The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in the state of Arizona. It is largely contained in the Grand Canyon National Park — one of the first national parks in the United States. This Park is one of the world’s premier natural attractions, attracting about five million visitors per year. Located in the heart of the American West, the Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is not the deepest canyon in the world but the Grand Canyon is known for its overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape.
The best time to view the canyon is early or late in the day and catching a sunrise or a sunset against the backdrop of the canyon is truly an experience.
The Grand Canyon is divided into three geographically separated areas: the South Rim, the North Rim and the Inner Canyon.
The South Rim of Grand Canyon averages 7000 feet above sea level. The South Rim is open 365 days a year and this is where most visitors come. You can walk the short trail or use the free shuttle from Mather Point.
Some of the overlooks that offer spectacular views of the canyon from the South Rim are: Desert View, Lipan Point, Hermit Rest, Toroweap Outlook and Yavapai Observation Station.
The North Rim is over 8000 feet above sea level. Access to the North Rim via the primary route leading to the canyon is limited during the winter season due to road closures. Views from the North Rim tend to give a better impression of the expanse of the canyon than those from the South Rim.
Scenic Viewpoints of the North Rim are: Point Imperial, Cape Royal, Point Sublime and Bright Angel Point.
Temperatures on the North Rim are generally lower than the South Rim because of the greater elevation. Heavy rains are common on both rims during the summer months.
Hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is one of America’s great outdoor adventures. However it is also a great challenge. You must be in excellent physical condition and well-prepared. Unless you are staying overnight at the Phantom Ranch cabins or bunkhouses, you will need a permit to hike overnight and backpack in Grand Canyon. The Colorado River flows along the bottom of the canyon, 5000 feet below the rim. Because of the enormous depth of Grand Canyon, the river is visible only from certain viewpoints. Lees Ferry (near Marble Canyon, Arizona) marks the official beginning of Grand Canyon.
GETTING AROUND THE PARK
Park Shuttle, South Rim – Grand Canyon National Park provides a FREE Shuttle Bus System on three routes on the South Rim: the Village Route, the Hermit Rest Route, and the Kaibab Trail Route. No tickets are required. Simply board the brown and tan or white buses at any bus stop marked with a bus symbol on the map. They are not tour buses. Shuttle service is not available on the North Rim.
Grand Canyon Airport / Tusayan Shuttle - CASSI Tours currently operates a shuttle service between Tusayan and the South Rim from May through October for a fee. The shuttle makes stops in Tusayan and at several locations on the South Rim.
Rim to Rim Shuttle - A shuttle service is provided seasonally between the North Rim and the South Rim for a fee by Trans Canyon Shuttle.
Image Courtesy: http://www.stockvault.net/photo/145012/grand-canyon-evening-ridge