The Grand Canyon is located in Northern Arizona and is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Even so, visitors from the eastern United States and around the world often can’t say exactly where the grandest of all canyons is.
Getting to the Grand Canyon
It stretches from Lees Ferry near the Arizona/Utah border westward to the Grand Wash Cliffs near Las Vegas. The total distance that it covers is 277 miles. It ranges in width from one-fourth of a mile to 18 miles and is more than one mile deep in some places.
The Grand Canyon is easy to get to from two major cities in Arizona, Flagstaff and Phoenix. In fact, Flagstaff is known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon. It is only about a one and a half hour drive to the west and north of the city. You will head out of town on Fort Valley Road and US Highway 180 W/N. After approximately 50 miles, you will turn right onto Arizona Highway 64 North and head for the Canyon, arriving there after about 30 more miles.
An alternative route is to take Interstate 40 out of Flagstaff towards Los Angeles. After about 50 miles, you will turn right and continue on Highway 64 north towards the Canyon. There is no notable difference in the time of the two routes. The first one involves traveling about an hour on a two-lane forested road while the interstate is four-lanes.
Phoenix, the state’s capital and largest city is approximately 150 miles directly south of Flagstaff. The shortest route to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix is to first head west out of town on Washington Street. Then take Interstate 17 N/US 60 West. After about an hour’s drive, the route changes to Arizona Highway 89. Head for the Prescott/Chino Valley and pick up Highway 89 North. After about 40 miles, you will come to Interstate 40. Turn to the right and then take Highway 64 northwards toward the Canyon.
Accommodations at the Grand Canyon.
A visit to the Grand Canyon is easily a day trip from both Flagstaff and Phoenix. However, it is an adventure to stay a night or two near the Canyon, and you will have time to see and do more. There are a variety of accommodations around the Canyon from rustic lodges to upscale inns. Some of the accommodations surround the Grand Canyon National Park while others are within the park itself.
Some visitors choose to stay in the town of Tusayan five miles to the south of the Canyon. Several hotels are located here as well as campgrounds for those who like to travel with camper trailers.
Things to See and Do Around the Grand Canyon
From an hour’s visit to a week’s stay, there is plenty to see and do at the Grand Canyon National Park and the surrounding area. Driving tours, air tours or simply gazing across the Canyon’s breathtaking scenery will be an unforgettable experience. Those who see the view for the first time describe it as so spectacular that they were unprepared for the stark beauty. Although the Grand Canyon is not the biggest or deepest canyon in the world, it is the one that reveals the earth’s geological history in a spectacular and pristine form.
To help visitors navigate more easily, the Canyon is divided into two distinct areas, the North Rim and the South Rim. Because of its proximity to Flagstaff, the South Rim sees the most action. It is the section where the park headquarters and Grand Canyon Village are located. You will find lodging, a general store, restaurants, laundry and shower facilities, a gas station and an ATM. Visitors have the option of pulling over into different parking areas for viewing the Canyon, or taking a free park shuttle bus. This is also the area where the bus tours aggregate. Check out our how to visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas article to learn more about bus tours to the Grand Canyon. The second option is recommended for weekends and holidays when the park is crowded.
The North Rim is closed during the winter months. Otherwise, it is a great way to see the Canyon in a more remote setting. Visitors to this area will find camping facilities and a general store. It is also the location of the rustic, historic Grand Canyon Lodge.
There are several ways to see the wonders of the Grand Canyon from bike tours to air tours. Helicopters, airplanes and jeeps are some of the ways to see the Grand Canyon. Hiking and rafting are great outdoor adventures in the park. Several educational programs are designed especially for children ages 4-14.
The Grand Canyon is truly an outdoor adventure for everyone. In addition to the outdoor adventures, visitors can enjoy fine dining, nightlife and shopping.
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