- By Kevin
- On May 24, 2017
- North America
- Travel Tips
The advice about choose the best Grand Canyon tours and the beat travel line here. If you have your heart set on staying within Grand Canyon National Park during your canyon visit, good luck. Accommodations can be booked up to a year in advance in some cases, and they fill up quickly. You can stay outside of the park, though the bigger cities that would have multiple hotels/motels are usually at least an hour or two away.
Because the North Rim is only open for half the year, and because it's further away from any major settlements, there isn't much here by way of amenities. There is only one accommodation option here that isn't a campground (there's one of those, too), and that's the Grand Canyon Lodge. The lodge is only open as long as the park is, and its bare-bones cabins book up months in advance. (Though, I will say that the lodge's remote location makes it pretty epic.)
The South Rim is home to Grand Canyon Village, which offers about 7 different lodging options, ranging in price from $81 to $426 per night. There are also some campgrounds in the area, as well as smaller towns 15-30 minutes away that also have accommodation on offer. The South Rim also has shuttles that will cart you around to the various viewpoints — including a few that are not accessible by private vehicle.
The Grand Canyon isn't officially a Wonder of the World, but I think it should be. People come from all over the world just to look at it. In fact, the whole point of visiting is usually to just look at it and be in awe. The viewpoints, therefore, are important to consider.
The North Rim only has a few main viewpoints, including a couple that are only accessible via long, windy dirt roads that can take up to half a day to traverse. However, the North Rim does boast the Grand Canyon's highest viewpoints, at over 8,000 feet. The most popular is Bright Angel Point, which is just a short walk from the Grand Canyon Lodge. From here, you can take in sweeping views of the canyon, and see all the way to the South Rim. Other popular viewpoints are Point Imperial (the highest point on the North Rim at 8,800 feet) and Cape Royal (popular for sunsets).
The South Rim, on the other hand, has a ton of viewpoints, most of which are close together and easily reachable. Starting near the east entrance of Grand Canyon National Park, there's Desert View — the first viewpoint in the park. Here, you can climb an old watchtower for stunning views out over the canyon. Continuing on along toward the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and Grand Canyon Village, there are more than a dozen stunning viewpoints to stop at. Shuttles at the South Rim can take you to even more viewpoints that are not reachable by car. I watched a sunset at Mather Point, which was amazing.
Even though the North Rim has fewer viewpoints, the viewpoints it does have are absolutely amazing. The colors of this side of the canyon are rich and vibrant. I was amazed at the layers of red and white present in the steep canyon walls, speckled with the dark green of trees and shrubs. Bright Angel Trail leads you right along the edge of the canyon here, making it feel like you're actually IN the Grand Canyon. It was the North Rim that made me really realize just how huge and deep the Grand Canyon is.