Grand Canyon Vacation Tips

A great Grand Canyon vacation starts with some budget travel tips that fall into the category of practical advice about your surroundings.

One of the most common mistakes visitors make in the Grand Canyon is a failure to account for the fact that the rims of the Grand Canyon are much like standing on the summit of a tall mountain. Elevations along the rims can rise to more than 8,000 feet above sea level.

Don’t fall prey to altitude sickness. Pick up some bottled water, even in months when heat is not an issue.

Speaking of temperature, don’t associate the Grand Canyon with year-round heat. It can be cold and snowy in winter, and roads along the rim can be blocked during the winter months. Don’t waste money traveling to sections that are closed or clogged with snowbound tourists. Ask for current road conditions when visiting in winter.

Finally, plan your lodging for the night, even if you’re one of those budget travelers who likes to roll without reservations. Lodging options operating within the national park often are reserved many months in advance. Reasonably priced rooms can be found within 100 miles of the South and North rims. Check Flagstaff, Ariz. or Kanab, Utah.

Visit Beyond South Rim

The view you see here was taken on the edge of the Grand Canyon, fairly far removed from the South Rim viewing area. Thus, it is not the standard shot you see of this natural wonder.

There’s a reason the South Rim is so popular–the views are unforgettable. But you should also consider a trip to the less-visited North Rim or perhaps Grand Canyon West (more on that is just ahead). Everything from meals to lodge reservations to budget rooms outside the park can be acquired more easily from the North Rim.

Unfortunately, many of us only have time to visit one vantage point. It’s a geographical issue. Although separated by just 15 miles as the crow flies, the driving distance around the canyon between North and South rim views is nearly 280 miles! Much of that long distance is on roads built for sightseeing, not speed.

Rafting on the Colorado River

Planning far in advance is necessary for anyone who wants to raft the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon. It’s an experience many visitors dream of, but sometimes they show up with unrealistic expectations. Rafting the Colorado within the Grand Canyon usually is not possible in a simple day trip. Two- to five-day trips leave from Diamond Creek in Grand Canyon West. Most other trips of this type involve a minimum three-day commitment. They are offered by a variety of park-approved vendors. For a less expensive Colorado River alternative, consider a rafting trip between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry, leaving from Page, Ariz., about 140 miles from the South Rim entrance. Although not within the Grand Canyon, the Glen Canyon experience from Colorado River Discovery is scenic and can be done in a half-day.

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