The Grand Canyon is likely the most famous National Park in the United States and is visited by more than 6 million people a year. The park is located in Northern Arizona near Utah and Nevada. The Parks main feature is a 277 mile (446 km) long canyon that separates the park into South and North Rims which has been carved out by the Colorado River flowing through the bottom of it. The canyons layered bands of red sedimentary rock and awe-inspiring size tells the story of millions of years of geological history. Let’s see everything that this famous park has to offer as we look at RVing the Grand Canyon.
RVing Grand Canyon South Rim
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is located on the Arizona side. This side receives the majority of the park’s visitors and therefore has the best tourism infrastructure such as a visitors center, family activities, hotels, museums, restaurants, and bike rentals. Park entrance fee is $35 for the South and North Rims and is valid for 7 days.
Stop by the South Rim’s twelve main viewpoints to look-out over the canyon. Visit the Yavapai Museum of Geology to view exhibits about the geological history of the area. Bike along Hermit Road for 7 miles (11 km) stopping at viewpoints along the way. Hike below the rim on Bright Angel Trail or the South Kaibab Trail. Walk the South Rim Trail, a 13 miles (21 km) long trail that is mostly flat and paved and follows the edge of the rim. Take a helicopter flight over the canyon. Explore the canyon by guided horseback tour.
Where to Stay/Getting Around South Rim
I recommend that you make all lodging reservations well in advance.
There are three campgrounds in the South Rim. Mather Point Campground is open year-round and has no hook-ups, Trailer Village is an RV Park with full hook-ups, and Desert View Campground is closed for the winter months and has no hook-ups.
There are many lodges ranging from rustic to contemporary including Kachina Lodge, Yavapai Lodge, Red Feather Lodge, Maswik Lodge, Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins, Thunderbird Lodge, and Phantom Ranch. Some popular hotels include El Tovar Hotel, Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire, and Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon
Free shuttles make regular stops around the park at the visitors center, Market Plaza, the train depot, lodges, restaurants, trailheads, and viewpoints. It is a 5-hour drive between South Rim Village and North Rim Village. The Trans Canyon Shuttle runs between the Rims one time each direction each day.
Getting to Grand Canyon National Park South Rim
Phoenix AZ- Driving from Phoenix to the South Rim visitors center is 229.1 miles (368 km) and takes 3 hours 27 minutes via the I-17 N.
Las Vegas NV- Driving from Las Vegas to the South Rim visitors center is 280miles (450 km) and takes 4.5 hours via the US-93 S and I-40 E.
RVing Grand Canyon North Rim
The North Rim is located on the Utah side and is a little more difficult to get to, making it more remote. The North rim is about 10 degrees cooler, due to the rise in elevation, allowing it to support more abundant plant and animal life. The north side is ideal for those looking for more of a rugged wilderness adventure and to escape the crowds of the more popular South Rim.
The main activities on the north side are hiking, sightseeing, and participating in ranger-led activities. There are three main viewpoints to visit, Cape Royal, Point Imperial, and Bright Angel Point. Cape Royal offers the most panoramic views and is very popular at sunset, Point Imperial is the highest and northernmost view of the canyon. Bright Angel Point is the most popular of the northern viewpoints and offers views of the south rim.
Where to Stay/Getting Around North Rim
The closest place to stay in the canyon is The Grand Canyon Lodge. Around the lodge, there are a variety of large and small rustic, western cabins and motel rooms. The Lodge itself houses a saloon, restaurant, gift shop, and store.
Kaibab Lodge is located 18 miles from the North Rim on the AZ-67 in the North Kaibab National Forest. The main lodge has a restaurant and is surrounded by a variety of cabins. This is the ultimate place to disconnect because there is no cell phone service or and no phones or TVs in the rooms. Jacob Lake Inn is 44 miles from the North Rim and surrounded by the towering pines of the National Forest. It has been family-owned and operated since 1923. Cozy cabins, hotel rooms, or motel rooms are available.
The North Rim Campground is located on Arizona State Route 67, 1 mile north of The Grand Canyon Lodge. The campsites are shaded by trees and have some distance between them. There are hookups and a water refill station but no dump station is available.
The Grand Canyon Lodge offers a free shuttle for hikers from the lodge to the North Kaibab Trailhead twice a day.
Bicycles are a great way to get around at the North Rim due to the parks 35mph speed limit but are only allowed on blacktop roads.
Getting to Grand Canyon National Park North Rim
Phoenix AZ- The drive from Phoenix to the North Rim visitors center is 5 hours 56 minutes 353.9 miles (570 km) via the I-17 N and US-89 N.
Las Vegas Nevada- Driving from Las Vegas to the North Rim Visitors Center is 266 miles (428 km) and takes 4 hours 38 minutes via the I-15 N.
RVing Grand Canyon West Rim
The Hualapai Indian Tribe manages Grand Canyon West and is located 241 miles west of the South Rim, approximately a 4.5-hour drive. The National Parks Service Pass is not valid here and the general admissions fee for an adult, including shuttle service and access to all three viewpoints (Eagle Point, Guano Point, Hualapai Ranch), is $56.00. Extras can be added to your ticket such as the Skywalk, meal tickets, and ziplining for an additional fee.
The main attraction at the West Rim is the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that takes you 70 ft out over the grand canyon with nothing else under your feet until the Colorado River. Take the time to look at the Hualapai history exhibit on the walls inside the Skywalk building for a better understanding of Hualapai culture and connection to the land.
Hualapai Ranch is the hub of West Rim activities. There is a food hall, gift shop, and rustic cabins to spend the night in. At the ranch, you will also find wagon rides, horseback rides, gunfight shows, and other activities. Havasu Falls hike is famous for its aqua-blue waters spilling over the red-orange cliffs into pools below. This is an oasis in the middle of the vast desert is a 10-mile hike and requires proper permits.
Where to Stay/Getting Around West Rim
There are two places to stay while visiting the West Rim, Hualapai Ranch and Hualapai Lodge.
Hualapai Ranch offers the closest accommodations to the canyon. Spend the night in a rustic cabin allowing you to wake up and watch the sunrise over the canyon in the morning.
The second option is staying at the Hualapai Lodge which is approximately 130 miles (209 km) from the West Rim located in Peach Springs.
Your entrance fee includes a hop on-hop off shuttle service within Grand Canyon West.
Getting to Grand Canyon National Park West Rim
Phoenix AZ- The drive from Phoenix is 259.5 mies (418 km) which takes 4 hours 11 minutes via the US-93 N.
Las Vegas NV- It is a 125.6 mile (202 km) drive from Las Vegas to the West Rim which takes 2 hours 4 minutes via the US-93 S.
Best time to visit the Grand Canyon
The best time to visit the Grand Canyon depends on the kinds of activities you want to do and what you want to see.
The Springtime allows for thinner crowds, cooler weather, and a chance to see the wildflowers bloom. Daytime temperatures range from 50°F-60°F (10°C-15°C) and may even reach into the ’80s (26°C) on the West Rim. Some disadvantages are that nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing. There may be unpredictable weather such as rain or snowstorms. The North Rim is closed for the winter from October 15 until May 15. During the winter months backpackers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers are allowed to use the North Rim Campground with a backcountry use permit.
Summer is the most popular time to visit the park due to the long summer days. Access to all of the tourism services allows you to participate in many of the different activities. Temperatures at the South Rim range from around 70°F-85°F (20°C-30°C). The North Rim will be open at this time and its higher elevation offers an escape from the heat. Heavy but short rainstorms are common from July to September. It may be difficult to book lodging at this time of year due to the crowds.
The Autumn invites in milder weather and smaller crowds. Day time temperatures range between 50°F-60°F (10°C-15°C) and night may get cool. The fall colors of the foliage are beautiful and the shorter days make it more likely for you to catch the sun setting over the canyon. The weather can be unpredictable with warmer than usual temperatures or early rain and snow so be prepared and pack accordingly.
The colder months come with a lot of advantages. The crowds will be at their thinnest at this time making it easy to book your preferred accommodations and activities. You may also find discounted lodging due to the lack of guests. The South Rim trails stay open during the winter. You may get to see the breathtaking sight of the canyon dusted by snow. The North Rim will be closed and the weather may obstruct some views or challenge your hike into the canyon. Daytime temperatures at the South Rim average around the low 40°F (5°C) and below 20°F (-6 ) during the night. Check out the West Rim for slightly higher temperatures averaging between 60°F-70°F (15°C-20°C) during the day.
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