Top 3 Ways to Visit the Grand Canyon

September 10, 2018
Horse Shoe Bend Grand Canyon

Regardless of the number of guidebook covers or Instagram snaps you’ve seen, the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon still defies description. It may be one of the most popular tourist attractions on the planet but the drama of the setting and the size of the ravine are always astonishing.

Another major draw is the location of the Grand Canyon, with close proximity to Las Vegas making it an ideal day trip destination for an escape from the neon glow of the ‘City of Lights’.

Here are three of the best ways to make the most of an adventure to the desert to see the Grand Canyon.

Independent Travel to the Grand Canyon

Such an iconic and popular destination will, of course, have tonnes of guided tours available. There’s a lot to be said for that but as with all set tours they’ll stick to a certain route and offer little flexibility in terms of what you can see and how long you spend at the various sections of the National Park.

A DIY trip enables you to take control, choose your own timings and prioritise the areas you really want to see. This is a vast park and some people want to explore parts that aren’t always featured in travel guides.

Grand Canyon National Park

Being in charge of the excursion allows you to include other trips before heading back to an airport in Los Angeles or in Vegas, or indeed other parts of the US by train or bus. Nearby, sites like Zion National Park and Lake Powell are spectacular sights and well worth some time for those already in the region, even if they don’t enjoy the name recognition of the main attraction.

If you do choose to go by car, it’s worth reading up on the Grand Canyon before you travel as you won’t have a guide to tell you all about the history and take you to the best viewpoints. But for those who don’t fancy driving, those guided tours – even if they don’t offer the most flexible experience – can include sunset trips, hikes and even good old fashioned mule tours!

Visiting the Grand Canyon by Train

The Grand Canyon Railway offers a unique way to visit this spectacular geographical marvel.

The train travels about 65 miles on its route and takes 2 hours 15 minutes to get you there. From the town of Williams in Arizona to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado river, the rail journey takes you through the desert and gives travellers a glimpse of the savage wilderness en route. The return journey departs around 3.5 hours later, giving visitors ample time to enjoy the park.

Mooney Falls, Grand Canyon

Built in 1901, the railway offers a different kind of tour, taking in the heart of the Wild West and evoking imagery that has inspired folklore and tales for hundreds of years. The carriages, too, are something special, having been lovingly restored over the years. Today, the trip provides an authentic insight into what life was like over 100 years ago, but although the excursion retains its rustic charm, the journey time itself has been reduced by 30 minutes since the train’s maiden voyage.

Whilst the natural beauty of the canyon is the main reason most tourists choose to take a trip to the region, the history and culture of the place are also worth adding into the mix, and getting there by train is one of the best ways of doing just that.

Flying Over the Grand Canyon

Travelling to the Grand Canyon by air is arguably the ultimate treat. Take a scenic flight in a light aircraft or an exhilarating helicopter ride instead.

Naturally this is the most expensive option, and usually, there isn’t a chance to explore on foot unless you arrange your own transfers. But the bird’s eye view of the sprawling burning rocks of the canyon itself, and the impressive desert of the surrounding area are an extra special trade off. An aerial approach to the park is the best way to appreciate the scale and size of the canyon, and admire the setting around the mighty Colorado, and for those short on time, flying in offers the chance to see a lot more in a much shorter space of time.

The Grand Canyon attracts more than five million visitors every year, and it’s not hard to see why. We’ve all seen the photographs before, but nothing can really prepare you for the sight of this bucket list favourite in real life.

The quandry for many is deciding how to go about exploring this magnificent feat of Mother Nature’s architecture. Take a ground tour by booking an organised trip with a guide or hiring a car and driving yourself, go back in time with an historic trip on the rustic railway or fly high with the birds and enjoy breathtaking views from a plane or helicopter.

Whichever way you choose to visit the Grand Canyon, it can easily be incorporated in a West Coast America holiday designed for you by one of our America Experts.

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