Things to Do in Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon’s West Rim, located just outside Grand Canyon National Park, is home to the vast Hualapai Indian Reservation and includes 108 miles (173 kilometers) of picturesque canyon views. The closest section of the canyon to Las Vegas, the West Rim is famous for the lofty Grand Canyon Skywalk, Guano Point, and Eagle Point.
Enjoy a sweeping panoramic view of the Grand Canyon from the historic Desert View Watchtower. Architect Mary Colter created the tower, built in the early 1930s, as an homage to the watchtowers built by the Ancestral Puebloan people who once inhabited the Four Corners area. The murals inside were painted by a local Hopi artist.
The South Rim is the most popular area of Grand Canyon National Park, boasting easy access to the canyon, the bulk of available amenities and services, and the panoramic vistas for which the natural wonder is famous. One of the most famous attractions in the American Southwest, the area offers breathtaking views over the Colorado River and the chance to immerse yourself in Native American culture.
The Grand Canyon is a humbling testament to nature’s power. Carved by the mighty Colorado River, this northwestern Arizona wonder is 277 miles (444 kilometers) long and more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep. It’s no wonder Grand Canyon National Park is one of America’s most popular attractions, with over 6 million annual visitors.
A popular stop en route to the Grand Canyon, the historic Cameron Trading Post combines American Indian art and culture with a modern travel stop. Browse the expansive souvenir shop, eat at the restaurant, or even stay overnight in the hotel—all while experiencing the traditional food, crafts, and decore of Navajo and Hopi tribes.
Eagle Point, a popular stop in Grand Canyon West, is the site of a Native American village, amphitheater, and the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk—a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that extends 70 feet (21 meters) over the canyon for views of the Colorado River 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) below.
Built in 1931 to appeal to an increasing number of visitors arriving by car, this 26-mile (42-kilometer driving route is a visual delight, showing off the beauty and grandeur of the Grand Canyon. Hugging the rim of one of America’s most epic natural wonders, the road leads to several scenic pullouts and viewpoints.
The National Geographic Visitor Center is both a gateway to the Grand Canyon and a destination in its own right. Conveniently located near the South Rim entrance, the center makes a logical first stop at Arizona’s iconic landmark. Visit the center for guidance on your trip, and to experience its IMAX Theater, cafe, and exhibits.
With its panoramic Grand Canyon views, Mather Point is one of the most visited spots in Grand Canyon National Park. The multitier viewing platform is perched on a rocky outcropping near the South Rim entrance and a short walk from a visitor center. Walk nearby trails to reach multiple vantage points and photo opportunities along the rim.
In 1964, the Colorado River’s roaring waters needed to be harnessed, so the towering 710-foot-tall (216 meter) Glen Canyon Dam was built. The resulting 186-mile-long (299 kilometer) Lake Powell, the second largest man-made lake in the US, took 17 years to fill to capacity. Today, the dam provides hydroelectric power to the American West.
More Things to Do in Grand Canyon National Park
Grandview Point’s scenic overlook offers views of the Grand Canyon from the tallest and southernmost point on the South Rim. It’s location a mile off the main road between Grand Canyon Village and Desert View Visitor Center means fewer crowds a new vantage point overlooking the canyon’s majestic layers. The nearby trail provides views of the Colorado River far below.
Bright Angel Point is the most popular viewpoint on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, offering views of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim and Roaring Springs some 3,000 feet (914 meters) below. The easy paved Bright Angel Point trail leads to the spot, with panoramic views of Grand Canyon National Park unfolding along the way.
Combining the mystique of the Wild West with the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon Railway has been delighting riders since 1901. As you make the two-hour trip to the canyon from Williams, Arizona, to the South Rim, you’ll be entertained by authentic characters and musicians who bring the Old West to life, all the while soaking up the unforgettable scenery of Grand Canyon National Park.
At six stories tall and 82 feet wide (25 meters), the screen of the Grand Canyon IMAX is grand, perfect for a screening of Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets in the 487-person theater. The 34-minute show takes travelers into the canyon with historical commentary and incredible aerial views—a perfect introduction to the real thing.
No trip to Las Vegas is complete without visiting the Grand Canyon. Thousands of feet higher than the South Rim, the canyon’s North Rim provides impressive vistas, trails along the Colorado River, and a better glimpse at the inner canyon, all with sparser crowds than its more popular counterpart. Highlights on the North Rim include Bright Angel Point (a terminus of the famous Bright Angel Trail), Angel’s Window Overlook, Cape Royal, and Point Imperial—the Grand Canyon’s highest point at 8,800 feet (2,682 meters).
A visit to Tusayan Ruins and Museumprovides a glimpseinto the life of the Hopi tribe and the Ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited the region 800 years ago. Inside the museum, there are artfully displayed exhibits on various aspects of life in the village including pottery,arrowheads, and other household artifacts. The museum also features some of the original 2,000–4,000 year oldsplit-twig figurines, which are made in the shape of deer or bighorn sheep, sometimes with horns or antlers.
The Tusayan Ruins and Museumis part of the Grand Canyon South Rim’s Desert View Drive. The trail itself holds a variety of attractions including Desert View, the breathtaking scenery unfolding from Desert View Watchtower, Navajo Point, where you can see the Colorado River and Escalante Butte, and Lipan Point, where you can see several stretches of the Colorado River. Also here is Moran Point, where you can see a layer of red shale in the canyon walls.
The Hualapai have been living in the Grand Canyon area for generations, and today the tribe offers some of the area’s best experiences at Hualapai Ranch. Enjoy cowboy shows, cookouts, and wagon rides; visit Indian Village to learn fascinating history; and brave the Skywalk, a platform extending 70 feet (21 meters) out over the canyon.
Yavapai Point, perched near the entrance of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, offers unobstructed views of the canyon’s sweeping panoramas. The viewpoint overlooks Plateau Point, Bright Angel Canyon, and provides a rare view of the Colorado River far below. You can take in the scenery from the rocky point or the glass observation area inside the Yavapai Geology Museum.
One of the most remote hotels in the Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch serves as a rustic, idyllic respite adventures who visit the bottom of the canyon. Even getting here is one of the purest ways to experience the canyon: the ranch is only accessible by floating down the Colorado River, by hiking, or by riding a mule.
Phantom Ranch offers nine, simple, stone-walled cabins, all of them air conditioned. This is truly Canyon living: the inside of each cabin as a concrete floor, desk, a toilet, sink, and bunk beds. Outside the cabins, picnic tables sit under cottonwood trees. It’s the only park lodging below the rim. The location is perfect, especially if you’re exploring Ribbon Falls and the River Trail, or if you just want to relax and read. The canteen is a popular spot for hotel guests as well as from the nearby Bright Angel Campground.
Perched 3000 feet (914 meters) above the Colorado River on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Toroweap Point reveals sweeping views far from the crowds that gather at more popular overlooks. The area’s sheer red rock cliffs and numerous trails reward those who make the trip with excellent hiking, photography, and picnicking opportunities.