The Grand Canyon is an indescribable vast wonder, which spreads across the state of Arizona in America. Carved out by nearly two billion years of geological change caused by the Colorado River, this jaw-dropping sight to see is a must visit if you’re in nearby Vegas/anywhere in America.
Due to its sheer size, planning a trip to the canyon can be quite a daunting task. Therefore, I’ve put together this little guide to help you plan your visit to this outstanding corner of the world.
There are multiple ways to get to the Grand Canyon.
The most popular option is to rent a car and drive there, which takes around 5 hours from Las Vegas. There are many car rental companies in Vegas however, I would recommend booking the rental as far in advance as possible to get the best deal. Between 3 of us we paid $20 each round trip for gas, which is a mega bargain in comparison to the bus…
There are a few bus companies that travel between Vegas and the Grand Canyon but, at the extortionate starting price of $105 each way. This was wayyyy out of Lydia and I’s budget and therefore, quickly moved onto alternative options.
There are a lot of tour companies in Las Vegas that will take you to and from the canyon as a day trip. Although this is a convenient way to visit the Grand Canyon, you’ll be seeing it on their itinerary and time schedule. Therefore, be sure to check that it matches what you want to get out of your time there.
Getting the train from Vegas to the Grand Canyon takes around 9 hours and requires three changes, two trains and two buses. As it is not an easy process, it is not a very popular method of getting to the canyon. Nonetheless, if it’s a challenge you’d like to give a go, you can find some more info on the journey here.
This is the option Lydia and I chose/stumbled upon!! Just as we were beginning to think that the Grand Canyon wasn’t doable on a budget as tight as ours, we decided to check current events on Couchsurfing. To our elation, we came across a Grand Canyon event where people who were in a similar position to us were posting to get together and help each other out. We messaged a woman who was driving and wanted somebody to go with and devised a plan for our 2 day/1 night adventure.
If you’re not on a budget and would like to treat yourself to an exceptional experience, travelling to the Grand Canyon by helicopter would be a great way to do this. Seeing the vastness of the wonder from a bird’s eye view is sure to be unforgettable however, be sure to try to fit in a trek down into the canyon as well.
South Rim? North Rim?
The Grand Canyon is huge and there are many different access points to explore. The main two areas are the South Rim and the North Rim.
The North Rim is known for being more remote, less busy and a lot harder to access than the South Rim. Due to heavy snowfall, this part of the canyon is only open for half of the year (mid May to mid October) and therefore, limits when you can go. If you have already visited the South Rim or, have lots of time to kill, this area is absoloutely worth the journey and has some incredible hikes and views.
I visited the South Rim, which offers picture-perfect, expansive views across the canyon as well as, dozens of trekking routes along and down into the canyon – enabling you to view it from lots of different view points.
There are a few campsites within the park grounds, which you can book online. I would recommend doing this as early as possible as the sites are known to book up very far in advance – especially during the summer. I stayed at the Mather Campground in the middle of the South Rim ($18 a night) and loved the cute spot we were allocated amongst flora, fauna and woodland.
Be warned, it does get very cold in the canyon at night-time so make sure you have the appropriate clothing and sleeping bag to keep you warm.
Lodge/Hotel in the park
There are a few lodges within the park such as, Bright Angel Lodge and Thunderbird Lodge, which book up very far in advance and are rather pricey. Make sure you plan ahead if you want to stay within the park grounds.
Lodge/Hotel outside the park
Areas close by (ish) to the park such as, Flagstaff have lots of hotels and Air BnBs that give you easy access to the canyon. However, Flagstaff is still around an hour from the park entrance so keep this in mind when planning to watch sunsets and sunrises as well as, added travel expenses.
In the South Rim there is a very efficient free shuttle bus that takes you around the whole park. Travelling from one end of the rim to the other takes approx 1 hour.
The easiest and quickest trek to do at the South Rim is the Rim Trail, which skirts the inner canyon. It is flat, easily accessible and offers outstanding views across the Grand Canyon. Alternatively, if you’d like to trek down into the canyon (which I would definitely recommended), there are many different trails of varied lengths and difficulties such as, Bright Angel and South Kaibab to choose from. Check out all of the different routes here.