Grand Canyon Vacation Planning

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Grand Canyon Vacation

With it’s stunning beauty, the Grand Canyon National Park is a treasure everyone should see at least once.  If you’ve decided to venture to the Grand Canyon on your own, and conduct a self-guided tour of this incredible place here are some tips and info that may be helpful in planning the best sightseeing excursion and vacation.

What kind of Grand Canyon National Park experience would you like?  Well much depends on your planning. What time of year will you be visiting? What are the activities you want to participate in?  Preparing for the weather, terrain and duration of your stay will contribute to a memorable experience.Clean green shuttle buses at the South Rim - Grand CanyonHikers in the Grand Canyon National Park

Most of the 4 ½ –5 million visitors each year visit the South Rim, the widest and deepest part of The Grand Canyon. The visitor’s center (which is near Mather Point) is the best place to start your Grand Canyon experience. Ample parking provides access to the visitor center, Books and More bookstore and rest rooms. This is (for many visitors) a first view of the majestic Grand Canyon.

Free shuttle buses will connect the Grand Canyon Visitor Center with many, but not all, of the areas at the South Rim.

May through September, which is peak season in the park, means the South Rim can be hectic. However to  experience the ever changing canyon in a more peaceful atmosphere walk the Rim Trail, drive to Desert View stopping at the viewpoints along the way, or ride the free shuttle to Hermits Rest and walk east along the rim on the newest section of the Greenway Trail.

If you have cardiac or respiratory problems, you may find the 7,000-ft (2100m) elevation a challenge.

Always plan your activities to match your abilities, for those with mobility difficulties you can obtain accessibility pass at entrance stations or visitor centers that allows use of areas with restricted vehicular access. Accessible parking available and is designated in all major parking areas.

The North Rim is more remote with less development and thus receives fewer visitors. Because of its higher elevation (8,000ft /2400m), facilities on the North Rim are only open mid-May through mid-October. The scenic road into the North Rim of the canyon remains open until the first heavy snowfall, usually late November or early December.

Campgrounds and lodging facilities are typically full during the peak season—May through

September and spring and fall are the most popular seasons for overnight hiking in the backcountry. Plan ahead and make your reservations early if you are lodging at the Grand Canyon.

Come discover and enjoy the splendor of Grand Canyon National Park.

Grand Canyon National Park is a designated Federal Recreation Fee Area. Fees collected directly benefit the park, and the National Park Service. This program allows the park to keep eighty percent of the revenue from most fees charged.

National Park entrance fees (South Rim)

General Entrance:

Vehicle Permit – $25.00
Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle and all its passengers; Organized groups are not eligible for the vehicle permit.

Individual Permit – $12.00/person
This permit will admit one individual when entering by foot, bicycle, motorcycle, or non-commercial group. Individuals 15 years old and younger are admitted free of charge.

General Entrance Permits can be purchased at the Park entrance, as well as the Flagstaff Arizona Visitor Center (800) 842-7293 / (928) 774-9541, either inside at the desk or outside the Visitor Center in a vending machine. The Visitor Center is open Monday – Saturday 7am – 6 pm, and Sunday 7am – 5pm.

Smart Tips

If you are on the South Rim, use the free shuttle bus system to travel to the scenic overlooks, visitor centers, lodging and restaurant facilities, and other attractions. It is much easier on you and the environment to ride the shuttles. Think green!

When you arrive at the park, be sure to get a copy of The Guide. This free publication presents the most up-to-date maps, ranger-led activities, special programs, articles of interest, and lists of services. The National Park Service publishes separate issues for the North and South Rims. The Guide is available at all entrance stations, visitor centers, and most lodging facilities.

Be sure to check the weather and road conditions to and from the canyon, before you start off on your trip. The winter season can be cold, icy, snowy, and the driving and viewing conditions can change with our much warning. You can call (automated recording) Grand Canyon National Park (928) 638-7888 for current conditions.

If doing it on your own is not your cup of tea (or coffee) there are plenty of guided tours you can purchase. See the canyon from the air via helicopter or aircraft. For more guided tours to the Gran Canyon, North Rim, South Rim and West Rim please visit GrandCanyonOnDemand.com.