike with a huge amount of elevation changes. During the summer months, this becomes a very dangerous hike. 

Tyler and I did this hike in December. It was a very pleasant 52°F, perfect weather for hiking. We did not have to battle soaring temperatures which made this much more enjoyable.

I would only attempt this hike if you are very fit and have lots of hiking experience. This is not a hike for newbie hikers and weekend warriors. You should be able to easily walk 10 miles while wearing a backpack, preferably in very hilly terrain.

LEARN MORE: How to Hike the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trail in One Day

5. Ride a Mule into the Grand Canyon

If hiking is not your thing, you can ride a mule into the canyon. Xanterra offers mule trips on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This is an extremely popular thing to do and tickets are offered by lottery. Learn more here.

6. Watch the Grand Canyon IMAX Movie

This is a great, low-key activity to add to your list of things to do. In the IMAX theater in the Visitor Center, you can watch 34-minute movie about the Grand Canyon. It’s not quite as thrilling as seeing the Grand Canyon from the viewpoints or hiking below the rim, but this makes a great midday activity to do during the summer, since you can escape the heat in the air-conditioned theater.

US National Parks List

7. Take a Helicopter Flight Over the Grand Canyon

A Grand Canyon helicopter tour can be a thrilling way to experience the awe-inspiring views and stunning beauty that the Grand Canyon has to offer. This allows you to see parts of the Grand Canyon that you cannot see from the South Rim viewpoints.

Grand Canyon Helicopter

Helicopter Flight in the Grand Canyon | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

You can take your pick from several flight options that leave right from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

LEARN MORE: Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour: Everything You Need to Know

8. Yavapai Museum of Geology

Learn about the history and formation of the Grand Canyon in this museum which is located in the historic Yavapai Observation Station. It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter, so it makes a nice activity to do midday. Plus, you can enjoy another stunning view across the Grand Canyon from the large picture windows.

9. Walk the Trail of Time

The Trail of Time is a short walk (1.7 miles) that is actually a portion of the Rim Trail. It starts at the Verkamp’s Visitor Center and ends at the Yavapai Geological Museum. Along the way are 13 information panels that explain the geological history of the Grand Canyon.

10. Watch Sunrise and Sunset over the Grand Canyon

From one of many viewpoints, watch as the sun rises over the Grand Canyon, lighting it up in warm hues of reds, pinks, and oranges. Or, at the end of the day, behold the view as the sun descends toward the horizon, washing the canyon in warm light and making it glow just before nightfall.

It may be tough to roll out of bed early, but you will share the view with just a handful of other visitors. At sunset, expect to share the view with large crowds of people.

Best Things to do in the Grand Canyon

Hopi Viewpoint | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Shoshone Viewpoint

Shoshone Viewpoint | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Mohave Point

As far as picking the best viewpoints, they are all wonderful. We drove along Hermit Road at sunrise and all of the viewpoints were phenomenal.

Hopi Point, Yavapai Point, Mather Point, and Mohave Point are all popular. I think that Ooh Aah Point is gorgeous at sunrise. At sunset, if you want to get away from the crowds, try Shoshone Point (the view may not be quite as stunning as Yavapai or Hopi but the hike to get here will keep the viewpoint quiet) or one of the other viewpoints on Desert View Road.

Take a look at our post on the Grand Canyon viewpoints for more ideas.

11. Take a Ranger Guided Tour

Ranger guided tours are offered daily on the South Rim. Get a geology lesson or learn about the animals that call the Grand Canyon home. This is a great activity if you will be visiting the Grand Canyon with kids. Learn more about the ranger guided programs here.

Grand Canyon Travel Guide

Grand Canyon Itinerary

Grand canyon on a day trip.

If you just have a few hours to spend in the Grand Canyon (for example, if you are visiting the canyon on road trip from Page, Arizona to Las Vegas), you can see a few viewpoints and do a short hike.

If you will be driving down Desert View Road, it’s worth making a stop at several of these viewpoints. Desert View and Grand View Point are wonderful. Park in the Visitor Center and use the shuttle to get around. From here, you can either walk part of the South Rim Trail or hike below the rim. I recommend the 2-mile round trip hike to Ooh Aah Point.

One Day in the Grand Canyon

If you only have one day in the Grand Canyon, roll out of bed early, take the shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead, and hike out to Ooh Aah Point. Go at sunrise or a little later. Having some daylight will make it safer to hike down the trail (bring a headlamp if you want to get to Ooh Aah Point right at sunrise). By doing this first thing in the day, you can hike with low traffic on the trail and before it really starts to heat up. Turn around at Ooh Aah Point or keep going until you reach Cedar Point or Skeleton Point.

With the rest of your time in the morning (if you only hiked to Ooh Aah Point), visit the viewpoints near the Grand Canyon Village. Have lunch in the Village. Spend the afternoon cycling along the viewpoints on Hermit Road, or watch the IMAX movie and visit the Geology Museum. Have dinner in the Village. End with sunset views over the Grand Canyon.

One Day Tours of the Grand Canyon

If you will be in Sedona, Flagstaff, or Las Vegas, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon makes a great day trip destination. Here are several highly rated tours to consider.

2 Days in the Grand Canyon

Follow our 1 day in the Grand Canyon. On your second day, you can visit the viewpoints along Desert View Road, hike part of the Bright Angel Trail, and/or take a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon.

For an epic 2-day adventure, hike the Grand Canyon South Rim to South Rim. On day 1, hike the South Kaibab trail to the Bright Angel Campground. Camp here overnight (a permit is required) or stay at the Phantom Ranch Lodge (reservations need to be made well in advance). On day 2, hike up the Bright Angel Trail.

Or, if you are super fit, have lots of hiking experience, and like the idea of doing it all in one day, hike both trails in one day. This is best done from October through April, when temperatures in the canyon aren’t sweltering.

3 Days in the Grand Canyon

With 3 days in the Grand Canyon, you can do almost everything on this list. Take your time, savor the views, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Yaki Point December

How to Get to the South Rim

You can get to the South Rim by car, bus, train, plane, helicopter, or on a tour.

Most people get to the Grand Canyon by car, usually on a road trip through the American Southwest. Here are the driving distances and times from nearby destinations:

  • Phoenix: 230 miles, 3.5 hours
  • Las Vegas: 280 miles, 4.5 hours
  • Page, Arizona: 133 miles, 2.5 hours
  • Flagstaff, Arizona: 80 miles, 1.5 hours
  • Monument Valley: 176 miles, 3 hours
  • Zion National Park: 240 miles, 4.25 hours

By plane or helicopter, you can fly into Tusayan airport. Tusayan is a small town that is located 15 minutes south of the Grand Canyon Village by car. It is possible to book a tour from Las Vegas where you fly into Tusayan and then tour the Grand Canyon on foot or by helicopter.

There are options to take a bus or a train to the Grand Canyon. Click here to learn more.

Map of GC Village

Map of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Best Time to Visit the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon can be visited year round. Peak season is during the summer months and during the holiday seasons of Easter and Christmas. During these times, expect large crowds, traffic jams to enter the park, and hotels booked to capacity.

Spring and fall are great times to visit the park. The weather is pleasant and the park isn’t overly crowded.

From June through September, expect hot conditions and large crowds.

Winter is the off-season. Crowds will be low, but so will the temperatures. Snow is a possibility, but that will only make the Grand Canyon look more magical.

Grand Canyon National Park appears in our Best US National Parks Month-By-Month series   as a great park to visit in January , April , June , November, and December.

Desert View Point

Desert View Point | Best Things to Do in the Grand Canyon

Park Fees and Hours of Operation

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open 24 hours 365 days a year.

The entrance fee is $35 and is valid for 7 days. This fee also includes the visit to the North Rim.

If you plan to visit the North Rim, you should be aware that it is only open from mid-May through mid-October. The road to the North Rim is closed in the winter due to snow. You can check conditions on the official National Park Service website. If you plan to drive from the South Rim to the North Rim, it takes roughly 4 to 5 hours.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Check for trail closures, road closures, and get important updates before your visit on the official National Park Service website.

Arizona Travel Guide

Where to Stay

There are five hotels located in the Grand Canyon Village (El Tovar, Thunderbird Lodge, Bright Angel Lodge, Kachina Lodge, and Maswick Lodge). Staying here gives you the advantage of easy access to the shuttles, short walks to several of the viewpoints, and no hassles driving into and out the park every day. However, the hotels get mediocre reviews and many people say they are expensive for what you get.

Click here to view the lodges and get updated pricing. These hotels fill up very far in advance. Make your reservations 4 – 6 months in advance.

You also have the option to stay in Tusayan. From Tusayan, it is a 15-minute drive into the park. There are several hotels to choose from as well as some restaurants.

We stayed at The Grand Hotel in Tusayan. It is the highest rated hotel in the area. The hotel looks impressive from the outside and the lobby is very nice but the rooms are nothing special. On Booking.com it is listed as a 5-star hotel but it looks and feels a lot more like a 3 to 4 star hotel. However, the rooms are clean and quiet and fit our needs.

The Squire Resort and the Holiday Inn Express are two more hotels to try in Tusayan.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you stay in Tusayan, plan to arrive at the Grand Canyon Village no later than 8 am so that you do not get stuck in traffic jams to enter the park, and to make sure you get a parking spot. Or, during the summer months, take the shuttle that runs between Tusayan and the Grand Canyon Village.

Frquently Asked Questions

Where should I go on my first visit to the Grand Canyon?

On your first visit to the Grand Canyon, we recommend visiting the South Rim. With its breathtaking views, an assortment of hiking trails, lots of cool activities to keep kids happy, and a large number of hotels and restaurants to choose from, it’s hard to beat the South Rim.

Skip Grand Canyon West and its overpriced Skywalk, skip Grand Canyon East because you won’t get the iconic canyon views, and only visit the North Rim if you will be out that way during the summer months.

What are the best views on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon?

The best views from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon are Powell Point, Mohave Point, and Pima Point (along Hermit Road), Yavapai Point and Yaki Point (near Canyon Village), Moran Point and Desert View Point (on Desert View Road). If you want to leave the crowds behind, go to Shoshone Point and hike a portion of the South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point.

How much time should you spend at the Grand Canyon?

Two days allows you to see most, if not all, of the viewpoints from the South Rim, to hike a portion of the South Kaibab or Bright Angel Trails, to watch the IMAX movie, take a ranger guided tour, walk part of the Rim Trail, and even take a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon. If you also want to visit the other rims of the Grand Canyon (there are four: north, south, east, and west), add at least one day for each of these rims. 

Which rim is best, the North Rim or the South Rim?

The South Rim is the busiest part of the Grand Canyon to visit. A network of roads, hiking trails, and shuttle routes connect the main viewpoints at this section of the Grand Canyon. There are also numerous hotels and restaurants on the South Rim. The South Rim is open all year, making this the best rim to visit between mid-October and mid-May. However, the North Rim is more remote, less crowded, and the views are some of the best of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim is only open from mid-May through mid-October, so there is a narrow window of time that you can visit this side of the Grand Canyon.

More Information about the Grand Canyon

Here are the links to our other articles about the Grand Canyon, plus a few ideas on how to include the Grand Canyon on a road trip through the American Southwest.

GRAND CANYON: Check out our Grand Canyon National Park Travel Guide for important travel planning tips, sample itineraries, advice on when to go, where to stay, and more.

GRAND CANYON: Check out our guides about how to spend one perfect day in the Grand Canyon  and which South Rim viewpoints are the best ones to visit. For amazing views of the Grand Canyon, check out our guide to the Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours.

HIKES IN THE GRAND CANYON: If you are up for a hiking adventure, learn how to hike the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails in one day . And for something even more extreme, learn what it is like to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim and how to plan a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike.

GRAND CANYON SKYWALK: Are you wondering in the Grand Canyon Skywalk is worth it? We let you know what to expect and give our opinion in our article Is the Grand Canyon Skywalk Worth It?

GRAND CANYON ROAD TRIP: If the Grand Canyon is on your to do list, learn how to combine it with other places in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah with our Grand Canyon Road Trip Ideas.

If you have any questions about the best things to do in the Grand Canyon, comment below!

More Information for Your Trip to the American Southwest

SEDONA: Get links to all of our articles in our Sedona Travel Guide. To help you plan your visit, we also have guides to the best things to do in Sedona , the best hikes in Sedona , and how to plan the perfect Sedona itinerary. Learn where to stay in our Sedona Hotel Guide.

UTAH’S MIGHTY 5: Utah’s Mighty 5 is a collection of five national parks in Utah. Learn more about the parks and how to plan your visit in our Guide to Utah’s Mighty 5.

MONUMENT VALLEY: Learn what there is to do and how to plan your visit in our Guide to Monument Valley . We also have articles on what to expect on a Monument Valley Sunrise Tour and what it is like to hike to Teardrop Arch.

ANTELOPE CANYON: Journey through Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon in photos. If you only have time for one, don’t miss our article Should You Visit Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon?

LAS VEGAS: For information on how to visit Las Vegas, read our article Best Things to Do in Las Vegas , which also has advice on where to stay, where to eat, and how to plan your time. If you are visiting with kids or teenagers, don’t miss our article Best Things to Do in Las Vegas with Teenagers.

NATIONAL PARKS: In our Guide to the US National Parks , get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries.

If this is part of a bigger road trip through the USA, visit our United States Travel Guide and our Arizona Travel Guide for more inspiration and travel planning tips.

Grand Canyon Best Things To Do

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Best Views of the Grand Canyon

Comments 44

Avatar for Margie Serpe

What do you suggest for 76 and 79 year old women. I need a walker. Will I be able get around to see the views of the Canyon? I can’t hike any of the South Rim trails but had this on my bucket list. What would you suggest?

Avatar for Julie

I recommend using the park shuttle to visit the viewpoints along Hermit Road. There will be short walks out to each viewpoint, some longer than the others but nothing too bad. If you want to narrow down those viewpoints, because there are quite a few, take a look at our article about the best viewpoints in the Grand Canyon. Near the visitor center, in Grand Canyon Village, Mather Point is popular but there are some steps for this one. You can also ride the orange shuttle (a different shuttle than Hermit Road) to go to Yaki Point. This is a beautiful viewpoint with very little walking. While at the Grand Canyon, you can also watch the IMAX movie or even take a helicopter flight for even better views. Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Lauren

Hello, I am new to your site and found it after scouring the web for a decent itinerary of the South Rim as this is our first time to the Grand Canyon. I am now hooked and have used it to plan our Petrified Forest day, too! Thanks so much! I have a question regarding the South Kaibab Trail. We are hoping to hike to at least Cedar Ridge and was wondering if you had a time estimate for the 3 mile round trip considering the change in elevation? Our children are 11, 9 and 7 but have hiked previously. Thank you.

Hello Lauren. It will take 30 to 45 minutes to get to Cedar Ridge, depending on how fast you hike and how many photos you take. To hike back to the trailhead, it will take 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes. So, you could do the entire hike in about 1.5 to 2 hours. That should be very doable for your kids. Pay attention the the steepness of the trail as you hike out to Cedar Ridge. If it doesn’t seem too bad, you could hike as far as Skeleton Point, but that will double the distance and the time for the hike and you will have about 2,000 feet of elevation gain on the hike back up to the rim, which will feel like a lot. I hope you have a great time in the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest! Cheers, Julie

Thank you for this information, this helps in planning a lot!

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A bird's eye view of the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park Tours & Vacations

  • United States
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  • Grand Canyon National Park Tours & Holidays

'Grand' doesn’t cut it. Mind-blowing? That’s more like it.

At 29 kilometers wide, 1.5 kilometers deep and 446 kilometers long, nothing can ever prepare you for the vastness of the Grand Canyon. The views from the lookouts along the rim will take your breath away, but we like to go a little deeper — like hiking into the canyon depths and seeing the burnt-orange cliffs soar above you, falling asleep under spectacular night skies , and learning about the park's Indigenous history to connect with this ancient landscape. Make sure your camera's fully charged... you won't be able to put it down.

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Highlights of Grand Canyon National Park

People swimming in Havasu Falls in Grand Canyon National Park

Discover Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls is a famous waterfall that tumbles over burnt-orange cliffs into a turquoise swimming pool. It's a desert oasis in every sense of the word. The water is geothermally heated and remains a pleasant 21°C throughout the year. Jump in and soak up the beauty surrounding you or swim behind the cascades to hear the water rumble and echo off the walls.

Hikers on the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon

Explore the Bright Angel Trail

This is the Grand Canyon’s most popular hike, and for good reason (it's epic). Zig-zag down steep switchbacks to the river at the base of the canyon. Your leader will fill you in on all the geological and ecological phenomena that make up the landscapes here, including its unique desert plants, wildflowers and wildlife.

A hiker on the North Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon

Hike the North Kaibab Trail

This trail offers an awesome journey into the lesser-visited inner canyon of the North Rim. This challenging but rewarding hike leads you past diverse desert vegetation and ecosystems and showcases incredible views, including the Coconino Overlook where you can see down to Roaring Springs Canyon.

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Marvel at the South Rim

Have your camera handy, because the  South Rim  boasts some of the best viewpoints. Here, you'll get a front-row view of the enormity and grandeur of the Grand Canyon, and witness the tapestry of colours and textures created by millions of years of geological activity and erosion by the Colorado River.

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Grand canyon faqs, do i need a covid-19 vaccine to join a trip in the grand canyon.

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travelers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travelers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

How to get to the Grand Canyon

The closest airports to the Grand Canyon are Las Vegas and Phoenix, but you can also fly into Flagstaff (a one hour drive from the South Rim) or Salt Lake City (about seven hours away by car). Public transport is limited, and the best option is to drive or go on a bus tour.

Getting around the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon has a free shuttle bus that operates around the South Rim. The shuttles take you to all of the best viewpoints and overlooks that aren’t accessible to private vehicles. Between May and October there is also a Trans-Canyon-Shuttle service between the North and South Rims. Guided bus tours also operate in the park, as well as taxi services between the South Kaibab Trailhead, Grand Canyon Village and Tusayan/Airport.

What is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon?

The best time to visit the Grand Canyon in terms of weather and avoiding huge crowds is between March and May, and September through to November. The peak season is from June to August when thousands of tourists flock to the park for their summer vacation. Temperatures drop quite a bit in the winter and it can even snow, but it’s a great time to visit as there’s hardly anyone there and you’ll have the trails and views mostly to yourself.

What should I wear to the Grand Canyon?

No matter what season you visit the Grand Canyon, bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots or trainers with good grip, light and comfortable layers, a waterproof jacket, warm layers, a fleece, a sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Also make sure you bring a reusable water bottle and plenty of snacks to refuel throughout the day.

What is the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s a 10-mile wide and one mile deep gorge that has been carved out by the Colorado River. Scientists estimate the Grand Canyon was formed five to six million years ago and that humans have lived in the area since the last Ice Age.

What animals live in the Grand Canyon National Park?

Some of the animals you might encounter include desert bighorn sheep, deer, coyotes, mountain lions, mule, gray fox and bears. There’s also a diverse range of reptiles, amphibians and birds.

Can I use my mobile/cell phone in the Grand Canyon?

Your cell phone will probably have coverage near the park’s main tourist hubs, but there will be little or no coverage once you start hiking past the canyon rim.

Is the Grand Canyon accessible for travelers with disabilities?

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible , regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. All park shuttle buses and many viewpoints, overlooks and sections of the South Rim Trail are accessible for travelers with disabilities. There are no wheelchair accessible viewpoints on the North Rim, but the Scenic Drive there offers amazing views. You can download or pick up a free Accessibility Guide at one of the park entrance stations. We’re always happy to talk to travelers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

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Online Experiences

Can't make it to Grand Canyon National Park in-person? Check out our virtual hikes, live webcams, and other online resources.

Hiker with walking poles walking next to canyon creek on Nankoweap Trail photo by John Strother 2017

Trails & Hiking

Learn about the trails at Grand Canyon National Park.

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Navigate the park's offerings by checking out maps and directions.

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Whatever your age, level of fitness, budget, or length of stay, Grand Canyon has something waiting for you.

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Where to Explore

Grand Canyon National Park consists of a North Rim and a South Rim. Most people (around 90% of park visitors) visit the South Rim because it's closer to the Phoenix metropolitan area. But a little longer drive will get you to the beautiful, less busy North Rim.

Get Directions

You have many different options for where to stay when visiting Grand Canyon National Park. There are some hotels and lodging inside the park, campgrounds in the park, as well as hotels just outside the South Rim entrance.

North Rim Cabin

There are almost limitless options for what you can do at Grand Canyon—hike and backpack through the untamed wilderness, go whitewater rafting down the mighty Colorado River, take a mule ride to world-famous Phantom Ranch, or experience the canyon from above on a helicopter tour.

Classes & Tours

Select opportunities from single-day hiking classes and tours to multi-day treks.

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Looking for alternatives to hiking? Check out other Grand Canyon adventure options such as mule rides and whitewater rafting.

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Janes McGrew Twilight Painting

What is the best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park?

Jesse Scott

Jan 11, 2023 • 3 min read

A woman looking out towards the Grand Canyon

© Kristen Curette & Daemaine Hines / Stocksy United

There is never a bad time to explore the deep and rippled beauty of Grand Canyon National Park . But depending on the nature of your trip – be it a rugged multi-day hike through jagged switchbacks and river ravines, a spot of family camping, or a quick budget-friendly adventure – when you visit can make all the difference.

When planning the perfect Grand Canyon National Park itinerary, the factors to consider are as expansive as the rocky vistas that await your arrival. From monsoons to relentless desert heat via peak visitor numbers, here’s everything you need to know about the best times to visit.

March through May is the best time to beat the summer heat

The Grand Canyon itself is approximately 277 miles long and more than a mile deep and the bulk of the national park falls within the Sonoran Desert. With this desert climate comes an incredible range of temperatures. During summer (June–August), highs can peak at 100-110°F (37.7-43.3°C). In December and January, the mercury rarely creeps above 60°F (15.5°C).

For more manageable temperatures, March through May is the best time to visit. This is when highs hover in the 75-90°F (23-32°C) and lows seldom dip below 50 (10°C) degrees. Keep an eye on weather forecasts, though. Late winter storms do occur and can blanket the canyon’s trails and roads in snow.

March also marks the beginning of rafting season on the Colorado River. Pre-book your river adventures well ahead of time. The canyon’s wildlife – including deer, mules, and bighorn sheep – also emerges from hibernation around this time, making for a visual spectacle.

Man viewing Grand Canyon at sunrise

June through August is the best time to experience the North Rim

The summer months are peak season throughout Grand Canyon National Park as families take advantage of the warmer weather and their kids’ summer breaks. While the masses are hard to avoid along the super-popular South Rim , summertime is the best time of year to experience the lesser-trafficked North Rim .

The North Rim portion of the park is open seasonally from mid-May through mid-October. Its roads are near impassable in the winter due to snow and ice. During the summer months, however, the North Rim is great for scenic drives and camping. It’s also a fab time to hike the 10-mile-long Widforss Trail where forests of white fir and blue spruce provide some cooling shade.

Wherever your summer trip to Grand Canyon National Park takes you, keep an eye on the weather forecasts. July and August are considered the monsoon season and life-threatening floods can emerge in a matter of minutes.

September through October is the best time for avoiding crowds

Grand Canyon National Park has two shoulder seasons: spring (March-June) and fall (September-November). During September and October expect fewer people, cooler temperatures and cheaper lodging compared to the summer months.

However, it’s not uncommon to have a fall thunderstorm roll in during the afternoon. If safe to do so, embrace these storms as they thin out the crowds and can make the snaps of a lifetime for photographers. If it’s a non-stormy day, a hike to Phantom Ranch , located deep within the canyon, makes for a prime day trip or stay.

A female hiker stands atop a snow-covered rocky high point while bathed in the colors of sunset at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

November through February is the best time for a budget-friendly adventure

Beyond the $35, year-long vehicle permit (plus your equipment and supplies), the Grand Canyon National Park is generally budget friendly. To save some extra bucks, book flights between November and February. This is when options to/from nearby major airports like Flagstaff , Phoenix , and Las Vegas tend to dip.

Additionally, you may find yourself saving big-time on local hotels – like the Shash Diné eco-retreat and super-cozy El Tovar lodge – as many travelers opt to visit during the summer. Expect icy roads and some snow. 

If you can tolerate the cold – nighttime lows below 40°F (4.4°C) – you’ll be rewarded with both lower costs and fewer people. This can be a prime time for visiting some of the more popular viewpoints, like Hopi Point and Mather Point , without a selfie stick in sight.

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Miles with McConkey

How to Visit Grand Canyon in Winter: What to Know

Grand canyon what you need to know, escape to another world.

A re you looking for a winter escape to another world?  Julie and I visited Grand Canyon National Park in early December, 2021.  This was the headliner of our Arizona trip and the place we were most excited to see. 

We were mesmerized by her surreal size and beauty.   We are still floating on clouds of bliss from our journey to this unearthly world.  We want to share our experiences with you and help you plan your Grand Canyon adventure.

Disclosure : This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for keeping Miles with McConkey going!

It’s a Small World

I can still picture my first trip to the beach as a child.  Finding the ocean was visible for as far as I could see, left my face frozen in awe. 

The same holds true for Grand Canyon.  Her massive size dominates the horizon, blocking your view to the real world.  In her presence, I felt small but peaceful.

Grand, Indeed

When I hear the word “grand,” I think of big and wonderful things like grand piano, grand ballroom and grand finale.  These are just a few examples. 

If you conduct a Google search for the word “grand,” you will obtain the following definition:  magnificent and imposing in appearance, size or style.  Nailed it!  The canyon truly is grand, indeed.

Daredevil and Scare Devil

Are you a daredevil or a scare devil?  Julie is a daredevil.  She is ready to jump out of a plane today. 

I, on the other hand, can’t climb a ladder beyond the second rung.  I have a terrifying fear of heights. 

The canyon can really test this at times.  I came across a few others that share my phobia. 

The good news is that you can still enjoy the canyon and have breathtaking views.  Maybe you won’t go as far out on ledges as others, but that is ok.  Your experience will not be lessened. 

There are plenty of handrails and protective barriers at key viewpoints.  Please do not let your fear of heights prevent you from visiting Grand Canyon.  

Fees and Passes

The park entrance fee is $35 per vehicle.  This covers you for 7 days. 

You may want to consider an America the Beautiful park pass for $80.  This annual pass is good for one year, starting at date of purchase.  It is valid at all our national parks.

Grand Canyon Rims (Rim Worlds)

When it comes to Grand Canyon, you will hear talk about rims. 

My mind quickly wanders to the outer rim worlds in the Star Wars galaxy.  Fortunately, you do not need to travel to another galaxy to see this vast, surreal world.  You merely have to go to Arizona. 

Grand Canyon has a South Rim and a North Rim.  By all accounts, they are different worlds. 

The North Rim has higher altitudes, colder temperatures and different plant and animal life.  Note that the North Rim is closed for winter . 

Do not worry.  There is plenty to see and do in the South Rim .

Christmas in the Canyon

Should you consider visiting Grand Canyon in winter?  Absolutely! 

  • South Rim is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • Crowds are lighter
  • Temperatures are milder
  • You may see snow

I can’t say we had the park to ourselves, but we had a few lookout points to ourselves.

It was wonderfully peaceful and quiet.  We still can’t believe it.  To experience the silence and solitude of this boundless world is quite exhilarating. 

In December, the Christmas spirit is bountiful.  The nearest town, Tusayan, had bright, shiny holiday lights on every store and hotel.  You will be humming Christmas carols in the car as you drive with a wide smile on your face.

Grand Canyon Rock Layers (Layer Cake)

Grand Canyon proudly displays layers of many colors including red, yellow and chocolate.  She is a layer cake for the eyes. 

If you visit Grand Canyon in the winter, stick with this theme.  Pack plenty of layers. 

The temperatures can vary with large swings from sunrise to sunset.  You need the ability to add or shed layers throughout the day to stay comfortable.  You can find more information about the weather here. 

Kaibab (It’s Not a Kabob)

Kaibab is a national forest, bursting with coniferous trees , that borders both the north and south rims of Grand Canyon.  This is a nice change of pace from southern Arizona where trees are few and far between.

Camping within Grand Canyon is available, but reservations are needed months in advance as campsites fill up quickly.  With a little planning, perhaps you can enjoy a kabob in Kaibab.

Grand Canyon Trees (Rise Like a Phoenix)

In the forested areas of Grand Canyon, you can see charred tree trunks, blackened branches and the remains of felled trees due to fire damage.  It is a sad sight to be sure.  We can only hope that new life will rise from the ashes like a phoenix.

On Your Left

While walking the rim trail, Julie and I had only been looking to our right, out over the canyon.  Had we not looked the other way, we would have missed two large elk feeding on trees on the forest side of the trail. 

Unlike Captain America, the elk are not going to announce that they are on your left.  Be sure to look away from the canyon as well.  Otherwise you may miss something else grand.

Grand Canyon Moose (You Are Moosetaken)

Grand Canyon has extensive wildlife within the park.  There are ravens, squirrels, deer, elk and bighorn sheep to name a few. 

We were blessed to spot elk during our visit.  A lot of folks mistakenly think these large creatures are moose. 

You will not find a moose at Grand Canyon.  Moose prefer colder climates and live further north. 

If you observe an elk, enjoy the view but keep a respectful distance.  They are a lot like us.  They merely want to go about their day in peace. 

Julie and I had hoped to spot a bighorn sheep.  Unfortunately, we did not.  If you have seen bighorn sheep at Grand Canyon, I would love to hear about your experience. 

Colorado River (A River Runs Thru It)

From many of the rim viewpoints, you would never know there is a river at the bottom of the canyon.  The canyon is so deep and has so many bends and turns, the Colorado River is obscured from view. 

There are some lookouts where you can see the river winding its way through the canyon.  If you listen carefully, you can faintly hear the rushing water. 

Do yourself a favor and take a minute to listen.  After all, it has taken the Colorado River five to six million years to carve out this enormous channel.  She deserves to be heard.

Sunset at Grand Canyon (Cotton Candy, Fire and Purple Haze)

The sun impacts your view of the canyon.  Her rays reveal depth and details as she lights up all the nooks and crannies, adding a burst of color.  Depending on cloud cover, she can cast long shadows upon the canyon. 

If your schedule allows, stay for sunset.  It is spectacular. 

We were fortunate to see pink, cotton candy clouds, fiery clouds of orange and yellow and a wispy purple haze all in the same sky.  Gorgeous! 

You can find more information about sunrise and sunset view times and locations here.

Grand Canyon Stargazing (Milk at Night)

As the sun gives way to the black night sky, you will be blessed with yet another masterpiece.  There is less light and air pollution here.  The world feels wide open. 

Give your eyes time to adjust and the sky will eventually reveal her bright, bountiful Milky Way.  Billions of stars light up the sky in spectacular fashion.  Hello, heaven! 

You can find more information about Grand Canyon stargazing here. 

Greased Pig

No matter how hard you try, your pictures and videos will not do justice to the size and beauty of Grand Canyon.  Many have tried.  All have failed. 

Your pictures and videos will be fabulous.  But, the real thing is better and cannot be fully captured.  Her beauty is like a greased pig slipping through her captors slimy fingers.  Nice try!

GRAND CANYON SOUTH RIM ITINERARY

Mather point (get to the point).

Upon entering the park, be sure to stop at Grand Canyon Visitor Center.  You will find parking spaces, restrooms, a park store, bike rentals and a cafe. 

The closest overlook to the visitor center is a short, level walk and is called Mather Point .  There are splendid views and this is a great way to begin your journey. 

You can walk further east along the rim trail toward the South Kaibab Trail and Yaki Point or venture west along the rim trail toward Yavapai Point and Grand Canyon Village.

Trail of Time (Rock of Ages)

Grand Canyon has been fading away by erosion for five to six million years.  You can learn more about this history by walking the Trail of Time . 

It is nearly 3 miles long but is paved and mostly flat.  There are bronze markers on the path and occasional exhibits on the side of the trail explaining the geological formations through time. 

The Trail of Time begins at the Yavapai Geological Museum and runs beyond Grand Canyon Village.  Be sure to stop at the museum for educational exhibits and a picturesque view of the canyon. 

After the museum visit and Trail of Time walk, you will have a much better sense of how the canyon was formed.

Grand Canyon Village (It Takes a Village)

Grand Canyon Village is near the end of the Trail of Time.  In this area, you will find Verkamp’s Visitor Center, Kolb Studio, lodging, food, a train depot and a mule barn. 

Kolb Studio contains Grand Canyon art and photographs.  It was actually the home of the Kolb Brothers who created a legacy through photography for their love of Grand Canyon. 

Outside the studio is a fantastic view of Bright Angel Trail descending into the canyon. 

Bright Angel Trail (Angels Among Us)

If you would like to experience Grand Canyon beyond the beautiful rim views, there are opportunities to hike or ride a mule down into the canyon itself. 

One of the more popular trails is Bright Angel Trail .  This dirt trail is 6 miles to the furtherest point and is well-maintained.  Note that it is not recommended to attempt the rim to river hike and back in one day.  It is too strenuous. 

We hiked to the first rest house and back.  This means we descended a mile and a half down into the canyon, making for a 3 mile round trip hike. 

I must tell you that the trail is steep with tons of switchbacks.  The trek back up is a workout. 

As stated before, I have a paralyzing fear of heights.   The first couple switchbacks are blind turns that practically sent me into panic mode.  I was slowly inching along the mountain face for quite some time.  Julie had to do a lot of coaxing to get me to continue. 

After the first couple of bends, it gets easier.  The views are fantastic and you feel such a sense of accomplishment tackling this hike.  

Pro Tip:  If you hike any portion of the Bright Angel Trail, be sure to pack plenty of water and plan on twice the time for the hike back up to the rim.  

Ironically, our hike down was twice as long due to yours truly hugging the mountain face and setting such a slow pace trying to move past my fears.  For most, the hike down into the canyon is twice as fast.

Desert View Drive (Drive Into the Sand Bunker)

Desert View Drive offers a 23 mile scenic drive for private vehicles.  It starts near Grand Canyon Village and extends to the Desert View Services Area near the east entrance. 

There are six developed viewpoints with parking and five other unmarked pullouts.  Julie and I thoroughly enjoyed this scenic drive.  The views are spectacular at each and every spot.

Hermit Road (Hermit the Frog)

Hermit Road offers a scenic drive starting on the west side of Grand Canyon Village that follows the canyon rim for 7 miles to Hermits Rest.  This road is accessible by shuttle bus most of the year but allows access to private vehicles December through February. 

You can hop along this road in your car for breathtaking photos at nine different viewpoints.  Another reason to visit in winter.

Don’t Forget the Forest

Most people visit Grand Grand Canyon , as they should, for the canyon.  Do not forget the forest.  It is beautiful in its own right. 

There are paths for walking and biking through various sections of the park.  It is peaceful and offers potential opportunities to view wildlife. 

There are a few areas with picnic tables.  Julie and I took advantage of this and had a private picnic lunch with a bunch of chirping birds.  We observed a woodpecker determinedly pecking at a tree as bark chips fell to the ground.  Nature is amazing…

TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATIONS

Closest airport to grand canyon (landing spot).

The nearest commercial airports for Grand Canyon are Flagstaff, Las Vegas and Phoenix. 

Being the closest to the canyon, we attempted to book flights to Flagstaff.  In theory, this sounded great.  In practice, it was not.  We found flight options to be limited and car rentals to be non-existent. 

There were many flights into and out of Phoenix.  To our pleasant surprise, there were loads of rental cars available.  We had heard many horror stories about trying to find a rental car during COVID.  With flexibility on flights and a car in hand, we chose Phoenix as our landing spot.

We chose Flagstaff as our home base.  We loved this location due to her proximity to Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Sedona.  Approximate drive times are as follows:

  • Grand Canyon – 1 1/2 hours
  • Petrified Forest – 2 hours
  • Sedona – 3/4 hour

Flagstaff to Grand Canyon

A popular route from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon is to take Interstate 40 west to Williams, Arizona, then Highway 64 north to the South Rim entrance. 

Vegetation is sparse on this mostly barren land.  There are a few odd sections of rough, jagged rock right next to the road.  As you get closer to the canyon, trees are in greater abundance with the emergence of Kaibab Forest. 

Note that a lot of semi-trucks travel on Interstate 40.  That may be an understatement.  On our first evening drive back to Flagstaff, there was an endless parade of semi-trucks.  Neither Julie nor I had ever seen so many trucks in our lives.  Keep this in mind when planning your travels.

Highway 180 Arizona (Path Less Traveled)

An alternate route from Flagstaff is Highway 180 west to Valle, Arizona then Highway 64 north. 

This is mostly a two-lane highway.  You will pass through some residential areas and see a couple large, sprawling ranches and more trees along the way. 

The speed limits are lower, but the traffic is lighter.  We found this to be a more relaxing drive. 

Pro Tip:  Fuel up 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours outside Grand Canyon.  Gas is more expensive the closer you get to the national park.  Hailing from southwest Ohio, we found gas to be $0.75 to $1.00 more per gallon.

Home for the Holidays

Julie and I stayed at Hampton Inn & Suites Flagstaff .  The hotel was clean.  The staff was friendly and helpful.  A hot breakfast was offered each morning. 

Mountains loom in the not too distant horizon.  The lobby had a Christmas tree with bright, colorful lights and an inviting sofa next to a warm, cozy fire.  It almost felt like home.

PLAN YOUR GRAND CANYON TRIP

I firmly believe everyone should visit Grand Canyon at least once.  She offers breathtaking vista views of unparalleled size and beauty, unique wildlife and the opportunity to connect with nature in a surreal world. 

Both daredevils and scare devils can find adventures to meet their needs.  Consider visiting in winter when the crowds are lighter and temperatures are milder. 

Be sure to plan ahead by visiting the Grand Canyon National Park website to check for current conditions and updates.  We hope this article inspires you to plan your Grand Canyon adventure. 

It feels good to be lost in the right direction…

Featured image credit: Miles with McConkey

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How to Visit Grand Canyon in Winter:  What to Know

27 Best Places to Visit in March USA (2024)

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

United States

Published On: February 4, 2024

A March trip to the USA has a lot of potential depending on what you are looking for. Do you want cold or warm temperatures? Skiing or desert hiking trails? Will you visit hot springs or fun events like music festivals? You could find the Northern Lights and visit ski resorts or go on road trips through Red Rock National Parks and the Pacific Coast Highway. No matter what you choose to do the US has something for everyone in each different season. It’s just one of the things we love about visiting the US each year.

As a whole, March is an ideal shoulder season to experience the popular spots before they get busy. And it has some of the best temperatures to enjoy leading activities – whether that’s ski slopes or safely walking desert trails.

Table of Contents

Best Places to Visit in March: USA Spring Destinations

When it comes to crowds and better temperatures, March is a winning month to travel the USA. So, with that said, what are the 27 best places to visit in March in the USA? In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the amazing US destinations that made the cut.

Whether you want outdoor adventures or art galleries, we’ve got plenty of inspiration coming your way. From the Golden Isles to Louisville and Las Vegas, these are the best destinations for a March getaway in the USA.

1. Salt Lake City, UT

In Salt Lake City, you can expect the last of the snow to be falling in March. The Utah city is surrounded by the Wasatch Mountains, which house dozens of ski resorts. So, if you visit in March, you can still head out to enjoy the slopes and some adrenaline-inducing activities. At this time, the climate in the city center is much milder, though, which is ideal for city sightseeing. Some of the  best things to do in Salt Lake City  involve sightseeing outdoors, so March is a great time to get the best of both worlds.

Salt Lake City is easily one of the best places to visit in March, USA wise. It’s great to spend a few days skiing and sightseeing attractions like Temple Square and the Nightmare on 13th House. Meanwhile, if you have longer, you can use the city as a base to road trip the  ‘Mighty 5’ national parks.

2. Grand Canyon, AZ

We don’t need to introduce you to the Grand Canyon. This colossal natural attraction is known worldwide for its scale and geological importance. The rock layering preserves millions of years of history, and the canyon attracts millions of tourists a year to peer into the Colorado River below. You can hike the South and North Rim trails or splurge on a helicopter ride above it. There are so many  things to do in the Grand Canyon .

So, what makes it one of the best places to visit in March? First, it’s a shoulder month, meaning the temperatures are high enough to enjoy outdoor activities without the summer mayhem. The first half of March is quiet, while the latter half gets busy with Spring Break visitors. You can either visit in the quiet period or tackle the Spring Break popularity head-on – enjoying party culture in nearby Flagstaff’s ski resorts. Either way is a great way to experience the canyon. If you do visit during Spring Break, make sure to book your Grand Canyon hotel in advance.

3. US Virgin Islands

The US Virgin Islands are easily one of the best places to visit in March if you want warm weather and beautiful beaches. Technically, the Virgin Islands is an organized, unincorporated US territory. It has its own local government yet follows US laws. So it’s a sneaky addition to this guide but a great place to visit nonetheless.

The US Virgin Islands are a group of Caribbean islands with stunning white sand beaches and reefs bursting with marine life. It’s home to the Virgin Islands National Park, ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving, bird watching, and hiking on land. The US Virgin Islands are your best choice if you want a tropical holiday this March. It also has some historic towns, such as Christiansted and Frederiksted, for cultural sightseeing at places like Christiansted National Historic Site with its Danish colonial era.

4. Golden Isles, GA

The Golden Isles are a network of barrier islands on the coastline of Georgia. The Golden Isles’s four main islands are perfect if you are looking for the best places to visit in March. St Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St Simons Island, and Jekyll Island are all famed for classic southern hospitality and natural beauty. Think spacious beaches, deep sea fishing, concerts, and fine restaurants – what’s not to love? Average temperatures hover at around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brunswick is an old worldly base on the isles with Victorian architecture and a beautiful Old Town Historic District. You can easily find a hotel there, and then rent a car to explore the isles via a network of causeways. Visit spots like the Driftwood Beach, Fort Frederica National Monument, and the Lover’s Oak.

5. New Orleans, LA

You can’t not love New Orleans. Flamboyantly extroverted, this Louisiana capital perfectly suits a city break with oomph. New Orleans has famous Creole cuisine with spicy dishes that are a tasty way to warm up after the winter months. And the New Orleans nightlife is equally fantastic, with around-the-clock partying and a nickname of the “Big Easy”.

March is also a fantastic time to visit New Orleans to celebrate. You have two main events – the St Patrick’s Day parade and Mardi Gras- between February and early March. St Patrick’s Day always falls on the 17th of March, and you can check the Mardi Gras dates beforehand. If you want events and outgoing party culture, New Orleans is easily one of March’s best places to visit.

We’ve got so much information on New Orleans for you, from an  ultimate three-day itinerary  to a guide on  where to stay.  Plus, we have a guide on the  best things to do in the city , including the Museum of Death New Orleans and the iconic Frenchmen Street.

6. Seattle, WA

Seattle is a beautiful place to visit in March and one of the major destinations for US city breaks. The stunning location on Puget Sound gives the cityscape a waterfront locale with plenty of boat sightseeing tours. You can get close to the Space Needle landmark and see some tech industry infrastructure, like the Microsoft and Amazon headquarters. However, it is also one of the  best cities for day trips , with the beloved Olympic National Park located just a short ferry trip away.

We can give you all the tips on  where to stay in Seattle . But, before you head off for accommodation inspiration, what  exactly  does the city bring to the table in March specifically? It is an ideal shoulder season to dodge the usual Olympic National Park crowds. You can enjoy cherry blossom-lined walkways like Lake Washington Boulevard and Seward Park. In short, March is an ideal time to enjoy the scenic outdoor places in Seattle. The temperatures are mild, flowers are in full force, and crowds are thinner.

7. Washington DC

Washington, DC, is another cherry blossom contender for your list. The cherry blossoms are in the National Mall in early spring, making it one of the best places to visit in March, USA. There are almost 3,800 trees, a stunning phenomenon to witness on a leisurely park walk.

It is also when you can experience the National Cherry Blossom Festival on the 27th of March, commemorating the gifting of Japanese cherry trees in 1912 from Tokyo’s then-Mayor, Yukio Ozaki. If you choose Washington DC as your US March getaway, you’ll experience this festival and the trees in pink blossoms.

Aside from the gorgeous blossom spectacles, you can find many  things to do in Washington, DC . You can visit the White House, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the Library of Congress, and multiple Smithsonian museums. If you want a city break over a long weekend, it packs a punch.

8. Willow City, TX

Willow City is tiny, and we mean tiny. The unincorporated community is a scattering of just a few nearby hotels and residential properties. It has a schoolhouse, church, and post office – the main basics. So, what exactly does this beautiful community in the Texas Hill Country bring to the table, specifically in early spring? Well, Willow City is famous for its spring flowers, especially the Texas bluebonnets. If you visit in March, you can drive the Willow City Loop, a 13-mile scenic drive past the best flower views. Its flora scene makes it one of the best places to visit in March, USA.

Willow City also has an interesting past for those intrigued by Civil War history. Willow City became a place for English-speaking settlers to meet, eventually attracting more rebellious characters like outlaws. Do some research before you go, and the flower-dotted meadows will leave even more of an impact.

9. St Louis, MO

St Louis is an overlooked city for many tourists. If you’ve yet to hear of St Louis, you should know that it has a district famed for blues music and barbeques, and it’s located in Missouri. St Louis is ideally located for day trips into Mark Twain National Forest and the beautiful Garden of the Gods trail. It’s one of the best places to visit in March, USA wise, as the temperatures are  just  suitable for enjoyable hiking. And you get quieter trails with spring flora.

In its own right, St Louis is great for tourists wanting to get away from the ‘standard’ city breaks. If you love outdoor adventures and fancy a new cityscape, St Louis is perfect. Make sure to see St Louis Riverfront, check out the blues culture in the Soulard District, and walk the Mural Mile. For other interesting ideas check out our article on 26 Best Things to Do in St. Louis, Missouri .

10. Louisville, KY

Louisville had a quick rise to fame with the emergence of Jack Harlow. But for those who don’t know, it’s also one of the best places to visit in March. As Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville is a real launchpad for sightseeing the state, including major attractions like the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park and the eerie Waverly Hills Sanatorium. Louisville is a treat if you want to visit some of the USA’s more under-looked cities.

In March, you’ll find plenty of concerts, craft beer events, and an electric St Patrick’s Day Parade. Stay for at least a few days so you can sightsee and attend Louisville’s events and squeeze in some day trips.

11. Boston, MA

For one of the best places to visit in March, USA style, Boston is ace. The Massachusetts capital sits right on the coastline of the North Atlantic Ocean, so prepare yourself for gusty ocean breezes. It’s somewhere you can still wear your winter chic wardrobe, and it tends to experience around 9 inches of snow each March. If you missed the window for a winter city break, Boston is a cracking place to squeeze one in.

Boston has many  cool things to do , including indoor markets like Lowell Mill and Bow Market, craft brewery tours, and the iconic Harvard University grounds. Boston is a cool place, with cobbled streets and a thriving arts and culture scene. It has some memorable day trips too , including the Salem Witch Museum, and home to the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

12. Temecula, CA

Who wouldn’t want to celebrate the arrival of spring with wine tasting in California? Temecula is located in the warm weather of southern California and is surrounded by over 3,000 acres of wine country. You can take wine-tasting tours, book a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards, or enjoy a wealth of championship golf courses. Temecula is indulgent and slow-paced – a relaxing combination for a March getaway.

Spring is the ideal time to visit Temecula since the flowers are all in full bloom. There’s so much natural beauty in Temecula because of the space left for vineyards. This means plenty of wildflowers and organized attraction sites like the Rose Haven Heritage Garden.

13. San Francisco, CA

You don’t need an excuse to justify a trip to San Francisco. San Fran is a loveable icon on the US city break scene. San Francisco has many things to do, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the hallowed Alcatraz Island. Have you not been before? Just check out our guide on the  best things to do in San Fran for first-timers.  It’s easily one of the most famous cities in the world, and it has played the backdrop to many a Hollywood film. San Francisco balances nostalgia and wow factor.

Of course, in March, you also have the plus of cherry blossom season. It is also ideal weather-wise, with sunny weather and milder temperatures. This means it is a feasible shoulder season destination to dodge summer crowds. Just bring some warm layers, as its location on the North Pacific Ocean can get windy.

14. Florida Keys, FL

For those wanting a beautiful, warm place to spend Spring Break, the Florida Keys are an excellent choice. The mix of sandy beaches and plenty of water activities make it ideal for visiting in the second half of March when other springbreakers flock to the islands. You can check out our guide on  where to stay in the Florida Keys  for more inspiration.

So, what about those who want a quieter experience on the Florida Keys? While Key West is where to visit in January, the rest of the Florida Keys are calling in March. The temperatures are warm enough to shift your focus away from sightseeing and onto beach days and snorkeling tours. Think Islamorada , Big Pine Key, Key Largo , and Marathon.

Now is the time to look at the quieter keys, with fewer crowds, in the first half of March. You won’t get the top temperatures of the summer heat. Still, you will get pleasant temperatures of up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

15. Glacier National Park, MT

Glacier National Park has some of the USA’s most incredible  hikes  and mountain biking opportunities. And in March, you can still see the Northern Lights from this Montana national park. The park has over 700 miles of trails, looping around a mixture of electric turquoise alpine lakes, glaciers, and meadows. It’s the sort of place you need a lifetime-lasting camera battery.

To unplug and really connect with nature, Glacier National Park is full of outdoor activities and adventure. Be warned that the park will still be under snow in most areas in March, but it’s ideal for those wanting a winter-style experience. Did you know that some areas of Glacier National Park are only snow-free for around three months of the year? It’s best suited to those with cold weather and snow hiking experience.

16. Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs has a rich history and is an ideal ‘second city,’ just south of Denver for a March vacation. However, its most impressive quality is how easy it is to access natural beauty and hiking trails from its city center. You can take a cog railway to Pikes Peak or head to the Pike National Forest for hours along quiet paths. Then there’s the Garden of the Gods park in the city center, with red sandstone formations. Colorado Springs is great for experiencing the great outdoors with minimal prior experience.

Colorado Springs is still quiet in March, and you’ll enjoy much of its most popular trails nearly empty. Since many natural attractions are near the city center, they can get heaving with crowds in summer. So, Colorado Springs is best experienced in shoulder seasons.

17. Savannah, GA

Who knew you’d be starting the year planning to visit Savannah? Early to mid-March is an ideal time to visit Savannah, a major city on Georgia’s coastline. At this time of year, the city is just starting to warm up, seeing temperatures touching 71 degrees Fahrenheit. This is fantastic; it means you can start enjoying the street culture and aesthetics again. Savannah is famed for its horse-drawn carriages and antebellum architecture. Picture cobbled squares and public parks full of oak trees.

Visit the Wormsloe State Historic Site, Forsyth Park, and River Street Savannah, Georgia. Half of the allure of Savannah is the ability to just walk, and people walk. So carve out time for its most beautiful streets and green spaces.

18. San Antonio, TX

San Antonio is so much fun. The Texan mega city is a hive of country music, delicious food, and historic sites. It is home to the largest Mexican Market in the USA. It’s a hub of Mexican influence, lingering cowboy culture, and country music-driven nightlife. It is ideally suited to a 3-4 day getaway. You can tick off activities and attractions like watching a rodeo, the San Antonio River Walk, and Natural Bridge Caverns.

In March, temperatures sit comfortably at around 87 degrees Fahrenheit – perfect for sightseeing in dresses and shorts. San Antonio is a superb choice for sightseeing in warm temperatures. To experience Texan city culture in ideal weather, visit San Antonio in March.

19. Asheville, NC

Asheville is a gem in western North Carolina. As a city, it has a ton to offer. It has a reputation for antique shops, breweries, and the Biltmore Estate. However, it’s made its way onto this guide for one particular reason: it is brilliantly close to the Blue Ridge Mountains and great for day-tripping to enjoy outdoor activities.

The Blue Ridge Mountains is a section of the Appalachian Mountains and encompasses multiple state parks and a scenic highway. Driving at least part of the Blue Ridge Parkway is necessary when visiting Asheville. In March, you’ll see the first of the spring flowers blooming, and you can stop to fish at the now-thawing rivers and streams.

20. Las Vegas, NV

Who doesn’t think of Vegas when it comes to Spring Break preparation? We recommend Sin City for those visiting in the second half of March. In the second half of March, you’ll find the best St Patrick’s Day celebrations and, of course, the best Spring Break partying. You can check out our guide on the  best things to do in Vegas , which includes visiting spots like the Neon Museum and casino hopping and venturing off the strip to kayak to Emerald Cave.

When visiting Las Vegas , you sign up for a jam-packed itinerary. We’d recommend allowing at least a few days to experience the best of what Vegas offers.

21. Everglades National Park, FL

These tropical wetlands are a familiar name in the US travel scene. The Everglades cover over 1.5 million acres and are home to some of Florida’s most abundant gator, croc, and bird populations. The wetlands are best experienced by boat, and the National Park Service provides plenty of guided boat tours – leading to ethical and sustainable encounters with the flora and fauna.

One thing that should be considered when visiting the Everglades that can dramatically impact your trip is mosquitos. Mosquitos love the combination of water and hot weather, so staying in March is ideal for avoiding the summer heat and its inevitable accompanying bites. The Everglades are a fantastic March destination for your list, especially if you love wild animal encounters.

22. Hot Springs National Park, AR

Hot Springs National Park is one of the best attractions in Arkansas and easily one of the best places to visit in March. The park covers around 5,550 acres, housing a beautiful network of ancient thermal springs. You can’t bathe in Hot Springs National Park – for a mixture of cultural and safety reasons – however, there’s the nearby Bathhouse Row if you want to experience dipping in thermal waters.

A long weekend is the perfect time to visit Hot Springs National Park, and the first half of March sees low crowds. Wrap up a little warmer as temperatures sit around 60 Fahrenheit. But overall, the mild temperatures are perfect for hiking and taking a dip in the Bathhouse Row’s thermal pools.

23. Canyonlands National Park, UT

Everyone knows Canyonlands National Park. This red rock natural beauty is nearly 140,000 acres of natural wonders and is one of Utah’s ‘Mighty 5’. It is one of the most famous national parks in the US and has some  amazing hikes  you can complete as a day trip. Some of the major attractions in the park are the Needles District, Grand View Point Overlook, and Green River Overlook.

Take advantage of the creeping temperatures in early March – which now average around 64 degrees Fahrenheit – and enjoy Canyonlands National Park with fewer crowds. You’ll love having the trails quieter and not worrying about waiting for parking spaces to be available at pull-in points. If you want an outdoor adventure this March, Canyonlands is a bucket list-worthy pick.

24. Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia, affectionally nicknamed Philadelphia, is the birthplace of the United States and where the Founding Fathers met. The city is packed with history, and some of the best  things to do in Philadelphia  include the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It’s one of the best places to visit in March if you love US history and fancy a city break with character.

In March, you can celebrate the annual Philadelphia Flower Show in Philadelphia, the USA’s largest and longest-running flower show. You’ll also catch the city in a beautiful transition phase – thawing and blooming.

25. Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs is an oasis-like city sprung up in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. It is located in southern California, meaning year-round warm temperatures. Palm Springs is pretty glitzy; consider it a tasteful, small-scale version of Vegas. Instead of casinos, it has hot springs, golf courses, and high-end shops. And surrounding Palm Springs is Coachella Valley, which you’ll recognize from the famous Coachella Music Festival.

Coachella runs in early to mid-April, so you could combine the two, planning to visit Palm Springs in late March before attending the Coachella Festival. There is much to do in Palm Springs, from the Palm Springs Art Museum to the aerial tramway and Cabot’s Pueblo Museum. You could easily spend a week in Palm Springs, especially if your day trip to the nearby Joshua Tree National Park or Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

In summary, March is a great time to make the most of being able to safely sightsee in desert areas without the danger of the summer heat. You could also extend your stay to incorporate April’s Coachella Festival.

26. Arches National Park, UT

Arches National Park is stunning. Since it is full of over 2,000 natural stone arches, it’s no wonder that it has some of the US’s  best hikes  and photography spots. And if you visit in early March, you’ll get many of these spots to yourself – or at least a lot less crowded.

Arches National Park is one of the five Utah national parks and easily one of the most bucket-list national park destinations in the US. It shouldn’t take much persuading to get you to add it to your March list. You hike through a serene red rock landscape, visiting viewpoints like Delicate Arch and Turret Arch. A huge benefit of visiting Arches National Park is that many of its landmarks can be reached in just minutes on foot after parking along the roadside. In this sense, it is one of the more accessible national parks.

27. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, CA

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is nothing short of iconic. The park is  best experienced by road trips . It stretches through a particularly scenic section of California’s Pacific Coast Highway. You have dramatic Pacific Ocean views from places like the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, plus stop-off points like Pfeiffer Beach and the Big Sur River Gorge. In short, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is beautiful. The whole state park thrives. It is a perfect mixture of forest, beach, and ocean – all tied together with a road trip tradition.

In early March, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is ideal. As a popular road trip destination, its roads can get busy, parking spots are jammed, and accommodation is booked. You dodge the summer and Spring Break crowds by visiting in early March. You’ll have a more leisurely experience with all the benefits of slightly warmer weather.

FAQs: Best Places to Visit in March, USA 2024

It doesn’t take much to see just how unique the USA is in March. You could enjoy fewer Grand Canyon crowds or experience St Patrick’s Day in New Orleans. There are exciting places to visit in March when you can take advantage of fewer crowds and better temperatures. Hooray for shoulder seasons.

Before you rush off, what are the vital things you should know? Here are some leading FAQs that could make a difference in your trip.

Where is it warmest in the US in March?

Look towards destinations in Florida – hello Everglades – or Texas or southern California. It’s an excellent time to visit places like San Antonio, the Everglades, and Los Angeles.

Where is the best place to go in March?

Hot Springs National Park and Arches National Park are fun places to visit in March. However, we recommend checking out some of the most iconic and vibrant cities for St Patrick’s Day. New Orleans and San Francisco should definitely be on your list.

Which place is best to visit in March month?

Generally, the first half of March is a shoulder month, so look at places you have on your bucket list. For instance, the Everglades or Grand Canyon. Make the most of the optimal temperatures – skiing in Aspen, spotting the Northern Lights in Glacier National Park, or spotting crocs under the sun while kayaking mangroves.

Where do people go for spring break in the USA?

If you want to party, head to destinations like Las Vegas or Panama City in Florida. However, places like San Diego and Charleston are also good spots, so take notice of the ‘second cities’ too.

To Conclude

What will it be? Texas Hill Country? Palm Springs? Or San Francisco? As you can see, you’ve got a fabulous lot of choices. March is a beautiful time to visit the USA’s best destinations. The first half of the month is the quietest, ideal for crowd dodging. Then, the second half of March is Spring Break, perfect for meeting new people and partying. It’s also when St Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the 17th of March. March in the USA has this fantastic balance of quiet and extroverted travel experiences.

The balance of crowds, better temperatures, and the allure of St Patrick’s Day celebrations makes March a leading month for US travel. We recommend scheduling a trip – or two.

There are some additional options, like San Diego and Saguaro National Park. However, we’d save these for  places to visit in the USA in January.  With San Diego, there isn’t a considerable temperature difference between January and March. Saguaro National Park has flowers in spring, but the crowds flock to the park because of it. So, while you  could  visit these two destinations in March, we’d suggest pushing your trip back to January so you can enjoy them at their quietest.

Some other food for thought are alternative cherry blossom destinations. Portland in Oregon , has a beautiful Japanese Garden with cherry blossoms, as does the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York and Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey. These three could be extra contenders if you still need inspiration.

Whichever destination you choose, we hope you have a wonderful time exploring the best of the USA in March.

Plan Your Next Trip to The USA with These Resources

  • 28 Best Romantic Getaways in the USA
  • 26 Best Places To Visit In January USA
  • 27 Best National Parks in the USA To Visit
  • 50 Best Places to Visit in the USA

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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1 thought on “27 Best Places to Visit in March USA (2024)”

March is a magical month for travel enthusiasts, and your insightful blog on the ’27 Best Places to Visit in March USA (2024)’ has truly captured the essence of each destination. Your vivid descriptions and helpful tips make it a must-read for anyone planning their spring getaway!

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    Traveling? Call 928-638-7496 for recorded information about current park road conditions and closures. Visiting Grand Canyon with your pet? Things to know > Visitors boarding a the Village (Blue) Route shuttle bus at Yavapai Lodge. Directions & Transportation Park Maps Directions to South Rim South Rim Parking and Free Shuttle Buses

  5. Day Hiking

    3.0 mi. / 4.8 km round-trip; 1.5 hours approximate round-trip hiking time. Follows the canyon rim from Grand Canyon Lodge to the North Rim Campground. This trail follows the road as it connects the Grand Canyon Lodge with the North Kaibab Trailhead, a distance of 1.2 miles / 2 km one-way.

  6. Grand Canyon National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

    Located on ancestral homeland of 11 Associated Tribes, Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the world—unmatched in the incomparable vistas it offers visitors from the rims. The South Rim is open. The North Rim is CLOSED for the winter. Read More Lodging: South Rim & North Rim

  7. The top 9 things to do in Grand Canyon National Park

    4. Venture to the South Rim via Grand Canyon Railway. Getting to the Grand Canyon is half the fun. Sure, you can embark on a desert journey from Las Vegas via car, or weave through towering hardwoods en route from Flagstaff.However you may arrive, consider doing the last leg via the Grand Canyon Railway.With daily routes from Williams, Arizona - approximately 60 miles south of Grand Canyon ...

  8. Everything to know about Grand Canyon National Park

    Established: 1919 Size: 1.2 million acres (4,856.23 sq km) Annual Visitors: 6.2 million Visitor Centers: South Rim, North Rim Entrance Fees: $30 per vehicle; $15 per individual Imagine the Grand...

  9. Grand Canyon National Park Travel Guide

    Here are five sample itineraries that include the Grand Canyon, ranging from 5 to 10 days. All of these itineraries include Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Depending on the length of time of the itinerary, we also add in places like Zion National Park, Antelope Canyon, Sedona, Death Valley, and Monument Valley.

  10. 16 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions at the Grand Canyon

    The Grand Canyon is one of America's most famous and awe-inspiring natural attractions and has been a road-tripping destination for generations. The North Rim and South Rim are accessed from opposite sides of the canyon, but most people visit the Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim.

  11. One Day in the Grand Canyon Itinerary: Things to Do, Map, Photos

    On a visit to the Grand Canyon, you can take in the sweeping views from the canyon rim, or, journey below the rim on foot or by mule. With more time, you can raft the Colorado River. But first, before you decide what to do in the Grand Canyon, you have to decide which part of the park to visit. Which Rim Should You Visit?

  12. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 2024: Best Places to Visit

    About Grand Canyon National Park. It's best known for legendary views, full stop, but the Grand Canyon is more than just a photo op—there's so much to do and see. Some visitors drive or cycle the canyon's edge, but if hiking's more your thing, you can take on one of its well-maintained trails like Bright Angel (good for all levels ...

  13. Grand Canyon National Park Guide: The Best Treks, Camping, and Vistas

    The best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park. With an elevation spanning 2,000 feet to 8,000 feet, Grand Canyon experiences a wide range of temperatures on any given day. Thus, the best ...

  14. Everything you need to know before visiting Grand Canyon National Park

    Bigger than Rhode Island and large enough to influence the weather, Grand Canyon National Park can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. Millions make a special effort to visit the park each year but some don't account for the blistering desert heat, sporadic monsoons, trail safety along a whopping 595 miles of hiking routes, or the need to reserve accommodations ahead of time.

  15. Grand Canyon National Park Travel Guide

    Why Go To Grand Canyon National Park. "Grand" doesn't begin to do this canyon justice. Measuring approximately 277 river miles in length, up to 18 miles in width and a mile deep, this massive ...

  16. The First-Timer's Guide to the Grand Canyon

    Visit Grand Canyon West. Just a 90-minute drive from Las Vegas, the West Rim has become the second most popular area of the Grand Canyon, attracting more than 1 million visitors annually. Located outside the national park on the lands of the Hualapai tribe, it's best known as the site of the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass bridge that extends ...

  17. Things To Do

    Visitor Centers Grand Canyon Visitor Center (South Rim Village) Open daily from 10 am to 4 pm Ranger Programs are presented daily > A dditional Visitor Contact Locations on the South Rim > Village Bookstores and Gift Shops > The film shows daily on the hour and half-hour. Visitor Center Theater

  18. Things to Do in Grand Canyon National Park

    Things to Do in Grand Canyon National Park Explore popular experiences See what other travelers like to do, based on ratings and number of bookings. Air Tours (7) 4WD Tours (15) Lookouts (23) Full-day Tours (131) Helicopter Tours (9) Hiking Trails (27) Hiking Tours (44) Bus Tours (167) Canyons (8) Cultural & Theme Tours (73)

  19. 11 EPIC Things to Do on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

    1. Visit the South Rim Viewpoints There are dozens of viewpoints along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Each one of these viewpoints offers a spectacular view, but some viewpoints are just better than others. Some offer panoramic vistas, some are less crowded, and some make fantastic sunrise and sunset destinations.

  20. Best Grand Canyon Tours & Vacations 2024/2025

    The best time to visit the Grand Canyon in terms of weather and avoiding huge crowds is between March and May, and September through to November. The peak season is from June to August when thousands of tourists flock to the park for their summer vacation. Temperatures drop quite a bit in the winter and it can even snow, but it's a great time ...

  21. Grand Canyon Conservancy

    The Celebration of Art Exhibition and Sale will open to the public at Kolb Studio on September 15, 2024 and continue through January 20, 2025. See Event Details. September 15, 2024-January 20, 2025. Daily. Kolb Studio. Check out what opportunities await when you visit Grand Canyon.

  22. Ultimate GRAND CANYON ITINERARY (Visiting 1 to 3 Days)

    Though the park is open year-round, visiting Grand Canyon National Park is best during the spring and fall. Many vacationers visit in the summer, and this is when the park is the most crowded AND the hottest. If you're considering hiking into the canyon, definitely avoid summertime.

  23. Best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park

    For more manageable temperatures, March through May is the best time to visit. This is when highs hover in the 75-90°F (23-32°C) and lows seldom dip below 50 (10°C) degrees. Keep an eye on weather forecasts, though. Late winter storms do occur and can blanket the canyon's trails and roads in snow. March also marks the beginning of rafting ...

  24. Places To Go

    You may book reservations up to 6 months in advance online at recreation.gov, or by phone (877-444-6777). Same Day Reservations may also be made online or by phone. More >. The well known view from Grand Canyon Lodge's Veranda North Rim During winter months, the North Rim is closed by snow.

  25. How to Visit Grand Canyon in Winter: What to Know

    If you visit Grand Canyon in the winter, stick with this theme. Pack plenty of layers. The temperatures can vary with large swings from sunrise to sunset. You need the ability to add or shed ...

  26. 27 Best Places to Visit in March USA (2024)

    You can either visit in the quiet period or tackle the Spring Break popularity head-on - enjoying party culture in nearby Flagstaff's ski resorts. Either way is a great way to experience the canyon. If you do visit during Spring Break, make sure to book your Grand Canyon hotel in advance. 3. US Virgin Islands

  27. Visiting Grand Canyon During Winter

    Yes, we're open! (South Rim only) Colder temperatures, shorter days, and snow bring a slower pace to one of the nation's most visited national parks. After the December holidays, during January and February, winter visitors find paths less traveled throughout the park.