The Grand Canyon

If you’re in Las Vegas and are looking for something to do, you are already in one of the closest cities to the Grand Canyon.

Located northwest of the state of Arizona near the Utah and Nevada borders, the sprawling canyon is a stunning, intricate maze of rocky towers and sheer gorges. The Grand Canyon is about a four-hour drive east of Las Vegas.

Touted as the Seventh Wonder of the World, the Grand Canyon is beautifully gutted by the Colorado River meandering its way through Arizona.

The breathtaking attraction is one of the most overexposed icons of the American landscape- as such it attracts more than 4.5 million visitors each year.

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

The mile deep Canyon is huge and you won’t be truly prepared for that first impression. It’s humbling.

Measuring in at an average of 10 miles wide and 277 miles long, there is no wonder why some many people visit to gawk into the abyss of nature’s sheer force with its gigantic buttes, pinnacles and mesas.

Seeing the canyon for the first time will be an experience that can be described with the word “Grand.”

The Grand Canyon has three rims, each of which offers a different experience. The rims are hundreds of miles apart, and are hardly visited on the same trip.

The South Rim is the most popular of the three and sees about 90 percent of all visitors. This is due to the fact that it is the most accessible, open all year round and provides the most amenities, including Native American ruins, easy-access viewpoints, historic buildings and good infrastructure.

Summer is the most popular time to visit, but if you want to avoid the crowd, November through February is the best time to visit.

If you are visiting during the busy season and want solitude, the North Rim is for you.

Uniquely different from the South Rim, the North Rim stand at an average elevation of 8,000 feet and offers beautiful views from a higher vantage point.

Although this side of the canyon has fewer viewpoints, the charms are no less abundant and is accessible May to October, each year.

At 8,803 feet, Point Imperial is the North Rim’s highest point and it overlooks the eastern end of Grand Canyon where the sheets of red and black rocks provides contrast to the Painted Desert.

The North Rim is also much cooler and boasts tall, thick stands of aspen and spruce as well as beautiful wildflower meadows.

What to do at the Grand Canyon

A trip to the Grand Canyon will offer lots of things for you to do. If you are visiting for the first time, you can visit the visitor’s center, Grand Canyon Village, to get familiar with the National Park.

Grand Canyon Village

Grand Canyon Village

The visitor’s center offers lectures and videos for you to get a better understanding of the canyon’s complex geology as well as ranger assistance.

There is a 9 mile trail, the Bright Angel Trail, which is accessible from the Village and will take you to the bottom of the canyon. The views along the way are astonishing on this trail. The Rim Trail is another popular trail that is well graded and offers great views of the canyon.

grand canyon bright angel trail

grand canyon bright angel trail

For something more challenging, you can try the North Kaibab Trail, which is the least visited and most difficult of Grand Canyon’s three maintained trails. This trail is almost a thousand feet higher than South Rim trails and this is where you can have a look at the large maw of Bright Angel Canyon. You can also explore Inner Canyon’s privacy and peace.

Apart from the trails, if you are feeling adventurous, you can take the rapids of the Colorado River on a thrilling rafting trip. You can also rent bicycles and explore Hermit Road, the scenic route along the west end of Grand Canyon Village. There are also numerous observation points, including the Stone Watchtower and Desert View Drive.

Desert View Drive offers superb views of different sections of the canyon. The 50 mile drive is the eastern-most viewpoint on the South Rim. The 70-foot-tall Pueblo Indian-inspired Watchtower is located at the eastern part of the drive and offers the widest views of Grand Canyon.

The eastern-end also offers a more tranquil environment for you to relax as well. Nearby, you will find Lipan Point, which has some of the most breathtaking views.

Moran Point, which provides awesome views of the layers of bright red Hakatai shale and the lighter shades of Bright Angel Shale of the canyon. There is also Tusayan Indian Ruins and Museum where you can explore the real ancient ruins.

For kids, you have the Grand Canyon Railway which runs between Williams and the Village. If you are truly adventurous and feel a little extravagant you can experience the canyon in a helicopter or light aircraft.

If you choose to visit Grand Canyon, there is a park entrance fee of around $25 per vehicle or $12 for individuals, such as hikers, and cyclists. It is also a good idea to check the weather in advance as the canyon’s temperatures vary according to season.

A Final Word

Las Vegas is known as the “Entertainment Capital of the World” for a good reason. It offers mega casino hotels, lots of restaurants with award winning chefs, shopping at virtually any hour of the day and of course convenient access to Grand Canyon.

With massive gorges, ridges and rock formations, the seventh natural wonder is just that — magnificent. And even the most skeptical of travelers are awestruck at the sight of the two billion-year Grand Canyon.

Whether you choose to visit the South or North Rim, one thing is for sure — you can enjoy splendid views from a variety of vantage points as well as activities that take hours. So what are you waiting for?

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