Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is more than a great chasm carved over millennia through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. It is more than an awe-inspiring view. It is more than a pleasuring ground for those who explore the roads, hike the trails, or float the currents of the turbulent Colorado River. This canyon is a gift that transcends what you can experience. Its beauty and size humble us. In its vast spaces you may find solace from your hectic lives. The Grand Canyon you visit today is a gift from past generations.
A powerful and inspiring landscape, the Grand Canyon overwhelms your senses through its immense size; 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. Nearly five million people see the 1 mile deep (1.6 km) Grand Canyon each year. Most of them see it from their car at overlooks along the South Rim (this includes Grand Canyon Village, Hermits Rest, and Desert View). The South Rim is the most accessible part of the park and is open all year.
A much smaller number of people see the Canyon from the North Rim, which lies just 10 miles / 16 km (as the condor flies) directly across the Canyon from the South Rim. The North Rim rises a thousand feet higher than the South Rim, and is much less accessible. Heavy snows close the road to the North Rim from late October to mid May of each year. Even in good weather it's harder to get to. It is 220 miles / 354 km by car from the South Rim, or 21 miles / 34 km by foot across the Canyon by way of the North and South Kaibab Trails.
The Inner Canyon includes everything below the rim and is seen mainly by hikers, mule riders, or river runners. There are many opportunities here for adventurous and hardy persons who want to backpack, ride a mule to Phantom Ranch, or take a river trip through the Canyon on the Colorado River (which can take anywhere from a few days to three weeks - there are no one-day river trips through Grand Canyon).
Seasonality / Weather
The South Rim: Open All Year
The South Rim is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All visitor services: camping, lodging, and restaurants are available year round. Reservations are strongly recommended during the busy summer season. Some facilities are closed during the winter.
A free shuttle bus system operates in the Grand Canyon Village area. Make your visit easier by parking your car and using the shuttle to get around. Make sure you stop at the park's visitor center at Canyon View Information Plaza, which are reached only by shuttle.
The average distance across the canyon "as the condor flies" is ten miles (16 km). However, traveling from the North Rim to the South Rim requires a five-hour drive of 215 miles (345 km).
The North Rim: Mid-May to Mid-October
North Rim Lodging and camping along with all other visitor services and facilities are only open from mid-May to mid-October. Reservations are strongly recommended. Additional facilities are available in the surrounding Kaibab National Forest, the Kaibab Lodge area, and Jacob Lake.
During winter months, the road to the North Rim, Highway 67, is often closed due to snow. After the close of visitor facilities in mid-October, there may be a period when the North Rim is open for day use only. (before the snow comes) During this time there are no services or overnight facilities available inside the park. The road from Jacob Lake to the North Rim (Highway 67) is subject to closure due to snow with little or no notice during this interval and then remains closed until mid-May.
Car - Grand Canyon Village (SOUTH RIM) is located 60 miles north of Interstate 40 at Williams via highway 64, and 80 miles northwest of Flagstaff via highway 180. Only ten miles from rim to rim as the crow flies, the North Rim is 215 miles (about 4 1/2 hours) from the South Rim by car.
The NORTH RIM is 44 miles south of Jacob Lake, AZ, via highway 67. Visitor services and facilities inside the national park on the North Rim are only open from mid-May through mid-October.
Journey to Grand Canyon National Park aboard Grand Canyon Railway
From Williams, Arizona (along Interstate 40) the Grand Canyon Railway carries more than 230,000 people by rail to Grand Canyon National Park each year.
Grand Canyon Coaches operates the Grand Canyon Eco-Shuttle between hotels and businesses in Tusayan and the Backcountry Information Center in Grand Canyon Village. Call (928) 638-0821 for prices and schedules.
Shuttle service between Phoenix and Flagstaff, and between Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Village is offered by Open Road Tours (800-766-7117).