As a kid I had gone to the Grand Canyon some 12 times, that includes spending a week in bottom of the canyon twice, backpacking as a teenager. It is different experience looking up the canyon. Warning permits are required to hike into the canyon. The trip down only takes a few hours, but the trip up can take 8 – 12 hours. Do NOT try it as a casual day hike!!!
A member of my staff had this experience as a kid:
I remember going to see the Grand Canyon National Park with my parents and brother as a young teenager, I must have been 13 or 14 years old. It was a long trip from home but certainly worthwhile once I got to see and experience the awe-inspiring view for myself. We stopped at the South Rim, parked and got out of the car, went to the railing where the “Do not throw rocks into the canyon” signs are and looked down and across. I thought to myself, this canyon is a gift. Its beauty and size humble us.
Tell us about an experience you have had at the Grand Canyon? What was your first thoughts when looking over the rim?
—- About The Park —-
The scene is a powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms your senses through its immense size; 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. Nearly five million people see the 1 mile deep Grand Canyon each year. It is the 2nd most visited National Park (after the Great Smoky NP) in the United States. The South Rim is the most accessible part of the park and is open all year. We never got a chance to see the North Rim… A much smaller number of people see the Canyon from the North Rim, which lies just 10 miles (as the condor flies) directly across the Canyon from the South Rim. The North Rim rises a thousand feet higher than the South Rim and is much less accessible. Heavy snows close the road to the North Rim from late October to mid-May of each year. Even in good weather, it’s harder to get to. It is 220 miles by car from the South Rim or 21 miles by foot across the Canyon by way of the North and South Kaibab Trails.
Over time, the Cohonina (700 – 1150 A.D.), the Cerbats (1300 A.D.), the Sinagua, the Dineh (1600 A.D.) and the Paiutes moved into different portions of the Grand Canyon region, establishing communities and utilizing its resources through hunting and farming. Indian descendants still live in the region, including tribes such as the Hualapai, Havasupai, the Navajo, the Hopi, and the Paiute Tribes. Under the direction of Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, Spaniards explored the Grand Canyon in 1540 looking for gold and the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola. After descending one-third of the way to the Colorado River, they abandoned their search and left the region. American mountain men became acquainted with the region in the late 1820’s but left little in terms of written records and descriptions of the area. In the 1850’s, Brigham Young, the Mormon leader, sent Jacob Hamblin to find crossing sites in the Grand Canyon region. In his explorations, Hamblin discovered both Lees Ferry and Pierce Ferry, the only two viable crossing points near the Canyon. In 1857, Lt. Joseph Ives was authorized by the U.S. War Department to travel upstream along the Colorado River from the Gulf of California. As the Grand Canyon gradually gained in popularity, the U.S. Federal government moved to protect it from adverse impact. President Benjamin Harrison declared it a National Forest Reserve in 1893 and President Theodore Roosevelt established it as a National Game Reserve in 1906, and as a National Monument in 1908. On February 26, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared the Grand Canyon a National Park, and in 1975, a consolidation of Marble Canyon National Monument, Grand Canyon National Park, a section of the North Kaibab National Forest and Grand Canyon National Monument created the now-existent Park covering over 1,900 square miles.
I always wanted to get on one of the mules and travel down the path to the bottom of the canyon but we never got a chance. Grand Canyon tours are numerous and cater to many particular interests. Mule trips, reserved through the National Park Lodges system, take visitors on a 2-day round trip down to the bottom of the canyon. There are also whitewater rapid rides down the Colorado River, hikes that last a day or more, or helicopter and hot air balloon tours that provide visitors a panoramic view of the entire Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon National Park is 1,217,403.32 acres in total size. There are 277 Colorado River miles crossing through the Park. Visitor facilities and services include visitor centers, museums, theaters, backcountry office, historic structures, scenic overlooks, accessible rim trails, lodging, campgrounds, dump stations, service stations, restaurants, cocktail lounge, coffee shop, general store, gift shops, bookstores, clinic, bank, post office, church, and kennel. Some facilities are seasonal.
—- Location —-
The Grand Canyon National Park is located in the northwestern corner of the state of Arizona in Coconino County, in the United States of America. The Grand Canyon is located entirely in the state of Arizona. To get to the North Rim from Las Vegas, Nevada get on the I-15 north and follow it into Utah for 125 miles. Take exit 16 to UT-9 toward Zion National Park. Get onto UT-59 at Hurricane, Utah and follow it for 22 miles to the Arizona/Utah state line. Stay on the same road and watch it turn into AZ-359 at the state line. Follow AZ-359 33 miles till you get to Fredonia, Arizona. Turn right onto US-89A following it for 30 miles until you come to AZ-67. Follow AZ-67 40 miles till you get to the North Rim. To get to the South Rim from Flagstaff, Arizona get on US-180 out of town for 49 miles until you get to AZ-64. Stay on AZ-64 a couple of miles and follow the signs to the Park entrance.
—- Park Camping —-
There are 2 National Park campgrounds at the South Rim and one Trailer Village, a concessioner-operated RV park with full hook-ups (can accommodate RV’s up to 50 feet in length). Mather campground has 306 semi-modern sites with sewage hookups and water is available in the campground. Desert View campground has 50 sites that can accommodate smaller RV’s and tents. No hookups are available there but nestled among pinon and juniper trees, each site has a picnic table and a campfire ring for fires and cooking. There are no showers here and only two water faucets. It is home, however, to flushing toilets and sinks. Pets are allowed but must be leashed at all times. Closed for winter, this small campground is usually open mid-April through mid-October. Also here is Indian Garden Campground in the Grand Canyon. It’s a 4.5-mile steep hike down via the Bright Angel trail to get here, which makes it all the more special.
Indian Garden Campground has just 15 sites. Each site has a picnic table, pack pole and metal food storage can, in which you must store all toiletries, food and other items that are scented. The 14 small group sites accommodate 1-6 people while the one large group site accommodates 7-11 people. Conveniences include a ranger station, potable water year-round, an emergency phone and two sets of composting toilets in the campground, as well as a full row of toilets in the day use area on the trails north of the campground. There are also Hotels and Lodges and cabins that can be found inside the National Park.
—- Free Camping —-
Based on https://freecampsites.net/#!Grand%20canyon%20national%20park there are 17 free campsites within 27 miles of the Grand Canyon National Park.
—- Area Camping —-
—- Hiking & Biking & Horseback and Mule Riding —-
The South Kaibab Trail is 6.8 miles to Bright Angel Campground and the Bright Angel Trail is 9.3 miles in length. It will take most hikers between 4 and 5 hours to get to the campground on either trail. Oddly enough, very few people ask how long the return hike will take. The return hike may take twice as long, though 7 to 8 hours seems to be average. Underestimating the elevation change and not eating or drinking enough can easily add a few hours to those averages. While I was there with my parents, I wanted very much to get on a mule and ride down into the canyon but I couldn’t get anyone else enthused about the 7-8 hour trip. You can now, take in the sights of the Grand Canyon National Park while traveling along the rim of the canyon. Grand Canyon National Park Lodges is offering a four-mile, three-hour mule activity (two-hours in the saddle) that departs five miles east of the Historic Grand Canyon Village in the park. The mule ride travels along a new East Rim Trail built by the National Park Service. Wranglers will stop six times along the trail to provide interpretive information about the geologic formations, human history, fire ecology and more.
—- Things to do —-
There is a railroad to ride that stops at Grand Canyon Village from Williams, Arizona which is about 30 miles west of Flagstaff. The railroad travels almost due north to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The trip measures 65 miles and takes 2 hours and 15 minutes each way—45 minutes faster than in 1901 when the train made its first trip. You can also take a helicopter tour and then get a cruise boat at the West Rim. This is the only region of the park that allows easy access to the canyon floor. To reach the bottom otherwise requires days of rigorous hiking and climbing. Papillon’s Over the Edge with Legacy helicopter tour flies you over the rim’s edge and down a mile below the rim of these ancient stone walls. Upon landing on the canyon floor, you’ll enjoy a short and scenic walk to the bank of Colorado River where a pontoon boat awaits. This peaceful cruise offers sights of the mile-high canyon walls rising on either side of you. Afterward, you’ll return to the rim’s surface by helicopter.
—- References —-