Visiting the Grand Canyon South Rim
Visiting the Grand Canyon
I've been to the Grand Canyon several times over the years, and it never gets any less impressive. With family living in Phoenix it's definitely within visiting distance, but don't be fooled over how vast Arizona is. And indeed just how long it can take you to get there.
We set off on our travels from our base in Phoenix and headed on our road trip towards our first point of call, Flagstaff. More of a scenic route, taking the Highway 89 north to Cameron and entering through Desert View. Somewhere much less busy and lesser used, you'll have more space to yourself to take it all in. If you make it to Cameron by lunch time stop at the Cameron Trading post for some Navajo tacos to refuel. Entering along the East side of the park allows you to stop at viewpoints overlooking the Little Colorado River Gorge and exploring Desert View.
If you want to avoid the crowds you're better visiting towards the end of the year. the busiest time of the year is from June to September when it's the school holidays. The heat is extreme and you might find it too much to really enjoy the experience. Go back in the autumn to winter months for a totally different view point and experience the seasons changing colours.
Hikes & Trails
The South Rim offers all those 'guide book' views and photographs, but to really experience the most of the Grand Canyon take a hike below the rim to see it on a different scale. It's not just about the bigger picture, you'll be surprised by the hidden gems you'll find below the viewpoints.
There are several hikes you can take, and depending on the time of year, might favour more in the heat. The Kaibab Trail to Cedar ridge is only three miles as a round trip, or Skeleton point which is six. Offering the most expansive views for a relatively easy hike. If you're experienced in hiking or fancy a challenge you could try Grandview to Horseshoe Mesa,but be warned - it's intense!
Hang around for sunset and take in the beauty of the changing sky over the canyon, or even better if you can wake up early enough in summer, it's definitely worth the hike for sunrise.
Where to Stay
There are several options for where to stay at the Grand Canyon. The main campground of Mather can be pretty heaving in summer. For less crowds try camping at Desert View. The Grand Canyon also offers several hotels itself on the different rims of the park. We stayed two nights in a cabin on the North Rim, for a truly traditional experience. Be sure to leave your taps running in winter though so your pipes don't freeze over night! The South Rim also offers Grand Canyon Village, including Bright Angel Lodge, and for a little opulence check out El Tovar Hotel.