One of our most beloved national parks, Grand Canyon, turns 100 in 2019, so there's never been a better time to visit this geological wonder in the northwest corner of Arizona. The massive chasm - 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide - became a national park in 1919. If you're planning a visit, here are some of the tours you can take to experience the best of this American treasure (fingers crossed the government shutdown ends soon!).
1. View the Canyon Via Helicopter
Operated by Maverick Helicopters, you can take the Canyon Spirit chopper tour for a 45-minute flight over the Grand Canyon. The route covers both the North and South Rims, and crosses the Dragon Corridor, the widest and deepest point of the canyon. You'll also be able to see the Colorado River and the Kaibab National Forest.
2. Take a Day-Long Bus Tour
Within the park, you can utilize the South Rim's free hop-on, hop-off shuttle, but for a more in-depth tour consider a guided motor coach tour, which is geared to visitors coming from Flagstaff (or even Las Vegas). Flagstaff's Grand Canyon Adventures covers 25 miles of the South Rim and also visits the historic El Tovar Hotel and the Desert View Watchtower.
3. Pedal Along the South Rim
For a family-friendly guided bicycle tour along the South Rim, sign up for a Hermit Road Tour tour with Bright Angel Bicycles. This easygoing 6-mile round-trip tour on Hermit Road, which is closed to traffic, provides stunning South Rim and Colorado River views. You can also rent a bike here to tackle more challenging trails on your own.
4. Descend the Canyon on a Mule
This famous Grand Canyon tour, offered through Xanterra's Grand Canyon Lodges, sells out quickly so book well in advance. Enjoy the views as you descend 10 miles from the South Rim to the canyon floor along the narrow Bright Angel Trail, then have dinner and spend the night at Phantom Ranch. Shorter mule rides along the rim are also available.
5. Hike the Canyon During a Glamping Trip
If you're a fan of glamping, you can overnight at Under Canvas, which is a half-hour's drive from the South Rim entrance. The luxury camp, on 160 acres, offers guests custom hikes to scenic spots within in the park. Afterward, unwind on your private deck, complete with a wood stove and en suite bathroom. Learn more about these stylish tents here.
6. Whitewater Raft on the Colorado River
For an adventure down the Colorado River, sign up for a whitewater rafting trip with Western River Expeditions. During its 3-day Grand Canyon tour, you'll pass through rapids, as well as calm stretches, which allow you to take in the canyon's spectacular sandstone cliffs. You'll camp on the riverbank and eat meals prepared by guides.
7. Get a Bird's Eve View on the SkyWalk
Head to Grand Canyon West to experience the thrill of SkyWalk, a glass horseshoe-shaped platform that takes you out 70 feet over the canyon. Keep in mind, this popular attraction is not technically in Grand Canyon National Park. Rather, it's on land managed by the Hualapai tribe and is approximately a 5-hour drive from the South Rim.
8. See the Sights With a Sunset Four-Wheel-Drive Tour
One of the more unique ways to experience the canyon is to take an open-air four-wheel-drive tour with Grand Canyon Jeep & Safari Tours. See the sights from the specially-designed eco-friendly safari-style vehicles, which take you through the wildlife-rich Kaibab Forest en route to the canyon, where you'll arrive at Grandview Point overlook just in time for sunset!
9. Go Backcountry Camping
Experienced backpackers can tackle challenging trails in the North Rim on REI Adventures' four-day Grand Canyon Backpacking trip that goes well off the tourist path. Hike 7 to 9 miles per day along steep and rocky trails, passing dramatic canyon walls, hidden waterfalls, and ancient fossils, then sleep under the stars in remote campsites.
Hiking Backpacks That Are Perfect for Your Next Adventure
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