Top 10 Things to Do at the Grand Canyon

Whether biking down the Bright Angel Trail or taking a ride on a mule into the Grand Canyons, adventure awaits behind every corner. The Grand Canyon is vast and each area within the canyons offers unique opportunities, breathtaking views and a memorable experience. There are things to do above and within the canyon like hiking, shopping and rafting.

No matter what you are into, the area has plenty to offer. If you are intending to visit the Grand Canyon National Park, then it is worth taking the time to learn about the top experience within the canyons in order to plan a memorable trip. Below are 10 great activities that you can try while visiting the national treasure.

1.     Engage in a Unique Hiking Experience

The Grand Canyon National Park features several hiking opportunities that differ from other hiking experiences. Generally, rather than hiking uphill, you will be descending towards the bottom of the canyon floor, saving much of the uphill climbing for the return trip.

Not every Grand Canyon trail is easy. The difficulty of hiking within the Grand Canyon varies widely based upon the trail. Therefore, if you intend to hike, then it is worth taking the time to research popular trails thoroughly and consider the level of difficulty of each trail. If you have young children or individuals with mobility issues within your group, then there are several easy trails through the natural wonder that can still be hiked by many of these individuals.

2.     Biking on Popular Grand Canyon Trails

The Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail and many other trails throughout the south and northern rims of the Grand Canyon offer cycling opportunities to visitors. While cyclists commonly bring their bikes to the canyons, there are several companies, including Bright Angel Bicycles, which offer bike rentals and repairs. All cyclists within the Grand Canyon must wear a helmet and should follow safety and regulation guidelines, including:

  • Wear bright colored clothing and ensure that you can see and be seen.
  • Always yield to pedestrians.
  • Bring sufficient snacks and water.
  • Be prepared for possible weather changes.
  • Share the road with other vehicles.
  • Safely pull to the right side of the road and allow buses to pass (if cycling on Hermit or Yaki Point roads).

If you intend to bike the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon or any other popular trail, it is important to review the trail length and difficulty beforehand in order to be bettered prepared.

3.     Set Out on Adventure With Whitewater Rafting

If seeking a more thrilling adventure, consider the various whitewater rafting opportunities that can be found on the Colorado River. There are both guided and self-guided opportunities available on the river with permits available for one-day, two- to five-day and up to 18-day trips. If you are interested in both whitewater rafting and hiking, some tour guides offer combination tours that include hikes through numerous trails as well as permits for nearby whitewater rafting opportunities.

4.     Ride a Mule Into the Grand Canyon

Have you ever considered riding a mule into the Grand Canyon? Riding mules through the Grand Canyons has become a popular attraction that can be booked up to 15 months in advance. Reservations can fill quickly, especially in the summer season, so it is important to plan ahead and book early if you are interested in this unique experience.

These guided tours have numerous restrictions that must be abided to in order to ride a mule, including weight, age, height and health-related restrictions. Rides are typically between one and two hours long depending on the tour.

5.     Enjoy a Memorable Experience Photographing Wildlife

The Grand Canyon is home to hundreds of species of wildlife that can be found throughout the park. One popular activity within the Grand Canyon is to photograph wildlife from a distance. This can be done throughout the Grand Canyon National Park, including on trails or while hiking. However, park officials recommend that you remain at least 100 feet from larger wildlife, including deer, elk and condors.

To maximize your experience, time your outing when the wildlife within the canyons is most active: dusk and dawn. For better photographs from a distance, consider a spotting scope or a telephoto lens. Stay still and quiet while waiting for the perfect shot as quick movements can threaten wildlife.

6.     Glamping in the Grand Canyon

If you intend to seek overnight lodging within the Grand Canyon, consider clamping for a more unique experience. Glamping in the Grand Canyon is available within several areas depending on the time of year that you are planning your visit. While the South Rim is open year-round, the North Rim of the canyons is only open from May 15th to October 15th each year.

Glamping can provide a unique camping experience with additional accommodations, solitude or a breathtaking view. These experiences are offered through several different agencies within the canyons, so it is best to do your research and read reviews on a particular site before booking. Like other forms of lodging within the Grand Canyon National Park, it is important to book early as reservations can fill quickly.

7.     Visit the Grand Canyon During an Annual Event

Depending on when you intend to visit the Grand Canyon, you may be able to take part in an annual event. The Grand Canyon National Park hosts several events throughout the year, including the:

  • Grand Canyon Celebration of Art in September.
  • Independence Day Parade in July.
  • Stargazing Nights in July.
  • Native American Heritage Celebration in November.
  • Grand Canyon Polar Express in December.

8.     Participate in a Ranger Program

Ranger programs are hosted by the Grand Canyon National Park and include guided tours, hikes and educational opportunities. These guided towards are designed to offer visitors a unique look at the breathtaking landscape of the Grand Canyon as well as inform visitors of the geology of the Grand Canyon, the wildlife within the canyon, the history of the canyon and more. There are several programs available on both the south and northern entrances to the park with each guided tour offering a unique experience.

9.     Visit a Bookstore or Gift Shop

The Grand Canyon is home to several small villages that offer numerous gift shops, bookstores and more, including the Grand Canyon Village, Hermit’s Rest and Desert View. These shops offer unique and memorable gifts and trinkets.

If you are looking to shop while visiting the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon Conservancy Park Store (previously called Books ‘n’ More), is the park’s largest bookstore and gift shop. Additional notable shopping opportunities include:

  • Canyon Village Market.
  • Yavapai Lodge Gift Shop.
  • Kolb Studio.
  • Lookout Studio.
  • El Tovar Hotel.
  • Hopi Hotel.
  • Maswik Lodge.
  • Desert View Watchtower.
  • Desert View Trading Post.

10. Find Lodging in Grand Canyon Campgrounds

You will find several Grand Canyon campgrounds throughout the park that you can take advantage of. Camping is generally a more affordable option in comparison to glamping or lodging. However, like all other types of lodging options, it is important to make a reservation prior to your trip as spaces do fill quickly. In order to camp within the Grand Canyons, you must also purchase a backcountry permit for the days that you intend to camp overnight within the canyon.