Grand Canyon in the United States: preparing for a trip, excursion or tour to Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is the most famous national park in the United States, which is located in the northern part of Arizona and is very popular among foreigners as well as locals. Many tourists visiting the U.S. West Coast or the Wild West dream of visiting here. However, not all of them know what to face when planning an itinerary for an independent trip from Los Angeles, Las Vegas or booking a tour from other cities near the Grand Canyon, as well as how to get there and when is the best time to go. At first glance, there are no special difficulties in this trip, but there are a number of very important details that you should definitely consider when preparing for your visit to the Grand Canyon.
So, you absolutely want to see the Grand Canyon in the United States and have already thought about preparing for an unforgettable trip, but do not know where to start and how much time it will take? Now I will tell you how to plan your trip to the Grand Canyon and avoid the most common mistakes, in the form of simple step-by-step instructions that will be understandable to absolutely everyone.
Determine how you are going to get to the Grand Canyon
Most visitors to America’s most important National Park begin their journey to the Grand Canyon in the United States (Arizona) by flying to one of the two international airports closest to it:
- McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas (LAS).
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
Both of these airports accept flights from other major U.S. cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. There are no direct flights from Russia and CIS countries, but there are flights from European countries.
Since there are only small local airports near the Grand Canyon itself, it would take a few hours to drive from the Vegas or Phoenix airports to the entrance of the Grand Canyon Park in a rental car or by booking a sightseeing tour that starts right from the city where you fly in.
Those who want to spend more time in the park and less time getting there can fly into one of two other local airports, also in Arizona, a little closer to the Grand Canyon – Flagstaff (FLG) and Page (PGA).
Since no public transportation (with the exception of organized shuttles from nearby cities and the historic railroad from Williams) goes to the Grand Canyon Park, you will most likely need to rent a car and drive yourself. Another option is to buy a Grand Canyon tour by bus from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Kingman, Flagstaff, or Williams.
The Grand Canyon from Las Vegas
Almost everyone who travels to California, Nevada or Arizona is sure to visit the Grand Canyon, either by booking a tour or by going to it yourself to see for themselves what it really looks like and to make their own opinion of it. Most tourists go to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.
Here are three easy steps on how to get to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas:
- Fly or drive to Las Vegas.
- Check into a hotel in Las Vegas.
- Buy a tour to the Grand Canyon (for example, from One Day Tour) and take a full day trip by bus. Or go there by rental car in Las Vegas, and then either continue to other U.S. attractions or return to Nevada.
How to get Grand Canyon by car
All parts of the Grand Canyon (South, West, and North), are accessible by car. The easiest way to get there isthe South Rim, which is the most popular with tourists. The way to North Rome is good, but the drive there is longer, and many neglect a trip there, although the views there are absolutely stunning, especially picturesque at sunset, when the sun goes gently over the horizon. West Rim is different in that the last miles must be driven carefully on dirt (it is not recommended to drive a car with low clearance), so not all travelers dare to go there driving their own or rented cars, and often book a guided tour at one of the travel agencies or use the shuttle.
Regardless of which part (or rim) of the Grand Canyon you choose to visit, all of the costs of renting a car or the cost of fueling and driving your own car will be comparable to the total cost of the shuttle, if you consider the shuttle as the easiest option for traveling to the Grand Canyon. However, there is much more freedom behind the wheel of a car, and you can choose where to go and what to see on your own without being dependent on other people for time. In general, everyone can choose how it would be easier, faster in time, and cheaper.
Tthere is almost no cheap public transport (except for megalopolises), and if you want to use services of excursion bureaus or other carriers you should plan your tour in advance, because you can’t just catch them on the street (except for Las Vegas). That is why a rental car or your own car in the U.S. is often the only way to get around, and for those who travel independently in the States it is essential to know how to drive and where and how to rent a car without problems, so that you do not depend on expensive cab services or constantly and in advance worry about transfers and shuttles.
How to get to South Rim Grand Canyon by car?
Anyone who is going to visit the Grand Canyon National Park, located in the state of Arizona, USA east of Sin City Las Vegas, should bear in mind that in its southern part, right after entering the territory, it is better to put your car in the parking lot right away. Because it is much easier to use the free shuttles that provide shuttle service for all visitors who don’t want to drive from one attraction to another along the route around Grand Canyon Village, so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to park your car.
Also during the tourist season from March 15 to September 15, there is a daily TransCanyon service to get from Grand Canyon North Rim to South Rim and back, which, however, must be booked in advance. Despite the high cost ($160 per person for a round trip), I nevertheless think this service will be especially useful for tourists who want to go hiking or rafting on the Colorado River flowing through the bottom of the Grand Canyon without having to worry about where to leave their car without breaking parking rules near the beginning of one of the trails.
By the way, the TransCanyon shuttle also runs toward Page City. Marble Canyon is there, where many tourists also go to start rafting on the Colorado River from the historic Lees Ferry near the historic Navajo Bridge and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which includes the famous Lake Powell.
For visitors to the South Rim Grand Canyon year-round, there are three of the most popular routes for how to get there by car:
- Route on Highway 64 from Williams to the south main entrance;
- Take Highway 180 from downtown Flagstaff to the south main entrance;
- Take US-89 from east of Flagstaff City to the east entrance (also known as Desert View).
- It’s worth bearing in mind that in winter, the first option (Highway 64 from Williams) is the best choice, as its condition is usually the best of all the routes presented (the road is regularly cleaned and treated to eliminate ice on the roadway).
How to get to Grand Canyon West Rim by car?
If you are traveling in the United States on your own, the best way to get to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon is in your own car or a rental car with high clearance suitable for off-road driving. If you rent a car, be sure to make sure there is no prohibition on driving off paved roads in the contract, or your insurance will not be valid in this case.
If you want to get to Grand Canyon West Rim by car, be sure to keep in mind that the final 9-mile stretch of Diamond Bar Road is an ordinary dirt road, which, especially in inclement weather, can cause some difficulty.
- Most visitors come to West Rim from Las Vegas on Highway 93, a 123-mile stretch south of the world-famous Hoover Dam. Take the turnoff to Highway 25 (Pierce Ferry Road) and go northeast until you reach the turnoff for Highway 261 (Diamond Bar Road). If you continue east, you will be at the entrance to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon.
- If you are coming from Kingman, take Stockton Hill Road north, then Pierce Ferry Road and Diamond Bar Road to the Grand Canyon Airport, just before you enter West Rim.
Here you must buy or present a ticket, then park your car and take the obligatory park-and-ride shuttle that takes you to the viewpoints.
How to get to North Rim Grand Canyon by car?
Undoubtedly, traveling on your own by car is the most practical way to get to North Rim Grand Canyon. However, there are several transportation companies that provide group and individual transfers to Grand Canyon North Rim from Flagstaff.
Important information: When planning a visit to the Grand Canyon, it is important to note that the North Rim is closed in winter (the mountain roads, like those in Kings Canyon National Park, are blocked by snow and cannot be traveled.)
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is the furthest from other tourist attractions in the U.S. state of Arizona. To get to North Rim, you must first drive to Jacob Lake, located at the intersection of US-89A and Highway 67. Then you need to drive another 44 miles south (which will take about 1 hour) on Highway 67 before you are at the entrance to the Grand Canyon North Rim.
Grand Canyon in the United States: car or shuttle – which should a traveler choose?
Many visitors to the Grand Canyon in the United States, whether they drive or not, prefer to choose shuttle service instead of renting a car or ordering a cab. No wonder, as they have a number of reasons for doing so.
- For the most part, travel budget is a major issue, and so people perceive shuttles as a more affordable option than renting a car (although this viewpoint is debatable, depending on the length of time in the Grand Canyon and the route of the trip).
- Sometimes foreign tourists traveling in the U.S. between major cities simply do not want to rent a car for a few days or do not feel comfortable driving here (although there is nothing much to be afraid of on the roads in the U.S., because they are the best in the world).
- Some inexperienced travelers may be wary of the many complicated junctions in the city, winding roads, unusual weather conditions, or driving at night.
But in fact, many of those who don’t want to drive in the United States often say that it’s easier for them to be able to enjoy the scenery while on vacation without having to be focused on the road. That’s why every opportunity has been created for them to book a shuttle to the Grand Canyon and take the shuttle there, or to consider other alternatives on how to get there.
Shuttles and Taxis to the Grand Canyon
Another easy way to get to the Grand Canyon is to book a shuttle-bus or cab transfer. If you are not traveling by car, keep in mind that Greyhound intercity buses run all over America, and the closest towns to Grand Canyon that they go to are Flagstaff and Williams. So you can even take a bus from out of state first and then book a shuttle.
Almost all Arizona cities closest to the Grand Canyon, such as Phoenix, Flagstaff, or Midview, have a hotel shuttle service to and from the canyon. This is convenient in that it saves time and you don’t have to strain to drive the car yourself. However, while a shuttle ride to the Grand Canyon alone will be quite convenient and economical, it will cost significantly more for a group of several people than driving your own car.
Many visitors to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, flying in from other U.S. cities, prefer to immediately order a transfer or cab from the airport – usually from Phoenix (Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is there), which has regular flights from all over America.
How to Get to South Rim of the Grand Canyon from Phoenix and Flagstaff
The fare from Phoenix to Flagstaff is $42 per person and the travel time is 2 hours. There are several companies offering this service, but the prices are all about the same. Further, to get from Flagstaff to South Rim, you need to change to another shuttle, and this can be coordinated immediately at the Phoenix airport and not have to worry later on.
A number of Flagstaff-based passenger companies (such as Arizona Shuttle) provide shuttle-bus service to the Grand Canyon, or you can order a private transfer (cab) from Flagstaff to South Rim.
Shuttles from Flagstaff, Sedona, and Williamsia can also be ordered from Grand Canyon Shuttle Service.
Prices for the ride average $42 to $58 per person. Shuttles leaving town are also convenient because they offer pickup directly from the hotel and then return to the hotel. So you don’t have to drive around town extra.
How to get to Grand Canyon South Rim from Las Vegas
You can book a shuttle from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon with One Day Tour.
There are many other companies that offer all-day tours from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon in buses of different capacities. You can usually spend about three hours at the rim of the Grand Canyon. The rest of the time is spent driving there and back. The minimum price of the tour is $180 per person.
Tourists who want to visit the Grand Canyon West Rim on their own very often choose an overnight location in the nearby town of Meadview. Once lodged there, a daily shuttle service to West Rim is available. This is convenient because it helps you avoid driving your own car on the nine-mile stretch of dirt Diamond Bar Road, which is rather difficult for a low-clearance car.
Park-and-Ride shuttle rides cost $15 per person for a round trip. Pre-book your seat by calling (702) 260-6506. The shuttle departs from Sky Station in Meadview and returns there strictly on schedule. It leaves Meadview at 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 and returns at 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 pm. That leaves about 3 hours of net time to explore West Rim. That’s enough time to walk there and have time to see everything.
There are also shuttles from other cities such as Las Vegas, Flagstaff, or Phoenix to the Grand Canyon West Rim, but you must arrange this with the passenger companies in advance.
Grand Canyon North Rim does not boast a lot of popularity among tourists (mainly because it is a very long drive), so it is quite difficult to find a transfer from the city to this area. Nevertheless, he who seeks, he will always find, and demand, as you know, gives rise to supply. After all, the North Rim is also known for the fact that it has access to the Colorado River, which is very attractive to those who want to raft down this great U.S. river.
Quite a few companies offer shuttle service and private transfers from Flagstaff to North Rim, and prices are very high, ranging from $158 to $200 per person (including pickup from the hotel). TransCanyon provides direct shuttle service from one Grand Canyon rim to another, which is especially convenient for those who plan to raft the river in the canyon (daily, once a day from May 15 to October 15, travel time 4.5 hours, advance reservation required).
Bus tours to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas and other cities
Good news for those tourists who prefer to travel to major cities in the United States. You can book a full day tour to the Grand Canyon without having to worry about anything. It’s a comfortable ride on a bus on the roads of the States, and an experienced guide will tell you a lot of interesting things along the way – about all the interesting places and sights you’ll encounter along the way, as well as curious information about U.S. history. This is a great way to get to the Grand Canyon for those who do not drive, or for those who prefer not to exert themselves during their trip across America.
The easiest way to see the South Rim Grand Canyon is to take a bus tour. This is fairly easy to do while in one of Arizona’s major cities, such as Scottsdale/Finix, Sedona, and Las Vegas. These tours usually involve a free transfer from the hotel and back to the hotel at the end of the trip. Itineraries vary and include stops at interesting sites along the way in addition to visiting the Grand Canyon.
A bus tour of the Grand Canyon takes between 12 to 18 hours, depending on which city you are coming from.
Our acquaintances took a tour of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas for $200 per person, and they loved it. They were picked up at the hotel early in the morning and put on the bus and didn’t have to wait long. The tour company had an experienced guide who gave them an interesting and detailed introduction to Arizona and all the points of interest along the route to the Grand Canyon, while they rode as tourists in a comfortable, climate-controlled bus and were not at all tired from the road. They had a few hours to see the Grand Canyon, and then they reconvened in the late afternoon and headed back to Las Vegas.
the West Rim
Almost all bus tours to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon go from Las Vegas (this is one of the most popular tours in this city). Sometimes there are buses going from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon. There are no tours from other cities, such as Sedona or Phoenix. It takes about 12 to 18 hours to reach the Grand Canyon, and includes a tour of the Arizona desert and a visit to the Hoover Dam on the way to the Grand Canyon.
For visitors who are in the U.S. to see Los Angeles, a Grand Canyon tour by bus is a good way to relax and see the remarkable natural wonder, while still getting a good night’s sleep in a comfortable chair during the trip, unlike the strenuous car ride there on your own.
The North Rim
There are no separate bus tours to Grand Canyon North Rim, but it is possible to participate in a multi-day bus tour that includes all the Grand Circle attractions of northern Arizona and southeastern Utah, including a number of National Parks and monuments such as Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Lake Powell and Monument Valley.
Train to the Grand Canyon
Many first-time visitors to the Grand Canyon are surprised by the railroad from Williams to South Rim. Anyone can take an unforgettable journey by train to the Grand Canyon! It is the best option for all train travelers, many of whom choose to take it even though tickets are very expensive.
Amtrak train stations are available in Flagstaff and Williams. Of course, the train itself does not approach the edge of the canyon, and all passengers traveling to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon must get off the train at Williams Transfer Station. There they are provided with a free shuttle that takes passengers from Williams Junction to the Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, where a separate Grand Canyon Railway branch line about 100 kilometers long originates.
A train ticket to the Grand Canyon is included on a very interesting tour that departs Williams for South Rim daily at 9:30 a.m. and arrives at the Grand Canyon at 11:45 a.m. The train leaves back at 3:30 p.m. with a travel time of 2 hours and 15 minutes.
For those planning to visit West Rim, you may want to know that the nearest train station is in the town of Kingman. Once you arrive in Kingman by train, you can check into a hotel there and then rent a car (always with high ground clearance) and drive it to the West Rim.
These are the variety of options on how to get to the Grand Canyon offered to all U.S. travelers and tourists. All that remains is to choose the right one and hurry to go to meet the unforgettable miracle of nature!
Decide which part of the Grand Canyon you want to visit
As you know, the Grand Canyon is quite large, and you can view it from a variety of locations that are easily accessible by road. They are all either in the National Park (South and North) and or on the Indian Reservation (West). The distances between them are enormous, and it can take a whole day to get there. So it’s best to choose one part to start with and plan your trip around it exclusively.
If this is your first visit to the Grand Canyon National Park, or if you are traveling in the U.S. with kids, you will probably want to visit the South Rim, because it is easier to find a hotel near it (book in advance), and it has the most services and activities. Also, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open to visitors year-round, making it the most suitable option for a winter visit. But it’s worth thinking ahead about a summer trip to South Rim, because the number of people who want to visit there is growing every year, at about 4 million people a year.
Be sure to plan for a spectacular sunrise or sunset at the Grand Canyon, or better yet, both, especially if you’re lucky with the weather and clear skies. Be sure to keep in mind that if you want to spend the night at the Grand Canyon or somewhere nearby, make your hotel or camping reservations in advance. Especially during high season (May through October) there is little or no available housing at the Grand Canyon, and it is prohibitively expensive.
I recommend taking several hikes along the Grand Canyon, or you can even walk down it to see its full size. When planning your visit, keep in mind that it usually takes twice as long to walk up from the canyon as it does to walk down. An easy 1-hour walk deep into the canyon can easily turn into an arduous 4-hour ordeal to get down, enjoy the beautiful views, and then climb back up. The main problem often faced by ill-prepared hikers (especially in the warm season) is dehydration. So always take plenty of drinking water with you, even on short hikes (at the rate of at least 1 liter of water per 2 hours of hiking per person).
The North Rim, which is open to visitors from mid-May through October, is best suited for young couples, advanced hikers, and those who value peace, quiet, and intimacy with nature. It is believed that the North Rim is more picturesque, but everyone has his own taste, so I will not confirm or deny this statement. Personally, we liked it everywhere in the Grand Canyon, because each of its parts has its own undeniable advantages. Keep in mind, however, that you won’t find as many different services and amenities that are available in South Rim in the northern part of the national park.
Grand Canyon West
Grand Canyon West is next to Meadview and is best for visitors who have limited time, but want to see the Grand Canyon. Also a trip there would be convenient for those who do not want to rent a car for a trip to South Rim or North Rim, but want to book a bus tour to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. The amazing observation deck with a glass floor overhanging right above the canyon is very popular with young people. But going there with small children is not the smartest option. To get to the Hualapai Indian Reservation, open to visitors year round, the best way to get to the West End of the Grand Canyon is to book a tour from Las Vegas.
Grand Canyon – address and hours of operation:
- South Grand Canyon is located at 20 South Entrance Road Grand Canyon, AZ 86023. Hours of operation are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- The address for the North end of the Grand Canyon is Arizona 67, North Rim, AZ 86023. Open to the public 24 hours a day from May 15 to October 15.
- West Grand Canyon – The address of Skywalk Lookout is Eagle Point Rd, Peach Springs, AZ 86434. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (October through March); 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (April through September).
Find out when it’s best to go to the Grand Canyon
Statistically, summer is the warmest, driest and most popular time of year to travel to the Grand Canyon, especially to its South Rim. The weather here is at its best in late spring and early fall. In late fall, the Grand Canyon is not as crowded as during summer vacations and school vacations, but it is neither hot nor cold, but there may be brief rains. Winter brings cooler temperatures accompanied by snowfall, so there are not many visitors who want to see the Grand Canyon at this time of year, and it gets pretty quiet.
So the best time to go to the Grand Canyon is from late September to early October. Early fall is not as hot as summer, and the crowds of tourists are significantly thinner with the start of the new school year in the schools. And in some high mountain regions, such as Flagstaff, the North Rim, the White Mountains, and Sedona, you can see the spectacular transformation of nature and breathtaking fall foliage. At this time it is best to visit the Grand Canyon on a guided tour, book a tour from Las Vegas, or do it yourself as we did and were very pleased with the experience.
A useful tip: When planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, be sure to keep in mind that on weekends and especially on holidays, all national parks in the United States are full of Americans who want to spend time in nature. So try to visit the Grand Canyon on weekdays when there are far fewer visitors to the park.
Choose an overnight stay at one of the Grand Canyon hotels or nearby
In general, if you are not going to spend the night in a tent or camper, but want to live comfortably in nature, then know that there are hotels and lodges both in and near Grand Canyon Park.
I will begin by saying, based on our own experience, that going to the Grand Canyon on your own and hoping to find lodging (a hotel, lodge or campground) right there is the biggest gamble imaginable.
So if you haven’t booked your hotel or lodge in the park in advance, you’ll likely have to spend the night in one of the cities close to the Grand Canyon, such as:
- Las Vegas, Boulder City, Kingman, Midview (if visiting the West Rim);
- Flagstaff, Sedona, Williams, Tasayan, Phoenix, Scottsdale (if visiting the South Rim)
- Kanab, Jacob Lake, St. George or Page (if planning a North Rim visit – North Rim).
The best place to stay near the Grand Canyon is Tasayan. There are several hotels there, the best of which are considered:
The Grand Hotel (5*, rating 8.5, prices from $120) is the most convenient place to stay just 12 km from the canyon. Clean and modern rooms, high level of service, restaurants, bars, cafes and stores.
best hotel near grand canyon
The Best Western Premier (3*, rating 8.4, prices from $110) is a great place to stay just 10 minutes from the entrance to Grand Canyon Park. The hotel has several restaurants, a pool, and a good breakfast in the morning.
Of course, if you have a car and plenty of time, lodging is not a problem at all, because relatively nearby is the capital of gambling Las Vegas, a city where the choice of hotels is incredibly wide. However, going to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is convenient only for West Rim, but it is not part of Grand Canyon National Park, and we absolutely wanted to visit it and see its other no less interesting parts.
So while preparing for our U.S. road trip, we took special care to put together an itinerary so that hotel and lodge availability in and around the Grand Canyon would not affect our trip in any way.
You can see from the map that the distances between different parts of the Grand Canyon in America are pretty decent, and there are almost no major cities nearby (with the exception of Las Vegas).
Experienced travelers book hotels at the Grand Canyon in advance. And we do, too, as it can be very problematic to solve the Grand Canyon lodging issue during your trip.
So if you decide to stay there overnight at the last minute, don’t count on a hotel in the park at all, and rely only on luck to find a hotel near the Grand Canyon. Also note that during the summer months the problem of finding accommodation in the Grand Canyon is especially acute because of the large number of tourists, which increases from year to year.
There is, however, a way out. You just have to spend precious time driving along the roads leading to the entrance of the Grand Canyon, drive far away from the entrance to the national park (60 to 100 miles), and look for free hotel rooms on the periphery.
It is also worth keeping in mind that in addition to hotels, there are several campgrounds in the Grand Canyon, which are the least expensive options for an overnight stay in this national park. Despite the enormous popularity of Grand Canyon Park among travelers, there are not many campgrounds. There are only three:
- Mather Campground – at the southern end of Grand Canyon National Park;
- North Rim Campground, at the north end;
- Desert View Campground – another campground, but at the remote Desert View site, which is in the southern part of the park, which is quite far from the main tourist sites.
Campgrounds at the Grand Canyon also need to be booked six months in advance of your trip. Otherwise, you might not get there. Although in winter, there are also sites available without advance reservations.
Thus, it becomes quite obvious to all independent travelers that an overnight stay at the Grand Canyon is definitely worth preparing in advance.
Lodges and Hotels in the Grand Canyon
I will begin a more detailed conversation about hotels in the Grand Canyon with the fact that they are available there for all tastes and wallets. There are expensive resorts (but not too much luxury) and secluded lodges, which can be even higher prices than the hotels in the Maldives! All are well suited to those tourists who not only want to live comfortably in nature, but also want to avoid the crowds of visitors by being in the park in the morning and evening lulls almost alone.
The price of lodging at Grand Canyon lodges is much higher than at the usual hotels near it in the cities next door, ranging from $150 to $450 per room (depending on the category and when to reserve them), but they are worth it. However, to stay overnight at one of these hotels, you should think about it in advance, about a year before your intended visit to the park, and book a suitable room online.
As you know, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular part of it among tourists, who visit it all year round. Especially many people go there from May to September. However, at New Year’s and Christmas, the Grand Canyon is also quite crowded.
So if you are also going to see the Grand Canyon in the spring, summer, early fall, or during holidays (such as Labor Day in early September or Memorial Day in late May), and are planning to spend the night near it, I advise you to book a hotel in the Grand Canyon in advance, so you do not unexpectedly lose your place for the night.
There are several amazing hotels and lodges located in the southern part of the Grand Canyon National Park. Of course, they run out of places to stay first, even though the price is quite high. This is quite understandable because of the great benefits of sleeping in hotels located in the park.
Good to know: The main advantages of accommodation in the hotels of the Grand Canyon are that you can meet the sunrise and sunset near the place of overnight stay, and it is very convenient to go to the hike or freely walk around the territory before the arrival of the most tourists, who could not find a place to spend the night in the Grand Canyon. There is one drawback – there is not much choice of restaurants and entertainment inside the park, compared to the hotels located in the cities.
Here is a list of hotels in Grand Canyon (within Grand Canyon Village) with approximate prices:
Bright Angel Lodge (2*, $150-300), a historic rustic lodge designed by renowned architect Mary Coulter and built in 1935 right on the edge of the Grand Canyon;
El Tovar Hotel (3*, $200-500) – Another historic hotel, comfortable rooms with modern furnishings, a wonderful restaurant with American cuisine;
Kachina Lodge (2*, $200-400) is a convenient place to spend the night in Grand Canyon Park;
Thunderbird Lodge (2*, $250-400) – Built in 1968, the lodge is next door to Bright Angel and has a more modern setting;
Maswik Lodge (2*, $115-250) is the most affordable overnight option, motel-type rooms, there are also cabins – small wooden cabins;
Yavapai Lodge (2*, $130-250) is a large lodge located in the heart of Grand Canyon Park, next to Market Plaza, near all the infrastructure – store, bank, restaurant.
There is also the option of staying overnight at the organized Mather Campground at Grand Canyon Village, which is open year-round. Reservations should be made in advance at recreation.gov.
You can also stay at Phantom Ranch, right at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It is very popular with hikers and those who have ventured into the canyon by mule. Reservations must be made in advance, more than 1 year in advance of your intended visit, by calling 888-297-2757.
Many tourists who fly into Las Vegas book a day trip to the Grand Canyon by bus. Usually they are taken to see the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is only a two-hour drive from Vegas. There is a rather famous Skywalk with a glass floor overhanging right above the canyon. Undoubtedly, it makes a great impression, and will be remembered by everyone for a long time.
While one day is enough to see the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, you can also book a special tour that includes an Indian show and an overnight stay at the Hualapai Ranch Indian Ranch, located in the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. It will be quite interesting for those who want to learn more about the culture and traditions of the North American Hualapai Indians.
For all independent visitors to the West End of the Grand Canyon, be advised that the choice of hotels and other places to stay there is very limited, and reservations are generally only available by phone, which is not suitable for everyone. And you should definitely book a place in the hotel a lot in advance. Therefore, most tourists who have not done this, should calculate their time so that to sleep outside of Western Rome.
- One good option is a hotel in the town of Midview, located just 15 kilometers from the entrance to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon.
- For travelers who plan to hit the South Rim after the West Rim, consider hotels in Kingman along the way.
Visitors to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are rare. This is mainly due to the fact that the North Rim is a little-visited area, quite far from Las Vegas and the main travel destinations in the state of Arizona. Another factor reducing its popularity is the possibility of visiting it only during the warm season (from May to October) and the almost total lack of hotels.
Nevertheless, many independent travelers choose the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for the opportunity to be alone in nature and sleep in a tent right under the stars, which sounds more appealing to some city dwellers than a mundane overnight stay in a comfortable hotel. This unique experience is sure to grow into stunning details over time, and will be something to brag about in conversations with friends and colleagues about your trip across America.
Nevertheless, for those who appreciate comfort, there is a great place in the North Rim called Grand Canyon Lodge, which is just as good as the best hotels in Los Angeles, and where you will remember your stay for a long time. However, to stay there, you need to be able to plan your trip in advance, at least a year in advance of your intended trip.
Open-air campers can also spend the night at the organized North Rim Campground, which is open from May 15 through October 31. Reservations should also be made in advance at rec.gov.
But if you don’t have a hotel in the Grand Canyon and would like to explore the North Rim with a comfortable hotel nearby, you can stay in Jacob Lake (72 km north) or Kanab (135 km northwest).
Hotels near the Grand Canyon
The closest hotels to the Grand Canyon are in the following towns:
- Tasayan (11 km from the South Rim entrance)
- Midview (15 km from the West Rim entrance)
- Kanab (72 km north, at the junction with Road 89A leading to the North Rim turnoff)
I’ll talk more about all of them next, as well as those options that are farther away and less expensive.
Hotels near the south end of the park
If you are looking for the most popular South Grand Canyon National Park, book hotels and motels in the neighboring town of Tusayan or Williams, about 80 miles from the park.
There are some nice hotels in Tusayan, close to the Grand Canyon, where you can stay overnight near the entrance to the park. There are not many hotels here and they are quite expensive, as the location is trumpy – right at the entrance to South Rim. Several stores, cafes and restaurants are open every day, and there are even a few entertainment venues, so you won’t get bored in the evening
No doubt most travelers would like to stay the night in Tasayan (and we are no exception), but not everyone is willing to pay $150-$200 a night. However, for those who want to save their time and avoid the crowds of tourists during the day, it fits right in.
Here are the hotels that are available for visitors to the southern part of the Grand Canyon Park in Tasayan City:
- The Grand Hotel 4. Best Western Premier 3
- Holiday Inn Express 3*
- Red Feather Lodge 3*
- Canyon Plaza Premier Studio and Apartments 3*
- Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel 3*
All campers should be aware that Grand Canyon NP National Park Service provides a free shuttle between the hotels and the park entrance for all South Grand Canyon visitors staying at the hotels in Tasayan Township from March 1 to September 30.
Many first-time visitors to Grand Canyon are surprised by the railroad that leads directly to the South Rim at Grand Canyon Village. And the more experienced prefer a train ride from here directly to Grand Canyon. You can also tour from Williams by bus or book a shuttle, which is pretty convenient for those who don’t want to drive. The distance to the South Grand Canyon entrance is 96 km.
I recommend the best hotels in Williams:
Grand Canyon Railway, a comfortable 4* hotel with a large indoor pool, the best in Williams
Comfort Inn – inexpensive 3 star hotel with very good reviews, has pool and hot breakfast included
Grand Canyon Travelodge is a modern two-story bed and breakfast motel that is comfortable for just a night out
When the Grand Canyon is just one part of your Arizona itinerary on your U.S. trip, you’re better off staying in one of the more budget-friendly motels or comfortable hotels located in Flagstaff, which is only an hour and a half drive from the Grand Canyon Park entrance (130 kilometers). There is a wide range of accommodations at different comfort levels, with over 60 choices in total.
Here are the best rated hotels in Flagstaff:
Little America is a conveniently located 4* hotel with a 9.4 rating on Booking!
Hilton Garden Inn is a stylish and inexpensive hotel with elements of luxury
Starlight Pines is a cozy B&B in a beautiful home with a cozy atmosphere.
Arizona Mountain Inn & Cabins is an interesting option for nature lovers.
Sedona, Scottsdale and Phoenix
You can also choose to stay in Sedona, which is a 2-hour drive from the South Grand Canyon.
By the way, there are also accommodation options in Scottsdale or Phoenix, but they will only be good if you want to save money on lodging and are not intimidated by the prospect of spending part of your day driving.
I would add that a convenient option is to book a day tour by van to the Grand Canyon right after you check into the hotel. Many Americans, who don’t want to be overly stressed during their vacation, don’t hesitate to take advantage of this convenient option, even though it costs more to pay for the tour than it would cost to go to South Rim of the Grand Canyon on your own.
Hotels near the West Rim
Although it is best to stay overnight in hotels in Las Vegas before going to West Rim, many tourists who want to visit the West Rim of the Grand Canyon on their own sometimes choose hotels to stay overnight in the nearby town of Meadview, located just 15 miles west of the overlook.
The daily shuttle service to the West Rim from the hotel allows you to easily access the entrance to the park, avoiding the 9-mile stretch of dirt Diamond Bar Road, which is quite difficult to drive on a low-clearance vehicle.
You can also stay in the town of Kingman, which is located at the intersection of Interstate 40 and Highway 93 leading out of Las Vegas.
I recommend the best hotels in Kingman:
Best Western Inn and Suites – best value for money 4-star hotel
A Wayfarer’s Inn & Suites is a comfortable and affordable 3* hotel with the best reviews
Arizona Inn is a good motel for the budget traveler, priced at only $45
Hotels near the North end of Grand Canyon Park
For all travelers who want to visit other U.S. national parks besides the Grand Canyon, such as Zion and Bryce Canyon in southern Utah nearby, as well as see the famous Navajo Bridge over Marble Canyon, Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona, I can suggest staying overnight at the Page City hotels or choosing a lodge on Lake Powell.
This option is also interesting because as a bonus you get to visit the world-famous Antelope Canyon and see the incredible Horseshoe, which are not far from Page.
Here are some very good hotels in Page:
Best Western View of Lake Powell – overlooking Lake Powell
Hampton Inn & Suites – our favorite chain hotel, close to Walmart mall, high rating and good reviews
La Quinta Inn & Suites is a modern, reasonably priced hotel with comfortable rooms and a pool
All other travelers who want to see the North Rim of Grand Canyon and spend the night in a comfortable hotel near it can stay in lodges on the road to Jacob’s Lake, at hotels in Kanab (135 km northwest), or drive to St. George.
Here is a list of the closest lodging options to the North Grand Canyon:
- Kaibab Lodge (29 km north, tel. (928) 638-2389)
- Jacob Lake Inn (72 km north, tel. (928) 643-7232)
When is the best time to book a hotel in the Grand Canyon?
So, you are going to travel in the United States and want to visit the Grand Canyon. But when and where to book your hotel? To answer this question, you need to be clear about the purpose of your visit to the Grand Canyon and the level of comfort you want to get for your money. After all, in some places you don’t have to count on hotel accommodations at all, and in other places, as I mentioned earlier, you need to take care of it as early as possible.
Inexperienced tourists start preparing for a trip a week or two before it starts. Of course, the expectation that you can save money on hotels in this case is quite naive. After all, even those travelers who started looking for suitable accommodation options in Grand Canyon hotels a few months before their trip, are already too late. So if you surely want to stay right in the Grand Canyon Park, book your hotel at least a year in advance of your visit and your campsite six to nine months in advance. Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for lodging options at hotels outside the park.
Grand Canyon hotels and campgrounds
If you are in the mood for a hike down to Phantom Ranch (this hotel needs to be booked a year and a half in advance), located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or if you are interested in a mule ride, you should definitely start preparing for your trip as early as possible, at least 15 months in advance. It is imperative that you obtain a backcountry permit (backcountry permit) and reserve six months in advance at one of the campsites at the bottom of the Grand Canyon (such as Bright Angel, Indian Garden or Cottonwood).
Lodging along the banks of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon
Do the same if you are going to depart from a place called Lees Ferry for an interesting 3- to 20-day Colorado River rafting excursion, including overnight stays in prepared riverside campsites at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
In addition to this, you must choose a hotel in Flagstaff or Page months in advance for overnight stays before starting the river trip, and make reservations for a motel or lodge to rest after rafting in the town of Tasayan (the closest town to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon), Williams, or again in Flagstaff.
Where is the best place to stay in the Grand Canyon and for how long?
A lot depends on how many days you plan to spend in the Grand Canyon. Certainly one or two overnight stays at any time of year in a Grand Canyon National Park hotel, campground, or lodge will leave you with many experiences. But frankly, it’s rare to come here for more than two days without a clear goal and special preparation for it.
If you just want to see the Grand Canyon, you will probably end up staying in one of the hotels in Flagstaff, Sedona, or even Scottsdale/Phoenix to visit the South end of the Grand Canyon, or you can stay in one of the hotels in Scottsdale.
Plan activities and book tours offered at the Grand Canyon
There is a wide range of activities to take part in, as well as various interesting things to do in the National Park. Here are just a few of them:
- Going down the canyon on mules
- Flying over the Grand Canyon in an airplane or helicopter
- White-water rafting on the Colorado River (starting at historic Liz Ferry)
- Train ride on historic railroad
- Jeep Off-Road Safari
- Park Ranger Walk
No doubt they will all make your visit to the Grand Canyon more memorable. Most of these tours and activities require no special training and are suitable for people of all ages (the only exceptions are mule tours, hiking in uninhabited territory and rafting).
6 Grand Canyon attractions
Desert View Tower, the place for beautiful sunsets in the Grand Canyon
Where is the best place to watch the sunset at the Grand Canyon? Almost everyone says Mather Point Lookout. They might be right. But only they say so because it’s the closest sunset point to the parking lots next to the main visitor center, near all the tourist infrastructure: lodges, campgrounds, stores, there’s even a post office and bank branches. It’s also where the train comes in and begins the highway that leads through Tasayan to Williams, and these are the closest hotel towns to the Grand Canyon.
But most of these tourists don’t even know that the Grand Canyon also has an “east rim,” that is, a place where you can admire the Grand Canyon of Arizona from the east. But this place is actually part of the South Rim and is called Desert View. It, too, is part of a national park and is located where Route 64 approaches the Grand Canyon bend from the east and then runs along its edge.
From the large parking lot, it is a short walk to the viewpoint where the Desert View Watchtower stands. It is easily accessed by a circular staircase to view the Grand Canyon from an even higher elevation.
To be honest, we weren’t impressed with the sunset at Mather Point among the crowds of tourists. But I thought both sunrise and sunset at the Grand Canyon were equally beautiful at Desert View, next to the Indian viewing tower. We went there both in the evening and in the morning. With the sun coming up from the east, the whole west side of the canyon was well lit. It became three-dimensional and convex. And at sunset, the soft light lay beautifully on the curves of the Colorado River.
So I definitely recommend going to Desert View early in the morning or evening.
Incredible Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is one of the most beautiful and photographed places on Earth, located near Grand Canyon Park on an Indian reservation. Formed by rainwater streams in the red sandstone Navajo, the chain of caves about 200 meters long is a true wonder of nature and attracts from all over the world all lovers of the most unusual. Try not to miss it by any means, and do not forget to bring your camera. An Instagram photo from this crevice canyon, famous for its stunning play of light and shadow, is appreciated by subscribers very highly and guarantees many likes!
Horseshoe Canyon (Horseshoe Bend) is the same place where everyone takes pictures, sitting on the edge of the canyon with their feet hanging over the chasm, at the bottom of which the emerald Colorado River flows, forming a bizarre bend (meander). It is also not far from the Grand Canyon, a few miles from Page in northern Arizona. Every evening, just before sunset, hundreds of travelers and tourists come here to end their day on a high note. We too have been to this breathtakingly beautiful place with powerful energy and we recommend it to you too.
Marble Canyon, Navajo Bridge, and Lee’s Ferry
Halfway between Grand Canyon and Antelope and Horseshoe Canyons we took Highway 89A to Marble Canyon, where we encountered another rather interesting attraction, the Navajo Bridge. It was built in 1929 and was the first to link Utah and Arizona by road. Today, very close to the historic bridge (which has become a pedestrian bridge) is a modern car bridge. And there is a small museum and gift store nearby.
Interesting fact: Marble Canyon is part of the Grand Canyon, although it is not very deep. Nevertheless, only 90 years ago, there was no bridge here yet, and the only way to cross the Colorado River was to use the Liz Ferry Ferry (which is right next door). And a century and a half ago, settlers generally had to take a detour of more than 1,300 miles around the canyon.
Lee’s Ferry, by the way, is the narrowest point of the Grand Canyon, which until the middle of the 19th century was an insurmountable natural barrier for settlers on their way from Arizona to Utah in these inhospitable lands. And Mormon John Doyle Lee first crossed it in 1873 and then built a ferry crossing that played an important role as the only convenient crossing of the Colorado River canyons until the early 20th century.
Today, Lee’s Ferry is no longer needed, although the site is still used by tourists as the start of rafting on the Colorado River downstream to the Grand Canyon, or for boat and boat trips up into Glen Canyon and past Horseshoe Bend.
Cape Royal Road
We love to travel by car and have driven on some of the world’s most beautiful roads for more than a dozen thousand miles. In the U.S., we especially enjoy driving on scenic roads (they are called Scenic Route here). One of our favorites is the Cape Royal Road, which is located in the northern portion of Grand Canyon Park. This part of the national park is the least crowded. It’s easy to look at the beauty of the landscapes here alone or in the company of other nature lovers who are also just quietly admiring and not disturbing the precious silence and tranquility.
The best time to drive to Cape Royal is in the morning, when the sun is shining well on the Grand Canyon. The scenic drive begins near the Grand Canyon Lodge, located in the best spot for watching sunsets. Hundreds of visitors come every day for the breathtakingly beautiful panorama from the observation deck at the edge of the canyon or right from the lodge’s lobby. That’s why we recommend you stay there (here’s the link).
A trip to Cape Royal in clear weather promises to be spectacular and unique. The 23 miles of mountain road are as interesting as the Going-to-the-sun road in Glacier Park or the highway to Kings Canyon. The road winds along the very edge of the canyon, offering incredibly scenic views of the Valhalla Plateau, named after the Eden of Scandinavian legends and located between Bright Angel and Nankowip Canyons. Along the way you can make several stops and appreciate how beautiful a place the Vikings were allocated for paradise. Strong winds are by no means uncommon here, so watch out for hats at the lookouts along the way.
What you see from Cape Royal is not the Colorado River itself, which created the Grand Canyon, but its tributary, Clear Creek.
By the way, the sunset at King’s Promontory, which is at the very end of the road on the Valhalla Plateau, was so stunning that we didn’t want to leave for a long time.
The Wave Lottery
The Wave is another wonder that nature herself created in Arizona. An incredibly beautiful curve of weathered rock in the form of a wave is located in a completely desolate area and has long been one of the most coveted and hard-to-reach attractions in the United States, as only 10 people per day are allowed to see it. Seeing The Wave is many times more difficult than climbing Mount Machu Picchu in Peru, and you can’t do without a bit of luck.
The lucky ones are chosen through a raffle held daily at 9 a.m. at the Grand Staircace Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah. To participate, you must arrive at least half an hour before it starts and fill out a simple form. We have done this twice before when we went to the U.S. to see Utah’s national parks, and so far we have not won. But we haven’t given up hope and are going to try our luck again!
Important to know: Don’t forget about the time difference between Utah and Arizona. Utah is one hour longer.
Think about what other attractions near the Grand Canyon you can visit
For sure, it only makes sense to go to Arizona for the Grand Canyon if you have very little free time and only want to see it. Many tourists very often go to the Grand Canyon during their vacation, which is usually 2 or 3 weeks, with family and children, including it in their U.S. itinerary.
Depending on how much time you want to devote to Arizona and the surrounding states of Nevada, California, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado, it is worth working out a more detailed plan for your trip across America in advance. For example, if you have more than 3 free days in and around Las Vegas, you can plan interesting trips not only to the Grand Canyon, but also to other equally interesting places nearby.
Here are the most famous attractions near the Grand Canyon that tourists often include in their U.S. itinerary:
|Name||Distance to South Rim||Travel time|
|Hoover Dam||395km||3h 45min|
|Valley of Fire||488km||5h|
|Monument Valley||290km||3.5 hours|
|Lake Powell||208km||2.10 hours|
|Glen Canyon ||220km||2.5 hours|
|Zion National Park||379km||4 hours 15 minutes|
|Brice Canyon National Park||458km||5 hours|
Reserve all the services you will need for your trip to the Grand Canyon
Buy the right airfare, select and reserve a car, book hotels and tours, buy tickets for Las Vegas shows, and make dinner reservations (reservations are required at some popular establishments). Hotels in the Grand Canyon are usually booked 6 months to a year in advance, especially during peak tourist season (which essentially begins with spring break and lasts until Thanksgiving). Campgrounds are booked six months in advance, and demand for accommodations is not much lower than for hotels.
I can tell you from experience that on our trip across the States by car, we didn’t book anything in advance, but we ran a great risk of not having a suitable place to stay at all. We ended up not being able to find any hotels or campgrounds right next to the Grand Canyon, and had to stay in Flagstaff, Kanab and Las Vegas, which is pretty far from the park, but still quite suitable for our itinerary in the US.
So booking hotels and campsites early is the most important part of planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, and will be the linchpin around which the rest of your unforgettable trip will be built.
I should add that it is not uncommon for reservations to be cancelled. So if you didn’t manage to reserve a seat on some very popular tour (such as a Grand Canyon mule ride) or if all the tickets for one of the major shows in Las Vegas were sold out, periodically monitor the information and try to book again and again, especially as your trip date nears.
Maybe you’ll end up getting lucky and being the first to intercept a snapped reservation. Don’t give up hope until the last minute and be persistent, because even while you’re already in the park you can ask if anyone’s reserved seat is available at the event you’re interested in. In the meantime, don’t forget to think in advance about alternative forms of entertainment.
Grand Canyon Hotels
Helpful Tip: What to do if you haven’t prepared in advance? Don’t despair! Try booking your hotel or campsite by phone, although it is a bit more complicated than online. The main problem is that Grand Canyon call centers tend to get a very high volume of calls during the peak months of attendance, and it’s not easy to get through. If you don’t get through on the first try, don’t give up and better put the phone on auto-dial. Sooner or later you’ll get on the line with a specialist who can help you solve your problems.
Create a final U.S. trip plan and detail your itinerary for the Grand Canyon
Print out your e-tickets and all proofs of your hotel reservations and reservations for tours, excursions, and other activities you intend to participate in. Put them in order in a special folder or envelope and keep them handy at all times, making special notes during your trip.
Take special care during your preparations to find and study maps of the different parts of the Grand Canyon. Buy a paper version or download one from the internet and print it out before you go. You will need them when planning your itinerary and when visiting the park.
Don’t forget to bring all the necessary documents and a prepared itinerary for the United States with you on your trip, this can also be very helpful at passport control when entering the States. Later you can always use some of them when you want to remember different pleasant moments from your trip to the Grand Canyon.
Make sure all your reservations are up to date before you start your trip
About a week or two before your trip to the Grand Canyon, get airline confirmation of your plane tickets by phone or online, make sure at the car rental agency that your reservation is valid. Double check that the hotels you’ve booked are waiting for you, and you can ask for a confirmation email. Also call or make contact with the agencies from which you booked tours or excursions, and make sure your plans are in order.
Advice: Before you fly to the United States, make sure you know all the airline requirements for checking in and how much luggage you can take with you. Ask if you will need to present your return ticket and hotel reservations before you board the plane, and if you will be traveling with children you may be asked for your spouse’s permission. Such requirements sometimes come as a surprise to first-time tourists to America.
Pack what you need for your trip to the Grand Canyon and prepare for your trip
Bring comfortable clothes, comfortable shoes for trekking, and backpacks for day hikes. The dress code at local restaurants is not strict; you’re going to the outdoors, not a gala reception. Don’t forget sunscreen and flasks for drinking water, regardless of the season, as well as a first aid kit and first aid supplies.
Here’s a list of things to take with you on a trip to U.S. National Parks:
- Map and compass
- Hiking backpack
- Small backpack
- Pants / pants
- Flask for water
- Sleeping bag
- purification kit
- Water (4 liters per person)
- Tape or leather
- underwear, socks
- First aid kit
- Hiking boots
- Pencil and notebook
- Flashlight and batteries
- Fleece clothing
- Rope (15 m)
- Nutrition bar or granola bar
Matches or lighter
- Hiking poles
- Gas stove / burner
- Toilet paper
- Swimsuit / trunks
- Money, bank cards
- Fuel (gas, alcohol, etc.)
- Biodegradable shampoo
- Waterproof sandals
- Toothbrush, toothpaste
- Mask / Flippers / Goggles
- Canned knife, can opener
- Personal medication
- Crockery set
- Needles, thread, wire
- Spatula Deodorant
- Cutlery Band-Aid
- tissues, foil, bags
- Manicure kit
- Biodegradable soap
- Salt, pepper, sugar
- Vegetable oil
I also recommend downloading detailed maps of individual U.S. states with attractions, hotels, stores, restaurants, and gas stations for your navigation device, and make sure that it will work properly in offline mode (note that in many parks cell phone service is limited).
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