Grand Canyon Featured Destination:
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon may very well be the biggest star of North America. Its numbers are staggering--1 million acres, 277 miles long, 10 miles wide, 4,000 feet deep. But, its statistics aren't as impressive as seeing the geologic wonder in person. Even as you stand at the precipice of its greatness, it almost doesn't seem real, with its layers of rusty orange and brown, even pink, hues looking more like a watercolor painting than sheets of river-worn rock.
A monument to the power of the mighty Colorado River and millions of years of limestone-carving erosion, the Grand Canyon draws five million people to its Inner Canyon and South and North Rims each year with a myriad of ways to experience its marvels. For the high-octane visitor, there's rafting the Colorado River rapids and for the more laid-back, sunrise and sunset bus tours.
Fittingly, the largest flying bird in North America, the California condor, soars over all this geologic grandeur. Scan the cliffs and Douglas-fir trees in the South Rim below Bright Angel Lodge in late afternoon to spot one of the rarest birds in the world--there are just 73 condors flying free in the park. With a wingspan of 10 feet, condors can be seen riding the updrafts from the canyon walls. They maybe the canyon's oldest residents, unchanged from the Pleistocene times, when they scavenged the carcasses of mastodons, giant sloths and saber tooth cats.
Best Time to Visit:
Avoid the summer crowds, when many park activities are booked with waiting lists, and visit the park in spring and fall. If you plan to go white-water rafting, May to June and early September are the best months to brave the fastest stretch of navigable water in North America at Lava Falls. The condors roost late April through July and sometimes, March through October.
What to Do:
Soak in magnificent canyon views from the best lookout points: Desert View Watchtower, the highest point on the South Rim; Port Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim; or Cape Royal, a popular spot to watch sunrise or sunset with amazing panoramas of the canyon in all directions. Plan well in advance, like a year in advance, to take an overnight mule ride into the Inner Canyon and experience the canyon from the bottom up. Get Directions
Other Grand Canyon Destinations:
- Grand Canyon North. The northern rim of the Grand Canyon has excellent hiking trails and offers stunning views of the landscape with the added bonus of fewer crowds than the south rim. Get Directions
- Desert View. On a clear day, visitors can see up to 100 miles from the watchtower at Desert View Point. Drive along the scenic Desert View Drive for several panoramic overlooks along the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and pause to visit the Tusayan Ruin and Museum to learn about the area's Puebloan history. Get Directions
- Toroweap/Tuweep Area. Though it can be a challenge getting to Toroweap Overlook on the area's primitive roads, the 3000 foot sheer drop view down to the Colorado River, as well as unique volcanic features and Lava Falls Rapid make the journey worthwhile. Get Directions
- Hermit Road and Rim Trail. Offering some of the best views of the Grand Canyon, visitors can drive or take a free shuttle bus along Hermit Road. Scenic walks and days hikes on the Rim Trail provide a more intimate experience with the landscape, and this is perhaps the best place to bike in the entirety of Grand Canyon National Park. Get Directions
- The Skywalk. The Skywalk is one of the most famous attractions on the western rim of the Grand Canyon. Projecting approximately 70 feet out from the rim of the canyon, the Skywalk is made with a steel frame supporting glass floors and sides in the shape of a horseshoe that visitors can walk on for an unforgettable canyon view. Get Directions
Explore the Grand Canyon:
- Find the Grand Canyon on the NORTH AMERICA Map.
- Grand Canyon Animals Seen in NORTH AMERICA: California Condor
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