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Guide to Grand Canyon National Park

The frequently asked questions and answers that you need to know before planning a Grand Canyon national park adventure.

grand canyon national park

Is the park open year-round?

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park is open year-round. The North Rim is open seasonally, from May 15 until Oct. 15.

Where is the park located?

The Grand Canyon National Park is located in northwestern Arizona. The North and South Rim Villages are approximately 215 miles apart.

How big is the park?

The park covers approximately 1,217,262 acres.

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How do I get around in the park?

Most visitors drive their own cars and campers into the park. Inside the park, various shuttle buses – some free; others requiring a fee – transport visitors around the South Rim Village, between the North and South Rims, and elsewhere. There are also multiple day tours available as part of Grand Canyon vacation packages.

What activities are available?

Some of the popular activities in Grand Canyon National Park include:

    • Hiking/walking: Numerous hiking and walking paths line both the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon National Park. Visitors can take guided or self-guided hikes, though people who aren’t used to the dry heat of the Southwest are encouraged to take it easier than usual and bring plenty of water.
    • Rafting: Various groups offer half-day, full-day, or multiday rafting trips down the Colorado River, as well as on quieter water between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry in the northern part of the canyon.
    • Cultural learning: The park contains numerous museums and cultural centers where visitors can learn about the Native Americans who call this region home, the geologic history of the Grand Canyon, and the history of the park itself.
    • Grand Canyon Railway: Originally built in the 1800s to haul ore, the Grand Canyon Railway now ferries visitors between Williams, Ariz., and the South Rim’s Grand Canyon Depot.

grand canyon national park

Are pets allowed?

Pets are permitted in limited areas in the park, including named trails above the rim, some campgrounds, and in developed areas. They are not allowed below the rim (on trails), in lodging, or on tour or shuttle buses. The park has a kennel at the South Rim.

Is the park accessible?

All park shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible, and most park facilities (restrooms, lodging, dining) are accessible as well. Some scenic overlooks are accessible, but many trails are not, due to the nature of the terrain at Grand Canyon National Park.

What accommodations are available?

Grand Canyon National Park contains several lodging options. Hotels are available at both the North and South Rims. Reservations must be made well in advance to ensure a room. The Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of the canyon, is available year-round, and beginning in January 2019, a lottery system will be used for reservations. Several campgrounds can be found at both rims, though only the Trailer Village RV campground at the South Rim Village has hookups. Backcountry camping is allowed; a permit is required.

What restaurants are available?

Numerous dining options are available at both rims and at the Phantom Ranch. Choices range from fine dining to quick, grab-and-go options. Several grocery stores are also located in the park.

What are the most popular areas of the park?

    • Grand Canyon Village: Located on the South Rim, the Grand Canyon Village is one of the more crowded places in the park because it is a main entrance and contains much of the lodging available in this side of the park. It is also the home of Yavapai Point, one of the best places to view the canyon. Museums, shops, and tour companies can also be found here.
    • North Rim: Less congested and developed than the South Rim, the North Rim still attracts its share of tourists during its open season. A popular hiking route, the North Kaibab Trail, goes the entire fourteen miles down to the Colorado River.
    • Bright Angel Trail: This steep, 6-mile trail to Plateau Point, where views of the Colorado River are particularly breathtaking, is commonly done as a two-day trip. Mule rides are also offered for those who don’t want to hike.
    • Rim Trail: This 12-mile, relatively easy hike provides breathtaking viewpoints such as Maricopa and Hopi Points and is one of the most popular trails on the South Rim. A shuttle bus runs on a paved road near the trail, so hikers don’t have to commit to the entire distance.
    • Desert View: Located 25 miles from the Grand Canyon Village, Desert View offers some of the best views of the canyon and Colorado River, as well as a watchtower designed by Mary Colter. It is said the views extend for 100 miles on a clear day.

Have you ever been to Grand Canyon National Park? Is it on your wish list? Tell us in the comments.

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