One of the top attractions in the US and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Grand Canyon welcomes millions of visitors each year who come for superb scenery, cycling, hiking and climbing or white water rafting. Carved by the path of the Colorado River over millions of years, the Canyon stretches for 277 miles (446km) through northern Arizona and is up to 18 miles (29km) wide and over a mile deep in parts.
Grand Canyon National Park is divided into two main areas, the South Rim and the North Rim and you’ll find unique landmarks and attractions in each. South Rim highlights include structures built by Mary Jane Colter such as the Desert View Watchtower 20 miles east of Grand Canyon Village. North Rim boasts majestic views from Cape Royal, Bright Angel Point and Point Imperial, and birdwatchers may be lucky enough to spot the rare California Condor.
The canyon also extends into the Havasupai Indian Reservation and the Hualapai Indian Reservation – sometimes referred to as Grand Canyon West where you can see incredible waterfalls at Havasu Canyon and panoramic views near the Supai Village.
Peak season is from June till early September and all facilities are open. The Star Festival in early June is an added attraction as stargazing enthusiasts descent on South Rim, and though it can be crowded you’ll enjoy sunny days with temperatures that fluctuate from 29 C (85F) to 7C (45F) depending on your location.
The March to May shoulder season is one of the best times to visit South Rim as temperatures rise and spring foliage appears, though North Rim may still be closed as the last snows have still to clear. September to November is also considered an excellent time to plan a visit, and you might catch the end of the Music Festival in South Rim or still have time to visit North Rim before it closes for the winter.
Low season is from November till February and North Rim is closed. Many of the South Rim amenities are also closed, but some of trails remain open so dress warmly and wear waterproof footwear.
Peak season from June till August is the most expensive time to visit the canyon, and the cheapest time to visit is from November to February as temperatures drop and parts of the national park close. However, you can find good deals on flights at most times of year, and slightly lower shoulder season prices make March to May and September to November well worth considering.
Several parts of the park can only be reached using the designated shuttle service. The service has three routes through the South Rim which are extensive and connected, and this free service operates frequently every day during peak season from dawn till dusk. West Rim Drive is not open to private vehicles from March till November, but again a shuttle service is available.