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.
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.
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?
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
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.