- By Kevin
- On Jun 12, 2017
- North America
- Travel Tips
How to Spend 1~2 Days at the Grand Canyon? What about the Grand Canyon day trip?
On my first trip to the Grand Canyon, I made a classic rookie mistake: part of a longer road trip, I didn't give myself much time and I didn't do any advance research, so I ended up with a version of the Griswold experience. There it was - big, beautiful but somewhat underwhelming. Back in the car.
And I wasn't alone. Most visitors seemed to be slowly driving the South Rim and stopping at all of the same viewpoints, taking some photos, but doing little else. With a park so vast, it seemed like it would take a serious investment of time and effort to really experience what it had to offer and get away from the crowds.
But even a short trip to the Grand Canyon can be rewarding if you know how to make the most of your time. Two active members of the Thorn Tree travel forum, FlagStuff and eazeliff both have experience as Grand Canyon guides, so we asked them for insider tips on sights and activities to include in a short trip to the Grand Canyon, one that really gets beneath the skin of the park.
Getting to the Grand Canyon
Coming from Flagstaff, Arizona, most visitors take Highway 180 North into Grand Canyon National Park, FlagStuff suggests a nice alternative: take Highway 89 North to Cameron to enter through the lesser-used East Entrance (sometimes known as Desert View). If you hit Cameron around lunchtime, plan a stop at The Cameron Trading Post for a local specialty: Navajo tacos, homemade frybread with green chili and taco fixings. Entering the park from the east gives you the opportunity to stop along the way at the viewpoints overlooking the Little Colorado River Gorge and then explore Desert View and Grandview Point along the East Rim.
Going over the edge
The view from the South Rim is spectacular for the sweeping panoramas, but to really experience the Canyon you should take the time to do at least a short hike down below the rim and see it on a different scale.
'A point that I would make to my visitors,' says eazeliff, 'is not to just take in the big picture, but to appreciate the small little details of beauty, such as the pine tree growing between two rocky columns at Moran Point, the rocks hanging at precarious angles, the backlighting of early morning light against the Mormon-tea bushes.'
For shorter hikes, FlagStuff has several tips. 'If someone could only do one short hike at the Canyon, I'd have to suggest the Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge (3 miles total roundtrip) or Skeleton Point (6 miles total), or Grandview Trail to the first overlook (about 2.5 miles roundtrip, but a much more rugged trail). These hikes have the most expansive views for a relatively short hike. For someone doing a more ambitious trek, I'd suggest the Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point (12.2 miles total). The Bright Angel is less spectacular than the Kaibab in its upper reaches, but for a longer hike it has more diversity and this trek ends at a truly great overlook of the Colorado River. For someone who is an experienced hiker and wanted a taste of the backcountry, I might suggest Grandview to Horseshoe Mesa, which is only 6 miles round trip but is fairly intense.'