One of the United States’ oldest and most famous national parks is Grand Canyon National Park. Considered to be one of the major natural wonders of the world, the park covers over 1900 square miles in Coconino and Mohave counties and was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1979. The park offers a wide variety of lodgings, campgrounds and activities to take part in during your visit. Averaging nearly five million visitors per year, it is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States.
Mule trips are one of the Grand Canyon’s entertaining offerings giving you a seat on a mule as it takes you throughout the park. There are a variety of trips available including the three hour abyss overlook ride, which takes you from Historic Mule Barn through a Ponderosa Forest and a Piñon and Juniper woodland overflowing with wildlife on your ride to a magnificent cliff at the edge of the canyon. There are also overnight rides that let you stay in Phantom Ranch, a rustic oasis deep in the canyon.
Of course the highlight of the park is the Grand Canyon itself, a spectacular steep-sided gorge that was carved out by the Colorado River. The canyon’s most accessible and popular viewpoint is the South Rim and it is open all year long. The North Rim is visited by a smaller number of people, it lies 10 miles directly across the Canyon from the South Rim and is 1000 feet higher elevation but is a much more difficult area to get to. The Inner Canyon is a great place for adventurous folks who are looking to backpack, ride a mule to Phantom Ranch or take a river trip on the Colorado River. The Coconino Canyon Train offers visitors a leisurely view of the canyon as it takes you on a 90 minute ride throughout 24 miles of canyon landscape. If you are looking for a high-up vantage point to take the enormity of the canyon, there are helicopter and small airplane tours available for canyon flyovers.
Planning on camping? The North or South Rims have established campgrounds that are very busy, it’s recommended you make reservations prior to your visit. All overnight camping below the rim requires a backcountry permit, each year approximately 30,000 requests for permits are received but only 13,000 permits are issued. If you are unable to obtain a permit from the Backcountry Office or are uncomfortable alone, you can always go with a professional guide.
The South Rim area of the park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and reservations are recommended during the busy summer season. A free shuttle bus system is available in the Grand Canyon Village area. The North Rim of the park is only open from mid-May through mid-October due to heavy snow in the area. If you plan on utilizing the lodging or camping areas it is also recommended you make reservations prior to your visit. The entrance fee to Grand Canyon National Park is $25 per vehicle or $12 is entering by foot, bike or motorcycle and is good for seven days at the park. It includes entrance to both the North & South Rims. Fees for camping and lodging are separate and can be checked out at the official website here.
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