(Editor’s Note – This original post from January 2010 has been updated to reflect current Grand Canyon vacation details.)
The 1.2 million acre Grand Canyon National Park is one of America’s earliest national parks and was established in February of 1919.
There are very few places on earth that are as profound or can evoke such feelings of awe and wonderment like the Grand Canyon in Arizona does. Whether you are first time visitor or a returning enthusiast, the vastness and the unique landscape of Grand Canyon Park will simply engulf you.
Onlookers to Grand Canyon National Park are held spellbound by the sheer size of the Grand Canyon plus its immeasurable beauty and haunting vistas. The views from the Grand Canyon’s south rim, west rim, and north rim are overwhelming and can easily make you feel rather insignificant.
In this article we will explore more about Grand Canyon National Park, including how the Canyon came to be, popular activities at the Grand Canyon, and your tour options.
Grand Canyon Formation
Formation of the Grand Canyon began many a millennia ago as the powerful Colorado River waters carved a path for itself through the Colorado Plateau, exposing beautifully preserved layers of ancient rock and sediment dating back over two billion years.
The elevation of the north rim of Grand Canyon is approximately 8,000 feet above sea level. The north rim also gets much more annual precipitation and snow. The resulting runoff feeds into the Colorado River that cuts a swath through Grand Canyon for nearly 280 miles.
In places, the Colorado River has carved out the Grand Canyon walls greater than a mile deep. The width of Grand Canyon is also impressive, ranging between four to eighteen miles wide in places.
Grand Canyon National Park was first protected as a Forest Reserve back in 1893 but received its full Park designation in 1919. Today, more than five million visitors from around the globe visit Grand Canyon Park.
The Grand Canyon is fairly arid and the rock formations and sand dunes combined with the different lighting during different times of the day reveal the intricacies of landscapes woven in the warmest of pastel colors and greys. Visitors are as enthralled by Grand Canyon sunsets as they are mesmerized by Grand Canyon sunrises.
Accessing the Grand Canyon
The entrance to Grand Canyon National Park is near the park headquarters on the south rim. This is the most commonly used access point for most Grand Canyon tours since it has the most popular views from the south rim of the canyon. Visitors to the south rim of Grand Canyon can view the Colorado River from the many viewpoints as it meanders one mile below.
Mornings at Grand Canyon National Park can start off with some of the best sunrises that you may ever witness. The days here are taken up by sightseeing from the many lookout points reserved for visitors. There are also free shuttle buses that operate within Grand Canyon Park that are ideal for visiting the West Rim and places such as Hermit’s Rest Lookout.
Grand Canyon Tour Options
There are many escorted Grand Canyon Tours available to help you make the most out of your visit to the Grand Canyon. If you plan on doing a self-guided tour you should plan your route and cover as many interesting places in the park as possible. The best way to enjoy the many tourist opportunities offered is by staying at the Grand Canyon lodge or camping for a few days inside the park.
Grand Canyon Activities
Visitors can hike on the bright Angel Trail or along the many trails on the Grand Canyon rim. There are many historic buildings within the Grand Canyon Park that should not be missed. To get the most out of your visit it is best to stay over a couple of days inside the park itself as this will allow ample time for you to enjoy other Grand Canyon activities such as white-water rafting, mountain biking, boating, camping, and helicopter sightseeing.
Visitors involved in Grand Canyon activities must be fully aware that the Grand Canyon can experience extreme inhospitable conditions. Heat exhaustion is a common occurrence and the challenging trails should be tackled with due care and attention.
Grand Canyon Train & Skywalk
One of the best ways to experience Grand Canyon National Park and all the fantastic vistas it offers is to take the 90-minute train ride that traverses through 24 miles of the canyon.
Another unique way to view the canyon is by the Grand Canyon Skywalk located on the Hualapai tribal land. The skywalk is a glass-bottomed structure that juts out over the canyon allowing visitors to walk 70 feet past the cliff edge. This is something that is sure to take your breath away.
Grand Canyon helicopter rides are also very popular allowing tourists to explore Grand Canyon National Park by air plus other points of interest like Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, the Valley of Fire, and the Bowl of Fire.
Tour the Grand Canyon with Caravan Tours
Current Grand Canyon vacations include visits to the Grand Canyon’s south rim and north rim, as well as a full day to explore the breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon in whatever way you choose.
This Caravan tour is a fully escorted, all-inclusive 8-day package tour that also includes visits to Sedona, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, all at one exceptionally low price.
Visit Caravan’s Grand Canyon Tour Reviews page to read what others have to say or call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to check availability and reserve your spot today.