So you just drove up from Phoenix and it has taken you about 3 ½ hours to get to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Stopping at the National Park check-point, you pay your $25 vehicle fee and wind around the small road till you get to Bright Angel Lodge and look-out. Park, climb out of the car, grab your camera and walk to the edge of the Canyon, bordered by a rock wall fence. “Wow, that’s really a big canyon,” you think. You take lots of pictures as you wander along the rock wall path – shots of the cascading plateaus across the 10-15 mile vista, close-ups of those cute little chipmunks and a few selfies you post to Instagram to prove “Here I am!” About 20 minutes later, you walk back to the car and head off to the next view-point for another 10-15 minutes stop and then maybe one more stop before returning home.
This is it? This is your great adventure to see one of the seven wonders of the natural world? Unfortunately, yes, this is the average experience of the Grand Canyon visitor. Don’t be this guy! There is just so much more to see and experience – more than just pictures that pile up in your camera. The Grand Canyon can offer you a real experience that enlightens, thrills, challenges or expands your world. Let’s explore some possibilities:
When You Don’t Have A Lot of Time – Just One Day
Helicopter flight – Helicopters depart from the Grand Canyon Airport every half an hour and they are spectacular! The North Rim is 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim in only a 10-15 mile distance so when the helicopter flies over the Canyon, you actually feel like you are flying inside and under the rim. It’s fantastic! The views are incredible and plus, they play great inspiration music like “Ride of the Valkyries” so you really have an amazing experience.
Airplane ride – This is a little bit more affordable and the airplanes are quieter with a soaring quality that the helicopter chopper blades do not have. You can fly deeper into the Canyon and glide like a bird, seeing the Canyon without people, buildings or any trappings of modern life.
South Kaibab Trail – Hiking down into the Canyon for a few hours is a very hands-on way to experience the Canyon and gives you a great sense of how big the Canyon really is. This trail is used for casual day hikers as well as the serious trekkers determinedly marching to the floor. Feel the breeze in your hair, hear the quiet and stillness and watch the shifting light of the canyon around you. This is a wonderful way to spend the day but bring water and food! This is nature with no concession stands. If you do not want to hike alone and would prefer a guide, I recommend the day-hikes at the Grand Canyon Field Institute
Grand Canyon Railway – The little town of Williams about an hour from the South Rim operates the Grand Canyon Railway. What a scenic, relaxing way to get to the Canyon! The train arrives at the south rim of Grand Canyon. You can explore the visitor’s center and rim for a few hours before catching the train back to Williams.
The Grand Canyon has something for everyone – the die-hard outdoor adventurer, the casual “check-it-off-my-bucket-list” traveler or the family and friends wanting to spend time together doing something fun! Whoever you are, the Grand Canyon is waiting to inspire you!