How to Plan a Day Trip to the Grand Canyon National Park

How to Plan a Day Trip to the Grand Canyon National Park

Stunning and vast, the Grand Canyon is an attraction that takes weeks to explore. But with a good plan, you can experience much of its beauty in one day.

The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most famous natural wonders of the world. That’s why every year, millions of visitors come here to marvel at the expansive, ancient geological formations. Not to mention the many animal and plant species, as well as historical sites and museums.

If you’re planning a day trip to the Grand Canyon, you’ll have to consider the location’s vast size. After all, it stretches for over 270 miles in length and is almost 20 miles wide in places. In other words, it’s impossible to see it all in a day. 

That’s why to make the most of your trip, you’ll need to consider which part of the park you’ll be going to, as well as choose the activities that can fit in a day.

In this article, you’ll find out how to prepare for the visit and how to plan your day trip to the Grand Canyon.

1. Choose the Location

Grand Canyon Choose the Location

Grand Canyon National Park has four main locations – the North and the South Rim and Grand Canyon West and East. Every location is fascinating, but you’ll need to choose just one for your day trip.

In the Grand Canyon West area, the most attractive hotspot is the Grand Canyon Skywalk. The bridge that’s shaped like a horseshoe is suspended above the Colorado River and offers a fascinating view. However, it might be too short of an experience for a whole day trip.

The Grand Canyon South Rim is likely the best option, as it’s the classic and most recognizable area. It’s also the most accessible of the four and is open every day of the year. You can easily reach the Grand Canyon South Rim from Phoenix, Las Vegas, Flagstaff, or Williams.

Every hour is precious for a day trip, so it would be best to find accommodation near the canyon the night before. If you decide to start the visit from one of the aforementioned cities, keep in mind that it will take around five hours to drive to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas or Phoenix, and about an hour and a half from Flagstaff.

2. Prepare Practically

Grand Canyon Prepare Practically

For the most comfortable and pleasant day trip, you should prepare well for your visit to Grand Canyon National Park. While the South Rim is welcoming to all visitors and is relatively safe, you’ll enjoy the trip to the fullest if you pack and plan with practical considerations.

To start with, comfortable and durable walking shoes are essential. You’ll spend a lot of time walking around the canyon so make sure to wear shoes and socks that won’t start troubling you after a couple of hours.

If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon during summer, make sure to dress appropriately. While the weather might be hot, the area will likely be windy and the temperature difference between open space and shade can be quite noticeable. It’s best to dress in layers you can easily take off, and a hat could prove precious under the hot Arizona sun.

Going along with the protection from the elements, you shouldn’t forget a sun protection cream. Make sure to pack a couple of water bottles to refill along the way. You can find water stations throughout the park, so your bottles will never be empty.

There are gorgeous picnic spots along the way, so packing some lunch for that purpose is a great idea. If the weather forecast for the day isn’t favorable for a picnic, or you’d like to save more time for hiking, bring some snacks.

3. Find a Nice Hotel Near the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Village Hotels

When exploring the canyon, you likely wouldn’t want to waste several hours traveling. That’s why you should consider staying as close as possible to the area.

Hotels inside the National Park are the more costly options, and there are usually no vacancies unless you book plenty of time in advance. But if you stay at one of the Grand Canyon Village hotels, the stunning location is worth the trouble.

About six miles from the South Rim, Tusayan has several hotels on the more affordable side. The town’s very close to the canyon and the accommodations are pleasant, especially when staying for one or two nights.

You can also look for a place to stay in Williams or Flagstaff, both over an hour’s drive away from Grand Canyon. Naturally, there’s a broader assortment of hotels there, but reserving a couple of hours for the drive to the canyon and back might be wasteful for some.

4. Create Your Itinerary

Grand Canyon Sunrise From Mather Viewpoint Point

A comprehensive schedule will help you get the most out of your day trip to Grand Canyon. If you’ve decided on visiting the iconic Grand Canyon South Rim, there are several key locations and activities to consider.

First, you should make the morning hours count. Catch the sunrise from a viewpoint in the canyon or go on an early helicopter ride. The ideal place for sunrise is Mather Point, as this will give you a wonderful early preview of the canyon.

The earlier hours when the sun is low and the air is cooler are most convenient for hiking. This is the perfect time for walking to some of the hiking hotspots, such as Cedar Ridge or South Kaibab. There are also tours led by Rangers to ensure you won’t get lost.

You can explore the Visitor Center after your hike. If you didn’t have a picnic yet, you could also grab lunch at the center. You can then go to the Trail of Time after a sumptuous meal and check out the fascinating viewpoints.

For a perfect end of your day trip, have your dinner and go stargazing. The night sky is beautiful and the view is spectacular.

Have a Memorable Day at the Grand Canyon

A well-planned day trip to the Grand Canyon will be a magical experience. It will leave you full of impressions and lasting memories, and you’ll likely want to return to the natural wonder of the world. 

The beauty and expanse of the Grand Canyon will be there waiting for you no matter when you can go back.

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How to Plan a Day Trip to the Grand Canyon National Park