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How to Plan Your Trip to Grand Canyon National Park

Today, we discuss an extraordinary trip and how to visit the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

Whether you’re traveling to Las Vegas, or you’re going to Los Angeles, or you’re road-tripping US Route 66, or you go to Yellowstone Park, or even if you’re going to be 1000 km around the Grand Canyon, I think it’s a visit you have to do yes or yes!

The Grand Canyon is in Arizona and constitutes the National Park of the same name.

It is 446 km long and 29 km wide, and approximately 1900 meters deep. Inside runs the Colorado River with murky, reddish-brown waters that give the river its name. Are you looking to rent an RV for your trip?

Summary: How to Plan a Trip to the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, Route 66, USA

Planning a trip to Grand Canyon National Park involves several key steps to ensure a memorable and smooth experience:

  1. Decide Which Rim to Visit: Choose between the South Rim (most accessible and popular, open year-round), North Rim (more secluded, open May to October), or West Rim (on Hualapai Indian Reservation, home to the Skywalk). Each rim offers distinct experiences and attractions.
  2. Book Accommodations: Depending on the rim, options range from lodges and hotels to campgrounds. Book well in advance, especially for the South Rim, as places fill up quickly.
  3. Plan Transportation: Determine how to get there (drive, shuttle, tour bus, or plane). The nearest major airports are in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Consider renting a car for flexibility, especially if you plan to explore multiple rims.
  4. Check Park Fees and Regulations: Be aware of the entrance fees and specific park regulations, including permits required for activities like backcountry hiking or camping.
  5. Plan Activities: Tailor your activities to the rim you’re visiting. Popular options include hiking, ranger-led programs, mule rides, and scenic drives. At the West Rim, consider the Skywalk and cultural tours.
  6. Pack Appropriately: Bring suitable clothing for the season, hiking gear, sunscreen, a hat, plenty of water, and snacks. Remember that weather can vary significantly between rims and change quickly.
  7. Safety First: Familiarize yourself with safety guidelines, especially when hiking or exploring remote areas. Stay on designated paths and be aware of the risks associated with the park’s rugged terrain.
  8. Respect the Environment: Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the natural environment.

By carefully planning your visit, you can fully enjoy the grandeur and beauty of the Grand Canyon National Park while ensuring a safe and fulfilling experience.

Our itinerary

In our case, taking advantage of a trip to Las Vegas, we spent one day visiting Death Valley and another day visiting the Grand Canyon National Park.

It’s about 450 km from Las Vegas. If you’re going by car, you leave at least at 06:00 am to enjoy the park. And you can spend a night (or two) in one of the Grand Canyon National Park hotels.

If you don’t want to drive, you can do a guided tour from Las Vegas or take a helicopter or plane. Again, there are a lot of options. Click on the link to choose one!

1. Choose South Rim, North Rim, or West Rim

Visiting the Grand Canyon, a natural wonder in Arizona offers three distinct experiences: the South Rim, North Rim, and West Rim, each with unique attractions and activities.

South Rim


The South Rim, the most accessible and popular, offers breathtaking views and numerous visitor facilities.

Here, you can embark on guided tours, enjoy scenic drives along Desert View Drive, or hike the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails for unforgettable canyon vistas.

The South Rim is characterized by its developed infrastructure and year-round accessibility, making it ideal for first-time visitors.

You can do the tour to the South Rim from Las Vegas. Click on the link for more information.

North Rim

The North Rim, open seasonally from May to October, offers a more secluded and tranquil experience. It’s less crowded and provides a different perspective of the canyon.

Key activities include hiking the North Kaibab Trail, visiting the Grand Canyon Lodge for its stunning views, and enjoying the scenic drive to Point Imperial, the highest point in the park.

The North Rim’s higher elevation results in cooler temperatures and lush vegetation, distinguishing it from its southern counterpart.

West Rim

Grand Canyon Skywalk

The West Rim, located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, is famous for the Skywalk, a glass bridge extending over the canyon. It’s the closest rim to Las Vegas, making it popular for day trips.

Activities here include helicopter tours, boat trips on the Colorado River, and exploring the Hualapai Ranch.

The West Rim is characterized by its unique cultural experiences and the thrilling Skywalk, offering a different canyon perspective.

Each rim of the Grand Canyon presents a unique way to experience one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, catering to different interests and offering varied perspectives of the majestic landscape.

2. Book Your Accommodation in advance

Here are some recommendations for booking accommodation in the Grand Canyon National Park based on various sources:

Book in Advance: It’s essential to book well in advance, especially if you want to stay inside the park. Sleeping in the park can be complicated due to high demand, so it’s recommended to book well in advance, even a year before in some cases, like at the Grand Canyon Village.

Accommodation Options:

  • Grand Canyon Village: Located on the South Rim, it is the closest place to the canyon edge. It offers shops, supermarkets, and hotels, but accommodations sell out quickly.
  • Tusayan: Just 10 km from the canyon’s edge, this town offers tourist services such as restaurants and hotels. It’s convenient if you can’t get accommodation inside the park.
  • Williams: Offers more economical accommodations and is located on the famous Route 66. Although it’s about 1 hour and 15 minutes from the visitor center, it’s a good option if you’re looking for more accessible prices.
  • Tuba City: Less known and with limited charm, but a good option if your next destination is Antelope Canyon or Monument Valley.
  • Accommodation on the North Rim: At the North Rim, the Grand Canyon Lodge is the only hotel option and is only open from May to October. It’s recommended to book six months in advance.

Phantom Ranch: Located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, it’s ideal for hikers but requires a hike to get there and reservations must be made 15 months in advance.

Camping in the Grand Canyon: There are several camping options in the park, such as Mather Campground on the South Rim, which is open all year round and offers basic facilities. It’s more economical and it’s recommended to book in advance.

Glamping: For those who want to camp but don’t have the necessary equipment, options like Arizona Luxury Expeditions in the Grand Canyon Village offer a “glamping” experience.

These recommendations cover a variety of options for different budgets and preferences, ensuring that you can find suitable accommodation for your trip to the Grand Canyon.

3. How to Get to Grand Canyon N.P. from Vegas

Grand Canyon National Park, United States, Route 66, USA

To get to each rim of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, you can follow these routes:

*Please use an updated GPS; consider that roads can change in time.

South Rim (South Rim):

  • By Car: The most direct route is to take US-93 S towards Kingman, Arizona, and then follow I-40 E to Williams, Arizona. From Williams, take AZ-64 N directly to the Grand Canyon National Park. The journey takes approximately 4.5 hours.
  • Organized Tours: There are numerous excursions available that offer round-trip transportation from Las Vegas to the South Rim, often including stops at points of interest along the way.

North Rim (North Rim):

  • By Car: Head east on I-15 from Las Vegas to St. George, Utah. Then, take UT-9 E to US-89 S and continue to Kanab, Utah. From Kanab, take US-89A S to Jacob Lake, Arizona, and then AZ-67 S directly to the North Rim. This trip can take around 4.5 to 5 hours.
  • Organized Tours: Tours to the North Rim from Las Vegas are less common due to its greater distance and seasonal access (it’s open from May to October). However, some companies may offer personalized tours or small group trips.

West Rim (West Rim):

  • By Car: The West Rim is the closest to Las Vegas. Take US-93 S towards Kingman, and then turn onto Pierce Ferry Road, followed by Diamond Bar Road, which will lead you directly to the West Rim. The journey takes approximately 2.5 hours.
  • Organized Tours: There are many tour options to the West Rim from Las Vegas, including bus, helicopter, and small plane trips. These tours often include entry to the Skywalk and other activities.

It’s important to remember that the North Rim is closed during the winter due to snow and road conditions. Additionally, when planning your trip, it’s always a good idea to check the road and weather conditions, especially if you are driving alone.

Grand Canyon Tours From Las Vegas

Best day ever Grand Canyon Trip

If you don’t feel like going by car or want to do the helicopter or plane tour, here I leave you some links to take a look at it, see the prices and choose the one you love the most!

On the way to the Grand Canyon

Please pay attention to the speed limit on this road; it looks like you can go fast (which I did), and the police fined me.

Besides, the police’s mobile radars read the speed whether you’re going in the same direction or going the other way.

The cop who fined me told me this is one of America’s deadest roads because you’re dazzled by the sun at sunrise and sunset.

Shortly after entering Utah, we stop to buy food and drink at a supermarket. I was hallucinating when I found this exhibition the most unique next to sandwiches, york ham and cheese.

They have them there like tennis rackets or mobile phones! Also, look at the prices; anyone with a bit of money can buy one!

* I think this is no longer allowed, but you can tell me in the comments.

Grand Canyon
Arms Exhibition in a Supermarket

Leaving anecdotes aside, we continue to the Grand Canyon National Park, about two thousand seven hundred meters at altitude.

You will see that as you move forward, the landscape changes, and from being in a desert, you go to being in low forest areas to reach the coniferous forests that are more altitude.

4. Check Park Fees and Regulations

Grand Canyon National Park, United States, Route 66, USA

When visiting the Grand Canyon, it is important to take into account the following fees and regulations:

Entrance Fees:

  • Entrance fees vary depending on the type of vehicle or if you enter on foot or by bicycle. These fees grant you access to the park for 7 days.
  • The Grand Canyon National Park also offers the America the Beautiful Pass, an annual pass that provides unlimited access to national parks and other federal lands.

Special Permits:

  • If you plan to engage in activities such as camping inside the canyon, overnight hiking, or special events, you may need a special permit. These permits often require prior application and are subject to availability.
  • Permits for camping inside the canyon are especially in demand and often need to be requested several months in advance.

Camping Regulations:

  • There are designated campsites with basic amenities and others that are more rustic without services. It’s important to book in advance, especially during peak season.
  • The camping areas inside the canyon have specific rules to protect the natural environment and ensure everyone’s safety.

Hiking Restrictions:

  • Some trails may have seasonal restrictions or due to weather conditions. It is vital to inform yourself about the status of the trails before your visit.
  • It is strongly recommended not to attempt to walk from the rim to the river and back in a single day.

Conservation and Protection:

  • Follow the “Leave No Trace” principles to minimize environmental impact. This includes taking all your trash, not feeding wild animals, and not collecting plants or rocks.
  • Areas closed to the public for conservation or safety reasons must be respected.


  • It is essential to follow all safety recommendations, especially at viewpoints and during hikes.
  • In summer, it is crucial to stay properly hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.

When visiting the Grand Canyon, it is always a good idea to review the official website of the Grand Canyon National Park or contact the visitor center to get the most up-to-date information on fees and regulations.

5. Plan Your Activities

Planning activities in the Grand Canyon can be an exciting experience, as there are many options for all tastes. Here are some recommendations:


  • There are numerous trails for both beginners and experienced hikers. The most popular include the Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail in the South Rim, and the North Kaibab Trail in the North Rim.
  • If you are an experienced hiker, you might consider the challenge of walking down to the bottom of the canyon and spending the night at Phantom Ranch.

Excursions and Guided Tours:

  • Guided walking or bus tours are great for learning about the geology, history, and culture of the park.
  • You can join tours guided by park rangers or private tour operators offering specialized excursions, such as photography tours or natural history tours.

Mule Rides:

  • Mule rides are a tradition in the Grand Canyon and offer a unique way to experience the landscape. The tours can range from short excursions to several-day trips down to the bottom of the canyon.

Aerial Views:

  • For a completely different perspective, consider a helicopter or small plane tour. These flights offer stunning views of the canyon from above.

Water Activities:

  • At the bottom of the canyon, the Colorado River offers opportunities for rafting and kayaking. These activities vary from day trips to multi-day adventures.


  • Cycling is a great way to explore the park, with routes for both casual cyclists and more adventurous riders.

Star Gazing:

  • The Grand Canyon offers incredibly clear night skies, making it an ideal place for star gazing. Participate in astronomy programs offered by the park or simply enjoy the sky on your own.

Visit the Skywalk at the West Rim:

  • The Skywalk, a glass platform extending over the canyon, offers unique and thrilling views.

Explore Visitor Centers and Museums:

  • Visitor centers provide educational exhibits and films about the canyon. They are also a good starting point for planning your days in the park.


  • The Grand Canyon is a paradise for photographers. Take advantage of the dawn and dusk hours to capture stunning landscape images.

6. What to Pack

Here is a list of essential items you should take to the Grand Canyon for a safe and comfortable visit:

  • Water and Hydration System: Carry enough water and consider a portable hydration system, especially if you plan on hiking.
  • Snacks and Food: Energy snacks such as protein bars, dried fruits, and nuts are ideal. If you plan to spend the whole day, bring light meals.
  • Appropriate Clothing: Dress in layers to adapt to temperature changes. Include a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for sun protection.
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm: The sun can be intense, even on cloudy days.
  • Comfortable and Suitable Footwear: Use hiking shoes or boots with good support and grip.
  • Light Backpack: To carry your supplies and keep your hands free.
  • Map and Compass/GPS: Even though there are signs on the most popular trails, it’s good to have a map and a compass or GPS.
  • First Aid Kit: Includes basic items such as bandages, antiseptics, and personal medications.
  • Camera and Binoculars: To capture the beauty of the landscape and observe wildlife.
  • Flashlight or Headlamp: Useful if you plan to be out at dawn or dusk.
  • Spare Batteries or Portable Charger: To ensure your electronic devices do not run out of battery.
  • Waterproof Clothing or Poncho: For unexpected rain, especially if you visit during the summer months.
  • Gloves and Hat: If you visit during the colder months or plan to be at higher elevations.
  • Garbage Bags: To carry your trash and practice the “Leave No Trace” principle.
  • Park Guide or Educational Material: To learn more about the Grand Canyon during your visit.

Remember that these recommendations may vary depending on the time of year and the specific activities you plan to do. It’s always a good idea to check current conditions and park recommendations before your visit.

7. Safety First

Stay Hydrated: The climate in the Grand Canyon can be extremely dry and hot, especially in summer. Carry enough water and drink regularly, even if you’re not thirsty.

Sun Protection: Use broad-spectrum sunscreen, wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the intense sun.

Appropriate Clothing and Footwear: Dress in layers to adapt to temperature changes. Wear hiking shoes or boots with good support and grip.

Know Your Limits: Do not underestimate the difficulty of the hikes in the Grand Canyon, especially if you plan to walk down to the Colorado River. Many trails are steep and challenging.

Avoid Extreme Heat: During the summer, avoid hiking during the hottest hours of the day. Start early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

Plan Your Route: Know the route you’re going to take. Carry a map and share your plan with someone who’s not going with you.

Careful on the Edges: Stay safe from the canyon’s edges. Do not climb on rocks or edges to take pictures.

Observe Wildlife from a Distance: Do not feed or approach wildlife. Keep your food stored and out of reach of wildlife.

Emergency Preparedness: Carry a basic first aid kit and know basic first aid.

Stay on Designated Trails: Walking off established trails can damage plants and wildlife and cause erosion. Always use the trails and designated areas to minimize your impact.

Avoid Rivers and Streams During Storms: Currents can be dangerous, especially during storms, when the risk of flash flooding is high.

Inform Someone of Your Plans: Make sure someone knows your travel plans and when you expect to return.

Check Weather Conditions: Before your visit, check the weather conditions and prepare for unexpected changes.

Respect Park Rules: Follow all park rules and regulations for your safety and to preserve the natural environment.

Do Not Underestimate Altitude: The Grand Canyon is at a high altitude, which can affect people with health problems or those who are not accustomed to high altitudes. Acclimate and take things easy.

8. Tips to Respect the Environment

  1. Follow the Leave No Trace Principle: Carry all your trash and waste, even small items like fruit peels or papers. Leave nothing behind and use recycling and garbage facilities provided in the park.
  2. Do Not Feed Wild Animals: Feeding animals can harm their health, alter natural behaviors, and expose them to dangers. Keep your food stored and out of reach of wildlife.
  3. Stay on Designated Trails: Walking off trails can damage plants and wildlife and cause erosion. Always use the trails and designated areas to minimize your impact.
  4. Do Not Collect Natural Souvenirs: Leave rocks, plants, artifacts, and other natural or historical objects where you find them. Collecting can damage the ecosystem and is illegal within national parks.
  5. Respect Restricted Areas: Some park areas may be closed to the public for recovery or research. Respect all signs and barriers to protect these sensitive areas.

Must Visit Places around the Grand Canyon National Park

“Exploring the Grand Canyon is an unforgettable experience, and there are several points of interest that you shouldn’t miss. Here is a list of the 10 most essential places, divided by each rim of the canyon:

South Rim

  1. Grand Canyon Village: The heart of the South Rim, it offers iconic views, historic buildings, and access to several viewpoints and trails.
  2. Yavapai Point and Geology Museum: Provides one of the widest views of the canyon and educational exhibits about its geology.
  3. Bright Angel Trail: One of the most popular trails, perfect for a day hike with spectacular canyon views.

Most Important Place in the South Rim:

  • Mather Point: Famous for its wide panoramic views, it is one of the first viewpoints when entering the park and is accessible to all visitors.

North Rim

  1. Bright Angel Point: Offers breathtaking views and is accessible via a short walk from the Grand Canyon Lodge.
  2. Point Imperial: The highest point in the national park, with unique views of the canyon and the Painted Desert.
  3. Cape Royal: Provides a panoramic view, including the angle of the Colorado River and the Vishnu Temple.

Most Important Place in the North Rim:

  • North Rim Visitor Center: An excellent starting point for exploring the North Rim, with information, views, and nearby trails.

West Rim

  1. Grand Canyon Skywalk: A glass platform extending over the canyon, offering a unique and thrilling experience.
  2. Eagle Point: Offers impressive views and is known for a rock formation that resembles an eagle.
  3. Guano Point: Provides panoramic views of the canyon and the Colorado River and has a fascinating history related to mining.

Most Important Place in the West Rim:

  • Hualapai Ranch: A theme park that looks at American Western culture and activities such as horseback riding and live shows.

Each of these places offers a unique perspective of the Grand Canyon, showcasing the immensity and beauty of this natural phenomenon.”

Imperial Point. Don’t miss it!

Grand Canyon National Park, United States, Route 66, USA

One of the highest points on the south rim is the Imperial Point. It’s 8803 feet high (approximately 2700 meters), the views from there are spectacular, including the view of the storm that came over us.

There was no guard there, so we had to get in the car and hold on to the sledgehammer, which went too fast, luckily!

The thing is, we wanted to see the Colorado River, the classic picture. So we decided to go to see it.

Checking the map, we saw that in Marble Canyon, there was a road that crossed the Colorado River, so… you know, let’s go! It was about four o’clock in the afternoon, so we had to hurry!

Vermillion Cliffs

Grand Canyon, Route 66

When we started to drive to Marble Canyon, we came across a simply brutal landscape, at least for me, the typical Arizona plateaus you see in Western American movies, but you don’t appreciate it at all until you’re there.

Time to take pictures! It is a typical area of animal migration and buffalo habitat.

Also, the travel paths of travelers and nomads passed through here for centuries, long before colonization. It’s the Vermillion Cliffs.

Marble Canyon and the Colorado River

Grand Canyon National Park, United States, Route 66, USA

We followed our path to Marble Canyon to see the Colorado River enjoying the landscape.

According to the river’s course, Marble Canyon is after the Grand Canyon. So it looks relatively calm and loaded to the tops of sediments and remnants of its passage through the lands of the Grand Canyon.

It’s opaque, like it’s a mud river instead of water. There were little crafts by the Navajo Indians at the bridge entrance where we were, a good place to buy a souvenir.

We could have tried to go to the south rim from Marble Canyon, but it was late, and we returned to Vegas. So after all day, we have to drive around 500 km more.

*Recommendation: spend the night in one of the hotels!!! You’ll enjoy yourself more, and it is safer.

On the way back, we find some gigantic stones next to the road. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the place to tell you, but I left you a picture that I took.

It is an important place for the Navajo, and some stones had shapes that resembled giant skulls.

On our way back, we had the opportunity to enjoy the sunset over the cliffs of Arizona, five minutes of relaxation in which you forget everything.

Make sure you have Travel Insurance. Here you have 5% OFF, take a look, you’ll see is cheaper than you think!

Enjoy your Grand Canyon National Park trip, and tell us about your experience! I hope you enjoyed this post just like I enjoyed this tour!!

The truth is that it is something that I will not forget, and I want to go again and be able to tell you even more about these places. So let us know your must-visit places!

Greetings Travelers!

“Travel is an exercise with fatal consequences for prejudice, intolerance, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain.

Plan Your Trip to the United States

grand canyon arizona 1 day trip

Last Updated on 16 November, 2023 by Veronica

Disclosure: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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  1. the Corvette at Hackberry/ Valentine is long gone. been a few years now. it ain’t there no more. sorry.

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