Top 5 Best Tips to Visit the Grand Canyon
Do you want to visit the Grand Canyon? In 2017, I visited the Grand Canyon for the first titme. Seeing as I had not explored any states except Ohio and Florida in my life until that point, it was quite an exciting venture. I was able to see views that I had previously only been able to see in documentaries and movies. Looking back on the trip, I’ve come up with some helpful tips for those who are thinking about visiting the Grand Canyon themselves.
1. Visit the Grand Canyon: Don’t Go In the Summer
When I went to the Grand Canyon, it was mid-July, the height of summer. This was a mistake for several reasons. If you’ve never been to Arizona before, and if you’re from a colder climate, you should know that it gets unbearably hot in Arizona. While the state is beautiful, it can get so hot there that it can be hard to breathe.
I had the unpleasant experience of having to scrape asphalt off of the bottoms of my shoes because one of the parking lots started to melt in the sun (literally). That day, it was 119 degrees. An Arizona native told me that 119 was a “cool” day. Hats off to Arizonians for being able to tolerate such temperatures so casually.
Because of the heat, I didn’t have much of a chance to hike around the south rim of the canyon, though I was able to snap some great pictures. If you really want to hike down into the canyon, I highly recommend going when the temperatures are cooler unless you are already very accustomed to the heat.
Besides the heat, there was a crowding problem too. Summer is tourist season in most parts of the world. For that reason, some parts of the Grand Canyon can be very packed. The bathrooms are especially hard to squeeze into, so keep that in mind before you visit the Grand Canyon in the middle of summer.
2. Get There Early
I made the mistake of arriving at the Grand Canyon in the afternoon. You would think that this would give one plenty of time to see everything the area has to offer. I thought the same, but I was wrong.
The Grand Canyon is a very large national park. You could find yourself walking and driving around for several hours without seeing everything. Besides the size, the roads throughout the park tend to be very crowded. You’ll be dealing with lines of cars and people crossing the road at every moment.
As a result, your car will be moving very, very slowly throughout most of the park. If you have patience, you should be good to go, and if not, you’ll have to find your inner Zen very quickly. Because of the crowding, I wasn’t able to see as much of the Canyon as I would have hoped.
If I had arrived at the park earlier and spent the whole day there, I would have been able to see most of everything along the south rim.
3. Plan Your Visit
Another mistake I made is that I didn’t do very well planning out my visit to the Grand Canyon. I figured I could hike/drive through the park and see most of the sites the park had to offer. I only found out upon arrival that there was a lot more to do other than hike and drive.
For example, you can take a mule ride down to the bottom of the canyon. These mule rides have been going on since the 1800s and they can be quite the experience. They are also great if you don’t have the stamina to hike down into the canyon on your own two feet. However, these trips are relatively long, about 3 hours, so make sure they can fit into your schedule.
You can also take a helicopter ride over the canyon for great aerial views. My time at the Grand Canyon was often sprinkled with the sounds of helicopters, one after the other, flying above my head. I had no idea where these helicopters were coming from and I had no time to find out, so I missed out on some very impressive views.
4. Keep Your Pets in Mind
I brought along my dear late chihuahua, Cookie, with me to the Grand Canyon. He was very old at the time and fortunately had no desire to leap and prance around the miles and miles of rocks and trails that the canyon had to offer. If he had wanted to explore the trails, I would have been in trouble.
At the time, I wasn’t aware that pets weren’t allowed on the trails. I only walked my dog along some sidewalks for a few moments before putting him back into the safety of the air-conditioned car. For that reason, I didn’t experience any problems when bringing a pet along to the Grand Canyon.
However, if you plan on bringing your dog along for a hike into the canyon, you won’t be able to. Not only is it not allowed, but it could be dangerous for your pet. After all, the heat can be too intense for many pets. Besides that, there are slopes and cliffs that your pet might not be aware of. And, finally, you wouldn’t want your pet to be bitten by one of the many rattlesnakes that live out in the desert.
5. Keep the Wildlife Wild
I actually did not have the opportunity to see much of the amazing wildlife that the canyon had to offer when I was there. Although, there was one exception: lots and lots of squirrels. Everywhere you turned, there seemed to be a squirrel or two. These squirrels were not afraid of humans at all.
In fact, on several occasions, some crawled very close to me, likely expecting to get something to munch on. Even though it’s against the rules, plenty of people threw French fries and other types of food to the animals to eat. I even saw a group of very old Buddhist monks (a strange sight indeed at the Grand Canyon) try to feed the squirrels.
However, no matter what animals you see in the park, you should avoid feeding them. Feeding wild animals makes them dependent on humans for food. This can harm their ability to survive out in the wild. So, remember, no matter how cute the animals are, don’t be tempted and don’t feed them!