The Grand Canyon National Park was one of America’s first National Parks, and it’s one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations with visitors from across the world being inspired by its breathtaking beauty every day. The Canyon, which the Colorado River has cut through the gorge, is approximately 275 miles long and between a quarter of a mile to 15 miles wide (average is approximately 10 miles), depending on where you are standing. It’s also about a mile deep which means that it’s a challenge that many people enjoy to hike (or ride) down into the gorge.
There are two different sides of the Grand Canyon, the more tourist orientated South Rim which is open year around, and the more secluded North Rim which is closed during the winter season. On the South Rim, there are many opportunities for learning about the Canyon, and ways of experiencing it first hand – whether a bus tour around the rim stopping at observation points to for photo opportunities, hiking down the trails, rafting along the river, or even taking a flight through the gorge. On the North Rim however, you will find the Grand Canyon more fiercely guarded against the trapping of commercialism, with most of the thrills coming from the light patterns on the Canyon walls as day turns into night.
The South Rim has wheelchairs available for visitors, and many of the areas/facilities – although not the shuttle buses (anyone requiring a shuttle bus with wheelchair access should call the day before they visit the Grand Canyon to ensure one will be running the next day as these are operated on an “on demand” basis) – are wheelchair/mobility impaired accessible although assistance may be required.
Accommodation is limited in the Grand Canyon, especially on the North Rim so if you intend to stay overnight in the park to experience both a sunset and a sunrise be sure to make a reservation far in advance of your vacation period.
Whether you prefer the South Rim with its array of opportunities and challenges for experiencing the Canyon, or the more solitary and intimate “back to nature” atmosphere of the North Rim, the magnitude of the Grand Canyon is an forgettable experience.