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7 Best things to see & do in Grand Canyon National Park

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States of America (USA)

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States of America (USA)

As white-rafting trips go, few can match the drama and majesty of the soaring Grand Canyon scenery.

The 280-mile stretch of the Colorado River passing through the canyon is home to more than 160 sets of rapids, ranging from Class I to Class 5 (though they have their own rating systems). The Lava Falls, with a 37-feet drop, is the mightiest of all.

The good news is there are a lot of options, from simple, fun day trip adventures covering low-grade rapids to more challenging multi-day camping adventures along the full distance.

For most, a simple one-day trip is enough. These are run from the West Rim by the native Hualapai Indians. Motorised rafts take you a mere 40 miles, the first 12 of which are low-grade rapids. The remaining 28 miles is flatwater where you can sit back and admire the view. The rafting guides tell you stories about the Hualapai and their cultural history as you go.

They also offer a 2-day version, with a night spent campaign in Spencer Canyon and including a hike to a natural waterfall.

The Hualapai’s 1- or 2-day trips are the best if you want the experience, but have limited time or desire for serious rafting, and/or you are coming from Las Vegas.

There are multiple operators offering longer adventures. These trips often include optional daytime hikes – usually no more than 2 miles to take in the scenery and to have a break from the rafting.

Adult price: £350

Min age 8

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 1-21 days

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States of America (USA)

There are few more jaw-dropping landscapes in the world than the ‘Grand Canyon’ – the mighty 277-mile long, 1-mile-deep gash, carved into the Arizona rock by the Colorado River.

Given its gargantuan scale, you need height and distance to appreciate its scale and majesty. Helicopter tours afford flyers a bird-eye view, and are able to descend thousands of feet below the canyon’s rim. Some tours even land at the canyon’s base for sunset cocktails.

Without question one of the world’s greatest helicopter flights and unmissable.

Adult price: £200

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 30+ minutes

Desert View Drive

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States of America (USA)

Landscape of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River

Bucket List Experience

This spectacular 23-mile drive takes you along the Canyon’s southern rim to the Desert View Services Area, with regular viewpoints (with parking) along the way. Views are jaw-dropping and guaranteed to give you your fill of Canyon landscapes (and photographs). It’s the only place in the Park where you can self-drive – well worth it if you have a car.

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 2 hours

Hike the South Kaibab Trail

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States of America (USA)

Hike the South Kaibab Trail

Bucket List Experience

The vertiginous South Kaibab Trail is a stunning hike on a well-maintained dirt trail. There are 3 main stop points: Ooh-Aah Point (1 mile), Cedar Ridge (1.5 miles) and Skeleton Point (3 miles), so you can choose what suits you. The route descends nearly 1,000m to the river; allow twice the time and effort coming back. It begins at Yaki Point. Access by shuttle bus from the South Rim.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 1 day

Hike the Bright Angel Trail

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States of America (USA)

Hike the Bright Angel Trail

Bucket List Experience

This 7-mile each way trail, departing from the South Rim, is a popular (but long) single day hike that gets you out into the scenery, down to the canyon floor. There are resthouses and distance markers en-route. Remember – it’s a fairly easy walk down, but harder work to come back up.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 1 day

Horseshoe Bend

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States of America (USA)

Landscape view of strange horseshoe shaped geological formation in the Grand Canyon National Park

Experience

This geological stunner is located near the town of Page, Arizona, a 2.5-hour drive from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The lookout point is a 10-minute walk from the car park. You can also kayak, raft and tour by helicopter.

Good for age: 6+

Skywalk

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States of America (USA)

Landscape of the Grand Canyon with a small viewing platform jutting out

Experience

This U-shaped cantilever bridge, built by the Hualapai on the concession at the West Rim, is 10 feet wide, has 6 feet tall walls, and extends 70 feet out from Eagle Point. Stepping out, you look down 4,000 feet into the Canyon through the 5 layers of 2.5-inch-thick, reinforced glass – sufficiently strong to withstand a bomb blast!

Adult price: £25

Good for age: 6+