The Grand Canyon was nothing short of spectacular. I mean, you can see it in pictures, but the sheer size and the views are absolutely breath-taking. And who knew there would be so many incredible Grand Canyon adventures!
I can’t believe it has taken us so long to get our butts to the Grand Canyon, but I am so happy we finally made it. We roadtripped (from Vegas) and made our way through Utah and Arizona to see the Grand Canyon in all its grandeur. Although we only had 3 days at the Grand Canyon, we made sure to pack it with as many things to do as possible.
Here are our favorite Grand Canyon Adventures to make your trip truly GRAND!
1. See the Grandeur of the Grand Canyon
First stop on your Grand Canyon adventure is obviously the Grand Canyon! If you are making your way through Arizona and Utah, the Grand Canyon is a must see! There are many different ways and places to see the canyon in all its glory (yes, because it is THAT big) so take your pick.Each Rim offers a special side to the Canyon.
– Grand Canyon South Rim
If you have seen The Grand Canyon on TV or in movies, chances are it is the South Rim. And the big canyons on the little screens will never compare to seeing the canyons in person. The South Rim is the most popular viewpoint to see the Grand Canyon, in fact, some of the most iconic Grand Canyon viewpoints are found at South Rim all accessible by car.Check out point Hermit’s Rest Road, Desert View Watchtower, Yuma Point, Pima Point and Hopi Point just to name a few of the amazing viewpoints The South rim has to offer.
– Grand Canyon North Rim
The North Rim is the other side of the Grand Canyon, also offering enthralling views since it’s located at a higher elevation. This section is only open from mid-May through mid-October and more secluded and less developed than the South Rim, so it’s less touristy. One of the best views can be seen from Kaibab Plateau and Bright Angel Point.
2. Stare at the amazing work of mother nature at Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon looks like it came out of some out-of-this-world Avatar movie. It’s filled with weird little rock pillars called Hoodoos, which are jagged carved from wind and water. The best way to experience Bryce Canyon is going to the Bryce Amphitheater, that’s filled with the red-orange Hoodoos. Head over to Inspiration point for one of the most googled photos on the internet of all the Hoodoos.
3. Do all the hikes in Zion National Park
You can spend weeks hiking all the trails around Zion National Park. Zion was probably the most family friendly and touristy spot that we went to, but if you pick the more challenging hikes, the families and tourists start to disperse. There is a bus with 8 stops that take you to different hikes in the national park. The park costs $25 per vehicle for a week!We went on two hikes in Zion, Angels Landing and The Narrows. To be fair, the Narrows were GORGEOUS (a bit of trekking through rocks and a foot or 2 of water) but there were so many people we decided to skip the actual narrows and go for a more strenuous (and rewarding) hike: Angels Landing. The hike is 5.4 miles round-trip with a 1488 feet elevation gain.
4. Trek the canyons of Kanarrville Creek
Kanarrville was one of the coolest and most exciting hikes we have ever done. I think it’s because we didn’t really know what we were getting into and then all of a sudden it went from a little hike with a paved out trail to a bit of water springs, and then all of a sudden, we are playing frogger with the river and some rocks!
We jumped around stones, traversed in ice cold water, climbed some boulders and slid down some natural karst waterfalls. It was awesome! Not to mention, it looks like you are in just a large watery version of Antelope Canyon. Bring sturdy shoes that you are ok to get wet.
5. Take a picture at the iconic Horsehoe Bend
Horseshoe bend must be one of the most photographed stretches of the Colorado River out there. The scenic view is only a stone’s throw away from Page, Arizona and Antelope canyon. It’s actually about a 3/4 of a mile walk until you see the bend in all of its breathtaking glory. Head off to the far left so you can avoid all the crowds taking pictures in the exact same spot!
6. See the Grand Canyon From Above
Jack and I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, but seeing it from a helicopter? It’s unreal. Like the canyon is large, like so large, that it doesn’t even seem real. Flying in a helicopter offers impressive views from the top but you can even land at the bottom of the canyon (which we did, and there was champagne waiting for us at the bottom…I’ll cheers to that).We flew with Papillon Helicopters, which was an unforgettable experience above the Grand Canyon. If there is a definition of a bucket list item, flying over the Grand Canyon should be included in the text. The views and experiences on our trip left us breathless, and the sheer depth and size of the canyons is astonishing.
7. Explore the underworld of the Lower Antelope Canyon
The lower Antelope Canyon is also one of the most visited and photographed places in the U.S. Antelope Canyon looks like it’s something out of this world – like from Mars! It is absolutely astonishing and breathtaking. Located a few miles away from Page, Arizona (and a few minutes from Horseshoe Bend), this place was definitely a dream come true.We went with Ken’s Tours ($20 plus $7 national parks fee). Please be aware, especially during peak season, that the canyon tours can be insanely packed. Stay in front of the pack so you can get some pictures without people. Try to visit the canyon in the morning when the orange color of the canyon wall is supposed to be at its best.
8. Swim in Lake Powell
Swimming in Lake Powell, especially when it’s hot, is so gratifying. The water is perfect after trekking Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon (and only $2 if you get the national park pass).You’ll never go to another beach like this, the scenery is amazing, it’s just so peacefully quiet, and in some places, you can even walk over Navajo sandstone. The lake has countless beaches. The best spot for swimmers is around Antelope Point Marina. Be careful your foot can slip with all the algae on the rocks!
9. Take a road trip!
One of the biggest highlights was our road trip from Vegas to the Canyons. There is so much to see and do, and with a car, there is a lot of flexibility with all your activities. We were able to do as little or as much hiking as we wanted. BUT, those views tho? They were incredible!
10. Visit the hidden oasis called Little Jamaica
To be honest, this place is really hard to find. It’s kind of under a highway and a sketchy walk throughout a parking lot and some dying grass. (Have I sold it yet?). But once you find it, climb down some slippery rocks (seriously, be careful), and once you get to the bottom, there is a little oasis pool that can help you cool down from the dry hot heat!It’s worth going for a hot second, but don’t spend a full day there. There is a lot more Grand Canyon adventures out there than just the oasis.
11. Enjoy a ride through the canyons by boat
Lake Powell and Lake Mead have a bunch of amazing, winding small canyons and to jet ski or motor boat throughout is one of the best ways to experience them. Enjoy a relaxing boat trip that goes through all the canyons and stare at the amazing creations the water has created. It truly is something special.
Other recommendations we were told to try (but didn’t have enough time to do):
– We were told to see Lake Havasu. You have to hike to Havasu Falls, but when you are there, you will be hit with an insane view of red rocks and a vibrant blue waterfall. Havasu Falls is part of the Havasupai American Indian Reservation and Havasupai actually means “people of the blue-green water.” When you see it, you will understand.(source)
– If you are traveling around Arizona and want to detox, Sedona is the place for that. Sedona is actually considered a sacred place and is believed to have a unique cosmic energy. The place is said to have a really special ora, where you chill out and meditate. Sedona was highly recommended, so if you happen to go, let us know how it is!
– If you are able to get the 1 in 20 a day permit to The Wave, then absolutely go visit. It is so stunning and looks straight out of Mars. The Wave is located in the Coyote Buttes North area of the Arizona Strip. It is so out of this world and you will get the most picturesque and beautiful images of the Grand Canyon! We unfortunately were not there to see the gorgeous red sandstone formation, but hopefully you will be lucky enough to get the permit!