So you’ve seen everyone’s amazing shots of the Grand Canyon and now you want to plan a trip so that you can finally witness how unbelievable it is for yourself. You’ve come to the right place! I’m going to be going through my Arizona adventure so you’ll be able to start planning your trip and know what you want to see.
My trip was this past June and man was it hot! It reached 35 degrees celsius but when hiking throughout the canyon, it feels like it’s 100 degrees. So I’ll give you some tips on how you can stay cool (ish) and hydrated.
For the week we were in Arizona, we rented a car for convenience. I’m glad we did because we were able to stop where we wanted and for however long we wanted. We landed in Phoenix and drove directly to the south rim of the Grand Canyon which took about 4 hours.
Grand Canyon South Rim
We decided to stay at a hotel about half an hour from the south rim entrance. We saved more money that way and because we had the car, it was never an issue. It was always the same straight road until the canyon so it was always an easy drive. We stayed near the south rim of the Grand Canyon for about 3 days.
When you first get there, you need to pay the entrance fee for the park. The Grand Canyon entrance fee with a private vehicle is $35 and is good for 7 days. If you’re planning on seeing multiple national parks, there is also a fee you can pay for multiple park entrances per year.
At the entrance they give you a map of the entire south rim, where you can park and walk around the rim and get all your amazing landscape pictures. Then if you’re up for some hiking, you can start with any of the many hikes at the south rim. You always start at the top and work your way down to the bottom of the canyon. Depending on how long you want your hike to be, you eventually need to stop and turn around from the exact same way you came.
We ended up doing two of the trails at the south rim. The first one we did was called the South Kaibab trail and this hike didn’t last as long as the second one. We basically did a bit of this hike until we got to Ooh Ahh Point (amazing view). But because we wanted to also hike the Bright Angel trail before it started to get dark out, we left South Kaibab early on.
South Kaibab Trail
This hiking trail is a total of 14.6 miles roundtrip. It is a strenuous hike as are most of the Grand Canyon hikes. But from the top of the rim to Ooh Ahh point, it is only 1.8 miles. So it is definitely a more doable hike, especially if you’re pressed for time.
Bright Angel Trail
This trail is a total of 15.6 miles roundtrip. We obviously didn’t hike the whole trail as it was getting late, plus we were getting tired. It took us about 7 hours to hike. But because we also wanted to take our time, stop to take pictures, and snack/drink water whenever we needed it. We did take a while at the point where we decided to turn around because they had a water fountain, restrooms, and a good amount of shade where we could hang out for a bit and even chat with other hikers. This rest house point ended up being 1.6 miles from the rim.
Tips for Hiking the Grand Canyon Trails
Now, I’m not a hiking expert but for the average hiker, I can share with you more or less about our experience tackling the Grand Canyon Trails. As I mentioned before, you decide how long your hike lasts. It is always the same trail so if you’re not a serious hiker, I would suggest having a game plan before you head out and decide where you want to turn around depending on the miles you plan to walk. Some of these hikes have a resting area or a water station zone, where a lot of people end up turning around once they’ve filled up their water bottles and rested for a bit. Now here’s the important thing to remember: You’re descending the whole way down and it’s always easy and faster going down than it is coming back up. So, it always takes longer coming back up because 1. it’s more tiring and 2. because you might need a few more resting periods. It’s all fun and games until you have to turn back around! Keep that in mind when you’re planning for time. Another very important thing to remember is to refuel your body with lots of water and salty snacks. I know it may seem strange to bring a bag of chips or salty crackers but trust me on this. The volunteer that was working the trails just happened to stop and talk to us during one of our pit stops. He was telling us about a scenario that happened where someone fainted because even though she had been drinking lots of water all day, she never had any salty snacks. When we’re sweating, we release salt from our bodies. In order to keep our energy going at times like this, we need to replenish with any kind of salty snack and of course, plenty of water. In terms of heat, yes if you can avoid the hotter months then do that. If not, you need to be prepared. Clothing and finding shade will help. Dress appropriately. This means don’t wear jeans and regular walking shoes. I can’t tell you how many people I saw in jeans and sandals. Also bring a hat to cover the sun. If you’re ever feeling like you’ll pass out from the heat, find some shade and sit down for a little while. Being in the shade is automatically about 10 degrees celsius cooler. If there is no shade, lean yourself up against the rocks as they are super cool and should help cool you down a bit.
From the south rim of the Grand Canyon, we drove up to Page in about 2.5 hours. In Page, we stayed at the Wingate by Wyndham which was located right next to the Glen Canyon Dam overlook. We stayed in Page for a couple days. In Page we got to see some of the most amazing places I’ve ever come across. Besides quickly going to Glen Canyon Dam Overlook and being pleasantly surprised with the view, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon ended up being two major highlights of the trip. Glen Canyon Dam Overlook We weren’t really planning on going to the Dam but since it was next to our hotel, and because it wasn’t a hike, we decided to check it out. To our surprise, we got an amazing view! It never hurts to explore places that aren’t quite at the top of your list. They might end up surprising you.
I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to see Horseshoe Bend. When you see pictures of this place, it’s hard not to want to go. Once you park, it’s about a 15 to 20 minute walk until you get to the view point that is the Horseshoe Bend. This mini hike is nothing strenuous so don’t worry about bringing too many snacks and too much water this time around. This view is unreal so we went twice! Once closer to sunset hour. I thought it would be beautiful for pictures but because the sun was setting in the same side as our view, it got dark quickly and the pictures didn’t turn out so great. So we sat there and
enjoyed the sunset. The next morning, I really wanted to go back to get that shot, so we woke up super early and the lighting was much better! Horseshoe Bend is in Page so you don’t have to drive far for this if you’re staying in Page. Definitely go and see this if you’re in the area!
Before leaving for Arizona, we booked an Antelope Canyon tour because 1. you can’t go without a guide and 2. if you wait until the day of, it’ll most likely be booked up. I’m not sure how, but we were able to book last minute (maybe a cancellation), but if you’re planning on going to Antelope Canyon, definitely book this tour at least a month or even two in advance. But wow! If you get a chance to go to either the upper or the lower Canyon, you definitely need to check this place out! What’s frustrating is being in an organized group with your guide, and not being able to stop and take pictures whenever you want. This place was packed! Your guide helps take your pictures and you get 1 second to take whatever shot you want because then your moment is over and another group shows up and ruins your picture. This was the only down side. Besides that, it is such an incredible place and your guide really goes in depth about the Canyon. You meet in Page at the tour office and they take you on a shuttle with your group for about half an hour. The tour was about 1 hour and then they drive you back to Page. I could not recommend this place enough! The pictures will explain themselves.
If you’re planning on going to Arizona for about a week, I think this itinerary could work for you. If you have a few more days, I would suggest doing some research on Monument Valley. We really wanted to go but it would have been 2.5 hours from Page and we wouldn’t have had time to turn around and head back to Phoenix. Next time I go, I definitely want to check out Monument Valley. I’m so glad I finally got to see one of the natural wonders of the world! It’s definitely something everyone needs to see in their lifetime. I hope this guide gives you an idea of what a trip to the Grand Canyon and Page would look like.
Have any of you ever been to the Grand Canyon? What was your experience like? Or have you seen a similar view up in Utah? Share your experience down below!
I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset that the hand of God is there also. – John McCain