As part of a wonderful trip to Sedona, we used a couple days and ventured up to The Grand Canyon. Day-trips on a tour bus are available, but we opted to drive up on our own and stay overnight. This gave us more time at one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Knowing we didn’t want to do a quick drive-by plus you never know about the weather, I booked us a cabin on the rim a year in advance! I’m a planner and it’s important to be one while arranging a trip to one of America’s most visited national parks.
- In Park Lodging
Once inside the entrance gates, there are six different lodging options from cabins to a motor lodge to a suite in a historic hotel. A year before our trip, I called GrandCanyonLodges.com and spoke to a friendly woman who helped me decide, which accommodation was best for my family. She asked questions like our ages, medical conditions, and physical abilities – one lodging option you have to hike down the canyon, ride a mule, or raft to get there! Bright Angel Lodge was the choice she recommended and I took her up on it.
Just so you know, you can book up to 13 months in advance and can cancel up to 48 hours prior to your check-in date. Summer is their busiest time, so reservations are a must if planning to stay over.
- Entrance Fees & Parking
Like all of our national parks, there is an entry fee, but once inside there are no additional fees for parking. But, keep in mind that since it’s a national park, all parking is open to the public, even at your lodging. Try to get there early, because arriving late can make finding a spot close to your accommodations a challenging feat.
- Our Bright Angel Cabin
Our cozy cabin was pretty basic with a somewhat obstructed view of the canyon. However, in this case, first impressions don’t tell it all. Our cabin’s décor was western, had a modern bathroom and was just steps away from the rim of the canyon, which made all the difference on this trip. It’s all about the location. We ended up loving our cabin on the edge of the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
We did find it interesting that the room came with an iron and ironing board – this place is meant for outdoor clothing and hiking books – who needs to iron here?
- Free Shuttle Bus
To help alleviate parking frustration, consider taking the free shuttle throughout Grand Canyon Village. Like a city bus route, three shuttle bus routes stop at various viewpoints, trails, visitor’s center, lodges, restaurants, and gift shops. It’s important to know, not all the roads at the Grand Canyon are open to private cars. Some of the best viewing spots can only be accessed by the free shuttle bus, on a tour bus, or an intense hike.
- Sight-Seeing Activities
A place this incredible has endless opportunities for photographs and selfies. An easy way to take in the views is by driving around on designated routes – you will get a map upon entrance into the park. Hiking is a great way to get deeper in the canyon to get a closer look. You can rent a bike, go whitewater rafting, ride on a mule, and go on an informational tour. Again, book your activities well-in advance especially whitewater rafting.
TIP: A note of caution for you selfie takers out there. Much of the rim is wide open and a single miss-step while looking at your phone trying to get that perfect shot could be lethal. Please pay attention to what you’re doing at all times.
The Grand Canyon is a mile deep and up to 18 miles wide at spots, it is so vast that it’s hard to take it all in at once. We were continually drawn to new vistas, trying to wrap our head around this mind blowing natural wonder. That being said, we took in as many views as we could by hiking and driving around. We trekked partially down Bright Angel Trail, and took a sunset tour, capturing as many photos as we could during our visit.
6. Sunset Tour
Conveniently, we were picked up in the lobby of Bright Angel Lodge. The route of the tour goes where private cars are not allowed, so we were able to take in three great vantage points. Our friendly tour guide made the trip entertaining and educational with fun facts and stories. My daughters enjoyed learning the Grand Canyon employees’ children attend a year-round school at the Grand Canyon and only go to school four days a week. Their average high school graduating class is 20 students!
- Where to Dine
A variety of restaurants ranging from a coffee shop to food court to fine dining can be found to satisfy everyone’s hunger. All dining establishments can be found on a map within the official newspaper given to upon your entry into the park.
For our first meal, I made lunch reservations at El Tovar Dining Room located in the historic hotel, El Tovar where American Presidents and celebrities stay when visiting the Grand Canyon. All of us were pleased with our upscale lunch ranking it as the best meal here. After our sunset tour we needed an easy place to eat, so we chose Maswik Food Court offering a tremendous variety of food selections sure to please everyone’s palette. It was a smart decision since there was not a wait and everyone could choose what they wanted. For our final meal here, we had breakfast at Bright Angel Restaurant and everyone was pleased with their meal.
- Utility Fee
Fresh water is not available at the south rim of the canyon. To help with the cost of bringing water into Grand Canyon Village, with every purchase you make from food to clothing to gifts, a utility fee is added. It’s important to know, you will pay more for things at the Grand Canyon to help with the upkeep of this amazing place in America.
For my family, this American treasure provided awe-inspiring views that have been etched into some of our favorite vacation memories! My husband and I were pleased we made the trek from Sedona to give our daughters the wonderful experience of the Grand Canyon. Don’t miss having one grand time of your own when in Arizona! And hopefully, some of the things we learned will help you when planning your to this magnificent wonder of the world!
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