Grand Canyon National Park Quick Guide

The Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen.  Pictures truly do not do justice to the magnificence and vastness of the Grand Canyon. It is definitely a must see in-person experience.  This park holds a special place in our hearts as we got engaged while hiking on the South Kaibab Trail.  We recommend spending 2-3 days here, depending on how much hiking you want to do.  Here is our quick guide on Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

Grand Canyon National Park

FYI: This post was written based on a trip taken in mid-March

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What to do in Grand Canyon National Park

South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park

This hike affords gorgeous views of the canyon the entire trail.  Beware though, it may be an easy hike into the canyon but the climb back up is very steep. 

Skeleton Point, Grand Canyon National Park

We hiked down into the Canyon, just beyond Skeleton Point (where we got engaged) before turning around.  Our hike totaled approximately 6 miles with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain on the way up. You could easily shorten this day hike to any length you felt appropriate for your fitness level. 

South Kaibab Trail PDF

Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 7+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots

Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park

This hike offers further astounding views of the Canyon.  Again, beware that the hike back out of the Grand Canyon is harder than the descent into the canyon.  

We hiked to Indian Garden.  Our hike totaled approximately 9 miles total with about 3,000 feet of elevation gain on the way up.  Again, this hike is easily shortened. 

Bright Angel Trail PDF

Helicopter Ride 

We did not do this, we felt we saw enough of the canyon hiking. However, we have friends who have done helicopter tours and they rave about it.  If you are short on time and cannot hike as much, this might be a great way to see more of the canyon. 

We only visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  If you are looking to extend your trip, you may consider visiting the North Rim but we’d recommend planning on at least a week trip in that case. 

If you are visiting the North Rim, consider also visiting Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona. Please see Epic 10 Day Utah National Parks/Southwest Road Trip for more information on this location. Another option, if you are feeling physically ambitious, is to backpack and hike rim to rim.  

Tip on Weather: The amount of daily hiking you can complete will be dependent on your conditioning but also the time of year you visit. We visited in March when the weather was much cooler and dehydration is much less of a concern. Expect more challenging hiking if you visit in the hot summer months.

What/where to eat in Grand Canyon National Park

Cameron Trading Post and Motel Restaurant 

Here, you can order traditional Navajo tacos and we’d highly recommend this unique, as well as delicious, menu item.  A Navajo taco is basically a traditional Mexican taco but served on fry bread. Calories don’t count when you are doing a hiking trip right?

Restaurants Inside the Park

There were about 5 different restaurants on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We ate at two below:

Maswik Food Court: A casual place to get breakfast, lunch or dinner. This location is the most economical place to get a hot meal, and we ate both breakfast as well as lunch here one day. Certainly nothing fancy but it was nice to be able to get some fresh food after hiking. 

Arizona Steak House Engagement Dinner

Arizona Steak House: Go here for a more elegant dining experience, located on the rim of the canyon near the Bright Angel Trailhead. We ate here to celebrate our engagement and were not disappointed with our food or views of the Grand Canyon.  

Grand Canyon National Park Restaurants

Where to stay in Grand Canyon National Park

Cameron Trading Post and Motel 

Views Outside Our Room at the Cameron Trading Post Motel

Located 30 minutes from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, this accommodation is a perfect place to stay before your first day in the park. If you are arriving at the Grand Canyon from Phoenix or anywhere else south of the park, it will help break up your drive.  The next day, we were able to get an early start to head into the park.  The restaurant here, as noted above, is excellent.  The trading post has a large gift shop that was fun to explore as it has an extensive array of traditional Navajo art and items. 

Cameron Trading Post

Accommodations in the park

Although a bit more pricey than staying outside of the park, staying within the park is the best way to get an early start on hiking and exploring in the park.

We stayed at the Thunderbird Lodge but there are several different options on the South Rim.  

Tip: Make sure to make reservations early as accommodation options are limited and fill up months is advance.

Grand Canyon Lodging

We hope this post helps you plan your trip to the Grand Canyon.  Consider heading south and visiting Sedona, Arizona as well (see Sedona, Arizona Quick Guide for all our tips).

Anything else you’d add to our guide on visiting Grand Canyon National Park?  We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please send leave us a comment!

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