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Family Guide To The Grand Canyon

It doesn't matter if you plan to camp at the Grand Canyon or stay in an area hotel, the family is going love this outdoor adventure. You will be able to enjoy everything from the overlooks to trails and you might even catch a glimpse of some wildlife while there, too. There is so much to see and do at the Grand Canyon, you and the family are going to be busy from the moment you arrive to the moment you pack up to go back home.
South Rim

The South Rim is the most accessible and most visited part of the Grand Canyon. This part of the National Park is open all year long and offers fun for the entire family when other parts of the park are closed during the winter months. Your visit to the South Rim will put you at an elevation of 7000 feet above sea level and will take you through winding roads with access to picnic areas, look outs and historic sites. When visiting the South Rim you will want to make sure you stop by at the Grand Canyon Village and drive along Scenic Hermit Road and Hermits Rest. Desert View Drive also offers fabulous views east of the Grand Canyon Village and will take you to Desert View.

Related: Best National Parks For Camping

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North Rim

The North Rim sits higher than the South Rim at 8000 feet above sea level and offers more of a remote experience at the Grand Canyon. This is mostly because it is less accessible than the South Rim and closes down during the winter months. Restaurants and lodging is only open at the North Rim from May 15 through Oct. 15 of each year.

This section of the Grand Canyon National Park is very close to the Utah border and does require some effort to visit. If you are looking to get to the North Rim, it is 220 miles by car from the South Rim and 21 miles by foot if you plan to walk along the North and South Kaibab Trails. Because it takes a bit more effort to visit the North Rim, it is suggested that first time visitors and families explore the South Rim.

If you do make it to the North Rim, there are some viewpoints you do not want to miss. These viewpoints offer breathtaking views of the canyon and are a must when you visit this rim. Viewpoints to not miss include Point Imperial, Cape Royal, Roosevelt Point, Walhalla Overlook and Bright Angel Point. If you have access to four-wheel drive vehicles, or don't mind the hike, you will want to visit viewpoints such as Cape Final, Saddle Mountain, Uncle Jim Point, The Widforss Trail and Point Sublime.

The Inner Canyon

There is so much more to see at the Grand Canyon National Park than just what you see from the top edge. The Inner Canyon includes everything that is located below the rim. This area of the canyon is mostly visited by avid hikers, river runners and backpackers. There are also mule ride and river rafting trips available in the inner rim of the canyon. Guided tours are also available from many local companies to take you through the Inner Canyon.


Even though the Skywalk is located outside of the Grand Canyon National Park, it is still a must-visit when you are planning a trip to the area. The Skywalk is a horseshoe shaped walkout with a glass bottom. The Skywalk is located on the West Rim of the Canyon and is on land owned by the Hualapai Tribe. The Hualapai Reservation is located approximately 250 miles by road from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. Though the Skywalk is a major attraction at the West Rim, there are many other sites to see while there.

Related: Outdoorsman's Travel Guide To Montana

Photo Credit: Thinkstock Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Getting Across

According to the Grand Canyon Area Map, when traveling by car there is only one way to cross over the Colorado River. To get across you will need to travel 137 miles from the South Rim Village via the Navajo Bridge. It is located a few miles downstream from Lees Ferry and the Canyon is only 400 feet wide at this location.

Those wanting to hike across the canyon can do so by traveling along the South Kaibab Trail. This trail crosses the Colorado River on a narrow foot bridge that is 70 feet above the river waters. Be prepared for a long hike, because it is 21 miles from rim to rim. It is suggested that hikers should not attempt this during the summer months when highs average more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hidden Gems

There are many things you will want to make sure you visit while at the Grand Canyon. Many of these are well known attractions that everyone goes and visits. That is why you will also want to make sure you fit in some of the hidden gems found at the Canyon. Some of these hidden gems you will want to see include Lee's Ferry, Spencer Trail and Cathedral Wash.

If you only have time to see one of these, make sure it is Lee's Ferry. This area of the canyon you will be able to see a variety of other attractions and explore the many trails. Some of the other activities to do at Lee's Ferry include visiting Lonely Dell Ranch, Paria Canyon, Upper South Fork of Soap Creek, the Condor release site, Horse-Show Bend and the Antelope Canyon.

Another hidden gem of the Grand Canyon includes the Havasupai Falls. These falls are located on Havasupai tribal lands and is 10 miles away from the Hualapai Hilltop. This is the closest place to the falls that you can reach by car. If you are able to hike the trails to get to the falls, this is a must-see when in the area.

Popular Sites

As you can already see, there are many fun and exciting things for the family to do when visiting the Grand Canyon. What you are able to see during you visit will greatly depend upon how much time you will have at the Canyon and how much exploring you want to do. Some of the other popular sites at the Grand Canyon include the Grand Canyon Pioneer Cemetery, Hermit's Rest, Mather Point – On Hermit Rest Road, Desert View, the Watchtower and Hopi Point.

Pack your back and put on your hiking shoes and get ready to spend time exploring the Grand Canyon. While there, you and the family can learn more about this wonder's past, tour hidden secrets of the canyon and have fun together in the great outdoors. This is sure to be a family adventure everyone will remember for a long time.

Heather Landon (Heather Leigh Carroll) is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions - writing and travel - to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at
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