Watch any patriotic YouTube video celebrating the greatness of the USA and inevitably this crisp-cut canyon of wonder will be featured. There may be six other wonders of the natural world but this is the only one in America and that makes her the Beyoncé of the group. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a casual sightseer, the Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring feast of fun and amazement. We’re here to help guide you through getting the most out of the Grandest of all Canyons.
Whether the Grand Canyon is your sole destination or part of a larger trip across the USA, this experience is much more than just a few vista views. So, let’s fire up the dreamer in you with our list of the absolute must-do experiences at the Grand Canyon. Don’t forget to add any dream activities to your BUCKITDREAM planner!
Things To Do
Take a Dip in Havasu Falls
Get those Instagram #nofilterneeded hashtags ready. There are only three ways to get to this extraordinary waterfall: charter a helicopter, or, if your budget is a little less Rockefeller, either hire a pack mule or just trudge 10 miles in the cruel Arizona sun. However you decided to travel, when you arrive you’ll be greeted by a 100-ft waterfall that flows into a pool of cool turquoise and 72-degree water that will without a doubt lodge allow you to cross off a big tick on your bucket list …and make that hike back worth it, we promise!
Experience Vertigo on the Grand Canyon Skywalk
Not for the faint of heart or vertically challenged, this tongue-shaped steel bridge shoots out 70 ft. from the Canyon’s rim. There’s a glass floor where, if you’re brave enough, you can look down 2,000 ft. to the Canyon ground.
Get Remote in Supai – and We Mean Really Remote!
Supai Arizona is home to the most remote community in the continental US. There is a population of just over 200 and the only way to get there is by pack mules; seriously, a car has never even been there. This is your opportunity to experience one of the most isolated communities in North America.
Sunset over the South Rim
Bring a loved one, do some soul searching, pack a bottle of wine, just make sure that you don’t miss the sunset over the South Rim. It may be something that you’ve seen a thousand times in images of the Grand Canyon but to see it yourself is simply astonishing.
Hike the South Kaibab Trail
It’s a 7.1 mile trip with a 5,000 ft. elevation without much H2O, plus it’s a little treacherous at times, but there isn’t a single second of this hike that is not truly breathtaking. BRING LOTS OF WATER.
The Cape Royal Drive is fit for Royalty
Regarded as one the most beautiful roads in the United States, the Cape Royal Drive will give you a break from all of the hiking and have you stopping every few minutes to take in the sites. As an added bonus, it’s mildly terrifying to navigate the excessively tight roads.
Mooney Falls is on the Money!
Tucked in the Havasupai Indian Reservation is Mooney Falls. It’s not for the casual hiker, but once you arrive just lay down in the luscious waters and look up at the crystal-clear tower of perfection tumbling down on you. The best things in life don’t come easy, but they’re so, so worth it. Do it – you’ll never forget that you did.
Raft down the Colorado River
Whether you want a casual booze cruise or a white-knuckle river rampage, there are options here to suit every adventurer. If you opt for one of the more extreme tours, two things are guaranteed:
At least one crazy person in your party will fall out of the raft.
If there is no one crazy in your raft – you are the crazy one.
Ride a Pack Mule Down the Bright Angel Trail
It’s a pretty excruciatingly steep hike so this is one that a pack mule might be the most appropriate for. They’re actually incredibly well looked after in the Grand Canyon so don’t feel too bad about having them do all the heavy lifting. You’ll sway over ledges that would guarantee death with a fall so you’ll come to trust your mule pretty quickly… I’ll never forget you Paco!
Catch a Show at Hopi House
Designed to resemble how a Hopi Native American pueblo would look over 100 years ago, Hopi House is half-market and half-performance venue. It gives you an authentic idea of the Hopi people who inhabited this area and you’ll be treated with genuinely stunning performances on a daily basis.
Jump Out of a Plane
Sure, you can do the helicopter tour and that really is spectacular but if you want a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a once-in-a-lifetime location, talk to the guys at Paragon Skydive and you’ll get the most unique view on the Canyon possible…
Where To Stay
From 5-star luxury hotels to a room in a cave (seriously) or just a simple tent, the Grand Canyon doesn’t lack options for places to stay. Here’s a quick rundown of some of our favorites, to suit any budget.
Luxury Designed as a luxury retreat in 1905 by acclaimed architect Charles Whittlesey, El Tovar is the epitome of opulence mirroring its location. Rooms will run you around $500 a night but you’re guaranteed pure indulgence from start to finish.
The Extraordinary OK, so The Cavern Suite is actually $800 a night but it is one of the most if not the most unique hotel experience in the entire world. Pros: you’ll be 220 feet underground in the officially quietest, oldest, largest, driest suite in the world… Cons: Claustrophobia and in the morning they do tours around you so that’s fine as long as you like watching people and being watched.
Budget You’re in one of the most naturally beautiful locations on earth, a place that’s packed full of adventure at every turn; if you want to do it on a budget and get the most of your surroundings…camp.
So, we’re obviously not in Paris and the Grand Canyon is pretty remote but there are still a plethora of delicious food options available for you.
A Meal with a View Once again it’s got to be the El Tovar. The food is delicious and the steak and duck in particular are outstanding. This is all aided by a world-class wine list and a view that is simply exquisite.
Unique The Bright Angel Restaurant is a combination of Native American & Southwest inspired dinners and the perfect treat after a long hike or a hot day exploring the Canyon. Another stunning view – which we’re sure you won’t be tired of yet – plus excellent service.
Like a Local The distinctive Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is a good hour and a half drive away in Flagstaff but they’re honestly the greatest fast food we’ve ever tasted. Bite into the steak burger and it will literally melt in your mouth…perfect.
Drinks and Nightlife
As you may have guessed by now, The Grand Canyon is fairly far removed from any bustling action, so don’t expect to find hopping clubs and bars within walking distance of wherever you’re staying. Of course, Sin City is a mere three-hour drive away and an entire different trip altogether. Nightlife in the Grand Canyon can best be found in the local campsites where you can gather with friends/family or make new acquaintances around campfires where you can stargaze, share stories, and maybe even set up a karaoke rig to sing along with the coyotes.
If you really want to hit a bar head down to the Bright Angel Lounge where you’ll find the odd live music night and a well-stocked bar.
Tips and Culture
The sweltering Arizona sun means that sunscreen, appropriate clothing and lots of water are necessities, no matter what activities you’re considering.
Don’t forget to book park passes. The Grand Canyon is a National Park and while you can just show up, it’s best to come prepared with a pre-purchased park pass.
Book accommodation in advance. This should go without saying, but accommodation options are limited around the Grand Canyon; campsites and moderately priced hotels fill up months in advance. Book early to avoid disappointment.
It’s remote. You can make the Grand Canyon a day trip from Las Vegas, but bear in mind that it’s a 3 ½ hour drive. The Grand Canyon is at least an hour’s drive from another major town or city, so stock up on groceries and supplies before you get there to avoid paying exuberant prices on site.
Take in the rich history of the Native American tribes that surround the Grand Canyon. The park itself borders three Indian reservations: Navajo, Havasupai and Hualapai, while five additional tribes consider parts of the Canyon sacred territory. The Grand Canyon affords you the opportunity to learn about the rich history of the original ‘Americans’.
If you do one thing at the Grand Canyon, make sure that it’s watching the sun rise over the Rim Trail. Get up early and beat the crowds to be treated with a view that will leave you pondering the majesty of our planet. No joke, it’s the sort of place that creates epiphanies regarding the endless possibilities for our futures.
Dreams will remain dreams until you turn them into your reality. Help inspire yourself and potential new friends by using BUCKiTDREAM’s app diary feature. Share your dream lists across Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and find people to help make those travel dreams come true.