While the fast pace and excitement of booming Las Vegas is fun, sometimes you simply need a quiet weekend away. If life in the never-sleeping big city is beginning to fry your nerves, it sounds like it’s the perfect time to head out of Vegas for a few days of vacation. The Grand Canyon might be just the place for you!
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a massive, four-thousand-foot deep canyon that is a must-see for anyone. Truly “grand” in all respects, the canyon spans 1,217,403 acres. This natural wonder boasts striking red cliff walls that pique the interest of any geology buff or tourist. At the canyon’s floor you can clearly see the magnificent Colorado River meandering through the labyrinth of stone channels, while the top contains desert cacti and extraordinary overlooks.
How to Get There
Located on the edge of Arizona, this national park is roughly four hours from Las Vegas, Nevada.Though a four-hour drive may seem long to some, the scenery makes the time fly by. The scenic drive passes through picturesque desert valleys and past beautiful red rocks. Depending on which route you take, you may also have the opportunity to take a few side trips, such as stopping by the Hoover Dam to snap a few photos. It takes very little time to drive over the dam’s impressive bridge, and you’ll be on your way.
Where to Stay
Once you’ve arrived at the park, there are many options for where to stay on your weekend vacation. As the destination of over five million visitors annually, the Grand Canyon has its share of beautiful lodges, hotels, and campgrounds.
When you stay in some of the park’s lodges, you aren’t just near the Grand Canyon—you’re on the Grand Canyon. Imagine throwing open your bedroom curtains and beholding the vast canyon right from your window! El Tovar is one such lodge, located just twenty feet from the south rim. This lodge is considered one of the park’s most distinguished accommodations, with its enormous porch, gorgeous views, and rustic setting. For those who want the Grand Canyon experience, without being too close to the canyon itself, the Grand Canyon Red Feather Lodge is located one mile away from the canyon, within walking distance of many gift shops and restaurants.
If you’re looking for a Lodge-style hotel, the Grand Hotel has a family-friendly atmosphere, and boasts all the advantages of a hotel: indoor pool, spa, and restaurant. There are also a few membership-type hotels available, such as Holiday Inn and Best Western.
For those looking for a genuinely rustic, adventurous canyon experience, the park offers many camping options. Whether you pack in a tent or drive an RV, there are campgrounds to suit your needs.
Before setting off to marvel at the Grand Canyon, stop by one of the park’s visitor centers. Here you will have the opportunity to sign up for a number of special activities, such as mule trips, ranger programs, and rafting. You can also talk to a ranger about which trails are best or learn a little about the park’s history, wildlife, and plants.
With 1,217,403 acres to cover, there is no way to experience all of the possible activities in the canyon in just one weekend. You must choose which activities appeal to you the most. There is a wide range of options:
The Grand Canyon is the dream destination for any avid hiker. The hikes cater to the specific needs of each individual. Those who don’t wish to descend four thousand feet of switchbacks, but still want to see the canyon, will enjoy the Rim Trail. The Rim Trail takes you around the outer rim of the canyon, often to lookouts; it offers an excellent view of the canyon, without being too strenuous. This trail is mostly paved, so it is also wheelchair accessible. If you’re in for more strenuous, multi-day hikes, the Bright Angel Trail is one of the park’s most popular. It takes you down to the floor of the canyon and marches you through beautiful terrain, including a suspension bridge. Ultimately it leads to Phantom Ranch, which marks the end of the trail and your lodgings for the night. The Bright Angel Trail is nineteen miles round trip and is not recommended for less than a two-day hike. If you’re feeling up to even more of a challenge, the Rim-to-Rim trail guides you down the Bright Angel Trail, past Phantom Ranch and all the way up the other side of the Canyon! In total, the Rim-to-Rim is a fourteen-mile hike. These are only a few examples of the hikes available.
What better way to explore the Grand Canyon than on a mule! The park offers mule rides for an authentic canyon experience. These rides can span from one hour on the canyon rim to as much as two nights, riding all the way down to Phantom Ranch.
If you’re interested in learning about the wildlife and native plants in the park, or about the history of the area, such as the Native Americans and the theory on how the canyon was formed, you will appreciate the variety of ranger talks and guided tours. These are made available to visitors around the clock. Simply remember to check the visitor center for the schedule and sign up when necessary.
Colorado River Tours:
Are you feeling daring and adventurous? If so, you’ll enjoy taking a trip through the bowels of the canyon on the majestic Colorado River. These tours can span anywhere from half a day to over a week, and can be made either by paddle-powered or motorized rafts.
It’s impossible to see the entire park in detail over just one weekend, but it is possible to get an overview of the entire park. Take an aerial tour, and you will be lifted over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter or plane. You’ll see the whole canyon without having to embark on a month-long expedition.
Art and Photography:
Due to the natural beauty of the park, the Grand Canyon is the ideal place to set up an easel and paint, or to take a few artistic shots. Consider going to the rim at sunset when the sun is reflected off the canyon walls in incredible brilliance. Along with providing the opportunity to pursue your own artistic endeavors, Grand Canyon National Park offers art galleries where you can view other artists’ masterpieces of this natural wonder.
Bring the Grandchildren
There are a variety of kid-friendly hikes and activities for the younger generations as well, so this is a perfect time to further bond with the grandchildren or children. When you hit the visitor center, ask about the park’s Junior Ranger Program. This program affords learning in a kid-friendly manner, and children who complete the program will be made an honorary junior ranger, complete with a badge.
Ultimately, the Grand Canyon is the perfect location for a relaxing weekend getaway from Las Vegas, and provides visitors, no matter the age, with non-stop enjoyment, awe-inspiring beauty, and entertainment. Why not start planning your weekend getaway today!