Visit the Grand Canyon

Maximize Your Visit: Grand Canyon Itinerary and practical information to help you plan your own visit

by and - last updated on 6/12/2024

Exploring the Grand Canyon National Park   Map

How to plan your trip to the Grand Canyon?

Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon involves several key steps to ensure you have a memorable experience. Start by choosing your accommodation, whether it's a lodge inside the park or a nearby hotel. Next, review an overview of the Grand Canyon including where to park, getting around, where to eat and finally follow our detailed itinerary for the South Rim to make the most of your 1 to 2 days at the Grand Canyon’s south rim.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona: a natural wonder that lives up to the hype. The first glimpse of the canyon is awe-inspiring. Stand at the South Rim (the most accessible) and witness layer upon layer of colorful rock stretching as far as the eye can see. One billion years of geologic history is laid bare before you, a humbling reminder of Earth's immense age. The ancient rock layers, some over a billion years old, tell a story of geological processes that have shaped our planet. This serves as a reminder that the Earth has existed long before humans and will likely continue to do so long after.

The Grand Canyon is over a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep at its deepest point, reaching a maximum depth of about 6,000 feet (1,829 meters) from the rim to the Colorado River at the bottom. This immense depth is a key aspect of the canyon's scale and adds to the profound sense of wonder that visitors experience. The Colorado River has been carving away rock for the past five to six million years.

If you have never been to the Grand Canyon, it is a place that you should put on your list. You’ll never forget the feeling of looking over the edge for the first time. Pictures don’t do it justice.

Our latest visit to the Grand Canyon was part of a three week Southwest USA adventure road trip, including several stops in New Mexico, a day in Monument Valley, and then visits to the Grand Canyon and Sedona. We drove to the canyon from Monument Valley and stayed in the Grand Canyon Village for the first time.

The sections below provide an overview and useful information to help you start planning your trip. Then check out our Grand Canyon South Rim Top Sites and Itineraries page and our video.


Youtube Video Link
Click this video poster image to watch our Grand Canyon National Park Arizona Overview and Travel Guide which includes a map overview and the information you need to plan your visit through one of the most visually stunning national parks in the American Southwest. Get information about where to stay at the Grand Canyon, where to eat at the Grand Canyon, where to park, and how to get around the Grand Canyon. We include accessibility information and provide a detailed Grand Canyon National Park itinerary for visiting the south rim. This video is perfect for the first-time visitor or the visitor who has already been to the Grand Canyon but only explored it for a few hours. We’ve been there several times and each time we learn more. Our goal is to allow you to shortcut your trip planning by providing a large amount of information in a concise video. This video is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.

Grand Canyon Area Overview & Map 

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The Grand Canyon is vast, stretching approximately 277 miles (446 kilometers) in length and up to 18 miles (29 kilometers) in width. This immense size can make it challenging for visitors to grasp the distances between key points of interest.

For instance, if you start at the Grand Canyon West Visitor Center and drive to the Grand Canyon South Rim visitor center it’s 241 miles. The distance from the Grand Canyon south rim visitor center to the north rim visitor center is approximately 210 miles.The distance from the South Rim Visitor Center to the Desert View Visitor Center is only about 22 miles.

The Grand Canyon SkyWalk is closest to the Grand Canyon West Visitor Center. Many people visit the west part of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. However, by far, the most popular area to visit in the Grand Canyon is the south rim with the most accessibility, visitor services and scenic beauty.

Grand Canyon South Rim Area & Map 

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At the South Rim, you'll find the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, which serves as the main hub for visitor information, exhibits, and orientation. Here, you can learn about the canyon's geology, ecology, and cultural history through engaging displays and ranger-led programs.

Nearby, the Grand Canyon Village offers a variety of lodging options, from historic hotels like the El Tovar Hotel to more budget-friendly accommodations, as well as dining, shopping, and other amenities.

The South Rim Trail, also known as the Rim Trail, is one of the most scenic and accessible trails in Grand Canyon National Park. Stretching for approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) from the South Kaibab Trailhead to Hermit's Rest.

Grand Canyon Village Area Overview & Map 

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Grand Canyon Village is the main hub of activity and the primary gateway to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Established in the early 20th century, this historic area offers a range of accommodations, dining options, visitor services, and access to some of the most iconic viewpoints and trails in the park.

Where Should I Stay at the Grand Canyon South Rim? 

There are two primary locations for staying overnight at the Grand Canyon. You can stay inside the park or in a small town just 6 miles south of the park called Tusayan.

During previous visits to the Grand Canyon we didn’t stay inside or near the park. We only visited for a few hours each time. During this last trip we stayed in the village and it was worth the cost to be able to see much more of the Grand Canyon and to experience both sunrise and sunset in the park.

Staying in the Grand Canyon

There are several options to choose from including 5 hotel options in the Grand Canyon Village area or marketplace, camping in the park or staying in the town directly south of the South Rim entrance named Tusayan.

We stayed at the Grand Canyon El Tovar Hotel which is a National Historic Landmark built in 1905 by the Fred Harvey Company. It was designed to resemble a Swiss chalet and was named after Pedro de Tovar, a Spanish conquistador who explored the Grand Canyon in the 16th century. It has a western feel inside with a lot of wood furnishings and a grand staircase. It has both a formal restaurant and the El Tovar cocktail lounge and is situated on the south rim within steps of the edge of the canyon. This may be the most expensive option, depending on bookings and when you go. Click here to read our review of the El Tovar Hotel.

Remember that these are National Park hotels and not resort style accommodations. You are paying for the location right next to or near the canyon. Many of the reviewers complained that they spent a lot of money for what they got when staying within the park… but where else in the world can you get those Grand Canyon sunset views? Just manage your expectations and determine if saving time and spending more time in the park is worth the cost or if you rather look for more budget options.

 
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 There is no reserved parking for those staying at hotels in the park. You need to find your spot in the village parking lots. See more information in the section where to park at the Grand Canyon below on this page.
 

Grand Canyon Village Lodging Overview 

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  • Bright Angel Lodge - 3 star hotel, rated 9.2 on Expedia. Bright Angel Lodge is a historic lodge designed by Mary Colter in 1935, with exposed timber, adobe and natural rock walls. It offers dining, lodging, tours and a museum at the west end of the Village Historic District.
  • Kachina Lodge - 2.5 star hotel, rated 8.4 on Expedia. Kachina is right next store to El Tovar. The location is excellent, however, these are basic rooms.
  • Thunderbird Lodge - 2 star hotel, rated 8.6 on Expedia. Also, in the same area in the village.
  • Maswik Lodge - 2.5 star hotel, rated 8.8 on Expedia- Maswik Lodge is a 280-room lodging modern complex. It is located just a short quarter-mile walk or bus ride from the canyon’s edge. The complex consists of the main lodge building that houses the Registration Desk, Gift Shop, Maswik Food Court, and Pizza Pub.
  • El Tovar - 2.5 star hotel, rated 8.4 on Expedia. It is located steps from the rim and has a beautiful setting with a restaurant, lounge and gift shop inside. The rooms are basic and there are lots of stairs and no elevator. They do claim to have 2 accessible rooms on the first floor.
Grand Canyon Travel Guide - Get an overview, information about where to stay, where to eat, bus and parking info, and imagery as well as a detailed 1 to 2 day itinerary to help you  plan your visit to the south rim of the Grand Canyon
Bright Angel Lodge
Grand Canyon Travel Guide - Get an overview, information about where to stay, where to eat, bus and parking info, and imagery as well as a detailed 1 to 2 day itinerary to help you  plan your visit to the south rim of the Grand Canyon
Thunderbird Lodge
Grand Canyon Travel Guide - Get an overview, information about where to stay, where to eat, bus and parking info, and imagery as well as a detailed 1 to 2 day itinerary to help you  plan your visit to the south rim of the Grand Canyon
El Tovar Hotel
Grand Canyon Travel Guide - Get an overview, information about where to stay, where to eat, bus and parking info, and imagery as well as a detailed 1 to 2 day itinerary to help you  plan your visit to the south rim of the Grand Canyon
Maswik Lodge

IMAGE CREDIT: The above image of the Maswik Lodge is the property of the National Park Service. All other images are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC unless otherwise noted.

Grand Canyon Marketplace Lodging Overview   Map

  • Yavapai Lodge: Located about a mile from the canyon rim, Yavapai Lodge offers spacious rooms and cabins surrounded by pine forests. It's a quieter option for those seeking a more peaceful stay. It is on the shuttle bus route and you can ride that to the rim. It has a cafeteria restaurant and a tavern as well as a supermarket across the street. The rooms are large and comfortable according to some reviewers.
  • Camping Options in the Park: There are camping and RV options as well. They do book well in advance. Check out the Grand Canyon National Park Service site for more information:
 
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 Reservations and more lodging options can be found at the National Park Service site
 

Tusayan Lodging Overview 

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There are many options in the town of Tusayan. See the map above. They are typically a bit cheaper than staying in the park and there are more eating options and services, etc.

The Red Feather Lodge, even though it’s a two-star hotel, stands out as an option for staying outside of the park, with comments like these offered by reviewers: 'ticked all of the boxes,' 'clean, comfortable, and convenient,' 'friendly.'

 
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 Click here to view a Google Search Results List for lodging at Tusayan
 

Where to Park at the Grand Canyon South Rim 

There are 4 parking lots at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center area. Parking lots 1, 2, 3 and 4. There is a lot designated for RV parking. If visiting for the day or staying outside of the park this is the best place to park. See the National Park Service website for specifics.

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There are four other lots mostly for those staying in the park or visiting the market place. Lots A and B are by the marketplace and Lots C and D are closer to the village area hotels. Lot D is the closest parking lot to the Maswik Lodge.

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As we mentioned previously there is no reserved parking for the hotels. If you are staying at the El Tovar Hotel or in one of the nearby village hotels you may be able to find convenient parking to the right of El Tovar Road. We were able to snag a spot very early in the morning. There are also some spots on the streets just behind the hotels but it is very limited. If you can’t find close by parking it is best to try to pull up to the hotel and drop your bags and then park.

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 For more information regarding parking, click here to go to that National Park Service Website Page
 

Getting around the Grand Canyon South Rim 

Getting around at the Grand Canyon South Rim involves a mixture of walking, driving and using the bus system which is efficient, reasonably comfortable, frequent and free. The buses operate every 10 to 15 minutes and the line to board queues up quickly.

Walking between the Visitor Center and the Village is easy on the South Rim trail. However, walking one way might be enough for you and then you can shuttle back to where your car is parked.

A car is required to drive the desert view 22 mile drive.

The Hermit’s Rest road is now restricted to buses and bicycles during peak times from March to November. Outside of this time, it is still possible to drive along that route.

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  • Blue: Visitor Center to the Marketplace and the Village as well as the backcountry information center.
  • Red: The Village to Hermit’s Rest.
  • Orange: Visitor Center to Kaibab Trail direct.
  • Purple: Visitor Center to Tusayan.
 
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 For more information regarding the shuttle bus system, click here to go to that National Park Service Website Page
 

Where to Eat at the Grand Canyon South Rim 

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The eating options in the Grand Canyon are somewhat limited and most reviewers stated that the food isn't very good and and described it as "average".

  • Visitor Center: Eating options include two quick food options. The Bright Angel Cafe and the Fred Harvey food truck when available for hot dogs.
  • The Village: Eating options include; El Tovar dining room, El Tovar lounge,, Arizona Steakhouse, Maswick food court, Harvey House Cafe at Kachina Lodge. There is a pop up beer garden outside of the El Tovar hotel. The El Tovar dining room is more high end, requires reservations and expects you to dress appropriately. For breakfast, El Tovar dining room is first come first serve.
  • The Marketplace: It has the Yavapai dining hall and the Yavapai Tavern sports bar. The Yavapai Tavern gets decent reviews.
  • Tusayan: After reviewing some of the reviews for Tusayan the more stand out options include RJs Mexican Food Truck, Big E Steakhouse and Saloon, Plaza Bonita and We Cook Pizza.
 
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 For more information regarding Restaurants and Groceries, click here to go to that National Park Service Website Page
 

More Just Traveling Thru Resources  

  • Our Grand Canyon Image Gallery
  • Our Grand Canyon Video
  • Our Grand Canyon El Tovar Hotel Page
  • Top Sites in the Grand Canyon and Grand Canyon South Rim Itineraries
  • Fly Drive Road Trip Tips
  • Our Youtube Channel

More Info for the Grand Canyon, AZ 

  • Grand Canyon Wikipedia Article
  • Grand Canyon National Park Service Page
  • Grand Canyon Google Images Set:
  • Get Your Guide Grand Canyon Tour from South Rim:
  • Our Grand Canyon Image Gallery:
 
 

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Note: All images on this page are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC unless otherwise noted.

Note: If you are interested, click here to view our European Travel Tips & Warnings. Or to take a look at our methods for planning, click here to view our Trip Planning Page..

 
 

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