The Grand Canyon is a massive gorge located in the state of Arizona in the United States, and was created by the Colorado River. Although not the steepest nor the longest canyon in the world, the Grand Canyon is recognized as a natural wonder because of the overall scale and size combined with the beautifully colored landscape. The canyon offers a variety of lookouts and experiences that provide visitors with a view that cannot be matched.
The canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long
The width ranges from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29 km)
The depth is over one mile (1.83 km)
Majority is housed within Grand Canyon National Park
Many spectacular views of the Grand Canyon can be experienced from the many vistas that are presented throughout the park, particularly along the South Rim. However, probably the most spectacular view of the canyon occurs from the Toroweap Overlook. The only challenge is that this view is only accessible by three different dirt paths:
- St. George, Utah (97 miles)
- Colorado City (62 miles)
- Pipe Spring National Monument (64 miles)
An easier alternative to a still breath taking view can be experienced through Lipan Point on the South Rim. This view exposes visitors to a variety of rock strata and delivers an amazing view of the Unkar Creek area.
A helicopter tour is the best way to truly appreciate the vastness of the canyon. Getting up and the air and having a bird’s eye view of the canyon allows you to view the canyon in its entirety. You can fly over in a plane, however a helicopter is a slower and more intimate encounter with the canyon.
Visiting the Grand Canyon is an experience in and of itself, however there are more adventurous ways to experience the canyon and take in the grandeur of this natural wonder. The canyon can be explored on foot through traditional hikes, day hikes, or extended backpacking trips. It is important to note that all overnight camping below the rim requires a back country permit.
Another common and worthy experience is exploring the canyon on the back of a mule. This provides a unique experience of the canyon while allowing the mule to carry the load. The floor of the canyon can also be explored by taking a white water rafting trip. There are a variety of trips offered depending on the type of experience someone is seeking and their rafting skill level.
The best times to explore the Grand Canyon could easily be debated. Winter scenes are arguably some of the most spectacular scenes, however the winter months close the roads to the North Rim which really provide the better views of the vastness of canyon.
With that said, the best time to explore the Grand Canyon is during the summer months which provide visitors with greater access to a variety of opportunities that the Grand Canyon provides to explorers. If you really want to explore the Grand Canyon, don’t plan a day trip. One could easily consume a week discovering and exploring the canyon.
The weather of the Grand Canyon varies with seasons. The South Rim usually maintains higher temperatures as compared to the North Rim due to its higher elevations. Although the general conditions of the canyon area are arid, the onset of winter and the late summer months deliver heavy rains for both the North and South Rims. The later summer month rains are often accompanied by dramatic thunderstorms, which presented in the context of the canyon, can be declared a wonder themselves.
- South Rim Rainfall 16 inches (35 cm)
- North Rim Rainfall 27 inches (59cm)
- Snowfall 60 inches ( 132 cm) 144 inches (317 cm)
- Inner gorge temperatures during the summer months are easily in the area of 100 F (37.8 C) and falling below 0 F (-17.8 C) during the winter months.
Capturing the wonder and beauty of the Grand Canyon truly requires multiple trips during different seasons and varying locations. Sunsets, snow caps, and even thunderstorms take on completely new amazement when captured with the breathtaking background of the Grand Canyon.
The first, and maybe most important, tip is to make your reservations early. There are over 5 million visitors to the Grand Canyon every year and making reservations early is one of the best ways to make sure you get access to the adventure and exploration that you desire.