How to Get The Most Out of Visiting the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the rare places that lives up to—and beyond—its reputation. Truly awe-inspiring, it’s an absolute must for anyone to visit. However, before you go on the journey, know that it’s best if you have your own form of transportation rather than going with a preplanned tour. If you learn car maintenance tips before you go, you can avoid any inconveniences along the way. There are a number of group trips and public transportation options that can take you to the Grand Canyon, but that means you’ll be on someone else’s schedule and won’t have the freedom to explore on your own. This is one destination where you really want to be behind the wheel.
This means having the right vehicle, too. This is no place to be lacking horsepower or pickup on the windy roads. Whether you rent, lease, or are looking for a new vehicle this summer, consider a sporty crossover. You’ll quickly discover that “seeing” the Grand Canyon can take several days (and in some cases weeks – if you’re lucky!). You’ll want the space, comfort, and speed of a crossover on this kind of journey. Make sure the back is kitted out with organized bins so you have easy, fast access to everything you need.
Now that your vehicle is in order, it’s time to start planning the trip of a lifetime.
North or South Rim?
Most people will tell you that the South Rim is the place to visit if you’re only going to see one part of the Grand Canyon. It’s true. It offers the most incredible views and it’s more popular for a reason. However, what many people don’t know is that there’s only one hotel within the entire park for the South Rim. Unsurprisingly, it sells out very early. However, if you’re willing to book on a weekday, you might still be able to get a reservation.
Otherwise, you can always camp in the park. However, be forewarned: even in the summer, the Grand Canyon is eerily dark and cold. You’ll want to be an experienced camper to make this happen. (If this is going to be your first camping trip, choose something more achievable than the Grand Canyon). Another idea is to book a hotel in one of the nearby towns where you can access the South Rim with a 10-15 minute drive.
It’s no surprise that two of the most popular times to head to the viewing areas is at sunrise and sunset. However, sunset is usually saturated with people. It’s truly astonishing just how many people flock to the Grand Canyon, especially in the summer months. It’s still well worth seeing the sunset, but for the real deal, you’ll want to wake up early and catch the sunrise.
A summer trip to the Grand Canyon means you’ll be getting up extremely early for the sunrise. Is it worth it? Definitely. However, there will be competition. You won’t be the only one up, sitting in your car for warmth, and waiting until it’s a little more reasonable to head to the South Rim. Dress warmly, bring gloves, and head to the viewing area when it’s still dark.
The North Rim is closer to Las Vegas, which means you’re going to be seeing a lot more day tourists. It doesn’t offer the kind of sweeping views as the South Rim, but it is the only place where you can walk on a transparent “floor” overlook and see unprecedented views of the canyon. Most people will tell you the North doesn’t come close to comparing to the South, but if you have the time—and the right vehicle—it’s well worth making the full circle.
Relatively close to the Grand Canyon, and accessible if you’re driving, is Antelope Canyon. This is the eerie space that looks like another planet and is highly photographed. The only way to access Antelope is via a tour, and it is always incredibly packed with people. Standing room only and shuffling in lines is common. A better bet? Sign up for one of the other tours near Antelope. You still have a chance to see nearly untouched wild, but probably not for much longer.