Grand Canyon National Park is generally considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Billions of years of geologic history have been laid bare by the cutting power of the Colorado River. It is cliché but true, you simply have to see this icon with your own eyes. It can be overwhelming. So can the crowds on the South Rim, but those tend to thin out if you hike a mile or two down a trail. If you have the time during the summer months, be sure to drive five hours over the forested Kaibab Plateau to reach the North Rim (which is only 10 miles away as the raven flies).
Desert View Watchtower, Hopi House, El Tovar Hotel, Phantom Ranch, Toroweap Overlook, whitewater rafting the Colorado River
Growing up in Arizona, Scott used to visit this park frequently, but he feels he never got to know it until he hiked to the bottom in 2016. Even if you only go a couple thousand feet down in elevation on the Grandview Trail or busy Bright Angel Trail, it will give you a new perspective on the canyon.
We day hiked the 18 miles from South Kaibab Trailhead (7200 feet elevation) down to Phantom Ranch (2500 feet) where we filled up with water on the way back up to Bright Angel Trailhead (6800 feet, with multiple water stations on the trail). Backcountry permits can turn this into a multiple day trek, but then you have to carry all your gear out.
It is an arduous 90-mile one-way drive down a (mostly) dirt road to access Toroweap Overlook, but there is a reason photos from this fantastic overlook show up everywhere since the canyon walls are nearly vertical here.
Summer when it is very hot inside the canyon, though it can also be busy around the spring, fall, and December holidays.
$35 per vehicle or America The Beautiful pass
Most roads are paved, and except for the very end of the 90-mile long graded dirt road to Toroweap Overlook is accessible to all passenger vehicles.
The park has campgrounds on both rims, but you can also find dispersed camping in the neighboring Kaibab National Forest.
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