What Is Grand Canyon East?

Confluence of the Little Colorado River
Confluence of the Little Colorado River

Grand Canyon East Rim Defined

The Grand Canyon is essentially a huge rift in the earth extending about 277 miles (446 kilometers) from east to west.  Grand Canyon East is NOT a definition used by the National Park Service.  It is a definition used by local people to mark the area where a number of popular sites can be visited.  The Little Colorado River Gorge, the historic Cameron Trading Post, Marble Canyon, Navajo Bridge, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Rainbow Bridge, Tower Butte, part of Lake Powell and the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee’s Ferry are all located within the “East Rim”.  Much of this area is also known as the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and the remainder is Navajo Land.   Grand Canyon East is located in an area that is along the Colorado River to the north and the east of the South Rim.

The Little Colorado River Gorge is Nik Wallenda’s “Grand Canyon” where he walked across the Canyon on a cable.  It is located on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands. It is the controversial area where a proposed resort may be built beginning in 2018.  Currently the Navajo Tribe is split on the decision to build on “sacred” land and the Hopi Tribe, who expects respect for their sacred sites, is totally against the proposal.  You can drive along the gorge as you drive on State Route 64 between the east entrance to the South Rim and the town of Cameron, Arizona.  There are two view areas; one with rails.  The one with rails is a fee area and the other one is not.  The fee is minimal and well worth the price to get the view.

Cameron Trading Post is located in Cameron near the junction of State Route 64 and US 89.  It offers lodging as well as dining and simply a place to stop and rest from your travels for a few minutes.  The Native American Arts and Crafts are displayed throughout the store.  Most of the items are for sale.  You might also see a Navajo woman demonstrating how to weave a rug.

Marble Canyon from the air
Marble Canyon Bridges

Navajo Bridge and its twin offer a way to cross the Colorado River at Marble Canyon.  If you plan to visit Lee’s Ferry and do some world class trout fishing you will use the updated twin bridge for driving and the original Navajo Bridge to walk across.  Be sure to visit the Navajo Interpretive Center at Navajo Bridge and learn about the Navajos.  Walk around and read the plaques that tell some of the area history.

Horseshoe Bend is now known as a Grand Canyon “icon”.  Articles about the National Park often prominently display a picture of this view of a horseshoe shaped meander on the Colorado River.  A short hike will get you to the rim where you can see spectacular views without rails to get in the way.  There is also a downside to this – there are no rails.  Don’t go too close to the edge if you have vertigo!  Keep young children close to you – perhaps in a harness. If hiking isn’t your thing and you still want to visit Horseshoe Bend try an air tour.

Antelope Canyon has long been a destinations for locals.  Now it is also a destination for travelers across the globe.  The beauty of this slot canyon is indescribable.  You have to see it to understand its beauty.  Antelope Canyon has two sections:  Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.  Each has its own beauty but the upper section is generally more crowded.  In addition to Antelope Canyon there are other slot canyons in the area

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, a landform made of sandstone, is viewable by tours from Lake Powell or by air tours from the Page Municipal Airport.  You won’t want to miss the opportunity to see this amazing formation – one of the largest natural bridges in the world!

Don’t miss the opportunity to take a helicopter flight and land on Tower Butte!  The views from the top are absolutely breath-taking!  This tour departs from the Page Municipal Airport and takes you to a place that few others have had the opportunity to visit.  Don’t forget your camera or your friends won’t believe you when you tell them about this place!

Tower Butte Helicopter Tour
Tower Butte

Lake Powell offers several options in the East Rim area.  You can take a boat tour to Lower Antelope Canyon or Rainbow Bridge.  You can rent a power boat or personal water craft for a day of fun on the lake.  You can rent a houseboat and travel on the lake for a few days or a week.  You can spend the night on wide beaches or in tiny coves.  You can eat at one of two floating marinas on the lake or you can take a dinner cruise. You can explore the back canyons and do a little hiking.  There are too many options to mention them all!

Last, but not least, you can spend time on the Colorado River by taking a tour from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee’s Ferry – a smooth water float trip that is guaranteed to relax you and keep you busy looking for crazy “pictures” on the canyon walls.  You will float around Horseshoe Bend and perhaps see people at the rim enjoying the view.  At about a thousand feet above you they will look very tiny.  You will be able to spend about 3 hours on the river enjoying the scenery before you arrive at Lee’s Ferry where a bus will pick you up to return you to Page, Arizona.

You can also take your own boat (or rent a boat) to go fishing on the Colorado River.  This is a famous trout fishing area.  You will drive to Lee’s Ferry and launch your boat from there.  Pay attention to where you are going because the Grand Canyon White Water rapids begin not far downstream from Lee’s Ferry.  You can motor almost to Glen Canyon Dam and fish along the way.  You can also camp at specified campgrounds along the river if you choose.

 Why Should I Visit the East Rim?

There are a lot of reasons to visit the East Rim.  I have  listed some of them above.  Additionally, the East Rim isn’t quite as crowded as the South Rim and there is plenty to see and do while you are there. Other points of interest include Hanging Garden Trail, Stud Horse Point, Skylight Arch, Alstrom Point on Romana Mesa, Birthday Arch, Toadstools Trail, etc.   During the summer and early fall months lodging sells out several months in advance so be sure to plan ahead of time and enjoy your visit.

 

 

20 thoughts on “What Is Grand Canyon East?”

  1. Louise,

    The East Rim Entrance is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year…excepting a very rare snow storm that would close it down. And, again, it is ONLY closed while they are plowing the road.

    October 19th & 20th are VERY rarely an issue with snow. Snow is normally an issue from late November through early March. It will be open 24 hours per day when you get here.

    Enjoy,

    Karlyn

    1. It takes about 4.5 hours to drive from the east rim to Las Vegas by way of St. George, UT. It takes about 7 hours to drive to Las Vegas by way of Flagstaff.

    1. Hello Mina,

      You can drive from the South Rim to the east. You can drive to the Lower Antelope Canyon entrance, pay your fee, and walk through it. For Upper Antelope Canyon you must go with a tour company.

  2. tamara larimore

    Where is the best place to swim/recreation, cabins In the turquoise waters for kids and best area to see the beauty of the Grand Canyon. How far drive to Sedona, Arizona? Best time of year to visit?

    1. Tamara,

      There is the Supai Lodge down at Havasupai. Learn more here: https://theofficialhavasupaitribe.com/Havasupai-Lodge/havasupai-lodge.html

      Unfortunately, I am going to tell you that Havasupai has gone so viral on the Internet that it is already booked up at the Campground almost thru the end of the year.

      It is normally about a 2 1/2 hour drive to Sedona from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Hualapai Hilltop parking lot where you go down to Havasupai is more 3 1/2 hours away.

      The best time of the year to visit the Grand Canyon in my opinion is October.

      Enjoy,

      Karlyn

  3. Is the East Rim Desert View Entrance worth the detour off Highway 89 on our way to river rafting in Page? We are also hiking the South Kaibab Trail a different day. Is there anything at the East Rim that we wouldn’t want to miss? I know all areas of the Grand Canyon are breathtaking, but if time (or tired kids) are an issue, should we skip the East Entrance if we are already hiking down from the South Rim and rafting along the Colorado River? And how much time should we plan for if we do make the stop?

    Thanks,
    April

    1. April,

      If you are hiking down the South Kaibab Trail and then going to Page…you will go right past the Desertview Watchtower and out the East Entrance on your way to Page. So you’ll see it anyways.

      I’d just stop and quickly go up the Desertview Watchtower if you pass it during business hours. Plan 30 minutes.

      Enjoy,

      Karlyn

    1. Melissa,

      I am going to assume you are speaking about the beautiful blue green waterfalls of Havasupai!

      Please learn more at this link as it requires a permit that you must have purchased in advance to visit Havasu Falls:
      https://grandcanyon.com/planning/south-rim-planning-planning/havasupai-falls-arizona/
      https://www.havasupaireservations.com/

      Obviously, there are other waterfalls in the Grand Canyon, however, most of them require difficult hikes. The other falls in the Grand Canyon that are easiest to visit is Ribbon Falls on the North Kaibab Trail.

      I hope this helps,

      Karlyn

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