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Plan Your Trip [The Grand Canyon] – What to Do and What to Pack

The Grand Canyon is a breath-taking natural wonder and one of the most visited tourist sites in the world. But it’s also a lot of work to visit — what should you do, pack, how much time should you allow? Read on for an interactive packing list and detailed Guide to all eleven sections of this ultimate outdoor adventure!

With information on everything from where to stay (campgrounds or lodgings) to budgeting for gas (shelling out $2 a gallon!), we’ll make sure that your vacation is spent adventuring in true Grand Canyon style. We’ll even give you directions and maps to navigate this awesome Canyon as easily as possible.

For all the latest information on Grand Canyon trips, see our Complete Guide to the Grand Canyon and read our blogs.

The Grand Canyon – What to Do and What to Pack:

Grand Canyon National Park is a place of extremes. In summer, the temperature can hit a hundred degrees. In winter, it can dip below zero. And even at the top of the Canyon, wild winds, tornado-like storms, and thunderstorms can make it feel like you’re in a different world.

Want to visit from spring through fall? Visit from March through November and experience one of nature’s most dazzling displays. For information on visiting the Grand Canyon in other seasons, see our Complete Guide to the Grand Canyon.


Soak up the natural beauty of one of America’s most spectacular landscapes. It’s also a great place for hiking, biking, and some winter sports like snowshoeing and skiing. And kick back with a glass of wine while you’re at it.


In summer, you’ll need long pants and long-sleeved shirts to protect against heat. A hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and water are essential. You’ll need to ensure you’re in peak physical condition, as the trail can be challenging.


A few things are banned at the Grand Canyon: alcohol, glass containers (except for bottled water), pets, and bicycles. If you visit during the summer months, you must stay outside the Canyon between April 15 and October 15. During other months, Camping is only allowed in designated camping areas.

Next step: Take our quiz! We’re kidding about that, but you can always take it online here. It might help you decide where to go next on your journey through the natural wonders of America’s West.

Maps and directions:

For maps, printouts, and driving directions for the Grand Canyon, see our Guide to the Best Maps for Walks and Hikes at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. You can also get a map at most lodgings or on your way into the park. There are also guided ranger programs; check if your lodging has them before you arrive.

The Grand Canyon is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information on these and other services, visit The National Park Service website.


The park is open year-round, although some areas may be closed due to weather conditions during the winter months.


The park is located in northern Arizona near the Colorado River and is about two hours from Flagstaff. To get to the rim, head north on US Highway 60 to Williams, then turn east on US Highway 89A. After about 40 miles, you will reach the Canyon. See our section on Getting to the Grand Canyon for a more detailed map of these directions and other points of interest.


Not inside the park. Outside? You bet. From May 24 through October 15, visitors cannot bring any devices into the Canyon or its campgrounds or lodgings that connect to the Internet or use cellular phones. For more information, see this page on the Grand Canyon’s website.


There are over 1,300 campsites available at the park. Each campsite has a table and grill. If you’re not camping, you can stay in one of three lodgings on the south rim: Yavapai Lodge and Maswik Lodge, both near Mather Point, and Kachina Lodge, which is inside Grand Canyon Village. Please note that these lodgings can be booked up to a year in advance during peak season.

For more information on the Grand Canyon’s National Park Lodges and campgrounds, see our Guide to the Best Campgrounds at the Grand Canyon?


The South Rim is very touristy, but if you leave the road and venture a little further, you’ll get some awesome views without all the bustles. Hike through Kaibab National Forest on either South Kaibab or Bright Angel trails, or hike down into the Canyon and come up again via Hermit Trail. As you hike, look for rare plants and animals along the way. If you want to go big-game hunting, contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department.


The Grand Canyon is one of North America’s most popular destinations. It’s a place of extremes — hot and cold, wet and dry — with stunning natural beauty. If you’ve only got a few days to spend in the West, this is where you should go. On the other hand, if your itinerary has room to spare or you’re looking for something off the beaten path, plan to do some research first.

The Grand Canyon has been called “the world’s finest monument” by better qualified than us. It’s a deep, steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River that stretches 277 miles and is 18 miles wide. It was formed over about six million years, beginning about two million years ago, when the Colorado Plateau first began to rise.


The combination of great scenery and an amusement park-like quality make this one of America’s most famous natural wonders. As you drive into the park on Route 64, you’ll be surprised at how close it seems to Flagstaff. But once you’re inside, driving around the Grand Canyon will take all day — if not longer. If you’re traveling by car, consider renting a GPS.

Book tour:

You can see much of the Canyon on guided ranger tours and other outings. For a few bucks, you can join one of the tours. Most tours are offered at about 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m., but times vary with daylight saving time (See our section on When to Visit).

Do it yourself:

If you have time, walk along the rim of Grand Canyon Village. Tourists sometimes get a little obnoxiously close to wildlife, so keep a safe distance from everything — especially if there are children in the vicinity. And be sure to buy some binoculars for about $4. You can also consider Alcatraz Tour as it is also a must visit destination place.


Ranger-led programs, hikes, and other activities.

Getting in:

You can only get into the park on certain days or times of the year. If you’re planning a visit in summer, be prepared to camp as there are no places to stay outside the park. For specific dates and information on Camping and lodging, see our section on Reservations. You can also see if there’s a ranger-led program at your lodging; they will often provide information or allow you to join them on a hike.  If you plan to visit between October 15 and April 15, you must book your Grand Canyon Tour and reserve your campsite in advance. See our section on Camping for more info.

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