Grand Canyon National Park

Location: Arizona

Park Tally: 53/59

Orientation: Grand Canyon National Park is world famous for its dramatic landscapes and sheer beauty. Located in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon has numerous options for sight-seeing and adventure. The most popular sections of the park are the South and North Rim’s. The West Rim of the Grand Canyon is not actually in the national park, though the area is still a popular tourist attraction. We mostly explored the South Rim during our visit to the Grand Canyon.

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Most iconic view:  Mather Point is located right by the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and provides that classic Grand Canyon shot many dream of seeing with their own eyes. From the viewpoint visitors can also catch glimpses of the Colorado River winding through the bottom of the canyon. Sunrise is a wonderful time to explore Mather Point for crowd-free viewing and beautiful golden light.   

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Accessible activity:  Desert View Point is one of the many easy to access viewpoints in the park. From here you can take in expansive views of the Grand Canyon, North Rim, Colorado River, Navajo Nation, Vermilion Cliffs, Echo Cliffs, and Navajo Mountain. As mentioned above, Mather Point is another accessible viewpoint which is close to the visitor center and allows for wheelchair access.

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For the adventurous:  Kaibab Trail is a must-do hike for anyone looking to get down into the canyon. You can hike as far down as you want, including a 5000 feet decent to the Colorado River if you are up for a real challenge! For those more interested in a less strenuous day hike, take the trail to Ooh Aah Point (0.9 miles one way), Cedar Ridge (1.5 miles one way), or Skeleton Point (3.0 miles one way). Be sure to take plenty of water, sun protection, food and emergency essentials with you when hiking in the desert.

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Best photo opportunities: Walking west along the Rim Trail from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center will provide ample of photogenic viewpoints. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to capture softer golden light. Hopi Point and Mojave Point are also popular spots to watch the sunset and Mather Point is wonderful for sunrise.

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 Quick facts

  • Grand Canyon became a national monument in 1908 and was later designated a national park in 1919.
  • The Grand Canyon is one of the “7 Natural Wonders of the World” and was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1979.
  • The canyon is 1.6 miles deep, 18 miles wide and 277 river miles long.
  • Rock found at the bottom of the canyon is thought to be as much as 2 billion years old.
  • The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is higher than the South Rim by about 1,000-feet.
  • Wildlife found within Grand Canyon National Park include mountain lions, bald eagles, squirrels, raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, rattlesnakes, and more.
  • In 2016, Grand Canyon National Park had 5,969,811 visitors according to the National Park Service.

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