Explore Arizona: The Grand Canyon

Around the great state of Arizona, when one talks about “the Canyon”, one is referring to the Grand Canyon.  For we have lots of canyons, Canyon de Chelly, Salt River Canyon and Glen Canyon to name a few, but none has the mystique of the Grand Canyon.  We are the Grand Canyon State, after all.  It is nothing short of awe inspiring to stand on the edge of the Canyon and gaze out upon the vastness, the depths and the colors.

It has been written that there are nearly 40 major sedimentary rock layers that range in age from 200 million to 2 billion years old.  That’s geek speak for all the cool layers you see.

Here are a few facts about the Canyon to catch you up to speed:

  • While most in Arizona know this, (many outside the US may not) but the Grand Canyon is located entirely in the state of Arizona, in the northern part of the state specifically.
  • There are two visitor centers located in Grand Canyon National Park, one on the North Rim and one on the South Rim of the Canyon.
  • The elevation of the South Rim is 6,850 to 7,200 feet and is the more developed area of the two rims.  The iconic El Tovar Hotel is the closest hotel to the South Rim, but there are several hotels and restaurants in the nearby town of Tusayan.  The South Rim is a 3 ½ hour drive from Phoenix.  The closest airport is in the town of Flagstaff, 80 miles southeast.  The South Rim attracts over 5 million visitors every year and is open year round.
  • The elevation of the North Rim is higher at 8,297 feet.  The closest towns are Jacob Lake, Arizona, 30 miles north of the visitor center, and Kanab, Utah, 80 miles northwest.  The drive from Las Vegas to the North Rim is roughly 4 ½ hours.  There is also a small airport in Page, Arizona, 2 hours away.  It takes 5 hours to drive from one rim to another.
  • The North Rim is very remote and, because of its higher elevation, is only open mid-May to mid-October. The campground on the North Rim, however, remains open for two weeks longer than the Grand Canyon Lodge, which other than the Jacob Lake Lodge, is the only lodging on the North Rim.
  • Reservations on both rims book out months, sometimes up to a year, in advance.  So, planning ahead (if you want to spend the night nearby) is highly recommended.  There are several water stations along the way, but plan your hike so that you have access to plenty of water.
  • There are two trails on the South Rim, and one on the North Rim.  From the South Rim, you can take either the Bright Angel Trail or the South Kaibab Trail to the Colorado River, 7.8 and 6.3 miles respectively.  From the North Rim, there is the North Kaibab trail, which is 14.2 miles to the river.  (What is this Kaibab? In the Paiute language, it means “mountain lying down”.)
  • To venture down one of the three trails, one will descend a mile in elevation and experience a change (at times) of 40 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature.  Hiking with a buddy, snacking often and staying hydrated are highly recommended.
  • There are a couple of campgrounds located within the canyon, as well as a lodge along the Colorado River called Phantom Ranch.  Incidentally, Phantom Ranch was built for the Fred Harvey Company.  (If you did not read my post on Winslow, I suggest you back up a touch to read it and learn about this fascinating man…see link below.)
  • Hiking from one rim to another in a day is called Rim 2 Rim and, depending on the trail you choose, will total 20 to 22 miles.  Hiking from rim to rim to rim in one day is called R3, and is attempted by very crazy people, my husband included (he managed 45 miles in 15 hours should you ask, but he is not normal.)

Back in my youth (ok, back in my 20’s), I hiked down Bright Angel Trail, spent the night at Phantom Ranch and came back out via the South Kaibab Trail.  Recently, it has been on my bucket list to do Rim 2 Rim.  Last week, Hubby and I set out to explore the North Rim of the Canyon on a reconnaissance mission.  I wanted to feel it out, to see if 20 years after my first descent I could envision doing it again, but this time in one day.

The trailhead of the North Kaibab Trail.

Going down, down, down.

The is the point where I am wondering how the hell I am going to walk out.

But we kept going for close to 10 miles.

We made it far enough to see the South Rim of the Canyon, the hiking out point if we were doing Rim 2 Rim.  It still looks really far away, but our GPS said we hiked a total of 20 miles that day.

This is what I treated myself to when I made it back to the Grand Canyon Lodge, after 8 hours of hiking. It was the best beer (a Hefeweizen), with the best view ever.

We stayed at the Grand Canyon Lodge, which is perched literally on the edge of the canyon. There is a restaurant, a saloon, a deli, and down the road at the campsite, a small store and a laundromat. Really everything you would need, except wifi, but who needs stinkin’ wifi when you have the Canyon?

The Grand Canyon Lodge is perched literally on the North Rim.

The views from the Grand Salon of the Grand Canyon Lodge. I love this photo because it looks as if she is looking at a painting.

A pretty sweet spot from which to watch the sunset.

Watching the sunrise from the North Rim.

Some rooms, like 301, 306 and 309 have ridonkulous views.

There are no words.

Will I attempt the Rim 2 Rim? I guess you will have to stay tuned to find out. And I have always wanted to take a river trip down the canyon, à la John Wesley Powell, but with vino and hors d’oeuvres, cause that’s how I roll. Alas, that is for another time. And don’t get me started on Havasupai Falls…so much to explore…so little time. Hope you are getting out there this summer for some exploring! xoM

Point Imperial on the North Rim is the highest point of the Grand Canyon.

We stumbled upon this wedding ceremony.

Day day after the hike I was exhausted, but had to watch the sunrise with Hubby (he looks like he took a mere stroll through the park).

For all things Grand Canyon, go to https://grandcanyon.com/.

Also, check out my related posts below, under Related Posts.


All photos by Marci Symington for texAZtaste.com.  This was not a sponsored post and all my opinions are my own.

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  • deaconann

    Marci, The float trip down the Colorado is one of the best trips I have ever been on. It can certainly be done your way. I always wanted to do it with the kids but they were never at the right age ( i.e. There was someone too young or moved on) at the same time. It would still be fun to do. Best time is end of May or early June. Love, Ann

    • TexazTaste

      I could only imagine it is wonderful. The first I heard about it was from you and Fife. Since this trip, we have put the float trip high on our list of priorities. I know it only gets tougher to do the more time passes. xoxo

  • Betsy Roudi

    Great feature Marci. I enjoyed it so. Loved the humor you had with the adventurous days of hard work. Betsy

    • TexazTaste

      Thank you! I know I can count on you to do Rim 2 Rim with me one day…or a float down the river with some vino! 🙂

  • John Finley

    Bravo and CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    • TexazTaste

      Does this mean you and Stan are up for a Rim 2 Rim with me? Or perhaps a little float down the Colorado? 🙂

  • Austin Eats – Texaz Taste
    June 30, 2017 - 6:15 pm
  • Michele Beyer

    Playing catch-up….LOVED this Marci!!! Tom & I are totally up for another R2R, and/or float….I would love to do the float with kiddos (and vino). xo

    • TexazTaste

      Would be great! Hope your summer was great! Cannot believe it is already coming to a close :(.

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