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Visiting Grand Canyon National Park: The Complete Guide (2021 Update)

Post Summary: Visiting Grand Canyon National Park

Wonder of the Natural World, UNESCO World Heritage Site, International Dark Sky Park. The Grand Canyon holds a lot of titles in addition to being a US National Park. There is a reason that the Grand Canyon gets so much recognition. It’s an impressive canyon that stands sounds out among the canyon of the world. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and on average 10 miles across. Carved over millions of years by the Colorado River, this impressive canyon is one of Mother Natures’ finest works of art.

Visiting Grand Canyon National Park should be on your bucket list no matter what. As one of the most popular national parks, planning ahead is an important part of planning a trip to Grand Canyon. In this guide, we will be exploring Grand Canyon National Park and providing helpful hints and tips for planning a trip to Grand Canyon. We will help you avoid the crowds as well as find the best Grand Canyon hikes, and where to stay.

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Are you planning a trip to Grand Canyon National Park? Click here for the complete guide to visiting Grand Canyon National Park written by a National Park Expert. 

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The Quick Guide to Visiting Grand Canyon National Park

Map of Grand Canyon National Park

Click on the Grand Canyon Map above to download the official brochure map. If you’d like a PDF copy of this Grand Canyon Map click here.

Grand Canyon National Park Basics

Region: Intermountain / Southwest

Park Size: 52,485.17 acres (82.00 sq miles) (212.40 sq km)

Location: Conconino and Mohave counties

Closest Cities: Fredonia and Tusayan, Arizona

Busy Season: March to October

Visitation: 5,974,411 (in 2019)

How much does Grand Canyon National Park Cost?

Grand Canyon National Park costs the following:

  • 7-day Passenger Vehicle Pass – $35
  • 7-day Motorcycle Pass – $30
  • 7-day Individual Pass – $20

An annual Grand Canyon National Park Pass costs $70 but it is not recommended you buy this pass. For an extra $10 you can get an American the Beautiful Pass. This $80 pass offers free admission to all 116 fee-charging National Park Units.

When is Grand Canyon National Park Open?

Grand Canyon National Park is open year-round. The South Rim is open year-round. The North Rim is typically open to vehicle traffic from mid-May to mid-October.

Are dogs allowed in Grand Canyon National Park?

Yes, Grand Canyon is one of the most dog-friendly National Parks. Dogs are welcome on trails above the rim. Please review the Grand Canyon Pet Policy before bringing your dog to Grand Canyon.

Where are Grand Canyon National Park’s visitor centers?

Grand Canyon Visitor Center – Open Year Round

North Rim Visitor Center – Spring to Fall

Land Acknowledgments for Grand Canyon National Park

The National Park known as Grand Canyon National Park sits on Southern Paiute, Hopi, Havasupai, and Pueblos land.

Thank you to the Native Land Digital for making the Indigenous territories accessible to all. They have mapped the known territories to the best of their current knowledge and is a work in progress. If you have additional information on the Indigenous nations boundaries, please let them know.

Native Land Digital is a registered Canadian not-for-profit organization with the goal to creates spaces where non-Indigenous people can be invited and challenged to learn more about the lands they inhabit, the history of those lands, and how to actively be part of a better future going forward together.

An overlook of the Colorado River in the rocky layers of the Grand Canyon.

When was Grand Canyon National Park Created?

Grand Canyon National Park has a long human history. There is evidence of human activity that dates back at least 12,000 years. Around 4,000 years ago, the Ancestral Puebloan people moved into the region and became less nomadic. Over time, distinct cultures developed in different regions of the canyon.

The first Europeans to reach the Grand Canyon were Spanish soldiers in September 1540. They did some minor exploration in the canyon and moved on. There was minimal other European exploration until 1826 when American trappers arrived. After that, more Americans arrived and the development of the canyon started with crossings such as Lee’s Ferry.

The 1875 U.S. War Department’s expedition arrived looking for resources and the expedition geologist was impressed and pressed for an additional expedition to explore the river and area. The art and photos produced by these expeditions feed into the conservation movement and in 1887 then-Senator Benjamin Harrison introduced a bill to make Grand Canyon a National Park. His early efforts fail but once Harrison was elected U.S. President, he declared Grand Canyon a National Forest Preserve. Being a Forest Preserve didn’t provide a lot of protection from mining or logging but it was a start.

President Theodore Roosevelt visited the canyon in 1903 and used his powers under the Antiquities Act to declare the Grand Canyon a National Monument. It would take a further 11 years to get National Park status but on February 26, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson created Grand Canyon National Park.

Grand Canyon National Park preserves and protects the natural and cultural resources and ecological and physical processes of the Grand Canyon along with its scenic, aesthetic, and scientific values for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.

Grand Canyon National Park Foundation Document

Fun Facts about Grand Canyon National Park

  • The highest point in Grand Canyon National Park is Point Imperial which is 8,803 feet (2,683 m) above sea level.
  • The lowest point in Grand Canyon National Park is Lake Mead which is 1,173 feet (358 m) above sea level.
  • Grand Canyon by the numbers
    • 106 miles of paved roads
    • 148 miles of unpaved roads
    • 595 miles of hiking trails
    • 3,391 ancestral sites
  • Grand Canyon Wildlife
    • 1,443 species of invertervrates
    • 450 species of bird
    • 91 species of mammal
    • 58 species of reptiles and amphibians
    • 18 species of fish (5 native)
  • Grand Canyon is home to 5 endangered species
    • California condor
    • Humpback chub
    • Razorback sucker
    • Southwestern willow flycatcher
    • Ridgway’s rail
  • There are 9 endemic animals in the park including 5 butterflies, 1 pseudoscorpion, 1 tarantula, 1 snake, and 1 mollusk.

When to Visit Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park Visitation

Grand Canyon is busiest from March to October.

Chart of Grand Canyon visitors by month

Zion National Park Weather

Grand Canyon National Park’s climate varies greatly depending on elevation and the canyon is so large that its valleys and ridges influence the weather. The park can be roughly divided into three main regions – South Rim, North Rim, and Inner Canyon. The North Rim has the highest elevations and is the coolest and wettest part of the park. The South Rim is generally warmer and drier than the North Rim. A general rule with the inner canyon is that with every 1000 ft in elevation loss the temperature rises by 5 degrees.

Plan your hikes carefully. Try to avoid hiking during the heat of the day. All hikers should carry lots of water and be prepared for changing conditions.

Chart of Grand Canyon Average Daily Temperatures
Chart of Grand Canyon Monthly Precipiation.

Where to stamp your National Parks Passport Book in Grand Canyon National Park?

Looking for a cheap National Park souvenir? The National Park Passport Books is one of the best and cheapest souvenirs. If you have don’t have a National Park Passport Book click here to learn more about the program or click here to buy.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT stamp your government issued passport.

There are 15 official stamps in Grand Canyon along with a handful of bonus stamps in the park.

  • Desert View Watchtower
  • Grand Canyon
  • Grand Canyon, AZ
  • Indian Garden (National Park)
  • Indian Garden (NP)
  • Kolb Studio
  • North Rim, AZ
  • NPS Centennial
  • Phantom Ranch
  • Tusayan Ruin
  • Tuweep, AZ
  • Verkamp’s
  • Verkamp’s Visitor Center
  • Visitor Center Plaza
  • Yavapai Geology Museum

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamp Locations

Here are all the locations where you can find the Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamp.

  • Bright Angel Lodge Gift Shop (Bonus Stamps Only)
  • City of Williams Visitor Information Center
  • Desert View Watchtower
  • El Tovar Hotel Gift Shop (Bonus Stamps Only)
  • Glen Canyon NRA – Lees Ferry Law Enforcement Office
  • Grand Canyon Association Park Store
  • Hermits Rest Gift Shop (Bonus Stamps Only)
  • Hopi House Gift Shop
  • Indian Garden Visitor Information Station
  • Kolb Studio Bookstore
  • Lookout Studio Gift Shop
  • Maswik Lodge Gift Shop (Bonus Stamps Only)
  • North Rim Visitor Center
  • Park Headquarters
  • Phantom Ranch Gift Shop
  • Phantom Ranch Ranger Station
  • Pipe Spring NM Visitor Center
  • Roving Junior Ranger Table
  • South Rim Visitor Center
  • Tusayan Ruin Museum
  • Tuweep Ranger Station
  • Verkamps Visitor Center
  • Yavapai Observation Station Bookstore
Bright Angel Lodge Gift Shop

Bright Angel Lodge Gift Shop is located at 9 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023. It is open year-round. Bonus stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Bright Angel Lodge Gift Shop
City of Williams Visitor Information Center

City of Williams Visitor Information Center is located at 200 W. Railroad Avenue Williams, AZ. It is open year-round. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - City of Williams Visitor Information Center
Desert View Watchtower

Desert View Watchtower is located at Desert View, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 86023. It is open from summer. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Desert View Watchtower
El Tovar Hotel Gift Shop

El Tovar Hotel Gift Shop is located at 1 El Tovar Road, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023. It is open year-round. Bonus stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - El Tovar Hotel Gift Shop
Glen Canyon NRA – Lees Ferry Law Enforcement Office

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Lees Ferry Law Enforcement Office is located at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Marble Canyon, AZ 86036. It is open intermittently as manned. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Glen Canyon
Grand Canyon Association Park Store

Grand Canyon Association Park Store is located at S Entrance Rd, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 86023. It is open year-round. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Grand Canyon Association Park Store
Hermits Rest Gift Shop

Hermits Rest Gift Shop is located at the end of Hermit Rest road. It is open from year-round. Bonus stamp located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Hermits Rest Gift Shop
Hopi House Gift Shop

Hopi House Gift Shop is located at Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. It is open year-round. Bonus stamps located here:

Hopi House Gift Shop
Indian Garden Visitor Information Station

Indian Garden Visitor Information Station is located at Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023. It is open when a ranger is on duty. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Indian Garden Visitor Information Station
Kolb Studio Bookstore

Kolb Studio Bookstore is located at 223-225 Village Loop Dr, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 86023. It is open year-round. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Kolb Studio Bookstore
Lookout Studio Gift Shop

Lookout Studio Gift Shop is located in Grand Canyon Village. It is open from year-round. Bonus stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Lookout Studio Gift Shop
Maswik Lodge Gift Shop

Maswik Lodge Gift Shop is located at 202 South Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023. It is open from April 15 to October 31. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Maswik Lodge Gift Shop
North Rim Visitor Center

North Rim Visitor Center is located at State Highway 67, North Rim, AZ. It is open summer only. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - North Rim Visitor Center
Park Headquarters

Park Headquarters is located at 1 Village Loop Road, Grand Canyon, AZ. It is open year-round. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Park Headquarters
Phantom Ranch Gift Shop

Phantom Ranch Gift Shop is located at Phantom Ranch. It is open from year-round. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Phantom Ranch Gift Shop
Phantom Ranch Ranger Station

Phantom Ranch Ranger Station is located at Phantom Ranch. It is open from year-round. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Phantom Ranch Ranger Station
Pipe Spring NM Visitor Center

Pipe Spring National Monument Visitor Center is located at 406 N Pipe Spring Rd, Fredonia, AZ 86022. It is open from April 15 to October 31. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Pipe Spring NM Visitor Center
Roving Junior Ranger Table

Roving Junior Ranger Table can be found somewhere on the South Rim. The location moves based on the day’s actvities. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Roving Junior Ranger Table
South Rim Visitor Center

South Rim Visitor Center is located at S Entrance Rd, Grand Canyon National Park,AZ 86023. It is open year-round. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - South Rim Visitor Center
Tusayan Ruin Museum

Tusayan Ruin Museum is located at E Rim Dr, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 86023. It is open from April 15 to October 31. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Tusayan Ruin Museum
Tuweep Ranger Station

Tuweep Ranger Station is located at County Highway 115, Grand Canyon National Park, Mohave North, AZ. It is open from April 15 to October 31. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Tuweep Ranger Station
Verkamps Visitor Center

Verkamps Visitor Center is located at Rim Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 86023. It is open year-round. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Verkamps Visitor Center
Yavapai Observation Station Bookstore

Yavapai Observation Station Bookstore is located at Rim Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 86023. It is open year-round. Stamps located here:

Grand Canyon National Park Passport Stamps - Yavapai Observation Station Bookstore

National Park Obsessed’s Detailed Guides to Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park Lodging

Itineraries for Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park Activity Guides

Grand Canyon Wildlife Viewing Guides

Most Dog Friendly National Parks

Frequently Asked Questions about Grand Canyon National Park

How long does it take to tour Grand Canyon National Park?

You can spend as much time as you’d like and/or the amount of time you have. There is no right or wrong answer to as how much time to spend in the Grand Canyon. I’d recommend spending between one and three days at the Grand Canyon. With only one day, you have plenty of time to explore either the North or the South Rim and explore a few viewpoints, do a little hiking and get a feel for the park. The most important thing is to make the most of your time in the Grand Canyon.

Does Grand Canyon require reservation?

As of September 2021, you do not NEED a reservation to enter the Grand Canyon. If you are planning at staying at one of the lodges or camping at the Grand Canyon, you should try to make a reservation.

Can you drink the water in the Grand Canyon?

There is potable water available in the developed areas of the park and along select trails. Some of these portable water sources are seasonal and many are shut off during winter or during the summer due to repairs or low water levels. Please confirm with NPS that the water source is available before planning to refill there.

  • Bright Angel Campground
  • Bright Angel Trail, Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse
  • Bright Angel Trail, Three-Mile Resthouse
  • Bright Angel Trailhead
  • Bright Angel Trailhead
  • Canyon Village and Desert View Marketplaces
  • Cottonwood Campground
  • Desert View Visitor Center
  • Grand Canyon Visitor Center
  • Hermits Rest
  • Indian Garden
  • Manzanita Day Use Area
  • Maswik Lodge (in the cafeteria)
  • North Kaibab Trailhead
  • North Kaibab Trailhead,
  • North Rim Backcountry Office.
  • North Rim Visitor Center (adjacent to the restrooms)
  • Phantom Ranch
  • Plateau Point
  • Roaring Springs Day Use Area
  • South Kaibab Trailhead
  • South Kaibab Trailhead
  • Supai Tunnel
  • Verkamp’s Visitor Center
  • Yavapai Geology Museum

All water sources outside of these water bottle filling stations or potable water spigots must be treated and disinfected. Make sure the silt particles have settled to the bottom and then filter the clear water with at least a 1-micron water filter. After filtering the water, treat it with iodine or household bleach and let sit for 30 minutes or longer or boil the water for 1 minute (or more pending elevation).

Is the Grand Canyon one of the 7 Wonders of the World?

The Grand Canyon is often considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Over the years, various organizations have complied their list of Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Grand Canyon has made many of these lists including the 1997 CNN list.

In November 2006, USA Today and Good Morning American revealed their list of New Seven Wonders based on viewer feedback, the Grand Canyon was added as the viewer-chosen Eighth Wonder of the World.

What is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon?

The best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park is March through May and September through November. Visiting in the Spring and Fall is my favorite because the temperatures are cooler and the crowds are thinner.

Which rim of the Grand Canyon is best?

It depends. Most of the classic views and most of the park amenities are located on the South Rim and its open year-round. Personally, I prefer the North Rim. It’s a bit cooler for hiking and less crowded.

What is the most beautiful part of the Grand Canyon?

There is no bad view when standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon looking across. My favorite viewpoint is Desert View. I love how you can see just a bit of the view and get a visual for how big and grand the Grand Canyon is.

What should you not miss at the Grand Canyon?

You shouldn’t miss the sunrises, sunsets, and star gazing opportunities at the Grand Canyon. It doesn’t matter which Rim of the Grand Canyon you visit these sights are some of the prettiest anywhere in the world.

How far is Las Vegas from Grand Canyon?

Grand Canyon National Park is about 160 miles from Las Vegas as the crow flies. It’s a 4 and a half-hour drive from Las Vegas to the North or the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon West is NOT part of Grand Canyon National Park but Grand Canyon West is a two and a quarter-hour drive from Las Vegas.

How close is Sedona to Grand Canyon?

It is a 120 mile and two and a quarter-hour drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim. The North Rim is a four and quarter-hour drive from Sedona.

Looking at the valley and ridges of the grand Canyon

National Parks Near Grand Canyon National Park

Check out this great 63 National Parks and get a FREE National Park Checklist. Count how many National Parks you have visited.

National Park Service units within a 4 hours drive

  • Wupatki National Monument – 50 mintues
  • Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – 1.17 hours
  • Pipe Spring National Monument – 1.33 hours
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument – 1.5 hours
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area – 1.5 hours
  • Rainbow Bridge National Monument – 1.5 hours
  • Montezuma Castle National Monument – 2 hours
  • Navajo National Monument – 2 hours
  • Zion National Park – 2.33 hours
  • Tuzigoot National Monument – 2.5 hours
  • Cedar Breaks National Monument – 2.5 hours
  • Bryce Canyon National Park – 2.67 hours
  • Petrified Forest National Park – 2.83 hours
  • Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site – 3 hours
  • Canyon De Chelly National Monument – 3.25 hours
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area – 3.25 hours
  • Yucca House National Monument – 3.83 hours
  • Hovenweep National Monument – 3.83 hours
  • Hohokam Pima National Monument – 4 hours
  • Tonto National Monument – 4 hours
  • Mesa Verde National Park – 4 hours
  • Mojave National Preserve

National Park Service units within an 8 hours drive

  • Castle Mountains National Monument – 4.17 hours
  • Natural Bridges National Monument – 4.25 hours
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument – 4.5 hours
  • Captiol Reef National Park – 4.5 hours
  • Casa Grande Ruins National Monument – 4.5 hours
  • Arches National Park – 5 hours
  • Canyonlands National Park – 5 hours
  • Great Basin National Park – 5 hours
  • Saguaro National Park – 5 hours
  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – 5.17 hours
  • El Morro National Monument – 5.83 hours
  • El Malpais National Monument – 5 hours
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park – 5.5 hours
  • Joshua Tree National Park – 5.5 hours
  • Timpanogos Cave National Monument – 5.75 hours
  • Tumacacori National Historical Park – 5.75 hours
  • Death Valley National Park – 5.75 hours
  • Petroglyph National Monument – 6.25 hours
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – 6.83 hours
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve – 7 hours
  • Chiricahua National Monument – 7 hours
  • Fort Bowie National Historic Site – 7 hours
  • César E. Chávez National Monument – 7 hours
  • Bandelier National Monument – 7.33 hours
  • Golden Spike National Historical Park – 7.5 hours
  • Pecos National Historical Park – 7.67 hours
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area – 7.75 hours
  • Manhattan Project National Historical Park – Los Alamos Unit – 8 hours
  • Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument – 8 hours
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve – 8 hours
  • Dinasour National Monument – 8 hours

Pin for Later: Visiting Grand Canyon National Park: The Complete Guide (2021 Update)

Are you planning a trip to Grand Canyon National Park? Click here for the complete guide to visiting Grand Canyon National Park written by a National Park Expert. 

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