Grand Canyon | FAQs | Resources

Q: What area should I stay when I visit the Grand Canyon?

A: The answer certainly depends on how many days you plan to stay and what tours and activities you are interested in. You have a number of choices. Inside the South Rim National Park, the Village of Tusayan (just outside the South Rim entrance, Williams, Flagstaff, or Sedona). We can assist you with your choices and logistically plan your itinerary. Contact our experienced staff at 800-548-1420 for assistance.

Q: I only have one day to see the Grand Canyon and I want to get to the Colorado River?

A: If you are only staying at the Grand Canyon area for one night, we would not suggest attempting to do any excursion that takes you to the Colorado River (Rafting Trips or Colorado River Jeep Expedition). For any of these adventures a minimum of two nights at the South Rim, Williams, or Flagstaff is recommended due to the travel times to and from the bottom of the canyon and the fact that you need at least a day exploring the South Rim area. If this is your first time to the Grand Canyon, we highly suggest you explore the South Rim National Park for up to a full day through a wonderful Guided Van Tour or on your own. Keep in mind that parking can be very difficult in the park and a guided van tour has many benefits to you and your travelling companions. You may also consider a helicopter flight over the canyon as this is truly awe-inspiring and a must do experience without a long commitment in time.

Q: Should we wait to book our tours or hotel reservations once we get to the area?

A: We HIGHLY recommend tour and hotel reservations before you get to the local area. Often times, hotels and tours are completely sold out if you attempt to book them on the same day or within a short period prior to your arrival. Lodging in Grand Canyon National Park becomes completely booked well in advance. Be sure to make reservations as far ahead as possible. Your personal concierge can assist you with your choices and logistically plan your itinerary. Contact our experienced staff at 800-548-1420 for assistance.

Q: What fun tours and activities can we do during our time at the Grand Canyon?

A: Your personal concierge can assist you with your choices and logistically plan your itinerary. Contact our experienced staff at 800-548-1420 for assistance or visit our Tour and Activities Page on our website.

Q: How far is it from the South Rim to where we are coming from?

A: Flagstaff – 80 miles (1.5 hours)
Phoenix – 230 miles (3.5 hours)
Las Vegas – 277 miles (4.5 hours)
Sedona – 115 miles (2 hours)
Monument Valley – 175 miles (3 hours)
Page (Lake Powell) – 140 miles (2.5 hours)
Bryce Canyon National Park – 288 miles (5 hours)
Zion National Park – 280 miles (5 hours)
Los Angeles – 500 miles (7 hours)
Salt Lake City – 515 miles (8.2 hours)
Albuquerque – 415 miles (6 hours)

Q: Can we visit the Skywalk when we go into the South Rim National Park?

A: Not recommended if you are trying to see the South Rim area and only have one day. The Skywalk is a 4 hour drive from the South Rim entrance and is not located in the National Park. It is on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in Grand Canyon West. (If you are traveling to/from Las Vegas then the Skywalk will add at least 2 additional hours of driving time)

Q: What time zone are Arizona and the Grand Canyon in?

A: Arizona and the Grand Canyon National Park are on Mountain Standard Time year round and does not observe Daylight Savings. This fact may cause confusion if you travel from a state bordering Arizona. From spring to early autumn, Arizona is on the same time zone as Los Angeles and Las Vegas. During late autumn and winter, Arizona is on the same time as Salt Lake City and Denver. The Navajo Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona is the exception to this fact as they do observe Daylight Savings Time.

Q: What is the cost to enter the Grand Canyon National Park?

A: The cost to enter the Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim) is $25 per vehicle, $12 pedestrian or cyclist; fees for commercial bus/tour van passengers vary. Admission is for 7 days and includes both rims; there are no refunds due to inclement weather. U. S. citizens aged 62 or older may obtain an America the Beautiful Senior Pass for a one-time fee of $10 and gain free admission. Persons holding a current National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (obtainable for $80 at any national park) are admitted free. Annual Grand Canyon passports, valid for the calendar year, are available for $50. U.S. citizens who have a permanent physical, mental or sensory impairment may apply in person for an America the Beautiful Access Pass, which provides the same privileges as the Senior Pass.

Buying the pass ahead of time does not necessarily save you time at the entrance so you do not have to go out of your way to purchase the pass before you enter the park but it is an option for you. If you opt to take the shuttle into the park (from the Village of Tusayan (June through early September only) then you will need to purchase the park pass prior to boarding the shuttle. You can obtain a park pass from many businesses in Tusayan including the Grand Hotel and the IMAX theatre.

Q: I understand that Arizona is always hot and I am not certain what to pack? What is the weather at the Grand Canyon?

A: The Grand Canyon National Park South Rim area (including Tusayan, Williams, and Flagstaff) are higher elevation than Phoenix (approximately 7000 feet in elevation). You can always expect day time temperatures to be at least 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix and nights are often cold with a temperature difference of at least 30-40 degrees . Regarding the weather during your trip to the Grand Canyon, we recommend visiting a few days prior to coming for an up-to-date forecast. You can search the local South Rim weather for zip code 86023.

Summer temperatures on the South Rim are relatively pleasant (50°s – 80°s F; 10°s to high 20°s C) but inner canyon temperatures are extreme. Daytime highs at the river, 5000 feet below the rim, often exceed 100° F (38° C). North Rim summer temperatures are cooler that those on the South Rim due to the increased elevation. Winter conditions at the South Rim can be extreme: expect snow, icy roads, and possible road closures. Temperatures are low, and with the wind-chill factor can at times drop below 0° F (-18° C). Canyon views may be temporarily obscured during winter storms; in such cases, entrance fees are not refundable. The North Rim is closed in winter. Spring and Fall weather is extremely unpredictable; be prepared for sudden changes in the weather during these seasons.

Q: How do I get to the Grand Canyon?

A: The SOUTH RIM allows you several options. Common driving routes are from Williams, Arizona (via State Route 64 from Interstate 40) or Flagstaff (via US Highway 180). Commercial airlines serve Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas. There is limited air service into Grand Canyon Airport from Las Vegas and elsewhere. Greyhound provides bus service to Flagstaff, and public bus transportation is available from Flagstaff to the South Rim. Amtrak provides rail service to Flagstaff with connecting bus service to the canyon. Grand Canyon Railway offers vintage train service from Williams.

The NORTH RIM does not have as many options. There is no public transportation to the North Rim other than the Trans Canyon Van Shuttle from the South Rim. You will need to drive on US Highway 89A or State Route 389 to Jacob Lake, just south of the Utah border, and take Highway 67 to the North Rim. You can fly into Las Vegas and drive 263 miles one-way. Keep in mind that heavy snows close the road to the North Rim from late October to mid May of each year.

Q: How big is the Grand Canyon?

A: That depends on how you look at it. The park includes over a million acres of land – 1,218,375.54 acres / 493,077 hectares, to be exact, or 1,904 square miles / 4931 square kilometers. But most people measure the canyon in river miles, along the course of the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. By that standard, Grand Canyon is 277 miles / 446 km long. It begins at Lees Ferry (mile 0) and ends at the Grand Wash Cliffs (mile 277 / km 446). The Colorado River is longer, of course: 1450 miles / 2333 km long from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of California in Mexico. Grand Canyon is only one of many beautiful canyons which the river has carved. Others include Cataract Canyon and Glen Canyon – the latter now beneath the waters of Lake Powell. Most people agree, however, that Grand Canyon is the most spectacular. There’s simply no other place in the world that looks quite like it. Width and depth of the Canyon vary from place to place. At the South Rim, near Grand Canyon Village, it’s a vertical mile (about 5,000 feet / 1524 m) from rim to river (7 miles / 11.3 km by trail, if you’re walking). At its deepest, it is 6000 vertical feet / 1829 m from rim to river. The width of the canyon at Grand Canyon Village is 10 miles / 16 km (rim to rim), though in places it is as much as 18 miles / 29 km wide. Here’s another way to look at size: a trip to the bottom of the Canyon and back (on foot or by mule) is a two-day journey. Rim-to-rim hikers generally take three days one way to get from the North Rim to the South Rim. A trip through Grand Canyon by raft can take two weeks or longer and experienced backpackers have spent weeks in the more remote areas of the Canyon.

Q: Are there dams in Grand Canyon?

A: No, although several dams bordering the park have a profound effect on Grand Canyon. At the upper end of the Canyon, 15 river miles / 24 km above Lees Ferry, is Lake Powell, formed by the waters behind Glen Canyon Dam. At the lower end of the canyon is Lake Mead, formed by the waters behind Hoover Dam. The controlled release of water from Glen Canyon Dam at the upstream end affects the water that flows through Grand Canyon. Waters from Lake Mead flood the lower 40 miles / 64 km of Grand Canyon when the lake is full. Hoover Dam was completed in 1936. Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1963.

Q: How old is the Canyon?

A: That’s a tricky question. Although rocks exposed in the walls of the canyon are geologically quite old, the Canyon itself is a fairly young feature. The oldest rocks at the canyon bottom are close to 2000 million years old. The Canyon itself has formed only in the past five or six million years. Geologically speaking, Grand Canyon is very young.

Q: Are the oldest rocks in the world exposed at Grand Canyon?

A: No. Although the oldest rocks at Grand Canyon (2000 million years old) are fairly old by any standard, the oldest rocks in the world are closer to 4000 million years old. The oldest exposed rocks in North America, which are among the oldest rocks in the world, are in northern Canada.

Q: When and why did Grand Canyon become a National Park?

A: Grand Canyon is unmatched throughout the world in the incomparable vistas it offers to visitors on the rim. It is not the deepest canyon in the world (both the Barranca del Cobre in northern Mexico and Hell’s Canyon in Idaho are deeper, just to name two), but the Grand Canyon is known throughout the world for its overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape. Geologically it is significant because of the thick sequence of ancient rocks that are beautifully preserved and exposed in the walls of the canyon. These rock layers record much of the early geological history of the North American continent. Finally, it is one of the most spectacular examples of erosion in the world. Although first afforded Federal protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve and later as a National Monument, Grand Canyon did not achieve National Park status until 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service. Today Grand Canyon National Park receives close to five million visitors each year – a far cry from the annual visitation of 44,173 which the park received in 1919. Grand Canyon became a national park in order to give it the best protection we as a nation have to offer. The mission of the National Park Service, here and elsewhere, is to preserve the park and all of its features, including the processes that created them, and to provide for the enjoyment of the park by visitors in a way that will leave the canyon unspoiled for future generations.

Q: How does one see the Canyon?

A: Nearly five million people see Grand Canyon each year. Most of them see it from their car at overlooks along the South Rim (this includes Grand Canyon Village, Hermits Rest, and Desert View). The South Rim – 60 miles / 97 km north of Williams and 80 miles / 97 km northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona – is the most accessible part of the park and is open all year. A much smaller number of people see the Canyon from the North Rim, which lies just 10 miles / 16 km (as the raven flies) directly across the Canyon from the South Rim. The North Rim rises a thousand feet higher than the South Rim, and is much less accessible. Heavy snows close the road to the North Rim from late October to mid May of each year. Even in good weather it’s harder to get to: its 220 miles / 354 km by car from the South Rim, or 21 miles / 34 km by foot across the Canyon by way of the North and South Kaibab Trails. The inner canyon includes everything below the rim and is seen mainly by hikers, mule riders, or river runners. There are many opportunities here for adventurous and hardy persons who want to backpack, ride a mule to Phantom Ranch, or take a river trip through the Canyon on the Colorado River (which can take anywhere from a few days to three weeks – there are no one-day river trips through Grand Canyon). Your personal concierge can assist you with your choices and logistically plan your itinerary. Contact our experienced concierge staff at 800-548-1420 for assistance.

Q: How do people get across the canyon?

A: If you’re walking, the South Kaibab Trail crosses the Colorado River on a narrow foot bridge 70 feet / 21 m above the water. There is only one way to cross by automobile, and that is via Navajo Bridge, just a few miles downstream from Lees Ferry, where the Canyon is still only 400 feet / 122 m wide.

Q: When is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon? A: Expect heavy crowds during spring, summer, and fall months. You will find fewer crowds in the early spring or late fall. The South Rim is open year round, but heavy snows close the road to the North Rim from late October to mid May of each year.

Q: Can I bring my dog along with me if I hike into the canyon? Pets must be physically restrained at all times. Leashed pets are allowed on the rim trails throughout the developed areas in the park but not below the rim. The only exception is certified service dogs. Persons wishing to take a service dog below the rim must check in first at the Backcountry Information Center. There is a kennel on the South Rim but not on the North Rim.

Q: How hard is it to hike into the Grand Canyon?

A: Unlike hiking in mountainous terrain, Grand Canyon trails involve a downhill trip followed by a strenuous uphill climb. Hiking in the Grand Canyon is so demanding that even people in excellent condition often emerge sore and fatigued. Yet it has been hiked by small children, senior citizens, and people with physical disabilities. The day hiker, out for just a few hours, and the overnight backpacker must be equally prepared for the lack of water, extreme heat and cold, and isolation characteristic of the Grand Canyon. There are few places where the comforts of hotels, campgrounds, shops and restaurants are found so close to such a harsh environment. Particularly in the summer, mental attitude and adequate water consumption are the two most important factors in the success of any hike into the Grand Canyon. Backcountry rangers recommend that hikers make their first overnight trip into the inner canyon on the park’s “Corridor” trails. The Corridor is the area including and immediately adjacent to the Bright Angel and North and South Kaibab trails. This area includes three campgrounds: Indian Garden, Bright Angel, and Cottonwood.

Q: Do I need a permit to hike into the Grand Canyon?

A: Permits are not required for day hikes below the rim, but you must obtain a backcountry permit if you plan on camping overnight.

Q: How do I take a mule ride to the inner canyon?

A: There are no longer one day mule trips into the canyon. Due to the limited short notice reservations (up to one year) for the mule rides into the canyon (overnight only) as well as requirements necessary for bookings, Xanterra Parks and Resorts requests you book the mule trips directly. You can call direct at 888-297-2757 to inquire about availability and reservations. Please note, there are no longer one day mule trips into the canyon. Your only option for a one day tour is through the National Forest where you visit one view point of the canyon.

Q: What advice/travel tips do you have for international/overseas visitors?

A: Remember that the southwestern US is big and remote. Put a map of your home country next the distance you plan to cover in the USA to get an idea of what you are up against. Transportation takes time and is often expensive. Public transportation in northern Arizona is very limited, so find transportation and schedules before you leave, and expect to need some money to get around. Many prices are “plus tax”, so add 7-8% to your budget.

Q: What other areas in Arizona should we consider visiting during our vacation?

A: We can assist you with your choices and logistically plan your itinerary. Contact us at 800-548-1420 for assistance. Some of your choices are Sedona, Monument Valley, Jerome, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Wupatki National Monument (and other Native American historic sites).

Grand Canyon Additional Resources

  • For news, events, maps and more visit the National Park Service’s Grand Canyon National Park website.
  • IMAX Theater – Grand Canyon
  • SEE MORE, HEAR MORE, FEEL MORE – IMAX is the ultimate movie experience. With crystal clear images up to eight stories high, and wrap-around digital surround sound, IMAX takes you to places you’ve only imagined.

  • For up-to-date weather, (Type in Grand Canyon, AZ 86023) Or directly to the GC South Rim weather page at
  • Grand Canyon hiking tips
  • Backcountry Grand Canyon hiking