If you’ve ever questioned whether or not you should visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona… The answer is yes! No matter how many photos you’ve seen, nothing will actually compare to standing on the rim and overlooking it with your own eyes. As the Grand Canyon sunset fades over the rocks, the colors will illuminate like nothing you’ve ever seen before! There are many ways to see this magnificent wonder of the world. In fact, so many that we were shocked that most people have only one day at the Grand Canyon to spend. If you are one of those travelers doing a Grand Canyon day trip, we will highlight a few things we would have regretted not seeing.
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Our Grand Canyon Arizona Story
When we first moved out to San Diego 2 years ago from Massachusetts, we did our road trip through the southern route. Since then we regretted not visiting the Grand Canyon in Arizona. When we planned our drive back to the East coast before taking off to Europe, we didn’t care what route we took as long as it was our first stop.
Now we can officially say the Grand Canyon has exceeded our expectations, and we’re more than excited to share it with you! Before we jump into our 6 tips here are a few things to know before you make your Grand Canyon day trip.
There is a $35 parking fee per car. Pay upon entering, and it’s good for up to 7 days.
Bring water and snacks with you to the park. There are natural spring fountains to refill your water bottles.
If the park is full or you want to save some money stay in the town of Tusayan. It’s located 10 minutes from the South park entrance. If you don’t mind the $400+ price tag you can book a room at El Tovar Hotel, Thunderbird Lodge, or the slightly less expensive Yavapai Lodge.
The heat in the summer is no joke so plan your Grand Canyon day trip around the weather.
This may seem like the most obvious of our Grand Canyon Arizona tips. Yet, remember when hiking down into the Canyon that you have to go back up!
6 Tips For the Grand Canyon Arizona in One Day
1. Watch the Grand Canyon Sunset or Sunrise
If you follow our travels you already know that we often plan our entire days around the sunrise and sunsets. So trust me, if you visit the Grand Canyon without seeing this spectacle you are sorely missing out. I thought this one went without saying, but it needs to be known!
Standing on the south rim for the Grand Canyon sunset (which is the most touristic part of the canyon) we felt like we had it to ourselves. There were only one or two other people around, so you can truly have your own piece of the canyon to admire its beauty.
2. Go Early or Late to the Grand Canyon in Arizona
Building off our first tip of seeing the Grand Canyon sunset or sunrise, make sure to plan your day very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The reason being is that starting around 11am the tour buses start rolling in. Almost out of nowhere, the calm peaceful walking path and views are suddenly packed with bus after bus of tourists!
We got to the park shortly before 7am and stayed till around noon, which is right when the crowds start forming in full force. After a quick lunch, we made it back to the park with plenty of time to explore and catch the sunset.
Before the Crowds at Grand Canyon Arizona
After the Crowds at Grand Canyon Arizona
3. Walk from the Visitor Center to Grand Canyon Arizona Village
Standing on the rim and overlooking this Wonder of the Natural World, the sheer size and magnitude of the Grand Canyon will feel unbelievable. From the Visitor Center to the Grand Canyon Village is one of the most popular stretches of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
We personally loved this walk, but avoid doing it in the middle of the day because of the weather and crowds. With that said, it was incredible to see in the morning. The entire path is paved and is wheelchair accessible which is a great feature to allow everyone to enjoy the views. When visiting the Grand Canyon in one day, this walk is not to be missed!
4. Hike Down Below the Grand Canyon Rim
There is some debate about the exact number, but only somewhere between 3-5% of travelers actually venture below the rim of the Grand Canyon. There are several shorter hikes along the famous canyon, or you can follow in our steps and hike down the Angel Trail.
While we were not ready to commit to a longer hike on the Bright Angel Trail we still had a great time. If you hike just 15-20 minutes down you will still get some awesome lookout points and dramatic views of the cliffs!
5. Soak in the Grand Canyon Arizona History
When building the Grand Canyon National Park, one thing that was done extremely well is the educational aspect of the Canyon. Along the trail, there are markers and rocks that show the evolution of the geology in the canyon. These facts are interesting for both adults and children visiting the park!
Inside one of the visitor centers, you can go back in time in a fun and interactive way. Also, right before the Angel Trail is the Kolb Brothers Studio, which shows the history of the Grand Canyon’s most famous photography duo. Make sure to leave yourself time to stop in and learn about the unique ways they made a living!
6. Drive in the South and Out the East Rim
The Grand Canyon is absolutely massive and it is almost impossible to see it all. This is especially true if you’re only visiting for one day! With the average visit to the Grand Canyon being just about 8 hours, most tourists only see a small sliver of the entire thing.
For this reason, after hitting the South Rim you should plan to enter or exit from the East Rim if possible. There are amazing views and several pull-offs this way where you can witness different sides of the canyon as well!
Is Seeing the Grand Canyon in One Day Worth it?
Yes, absolutely! Honestly, you could spend weeks at the Grand Canyon in Arizona and it wouldn’t be enough time. The thing is, that even if you’re just passing through it’s worth it to stop and see. As soon as lay eyes upon this feat of nature you’ll know what we mean!
Stick to our list, and even if you only have one day at the Grand Canyon you’ll have an amazing time! Have any questions about this article or want to share your own tips for a Grand Canyon day trip? Leave us a comment below.
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where To Stay at the Grand Canyon Arizona
Ultra Luxury (High End) – The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon – Located just outside the South Rim gate, this high-end hotel is the perfect base for exploring the Grand Canyon. Large rooms, onsite dining, and even tours can be arranged through the hotel if you’re not doing just a Grand Canyon day trip.
Fun Vacation (Mid Range) – Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon – Also a quick drive from the South Rim Gate, this hotel has simple but practical rooms, a swimming pool, and a great location. Set on the main strip, you are within walking distance to all the nearby restaurants and even the visitor center.
For more places to stay near the Grand Canyon you can explore the latest prices here!
USA Travel Planning
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What a perfect weekend, and I love the moody photos too! The Canyon is looking pretty great as well.
Thanks! We loved visiting the Grand Canyon. 🙂