Deciding where to visit for family vacation can be a task. Even narrowing it down to going West leaves a hole for some answers. There are so many places to choose from. If it is your first visit, why not start in the heart of the Southwest? You won’t regret it. The Grand Canyon has plenty to offer.
From sand-swept hills and valleys to wind carved ginormous red rock the terrain is a marvel. If you are flying in, then you will either land in Phoenix and make a four-hour journey in a car or connect to the town of Williams. From there your drive time is roughly an hour and a half. And what a drive it will be!
Public transportation will be a headache for the backpacker, as this country is open and rustic…and hot. If you can avoid the summer crowds and temperatures, then by all means the best time to visit is in April and May or October.
Along the way there are plenty of hotels to choose from, large and small, at varied rates beginning at around $40 for two per night and on up into the hundreds during peak season. The climate is warm and dry. You will need to intake a lot of water and them some more. Especially if you are preparing to hike down the Canyon to the Colorado River.
There are three places to enter into the Canyon which spreads 277 miles across, 18 vertically and 6,000 feet deep for those who were wondering. From the North you will enter via Jacob’s Lake. The altitude is a bit higher at this end of the Canyon, and experts say this is the best view.
If you enter from the east you will a long way to go before you believe you are in the Grand Canyon. And from the south you will come through Tusayan. There are a vast number of great hiking trails here, perhaps the most popular being the Bright Angel Trails.
If this is your destination, then you will want to stop half way down the 10 mile trail to let your body acclimate to the altitude change of 6,000 feet. There is a camping spot here, Indian Gardens. Plan on three days for hiking Bright Angel Trail, giving yourself one night each way at the campground to let your body adjust.
Rangers carry out corpses in body bags every day of people trying to hike down and out in the same day. And they carry out bodies from people who have dehydrated. It is well worth the trip, but come prepared. There is no place on this trail to get water; you must carry it in.
If you want to spot wildlife and see spectacular wonders of nature, you will not be disappointed. For the shopaholic, there are lovely wares from the Native Americans set up and scattered along some of the roadside stops. Turquoise is plentiful here, as well as silver.
For those who want a little more from nature, you can plan three, four, even seven-day rafting trips down the Colorado River. And for those who want a bigger taste of the Grand Canyon, carry on to the very west, Havasu Falls. There will be fewer people and some amazing waterfalls to hike down to and swim in. It is a journey only for the fit.