Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited National Parks in the United States and one that has a very dear spot in my heart. This was one of the first National Parks I visited on my Southwest Road Trip and has one of my favorite campgrounds.
The National Park has some amazing hikes and offers something for all travelers. You are able to stay in the main village and enjoy luxury lodges and fine dining or you are able to stay at some of the remote campgrounds and enjoy some of the most amazing views of any park. The same applies for hiking, you are able to do something as easy as the rim hike or go to the extreme of hiking down to the floor of the canyon.
I visited the Grand Canyon during an extended road trip through the Southwest of the United States. The trip while long and exhausting at some times definitely allowed me to enjoy some of the lesser known parts of this amazing and beautiful country. You can learn more about that trip HERE and check out my route and recommendations.
Where to stay
You have a few options when visiting GCNP on where to stay depending on what experience you want. I for one still think the Desert View Campground is one of the best campgrounds of any National Park and you can check out more on why HERE. If that campground is a little too remote you do have the option of staying at the Mather Campground which is located right by Grand Canyon Village. Not only is Mather closer to the action it also houses the laundry and shower facilities for anyone staying inside the park and not in a lodge.
Since I know not everyone likes the idea of camping or staying in an RV, GCNP does offer a few options for lodging. If you check out the main GCNP lodge website you will see a few options near the Village with varying degrees of comfort and luxury.
The one thing to keep in mind is that these lodging options and campgrounds do fill up fast! So definitely make sure to check them out well before you plan on visiting the park to make sure they are even an option.
Things To Do
There are quite a few things to do while visiting GCNP but there are definitely two things everyone should do while in the park.
- Hiking is of course the first thing that will come to everyone’s mind and that is something GCNP doesn’t disappoint in. There are countless trails around the park but there are a few of my favorite I will mention below.
- Rangers Talks are something a lot of people skip out but this is a grave mistake. During my time at GCNP I attended quite a few of the Ranger Talks/Programs and cannot recommend them enough. One of my favorite programs was one hosted by Desert View Campground covering the geology of the canyon and how it was formed over time. It was amazing the amount of knowledge the ranger had and honestly just how educational the talk was and it was free!
- You can get more information about Ranger Talks/Programs at the GCNP site HERE!
GCNP Hiking Challenges
The biggest challenge to me during my first visit was adjusting to the idea of hiking down instead of up at the beginning of a hike. Now this might seem like not a big deal but during most of my hikes I tend to tackle the hardest part at the beginning which is the elevation gain. The problem with the Grand Canyon is that the elevation gain comes during the second half of your hike where you have already spent quite a lot of energy. This makes for an entirely new hiking experience and while challenging it is quite rewarding.
The other challenge that arises with hiking at the Grand Canyon is the heat aspect. Something I didn’t expect even after reading about it is just how hot the canyon gets the deeper you hike into it. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon sits around 7,000 feet of elevation offering decent temperatures even in the summer months. This is extremely misleading for when you prep your hike into the canyon from the rim area. According to the GCNP website for every 1,000 feet of elevation you climb down the canyon you can expect about 3-4 degrees in temp increases. Now this doesn’t sound like a drastic increase but from the rim to the canyon floor you can experience swings of 25 degree differences depending on the time of year.
Grand Canyon National Parks offers some amazing hikes that should offer a challenge to all levels of hiking experience. There are three hikes that I personally think everyone visiting the park should have on their list and all offer varying degrees of difficulty and time commitment.
The Grand Canyon Rim Trail
The Rim Trail is just what it sounds like it follows the South Rim from the Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest Area and offers some amazing views of the canyon. This is the first trail I recommend most if not all visitors check out since it gives a solid feel for the park. The main benefit of this trail is that it is mostly paved and accessible to almost all visitors to the park.
This trail is one of my favorites but also one I saw almost no one visiting while I was at the park. The trailhead is about half a mile from Hermits Rest Area which can be reached either by walking from the Village by the Rim Trail or taking the Red Shuttle Bus from the Village. I truly enjoyed this trail for its remoteness and challenging aspect it offered. Unlike some other trails in the park you are unlikely to see anyone else on it. Stay tuned for a full report on it!
Bright Angel Trail
The Bright Angel Trail at GCNP is probably the most popular trail at the GCNP and one that truly offers something for everyone. You are able to take this trail all the way to the bottom of the canyon to stay at Phantom Ranch. On the other hand you are also able to just walk the first half mile or so for breathtaking views without fully committing to the trail. I am excited to do a full report on Bright Angel soon!
The Grand Canyon National Park is one of my favorite parks and I truly think everyone should visit it once in their life. Standing at the edge of the canyon truly makes you feel so small it changes your perspective on life. I cannot wait to share more about my time at GCNP, so stay tuned!
Have you visited the Grand Canyon? What was your favorite hike? Did you stay in the park or outside?
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