If you like Disneyland, you’ll love the Grand Canyon. It’s all the fun for half the admission fee. There’s thrilling rides (mules and the park shuttle), intercom tour guides (the shuttle drivers), and what’s better than meeting Disney characters is getting up close to real-life beasts! (The elk probably won’t gore you). You’ll even feel like it’s a small world, because walking around you’re likely to hear more foreign languages than English. It’s not an amusement park, though, it’s a national park that attracts people from all over the world. The crowds can be a little overwhelming, but they aren’t too hard to escape, either.
The good news is that most people who visit the Grand Canyon never walk very far from the road, and stick to the main overlooks. You can just hike along the rim or down into the canyon, and the Disneyland crowds quickly disappear. Here’s a tip: If you can, go to the North Rim, an amazing and relatively remote area of the park that most don’t go to.
The links below lead to everything you need to know about getting around the park, trails, overnight backpacking, where to stay in campsites or hotels, taking the train, riding the mules, rafting the Colorado River through the canyon, and more.
An Insider’s Guide to an Unforgettable Weekend in the Grand Canyon – Overview of the different areas of the park, North Rim versus South Rim, how to get around, and different things to do at the Grand Canyon. By Jesse Weber for Superfeet.
South Rim Crowding: A Survival Guide – Someone who writes content for the Park Service has a great sense of humor. This “survival guide” is all about strategic ways to avoid the hordes if you must visit during the busy season. By some anonymous hero for the National Park Service.
Grand Canyon National Park Overview – More info than you even want to know. Includes fun facts, major hiking trails at South Rim and North Rim, campgrounds, lodges, logistical tips, weather in each season, and advice about taking your dog. By Jesse Weber for Outdoor Project.
Hiking and Backpacking
Grand Canyon National Park’s 10 Best Day Hikes – Self explanatory. By Jesse Weber for Outdoor Project.
Backpacking in the Grand Canyon: An Insider’s Guide – step-by-step guide to planning, getting a camping permit, packing, and being ready for anything on the canyon’s backcountry trails. By Jesse Weber for Superfeet.
How to Hike the Grand Canyon: Tips for Beginners and Experts – Helpful info on how to prepare for a hike of any length in the Grand Canyon. Includes advice on packing for overnight trips and securing permits. Also delivers pro tips on planning advanced adventures like rim-to-rim-to-rim, canyoneering, rock climbing, and packrafting. By Jesse Weber for Outdoor Project.
Backcountry Permit – Official NPS site for backcountry permit information and getting the request process started. Remember that only overnight trips require permits, not day hikes.
Backcountry Permit Request – Actual form you must fill out and send in to get a permit. Also includes some helpful info on regulations and good junk like that.
Trail running has recently become pretty popular in the Grand Canyon. It’s a training ground for some of the nation’s top mountain and ultra runners, and a destination for runners from everywhere to prove themselves. There aren’t a whole lot of resources specific to running in the Grand Canyon, but I wrote Trail Running in the Grand Canyon: An Insider’s Guide for Superfeet that you should check out if you’re an aspiring canyon runner.
Where to Stay
Guide to Camping in Grand Canyon National Park – Information on all the campgrounds within Grand Canyon National Park. By Jesse Weber for Outdoor Project.
Campgrounds: South Rim – More detailed info about each campground option at the South Rim, both inside and near the park. Includes open dates, fees, campground maps, and links to make reservations. By National Park Service.
Grand Canyon Lodging: 15 Best Accomodations In and Out of the National Park – Not a comprehensive list, but an overview of some good places to sleep in a real bed under a roof at the Grand Canyon, including both fancy and budget options.
Note that accommodations in and just outside the park are limited, sometimes pricey, and often have to be reserved in advance. You’ll have many more options if you decide to stay in Williams, Flagstaff, or even Las Vegas and make the drive to the national park from there.
Havasupai and Havasu Falls
This is the blue waterfall that you’ve probably seen 1000 Instagram photos of. It’s in the Grand Canyon, but not within the boundaries of the national park. Havasu Falls, and other waterfalls on the same creek, are on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. The tribe administers permits for visitors. If you want to go there, you’ll have to plan an overnight backpacking trip, reserve far in advance, and pay a lot of money.
The National Park Service has a very informative page about visiting Havasupai, but this is not where you get the permits.
Havasupai Reservations is where you get the permit, but the info on their site is not very helpful for actually planning your trip.
The Official Havasupai Tribe website has helpful information straight from the tribe regarding how to enjoy their lands and behave while you’re there. Definitely read up on this site before you go.