Grand Canyon National Park
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Introduction

With sights that are awe-inspiring for both newcomers and repeat visitors, the Grand Canyon is sure to captivate. “Beautiful” doesn’t even begin to describe this landscape. Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park is aptly named for its scenic treasures, carved over millions of years by the Colorado River. A barrier one-mile deep bisects the park and creates the line dividing the North and South Rim. It’s nature’s playground and an adventure-fueled setting with activities that all members of the family can enjoy.

Come here to get acquainted with the flora and fauna of an arid landscape, challenge yourself with an overnight hike, river raft through the mighty Colorado, or simply spend some time taking in the magnificent views. There is so much to do, so much to explore, and with two canyon sides, you’ll have an almost endless list of recreational opportunities. Travel around both the North and South Rim by vehicle or on foot - the choice is yours. Whether you are renting an RV or driving your own, this is your Grand Canyon experience and you won’t want to end your trip without indulging in such natural brilliance.

If you are simply here to take in the views, you can take advantage of the free shuttle service that will drop you off at the many scenic overlooks around the canyon. If you want a longer excursion, consider taking a private guided bus or jeep tour. One of the coolest lookout spots is the Desert View Watchtower, which is an observation deck that has been designed after Ancestral Puebloan towers.

History buffs will want to stop at one of the visitor centers to learn about the cultural history of the area and the geology of the canyon. You can also explore the remains of Ancestral Puebloan village at the Tusayan Ruin or learn about Puebloan Indian life at the Tusayan Museum. For those who want to get up close and personal with the Grand Canyon, you have many options from day hikes and mule rides to backpacking and whitewater rafting trips.

RV camping is one of the best ways to really get immersed in your Arizona surroundings. When you stay in an RV, you take charge of both how you stay and how you go. Here, you’ll find areas to park your RV on both sides of the canyon, including plenty of spots that are a little off the beaten path. No matter what kind of rig gets you there, you’ll be sure to find your perfect piece of the park.

Experience Arizona and the Grand Canyon National Park as it should be experienced. Find the activities that suit your speed and fall into the natural rhythm here. No matter the month, no matter the season… you’ll drive back home with plenty to talk about.

Park Alerts (5)

[Caution] Ikes Fire Continues to Burn in Remote Area. Grand Canyon North Rim is OPEN for Day Use [+ Info]

North Rim Closures in effect from Ikes Fire (10/18/2019) - Powell Plateau Trail on the North Rim - North Bass Trail on the North Rim - Fire Point on the North Rim - Swamp Point on the North Rim - W4 road from intersection with W4 and W1 heading north

[Caution] Construction: Installation of 5 Water Test Wells Within the Inner Canyon Near Phantom Ranch [+ Info]

Construction will begin Oct. 28 and is expected to conclude on Dec. 5, 2019. Backcountry visitors may see or hear helicopter activity to transfer supplies and equipment at the beginning and end of the project.

[Park Closure] North Rim - Cape Royal and Point Imperial Roads Closed in Advance of a Winter Storm [+ Info]

Update: Nov. 19, 2019. Between 8 and 16 inches of snow are expected over the next few days. We have closed the North Rim scenic roads in advance of the storm. The road will remain closed until next May. North Rim open for day use only through Nov. 30.

[Information] North Rim Campground Alert - 2020 Season. [+ Info]

The North Rim Campground will be on a first-come, first-served basis from May 15, 2020 to August 31, 2020 due to a major waterline replacement project. Normal reservations will resume September 1, 2020 through the remainder of the 2020 season.

[Information] Attention: Commercial Tour Vehicle Operators [+ Info]

All Commercial Entrance Fee increases at Grand Canyon National Park, scheduled for October 2019, are delayed until April 1, 2020, or until further notice.

RV Rentals in Grand Canyon National Park

Transportation in Grand Canyon National Park

Driving

As the most traversed side of the park, the South Rim and its facilities are open year-round to due to moderate temperatures and more forgiving winter climate. Many come to visit the Grand Canyon’s South Rim between April and September, so you can expect crowds and some decent vehicle congestion. You’ll easily navigate to the South Rim by picking up Arizona’s chunk of I-40 West to Highway 64. Then simply take Highway 64 North, directly to the Canyon’s South Rim.

On the North Rim, it’s like a whole other world. A far less frequented side, the North Rim is open from mid-May until mid-October, but becomes inaccessible in the winter months due to weather conditions. You’ll find substantially smaller crowds here, though it is still a very popular destination. Major routes will easily wind you here, with a longer travel time on Highway 89 North to Highway 89 Alt. From Highway 89 Alt West, hop onto Highway 67 South for a direct route to the North Rim.

Though the distance between the Grand Canyon’s North and South Rims measures roughly 21 miles across, the driving distance is substantially different. The more than 200-mile trip around means about four to five hours’ drive time between Northern and Southern Rims. From North to South: Pick up Highway 67 North to Highway 89 Alt East, then to Highway 89 South. This will bring you to Highway 64, where you then follow West to the East Entrance on the South Rim, known as Desert View. Get ready for some spectacular views and a worthwhile drive. Though long, guests who bring their four wheels all the way around will experience the full extent of this geological wonder.

Parking

Parking at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim is fairly straightforward and you will likely meet a fairly thin crowd. The South Rim, however, is a different story. You will want to arrive as early as possible in order to secure a good spot. The Grand Canyon, like many other famed National Parks, gets quite busy - and fast. It is recommended to arrive by 9:00 AM, if not sooner. Arriving early will ensure you can find a parking spot that’s close by the Visitor Center and the Rim Trail. There are designated lots here for RVs: Lots 1, B, and D. Do not park in lots 2, 3 and 4 or A and C. It’s important to note that parking can get tricky for RVs over 22 feet or for vehicles with trailers.

Public Transport

If you want to bypass parking headaches, you can ride the free Tusayan Route (Purple) shuttle bus to get inside the park. Shuttles run every 20 minutes, though you must provide a valid park pass in order to board. If you only have a few hours, park your RV near the IMAX Theater, RP’s Stage Stop, or the Park & Ride lot and let the shuttle do the work.

Once inside the park, there are three other shuttle services routes that through the entire South Rim: Blue, Orange, and Red. The Orange Route runs all year long and is your best choice if you're limited on time yet want to catch the best Canyon views. The Blue Route also runs all year, but mainly stops at campgrounds and lodges. The Red Route runs from March through November and offers more amazing viewpoints. Shuttle service at each stop runs every 15 to 30 minutes.

An on-demand shuttle service between the North and South Rims is provided by Grand Canyon Shuttle Service, as well as limited services from Trans Canyon Shuttle.

For visitors who are feeling adventurous, there are several other unique options to get the best view of the Grand Canyon. You can the roads altogether and capture views of the Canyon by helicopter or train.

Campgrounds and parking in Grand Canyon National Park

Campsites in Grand Canyon National Park

Reservations camping

Seligman / Route 66 KOA

The Seligman/Route 66 KOA is ideal for big rigs. All sites are designed for pull-throughs and able to accommodate rigs up to 73 feet. Situated along the longest remaining stretch of historic Route 66, guests can stop at the famous Delgadillo’s Snow Cap for a malted milkshake and enjoy a treat that 1950s vacationers enjoyed, too! Quick day trips might include Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon National Park, Laughlin and Las Vegas. Back at the campground, enjoy high-desert and cool summer evenings, soak in the stars from the brilliant night skies, and relax by the campfire. The seasonal pool is open from late May through September. Clean bathrooms, hot showers, and full laundry facilities will help guests feel right at home.

North Rim Campground

Open only from May to October, this campground offers 89 fully accessible campsites, restrooms, showers, a dump station, and coin laundry. There are no hookups for RVs. However, you will find a water refill station, and generators are permitted. Pets are also allowed to stay with you. The campground offers excellent access to the Transept Trail that leads to the Grand Canyon Lodge. While not as heavily visited as the South Rim, it’s still advised to get your reservations in early. The camping season is short, so, sites fill up rather quickly. Bring your dog and get ready for an extraordinary camping experience with a spectacular view.

Mather Campground

Located at the South Rim and open year-round, Mather Campground is the most popular, offering both tent and RV camping. While there are no hookups, you will find restrooms and campsite grills. Showers and laundry facilities are available for a fee. There is a 30-foot maximum length advised for RVs, trailers, and campers.

Leashed pets are welcome at Mather Campground. Reservations for this campground are strongly recommended from March throughout November, as the grounds usually fill up quickly. During winter camping months, registrations become first-come, first-served, using the self-pay machine in the campground office.

Trailer Village

If you want to camp in modern luxury, Trailer Village is for you. Located next to Mather Campground on the South Rim, Trailer Village is an RV Park offering full hookups. Campsites can fit RVs up to 50 feet in length. Reservations are available, so make sure to book your spot since sites fill up quickly. Nearby amenities include picnic tables, vending machines, a dump station, drinking water, coin-operated showers, and laundry facilities. Pets are also allowed at Trailer Village, so you don’t have to leave Rover out of all the fun.

First-come first-served

Desert View Campground

This campground is open seasonally, from April to mid-October. There is a 30-foot maximum length for vehicles, which includes a combined length of truck and trailer, if you’re hauling your rig. Since there are no reservations, you’ll want to be sure you get into these sites early, as the grounds fill up quickly. There are about 50 campsites available which can accommodate fairly large RVs and travel trailers. There is a week-long camping limit, and pets are always welcome to join you. You’ll find that the sites are quaint and somewhat backcountry. There are grills for fires and cooking, picnic tables, community water faucets, and flushing toilets. The nearest showers will be found at Mather Campground, as there’s no hot water here.

Alternate camping

Off-Park Camping

Visitors experience many varied forms of luxuries while taking on the Grand Canyon National Park. The diverse landscape and breathtaking vistas are always worth more than one trip. Those fortunate to have found their way here are rewarded in so many ways, including several options of how to stay and get the most out of an Arizona jewel.

Cupping both the North and South Rim, several other campgrounds offer a place of rest for weary wheels. It's best for guests to be mindful when traveling in the cooler seasons of late fall and into early spring, not as many campgrounds along the North Rim will not be open for parking. This is another reason the South Rim tends to take on the most visitors.

A final option for the more adventurous is dispersed camping. This camping style can be exercised at either end of the Canyon, but campers must acquire a permit before setting off. There is a very basic set of rules for this camping style, so make sure you follow all park regulations.

Seasonal activities in Grand Canyon National Park

Spring

Tuweep Region

For those bold adventurers, the Tuweep Region offers magnificent views far away from the crowds of the Canyon. Reaching the Tuweep Region is not for the faint of heart, however, since it is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from the North Rim. This region is truly remote, meaning there are no gas facilities, lodging, or phone service. If you are willing to leave civilization behind for a while, you will be rewarded dramatic views of canyons and cliffs towering above the Colorado River at the Toroweap Overlook. There are also several scenic hiking and horseback riding trails, as well as a small primitive campground in the area. Only RVs and trailers under 22 feet long can access this area.

Grand Canyon Field Institute Learning Adventure

If you want to immerse yourself into the experience of the Grand Canyon then you should consider taking a tour or a class at the Grand Canyon Field Institute Learning Adventure. They offer many different tours offered, including hiking and backpacking excursions. If you want to learn a new skill, you can take a yoga, photography, or writing class. History buffs looking to learn about the Grand Canyon will love the chance to take their natural and cultural history classes.

Bike the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park is a busy place for visitors, and the roadways are full of cards, shuttles, and RVs. You'll find that most trails are not open to mountain or road biking due to the traffic. However, there are some great trails that you can explore during your stay and springtime is perfect for a picturesque bike ride along the South Rim. It's one of the best places for cycling, with views that are hard to beat. If you didn't bring your bike, you're covered. Bicycle rentals and guided bike tours are available, starting mid-March.

Walk the Trail Of Time

The crisp, refreshing spring months are a perfect time to walk along the Trail Of Time. It is a nearly two-mile interpretive walking tour that focuses on the Grand Canyon's wondrous vistas and towering rocks. A guide will lead you along a journey filled with information on the canyon's start. The park provides a free shuttle at each entrance if you only want to travel half of the trail. Follow along and explore what time has shaped between the rock layers and take a moment to view Arizona's wild beauty during your walk.

Backcountry Camping

Sometimes you want to get real close to nature. What better way than with an overnight camping trip? All overnight backcountry camping below the rim will require a permit from the Backcountry Office. You'll want to apply well in advance to ensure your paperwork is accepted. For first-timers, a few nights at either Bright Angel or Indian Garden Campground comes recommended by other campers.

With backcountry camping, you want to take your time to learn all the Canyon's ins and outs. Decide in advance which area you plan to explore to help with the permit process. The park has an overnight limit based on the number of campsites, use history, ecological sensitivity, and management zoning.

Summer

Mather Point Overlook

Mather Point Overlook is the most popular viewpoints to soak in the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. It's typically the first spot where RV visitors get a glimpse of the Canyon because it's an easy walk from the Visitor Center on the South Rim and RV parking lots. If you want to stretch your legs, you can easily continue onto the Rim Trail.

Grand Canyon Rafting Tour

World-class whitewater rafting awaits with guided Grand Canyon rafting tours. The Colorado River flows for 278 miles through one of the most spectacular canyons on the earth and provides an ideal setting. Every bend and turn of the river offers an even more beautiful view -- it’s an adventure of a lifetime.

Grand Canyon Star Party

Summer nights are perfect for park residents and visitors to witness the vast wonders of the night’s sky. Both the North and South Rim provide such splendor. The dark skies above the Grand Canyon are ideal for casual stargazers and experienced astronomers alike. Come explore the Canyon’s depths by day and its vast skies by night.

Railway Express Tour

Escape some summer heat with a Railway Express Tour. It starts with a morning departure from the Grand Canyon to Williams Train Depot, where you will be awakened with a good old-fashioned Arizona gunfight. Board the train again for a trip back to the Canyon while entertainers keep you company along the hour-long journey. It’s truly a taste of the Wild West.

Mule Rides

One of the most exciting ways to explore the Grand Canyon is by taking a Canyon Trail Ride. Guided mule rides and horseback rides are available on the North and South Rims. Guests can also choose to take a short one-hour trip, a half-day ride along the rim, or even a trip down into the Grand Canyon.

Fall

Helicopter Tours

One of the best ways to see the Canyon is from above! There are many commercial entities offering private helicopter tours, which will provide an unforgettable experience during your RV trip to the Grand Canyon. You can catch a helicopter tour from Tusayan near the South Rim, Las Vegas, NV, or Sedona, AZ. Tour lengths typically range from one-hour to half-day excursions.

North Rim Day Hike

Hiking is one of the most popular recreations enjoyed at Grand Canyon National Park. Taking a beautiful fall hike along the North Rim is a perfect way to spend your day. The scenery is breathtaking. In a place filled with such wonder, you are sure to find inner peace and solitude. The North Rim holds its own unique beauty that you are sure to capture along the trails.

Wildlife Viewing

While driving around the park's varied landscape, visitors of the park are likely to spot to all sorts of "usual suspects" in the area. Wildlife is highly prevalent among this state park and you're more than likely to spot one of the Grand Canyon's most distinguishable residents - elk. All wildlife should be respected and never approached, so as to uphold safety on both ends. Bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lions, hog-nosed skunks, ringtails, and more are on the list to be discovered here at the Canyon. Bring those binoculars in your motorhome.

Visit the Tusayan Ruins and Museum

The Tusayan Ruins are the remains of a small Ancestral Puebloan village. Located about three miles west of Desert view, this site was once home to Puebloan Indians that created artifacts, such as arrowheads and pottery. If you visit during the summer you can attend a ranger-led tour of the ruins. The nearby Tusayan Museum has exhibits that bring the Pueblo people back to life. Admission is free.

Photography

Since there are so many hot spots here, you’re guaranteed not to run out of things to take pictures of during your motorhome trip. The Grand Canyon is beyond beautiful, and capturing it just right can be tricky. Both amateur and professional photographers flock here year after year to get the shot. When it comes to photographing the Canyon, lighting is everything. The best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park is during the fall season, which offers the perfect climate for bringing out depth, texture, and color.

Winter

Visit Desert View Point

When visiting Desert View, you can climb to the very top of a 70-foot watchtower. This stone pillar offers panoramic views that extend for hundreds of miles, even as far as the Painted Desert and the Colorado River. The historic tower is a replica of Ancestral Puebloan towers. Also, check out the general store to do a little shopping before you leave.

Historic Hopi House

The Hopi House is a National Historic Landmark that has offered authentic Native American arts and crafts since it opened its doors over 100 years ago. This destination features retail shopping alongside museum-quality artifacts. A vast selection of Native arts and crafts are available to buy so you can bring home a bit of Arizona’s history. Come any time of year.

Yavapai Observation Station

The Yavapai Museum of Geology is located just one mile from Market Plaza and is yet another destination that features awe-inspiring, spectacular views of the Canyon. The natural formations of this purposeful location are on display here as a perfect addition to the interpretive exhibit. The setting tells a tale alongside powerful images of other pieces of the Grand Canyon, 3-D models, and other exhibits that complete the complex geologic story of this part of Arizona.

Visit Mary Colter's Lookout Studio

A must visit, you'll find the Mary Colter's Lookout Studio, nestled on the very edge of the South Rim at the Grand Canyon National Park. Built-in 1914, this unique space serves as a lookout point of the Grand Canyon for visitors to observe its majestic beauty. Designed as a place for photographers to capture fantastic photos, you can use telescopes provided to let you see the canyon's wild beauty. The Studio is located west of El Tovar and serves as a gift shop. Here you will find books related to the Grand Canyon, fossil specimens and souvenirs to remember your fantastic RV camping trip. Open all year long, add it to your trip to-do list.

Tour Scenic Hermit Road

This part of the Grand Canyon National Park will quickly become one of your favorite trails. Hermit Road provides breathtaking views among the seven-mile stretch of road and. December through February is the only time of year you can make this scenic drive on your own since during the rest of the year it is closed to private vehicles. If you need a little adventure, consider traveling this road by foot as it is also open to pedestrians.

Experiences in Grand Canyon National Park

nps_icon_sun Fall
nps_icon_van Suburban
nps_icon_tent Trailer Village RV Park

My wife and I ran from the South Rim via the South Kaibab trail to the North Rim and up the North Kaibab trail. My wife ended up running back to the South Rim the same day via the Bright Angel trail. The park is amazingly gorgeous and the colors throughout the day are ever changing. The scale is beyond belief and is truly one of the crown jewels of the National Park system.

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