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Grand Canyon

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Access Country : United_States_Of_America

Destination Activities

Activity Details

The Grand Canyon is a colorful steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park - one of the first national parks in the United States.

The canyon, created by the Colorado River over 6 million years, is 277 miles long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles, and attains a depth of more than a mile. Nearly two billion years of the Earth's history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted.

There are two ways to approach the Canyon: the remote North Rim and the more accessible (and therefore more crowded) South Rim.

Aside from casual sightseeing from the South Rim (averaging 7000 feet above sea level), whitewater rafting, hiking and running are especially popular. The floor of the valley is accessible by foot, muleback, or by boat or raft from upriver. Hiking down to the river and back up to the rim in one day is discouraged by park officials because of the distance, steep and rocky trails, change in elevation, and danger of heat exhaustion from the much higher temperatures at the bottom. Rescues are required annually of unsuccessful rim-to-river-to-rim travelers. Nevertheless, hundreds of fit and experienced hikers complete the trip every year.

Located only ten miles from the South Rim by air, the North Rim is a 215 mile (346 km), five hour drive from Grand Canyon Village. At 8,000 feet the elevation of the North Rim is approximately 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim, and as a result features more coniferous trees and cooler temperatures. The roads to the North Rim are open only during the summer (from approx May 15 to the first fall snow fall), while the in-park facilities usually close by October 15, regardless of the weather. With far fewer visitors, this area can be a great place to enjoy the peace and majesty of the canyon. The main viewpoints are Bright Angel Point, Cape Royal (where the Colorado River can be seen), and Point Imperial (the highest viewpoint in the park).


Going on a hike is wonderful way to experience some of the canyon's rich natural beauty and immense size. However, even if you are an avid hiker, hiking the Grand Canyon is very different from most other hiking experiences. A hike into the Grand Canyon will test your physical and mental endurance. Know and respect your limitations. Moderation is the key to an enjoyable hike.

Many options are available for day hikers. Both the South Rim and the North Rim offer rim trail hikes that have spectacular views of the inner canyon, some on paved trails. Or you can choose to day hike into the canyon. Permits are not required for non-commercial day hikes.

Rim Trail - The Rim Trail extends from the village area to Hermits Rest. Begin from any viewpoint in the village or along Hermit Road. Rim trails offer excellent walking and quiet views of the inner canyon for visitors who desire an easy hike.

Grandview Trail (Very Steep) - The Grandview trail offers hikes to Coconino Saddle, 2.2 miles (round trip), and Horseshoe Mesa, 6.4 miles (round trip). Unmaintained steep trail requires caution. Begins on canyon side of retaining wall at Grandview Point on Desert View Drive (12 miles east of village). For experienced desert hikers. Hiking boots recommended.


Whitewater rafting expeditions depart daily during the summer months from Lee's Ferry. Commercial trips range from 3 to 18 days and cover from 87 to 300 miles. Trips book up fast so be sure to book your trip about a year in advance or you will have to get lucky with cancellations. The most popular section of river for the "true" Grand Canyon river experience lies between Lee's Ferry and Diamond Creek. The Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association provides a complete list of outfitters for this section of river.

The only one day whitewater trip is available from the Hualapai Tribe's Hualapai River Runners in the far Western portion of the canyon (outside of the park boundary) near Las Vegas. The only other option for a one day river trip is a one day flat water float by Colorado River Discovery in Glen Canyon (just outside Grand Canyon National Park).

Popular attractions near the North Rim include Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. The nearest major airport is in Las Vegas. Travelers to the South Rim often head toward Flagstaff or Sedona.


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