The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic landmarks in North America. Millions of people visit this national park yearly, especially during the summer. In fact, Grand Canyon National Park has the most visitors of any national park per year, save for one other, with around 4.7 million people visiting the park each year.
There are many reasons this beautiful canyon attracts so many visitors. For one thing, it’s become a well-known landmark in the movies and on television. For another, the vistas and outdoor activities provided in and around the park are exceptional.
If you’re visiting for the first time, knowing a few tips and tricks will ensure you have an enjoyable, safe time and make wonderful memories.
Tip 1: Learn the Basics of the Park Layout
The Grand Canyon itself covers 1,904 square miles. This means it’s quite large, and driving around the perimeter takes five hours.
The park has four main entrances: the East Entrance, the West Entrance, the South Rim, and the North Rim.
The South Rim is the most well-known area, with 90% of the park’s yearly visitors. The North Rim is less common and has different views. Then, there’s the West Entrance which is best known for The Glass Skywalk, while the East Entrance is near Lake Powell.
“I had the opportunity to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and it was a hidden gem! The views from the North Rim are different from the more popular South Rim, but equally beautiful. It’s less crowded, and you can enjoy a peaceful experience surrounded by nature. Just make sure to check the opening dates as the North Rim is only accessible from mid-May to mid-October.”
Watch this video to understand the basics and see the map:
Tip 2: Plan Ahead and Be Patient
If you visit the Grand Canyon in the off-season, especially during the winter, you can avoid most of the crowds. But, if you’re going during spring or summer, expect things to be quite crowded. We had the Grand Canyon on our list of top 10 National Parks from family adventures, so you may need to wait a while to get into the park.
If you want to visit during peak months, make sure you plan far in advance. Otherwise, finding places to camp or hotel rooms to rent will be challenging.
“Planning ahead is crucial when visiting the Grand Canyon. I made the mistake of not booking accommodations in advance during peak season, and it was a struggle to find a place to stay. If you’re going in spring or summer, definitely make your reservations well in advance. Also, pack lots of water and sunscreen, especially if you’re hiking. The weather can be scorching, and you don’t want to get dehydrated.”
Watch this video for a good planning guide before your visit:
Tip 3: Always Consider the Weather
When doing any outdoor activity, especially in the wilderness, always take heed of the weather. While many areas in the Grand Canyon get busy, there are also remote places where it takes effort to get supplies or help.
You should always ensure you bring the right supplies for the weather. Most people visit the park when it’s hot out, and it can get scorching. Bring enough water, fluids, and protective gear like sunscreen and shady hats.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of being prepared when visiting the Grand Canyon. Even if you’re just going for a day trip, bring extra snacks and clothing. You never know when the weather might change or if you’ll end up staying longer. I also recommend getting a backcountry permit if you plan on camping overnight. It gives you the freedom to explore more secluded areas of the park.”
Watch this video to learn more about the weather in the Grand Canyon:
Tip 4: Be Prepared
As with any wilderness visit, you should bring the right items. Even if you’re only planning a day trip to a populated area of the park, it’s wise to bring extra snacks, food, and clothing.
Then, if you are planning to stay longer or camp, bring safety gear and notify others of where you will be. Note that if you plan to camp inside the park overnight, you must get a backcountry permit unless you’re staying in one of the designated campgrounds.
“Our family had an unforgettable experience staying overnight at the Grand Canyon. Waking up to the sunrise over the canyon was breathtaking, and the peacefulness of the morning allowed us to fully appreciate the beauty. We enjoyed hiking, stargazing under the dark skies, and participating in a ranger-led program that enhanced our understanding of the park’s history. It was a remarkable opportunity to immerse ourselves in the park’s tranquility, explore nature, and create lasting family memories.”
Watch this guide to learn more about how to prepare for your visit to the Grand Canyon:
Tip 5: Take Advantage of the Shuttle Bus
Because the South Rim gets so busy, shuttle buses take visitors into the park. It’s worth considering this option as parking can be extremely crowded. If you check out the Grand Canyon’s website, you can learn the shuttle bus schedule.
They even have a camera of the South Rim entrance line, so you can get a sense of what wait times are like on any given day.
“The shuttle bus system at the Grand Canyon is a lifesaver! Parking can be a nightmare, especially during peak season. Taking the shuttle bus not only saves you the hassle of finding parking but also allows you to relax and enjoy the scenic ride. Check the shuttle bus schedule in advance, and plan your day accordingly. The live camera feed on the website is a handy tool to gauge the entrance line wait times.”
Watch this video for detailed instructions about how to get there (and about the shuttle bus system):
Be Cautious and Have Fun
The Grand Canyon is worth visiting. Generally, remember to use wilderness safety approaches and plan ahead. It’s also vital to respect nature, including plants, animals, and other people.
With these steps in mind, you’ll have a great trip and keep yourself and others safe.