It’s no surprise that more than 5 million people choose to visit the Grand Canyon National Park every year. The Grand Canyon is a breathtaking natural landmark that will leave a lasting impression on tourists of any age. The canyon measures up to a mile deep after forming from the Colorado River cutting through layers upon layers of rock. The result is truly stunning - exposed layers of the Earth’s crust dating back millions of years. The canyon measures in at 270 miles long and stretches across northern Arizona. With so much to take in, here is a guide to the top attractions to see while you plan your trip to the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon Skywalk at Eagle Point
This impressive feat of engineering provides visitors the thrilling experience of walking right over the edge of the Grand Canyon to seemingly float 4,000 feet above its amazing depths. The horseshoe-shaped glass bridge features a clear bottom so you can look right through your feet at the canyon below. This could be a challenge if you’re squeamish with heights, but there is really no view of the Grand Canyon quite like this one and it should definitely be taken advantage of while you’re there. And if you question the Skywalk’s sturdiness, just know it was designed to support the weight of 70 passenger jet airplanes! It’s located at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon Skywalk tickets must be purchased to enjoy this attraction. However, most visitors would agree that it’s worth every penny.
For those looking to explore the Grand Canyon a little bit more in-depth than simply snapping pictures from afar, Havasu Falls is the perfect destination for hiking, camping, and taking in the stunning scenery. The most sought-after attraction here is the beautiful Blue Green waterfall, which you can only reach after a 10-mile hike. For this reason, Havasu Falls is not for those who are physically unable to hike long distances or are uncomfortable with the idea of minimal amenities at the campground. The Havasupai Tribe holds this land sacred, so visitors are asked the treat their surroundings with the utmost respect while on the reservation. It’s this exclusivity that has preserved the natural splendor of this beautiful Grand Canyon South Rim destination. Reservations are difficult to get as campground space is very limited, so book well ahead of your planned visit.
Hermit Road Scenic Route
Formerly known as West Rim Drive, this scenic route was updated in 2008 and has since become one of the most popular attractions at the Grand Canyon. If it’s spectacular views you’re looking for, this route is sure to deliver the most picturesque lookout points anyone could ever hope for. For serious bicyclists, Hermit Road is a match made in heaven because of the unrivaled views and the limited number of vehicles allowed on the road. This means less traffic hazards and fewer drivers to worry about. In fact, during the busy months of March through November, only commercial tour shuttles are allowed on the route. From the unique vantage points on Hermit Road, you can enjoy views of the canyon and Colorado River, popular spots to view the sunset, and beautiful photo opportunities.
The Black Suspension Bridge
Built in 1928, the Black Suspension Bridge (also known as the Kaibab Suspension Bridge) spans the entire width of the canyon, stretching across the Colorado River below. The bridge connects the South Kaibab Trail and North Kaibab Trail and can be accessed from either route. Because these hiking trails are particularly steep as you descend towards the bridge, visitors should generally be in good physical shape and able to hike trails close to sharp dropoffs. Once at the bridge, you’ll be able to enjoy the impressive view of the bridge connecting one end of the Grand Cayon to the other. This spot was strategically chosen, as most of the canyon is too far apart of too dangerous to have ever attempted a bridge. In fact, the Black Suspension bridge is only one of two bridges to span the entire canyon. Talk about a unique experience!
Rafting Through the Grand Canyon
Water lovers and thrill seekers alike highly recommend rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon for a fun-filled experience like no other. Most rafting tours will take off from Page, Arizona, which is about 140 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This allows enough distance to enjoy the river before arriving at your end destination. There are many options offered by different groups and guides that vary in length from just one day to as long as 25 days along the river. Likewise, there are several raft options available, including large motorized rafts, oared rafts, and paddle rafts. Depending on your personal preference and the experience you hope to have, do your research carefully to understand what different guides offer and which choice is best for you.
National Geographic Visitor Center & IMAX Theater
If you want to learn more about the history of the Grand Canyon and enjoy the magnificent views it has to offer, the National Geographic Visitor Center at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is a great place to start. You will get an interesting overview of all there is to see while at the national park, as well as information about local hotels and restaurant to visit. The staff at the visitor center are happy to answer any questions you may have about the Grand Canyon or make recommendations on the best experience for you. You’ll also find exhibits, brochures, clean restrooms, a cafe, and souvenir store here. As an added bonus, there is a state-of-the-art IMAX theater at the visitors center showing Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets, which shares fascinating facts about this natural wonder. The show runs 34 minutes.
Desert View Drive and Tusayan Ruins
The Desert View Drive is a spectacular scenic route that spans 25 miles along the rim of the canyon, with several picture-worthy stops along the way. It starts from the Grand Canyon Village and ends at the East Entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. During your drive, you’ll find six developed viewpoints along the canyon’s edge, four picnic areas to stop and enjoy a quick bite, breathtaking scenery, and the Tusayan Museum and Tusayan Pueblo ruin site. The ruins of the Tusayan Pueblo are a must-see for those doing the Desert View Drive. The active archeological site features a preserved village where ancient peoples lived as hunter-gatherers up to 12,000 years ago. This particular route also allows private vehicles, unlike some of the other scenic routes which only allow commercial tour vehicles, so it’s great for families.
Yavapai Geology Museum
This facility is located at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, between the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and Grand Canyon Village. This is a great place to take in amazing views of the surrounding scenery, but also have access to engaging geological exhibits and models explaining the complex and detailed history of the land. You’ll be able to see beautiful artwork from the region, evoking photography of the canyon itself, and a large topographic relief model of the surrounding land. The Yavapai Observation Station is also located here, so you and your family can take in the views from its panoramic wall of windows facing north towards the canyon. Before leaving, don’t forget to grab a unique souvenir from the museum’s shop and bookstore!
Horseshoe Bend Lookout Point
Named for its resemblance in shape to a horseshoe, this bend in the Colorado River has been carving its way into a more and more curved meander point in the canyon. It’s such an interesting geological site, but also a wonderful sightseeing opportunity. It’s located just five miles from the edge of the Grand Canyon National Park and provides a special photo opportunity you won’t find anywhere else. Although it’s not within the boundaries of the Grand Canyon National Park and can add some drive time to your trip, more and more visitors are drawn to this beautiful attraction and decide to start their trips from this point. If you have the time, it’s definitely worth a visit!
When visiting the Grand Canyon, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to the exciting attractions and stunning views it has to offer. With that said, many of the sightseeing spots along the canyon have proven time and time again to wow every visitor who comes across them. When planning your trip to the Grand Canyon, it’s always best to do your research carefully and map out the best experience for you and your family. If you happen to be staying in Las Vegas, Gray Line offers a wide selection of tour packages that visit many of these attractions and will pick you up directly from your hotel on the Strip or Downtown Las Vegas! Contact us today to learn more about our Grand Canyon tour packages.