Karyn Wofford is a freelance writer in the fields of travel, eco-tourism, and wellness. She’s an avid traveler and Georgia native. She grew up with a passion for travel, exploring everything from the mountains to the ocean, and continues to find new and unique things to do in the places she travels.
Read full bio
Few bucket lists are missing a visit to the Grand Canyon, a massive natural wonder created by the surging waters of the Colorado River. Multiple layers of various rocks give the landscape incredible visual depth while providing excellent grounds for exploration. While driving nearby roads or peering at an overlook would be fulfilling, several other experiences prove to be more immersive if one truly wants to dive into this fantastic site. These are the best tours and things to do when visiting the Grand Canyon.
Maybe you’ve seen part of the Grand Canyon from the ground, but have you seen it from the sky? The massive landmark can be viewed extensively from this fixed-wing aircraft with oversized windows. Everyone gets a prime view of the Painted Desert, East Rim, Horseshoe Bend, and other prominent sites of the geological masterpiece. You get to see much of the canyon in one hour when otherwise it would take days, which is excellent for those short on time.
There’s more than one way to see the canyon from the sky—numerous helicopter tours are available through Viator or other companies. This option whisks passengers over Kaibab National Forest, then into the landmark’s most profound and comprehensive section. You’ll be flying smoothly in a modern, sleek helicopter with large windows, and the option to continue with a Hummer tour on the ground is available.
The turbulent Colorado River weaves through the Grand Canyon and is an exhilarating way to experience the area. On this tour, you’ll start at the gateway of the canyon, being led by native Hualapai Indians through the rugged waters. As a bonus, the rafts will pull over at various points to see sites like majestic hidden waterfalls. Lunch is included in the one-day adventure.
Bypass the rafting and go straight for a Hummer tour if barreling down dicey rapids isn’t your thing. This Hummer is incredible since it’s designed to be open air in the summer but can be enclosed when it gets chilly. You’ll speed through highlights of the Grand Canyon, making a great time if you don’t have many days to invest.
Hermit Road is a scenic stretch in the South Rim, offering spectacular overlooks and relatively easy bike terrain. For the more strenuous uphill stretch, guests are taken up via bus, which also totes the equipment. You’ll get an expert-guided, up-close view of this iconic road, partially free of vehicle traffic. Bikes and helmets are included.
Not everyone likes the more rugged adventures within the canyon, so if you’re feeling a bit more swanky, opt for a luxury limo to cart you and your friends from Las Vegas to the West Rim. It’s a whole day trip in a vehicle fit for a superstar. Sip champagne while your driver fills in the information about the terrain you’ll be traversing.
Hiking is an essential, and likely the best, thing to do in the Grand Canyon. It’s simple, variable, and provides the most up-close viewing. The Bright Angel Trail day hike offers customizable options for all difficulty levels, from the highly fit to those who’d prefer a light stroll. A significant bonus is the frequent restroom facilities dotted amongst the paths, and we all know that it takes away a lot of worries, making room for more fun.
Riding a mule through the rocky paths of the canyon is one of those classic excursions. Visitors can trot through the North Rim on a one-hour or half-day ride. You can register at the Grand Canyon Lodge.
Bright Angel History Room is within a lodge Mary Jane Colter designed in the 1930s. Built to accommodate those coming in on the Grand Canyon Railway, the lodge now honors Colter‘s magnificent ideas, such as the fireplace that recreates the geologic sequence found in the rock layers of the actual canyon. This is an educational and visually incredible stop.
Riding the Grand Canyon Railway takes just over two hours each way, and every second is a mesmerizing experience fitting for solo travelers, families, or couples. You’ll be in a classic train car with wide-open views from large picture windows, so it’s just a comfy, exciting way to experience the South Rim. Operating since 1901, guests also are getting a taste of history at the same time.
Yavapai Geology Museum is focused on the canyon’s geology and has operated for nearly a century. It was built to meld seamlessly with the rock and landscape of the surroundings, so it’s interesting to explore and just awesome to look at.
No visit is complete without stopping at the Grand Canyon Village, where a harmonious blend of tourist attractions and stunning views come together to create a neat area that everyone loves. Watch short informational videos, grab some grub at the deli, load up on gift shop goodies, or marvel at the views from Mather Point. Stopping at the village is a fantastic way to kick off or end your time in the grandest canyons.