Bucket List Travel: Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon
Oh, Grand Canyon, how grand you really are. I've technically visited the Grand Canyon twice now, once at the North Entrance and once at the West, although the initial trip to the North relished no views of the canyon. For those of you who've been following for a little over a year, you might recall this story. My dear friend, Ally, and I ventured into outback Vegas tired from the night before and, evidently, quite unprepared.
After a 4ish hour drive through unknown places like Hurricane, Utah, we reached the North Entrance of the Grand Canyon where we met with horror a giant "ROAD CLOSED" sign. Trying to hold back tears of disappointment, we found a man in a rocking chair who told us (through the gaping whole where his teeth should have been) that the North entrance has been closed for months, and the next entrance is 3.5 hours away.
But, after successfully visiting the Grand Canyon – views and all! – this past trip, I feel confident enough to provide you with some do's and don't do's for your bucket list trip to the canyon.
Grand Canyon Tips
- Plan to travel with a tour guide or group. We had a very successful visit with Pink Jeep Tours. Unlike the massive tourist busses with, what 100 people?, our little pink jeep with 7 of us plus our amazing tour guide Jesse made for the perfect experience. I would highly recommend this to first-time Grand Canyoners. It's just nice to know you'll actually make it, and all the extra information Jesse gave us made the experience that much cooler.
- Choose the right entrance. While the North Entrance is said to offer incredible views (apparently) I'd avoid that one altogether if you are leaving from the Vegas strip. It's just too far, the roads to get there are pretty insane, and it leaves too much room for error. The closest entrance (at about 2.5-3 hours from the strip) is the West Entrance, which we opted for with Pink Jeep Tours. This rustic entrance has no guard railings and is located on an Indian Reservation, so it boasts that truly authentic feel. The South Entrance is the most popular (apparently) but it's about 4 hours away, meaning you'll have to be up by 5am to catch your departure.
- Go prepared. Sunblock. Check. Lots of water. Check. Light clothing. Check. Good shoes. Check. Hat. Check, check. Be sure that you prepare yourself for dessert life. It will likely either be stiflingly hot or freezing when you visit the canyon, depending on the time of year, so dress appropriately.
- Get too close to the edge. Especially if you are visiting the West Entrance where there are no guard rails, don't put your life at risk for the crazy Insta shot. Seriously, we heard of way too many people falling to their deaths for this reason.
- Party the night before. The biggest problem with the Grand Canyon? The closest tourist attraction is the Las Vegas strip, which tends to keep you out until morning hours when you should be leaving for the Grand Canyon. Be realistic about when you'll be able to peel yourself out of bed to catch your departure time, and to make sure you actually get there, avoid partying to hard the night before.
- Go to the North Entrance. I've said it before and I'll say it again, just avoid the North Entrance. It closes during certain times of the year, and this information is hard to find online. It's also really far from the strip, with windy dirt roads during a good section of the route.
There you have it: a few do and don't Grand Canyon tips that should help you to have the most Grand experience you've always imagined, and what may seem like the one and only canyon to muse over.