Located in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is colossal and splendid, carved over several millennia by the Colorado River. Grand Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the major tourist attractions in the U.S. Its beautifully colored rock layers depict more than two billion years of natural history
The Grand Canyon National Park
The National Park has two regions – the North Rim and South Rim. The latter is more accessible and serves as the base to explore the region. The Canyon’s southwestern end is within the precincts of the Havasupai Indian Reservation and Hualapai Indian Reservation.
Grand Canyon Air Tours
Airplane tours offer a bird’s eye view of the Grand Canyon on special planes equipped with large viewing windows. Helicopter tours offer breathtaking aerial views of the canyon with more options, including landing on the bottom of the canyon. Airplane and helicopter tours are available from the Grand Canyon Airport and Las Vegas.
Many Las Vegas air tour operators offer landing flights down to the canyon’s floor. West Rim tours let you explore several viewpoints including the gorgeous Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped walkway with glass floor projecting 70 feet from the canyon’s rim at an elevation of 4,000 feet. Shuttles take you to the main attractions – the Indian Cultural center, Hualapai Ranch, Eagle Point and Guano Point. South Rim tours give access to a major part of the National Park including a guided coach tour.
These tours are more common and start from Tusayan’s or Las Vegas. The major highlights that you will see during a Las Vegas air tour include Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Colorado River, Grand Canyon West and Grand Canyon Southwalk.
South Rim air rides fly over the east, south and north rims, providing panoramic views of the Zuni Corridor, Desert Watchtower, Dragoon Corridor, Temple of Ra and Imperial Point.
- The Bright Angel Trail is popular for hiking and backpacking.
- A Desert View Drive from the Canyon View Information Plaza in the South Rim to the Watchtower and the eastern entrance of the park offers incredible canyon views.
- The Grand Canyon Field Institute provides interesting information about the park’s archeology, geology and the Native American history.
- Mule rides let you explore the inner canyon on the Southern Rim.
- The Yavapai Observation Station displays a 3D topographical map of the canyon explaining its magnificent geology.
How to reach
Flagstaff’s Pulliam Field is the closest commercial airport. Grand Canyon visitors generally fly to the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport or Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, both of which are near the South Rim. Grand Canyon National Park Airport, outside the South Rim, is mainly used by air tour providers and private aircraft companies.
There are no commercial bus services, but tour operators offers guided tours from nearby metropolitan areas – Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles – to the South Rim. The Grand Canyon Railway connects the Grand Canyon Village from the Williams town. The Arizona Shuttle Service carries passengers from the Flagstaff Amtrak station.
Many of the Canyon’s viewpoints and trailheads can be accessed with the park shuttle system, which services three interlocking routes from the South Rim.
There are many resorts and hotels around the National Park area. El Tower Hotel in the Grand Canyon National Park is a great place to stay close to major attractions and activities. It is within walking distance from the Bright Angel Trail. The Grand Canyon National Park is a five-minute drive from the hotel. The historic hotel has 78 rooms including 12 suites each featuring a unique décor. Rooms have robust amenities including cable TV, air-conditioning, telephone and bell service. An on-site restaurant offers breakfast and lunch, and in-room dining is also available.
Photos: Grand Canyon Air Tour – National Park, Skywalk, Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, El Tower Hotel.