Grand Canyon FAQ

The following is a list of the most popular Grand Canyon FAQ. If you feel we missed answering any question, please feel free to contact us and let us know.

How Big is the Grand Canyon?

Because many people calculate the Grand Canyon in river miles, the size of the park depends on how you view it. Technically, the Grand Canyon National Park is more than a million acres of land measuring at 1,218,375.54 acres or 1,904 square miles (kilometers). In terms of river miles, gauged on the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long. Starting at Lees Ferry and stopping at the Grand Wash Cliffs, the Colorado River flows 277 miles long throughout the entire canyon. Amazingly, the magnificent river is 1,450 total miles long as it begins in the Rocky Mountains and ends in the Gulf of California. The Grand Canyon is just one of the gigantic canyons that the Colorado River created. A few other canyon’s that the powerful river is responsible for include Glen Canyon and Cataract Canyon. Interestingly, Glen Canyon is now submerged under the waters of Lake Powell. The Grand Canyon in Arizona should not be mixed up with the Grand Canyon found in Yellowstone Park in Wyoming. This one, although large, is still considered “tiny” in comparison to the Grand Canyon. The Yellowstone Canyon is just 24 miles long in comparison to the 277 miles long Grand Canyon of Arizona. Because of the size and magnitude of the Grand Canyon, many critics believe that this masterpiece is the most beautiful of its kind. With no other attraction that is quite like it, the total depth and width of the canyon is different from various locations.

Around the Grand Canyon Village, by the South Rim, it’s an estimated 5,000 feet (one vertical mile) from the river to the rim. If you are walking, the distance is 7 miles. At the canyon’s deepest point, the distance from rim to river is 6,000 vertical feet. In average, the Grand Canyon Village’s total width is 10 miles, but has been measured at 18 miles in some spots. In more simpler terms, the travel time from the top of the canyon to the bottom, and back again is a two-day journey. For the hikers that travel from the North Rim to the South Rim, the one way travel time is typically three days long. Incredibly, traveling through the Grand Canyon by raft can take as long as two weeks to complete. More expert hikers have spent up to a month exploring certain areas of the remote areas of the park.



Does the Grand Canyon have any Dams?

Interestingly, there are no dams in the Grand Canyon. While true, there are many dams that border the park and have a big overall impact on the park. At the top of the canyon is the location of Lees Ferry, an estimated 15 river miles, which was created by the Glen Canyon Dam. The water from the Glen Canyon Dam is on a control release and has an important impact on the flow of water through the Grand Canyon. At the bottom end of the canyon is Lake Mead, which was formed by the incredible Hoover Dam. When Lake Mead is completely full, the Hoover Dam floods the entire lower 40 mile radius of the Grand Canyon. After years of construction. the Glen Canyon Dam was finally completed in 1963 and the Hoover Dam in 1936.

What is the Age of the Grand Canyon?

Although the age of the Grand Canyon is often debated, some archeologists have found rocks at the bottom of the canyon that are more than 2,000 million years. While true, the Grand Canyon itself is considered to be a relatively young attraction, as it was formed by erosion in the past five to six million years.

Does the Grand Canyon Feature the Oldest Rocks in the World?

Amazingly, the Grand Canyon is not home to the oldest rocks in the world. Even though the canyon’s rocks are 2,000 million years old, the oldest rocks in the world are much closer to being 4,000 million years old. In fact, northern Canada is the home to the oldest exposed rocks in North America.

How did the Grand Canyon become a National Park

Quite simply, there is no other attraction worldwide that is quite like the Grand Canyon. While the canyon is not the world’s biggest (Idaho’s Hell’s Canyon and northern Mexico’s Barranca del Cobre are both deeper), it is globally recognized for its incredible size and beautifully colored landscape. In a geological sense, the Grand Canyon is extremely significant due to its large sequence of historic rocks that are preserved and layered on the canyon walls. The layers of rocks have recorded a large amount of history from the North American continent. Not only that, but the Grand Canyon is also one of the best examples of erosion that the world has ever seen. Originally regarded as a forest reserve, the Grand Canyon was first granted federal protection in 1893. The status of the canyon was later changed to a national monument and then to a national park in 1919. This was three years after the National Park Service was incorporated for the first time. Nowadays, the Grand Canyon sees nearly 5 million annual visitor’s compared to the 44,173 that traveled to the attraction in 1919. In order to provide the Grand Canyon with the best possible protection, the U.S. named the canyon a national park. The main objective of the National Park service throughout the country is to preserve each included park and all of its features. This includes the park’s creation process and the overall enjoyments of each individual visitor.

How do I get to the Grand Canyon?

(This one is probably the most popular Grand Canyon FAQ) There are several different ways to get to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The most common way to get to the South Rim is by traveling from Williams, Arizona on State Route 67 or from Flagstaff by way of Highway 180. There are also commercial airports that serve Flagstaff, Las Vegas and Arizona and limited air travel access into the Grand Canyon itself. For visitor’s that wish to travel by bus, Greyhound offers transportation from Flagstaff to the South Rim. Another option is to travel by train. Amtrak offers a rail service that connects with bus services in Flagstaff. The Grand Canyon Railway has a classic transportation service that’s available from Williams, Arizona. Unlike the South Rim, the North Rim does not have many traveling options. Because of its remote location, the only form of transportation is through private companies that offer van services from either Flagstaff or the South Rim. The most common way to get to the North Rim is by driving. With entrances at both US Highway 89A and at Jacob Lake via Route 389, visitors can then take Highway 67 located due south of the Utah border. If you fly into Las Vegas, the commute to the North Rim is 263 miles. During the winter months, the North Rim is not accessible due to heavy snow.

How do I see the Grand Canyon?

The home of close to five million visitors every year, most people usually drive their vehicles to overlooks located throughout the South Rim at spots like Desert View, Grand Canyon Village and Hermits Rest. Located 60 miles north of Williams and 80 miles northwest of Flagstaff, the South Rim is open all year and is easily the most accessible part of the Grand Canyon. There are much less people that visit the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. The North Rim is located 10 miles across from the South Rim and is 1,000 feet higher. During the end of October to the middle of May the main road to the North Rim is closed due to heavy snow. Even if the weather is good, the North Rim road is still hard to get to from the South Rim. The journey is about 220 miles long by car and 21 miles long on foot. The inner part of the Grand Canyon is located below the two Rim’s and is generally only seen by river runners, mule riders and hikers. This part of the Grand Canyon offers many different unique tour options for anyone that wants to take a river trip on the Colorado River, backpack or ride a mule to the famous Phantom Ranch. For visitor’s that wish to walk through the canyon, there are various trails like the South Kaibab Trail that travels over the Colorado river on a small foot bridge that is nearly 70 feet above the river. If you’re using a vehicle to travel, there is only one place to cross. By driving downstream from Lees Ferry, vehicles are able to cross by the Navajo Bridge.

What is the Best Time to Visit the Grand Canyon?

(Probably the second most popular on the Grand Canyon FAQ list) If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon during the spring, summer and fall months, you can definitely expect a large crowed. Although true, the canyon will be much less busy through the end of spring and the beginning of fall. The South Rim is open year round for visitors, but the road to the North Rim is closed from late October to the middle of May every year.

Are Dogs Allowed to Hike with me in the Canyon?

Yes, but all pets must be on a leash. Pets that are leashed are permitted on the park’s developed areas, but not below the North or South Rim. Of course, certified service dogs are an exception to this rule. Anyone that requires a service dog while touring below the rim must register with the Backcountry Information Center first. The South Rim contains a kennel, but the North Rim does not.

Are Reservations Required for Lodging at the Grand Canyon?

Yes. Because lodging at the Grand Canyon National Park quickly becomes full, all visitors must make reservations as far in advance as possible.

Is the Grand Canyon Hard to Hike?

Different than mountain hiking, the Grand Canyon consists of a lot of downhill walking, which is followed by intense uphill climbing. The Grand Canyon can be so strenuous that hikers in great physical condition are usually extremely fatigued by the end of the trip. Even so, there have been many elderly people, children and disabled people that have hiked the canyon. Whether you’re an overnight backpacker or a day hiker, everyone must plan to bring an appropriate amount of water while also preparing for extreme heat and cold. This is especially true in the summer months when water is essential to a successful hiking trip. Luckily, there are lodging accommodations, food services, shops and campgrounds that are located near the worst canyon environments. According to backcountry rangers, first time hikers should plan their overnight trip along the parks “Corridor” trails. The section of the inner canyon that is located directly next to Bright Angel on the North and South Kaibab trails is called the Corridor.

Is a Permit Required to Hike the Grand Canyon?

A backcountry permit is only required for overnight camping. Day hikers are not required to have a permit.

What is the Weather like at the Grand Canyon?

During the summertime, the South Rim temperature is generally very nice as it ranges from 50 to 80 degrees. The inner part of the canyon can become extremely intense. The daytime highs along the Colorado River can exceed 100 degrees below the Rim. Because the North Rim is located higher, the temperature’s are typically cooler. The winter climate around the South Rim can also be extremely intense. Visitor’s can expect heavy snow fall, icy roads and possible road closings. The temperature can become very frigid and drop below 0 degrees when combining with the wind chill factor. Because of the extreme weather, some of the canyon views might be obstructed and, unfortunately, are non-refundable. The road to the North Rim is closed during the winter. The spring and fall months at the canyon are very unpredictable as the weather can change at a moment’s notice.

Are there any fees to enter the Grand Canyon?

There is a park entrance fee of $25 per vehicle and $12 for all hikers and bike riders. The fee for tour vans and commercial buses will vary. Park admission is good for seven days and is not refundable. All American citizens that are 62 or older are allowed to receive a $10 America the Beautiful Senior Pass that is a one-time fee. Any visitor that currently has a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (a one-time fee of $80) will be allowed to enter the park at no additional charge. The Grand Canyon does offer yearly passports that are valid for one calendar year and cost $50. If anyone has a permanent disability, that person is able to receive an America the Beautiful Access Pass that offers the same benefits as the senior pass.

How can I take a Mule Ride to the Inner Canyon?

Grand Canyon Mule ride - Grand Canyon FAQ

Mule Ride in the Grand Canyon

By contacting the Grand Canyon National Park Lodges, all visitor’s will be able to schedule a mule ride from the South Rim. The trip to the Colorado River and back will take two days. All overnight riders will have the option of sleeping and eating at the Phantom Ranch. Because of their popularity, all mule trips must be reserved 13 months in advance. There is a waiting list for any trips that are cancelled, but the chances of moving up your reservation is not great. All mule riders must be over the height of 4 feet, 7 inches tall and weigh less than 200 pounds. No pregnant women are allowed on the trip and all riders must fully understand English. All of the pre-paid reservations must check in at the Bright Angel Lodge Transportation Desk at least one hour prior to the trip’s start time. Mule trips are available from the North Rim, but do not go all the way down to the Colorado River.

Do you have any Advice for International Visitors?

It’s important to remember that the southwestern United States is very big and can be isolated. You should definitely bring a map and make sure that you fully understand the distance between attractions. Private transportation can be extremely time consuming and expensive. In addition, the public transportation in this area of the country can be very limited. You will want to find and schedule your desired form of transportation before leaving your country. Also remember that most prices include tax so you should budget for an additional 7 to 8 percent.

What if I don’t see my Question on the Grand Canyon FAQ list?

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