Grand Canyon Packages: 5 things to know before you travel
Explore the vast Grand Canyon as part of a tour group to make the most out of your experience. Here are five tips for the most popular tours.
The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the natural wonders of the world, and a landmark unlike any other. At 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, the expansive chasm took 3-6 million years to form. The Colorado River runs through the canyon, and there are many lookout points for visitors along the north and south rim. The area was declared a national monument in 1908, and was once home to the Navajo people. Today, tourists can hike down into the canyon on a number of different trails, ride the river through the canyon on a rafting trip, or be carried by a mule along narrow trails. No matter which way you choose to experience it, the Grand Canyon begs to be explored and promises to be a once in a lifetime adventure.
1. Mule Trips
For those not fond of hiking, or anyone looking for the classic Grand Canyon adventure, mule trips offer a truly unique jaunt into this natural wonder. Sure they might be smelly, and the journey can be scary as you cling to the edge of steep cliffs, but the experience is certainly memorable. You can plan your trip to explore the north or south rim of the canyon, and overnight rides are also available.
You should plan for your trip and book way in advance as some mule trips fill up more than a year ahead of time. Also take note that you may be sore after your trip. Depending on the duration, a trip on top of a mule can be taxing on your body, and leave your legs achy and stiff. When in doubt, plan for an easier, shorter trip so that you can still enjoy the rest of your vacation.
Links to help you book: http://www.canyonrides.com/grand-canyon-mule-ride/
2. River Rafting
While most admire the canyon from above, it's not the only way to experience the sights. The Colorado River cuts through the Grand Canyon in dramatic fashion, and there are plenty of opportunities for rafters to catch a ride through this beautiful landscape. Trips vary by the intensity and the amount of time you'll spend in the canyon. Some offer full tours of ranch-style living, and transportation to and from your original destination. You'll always be paired with a well-trained and knowledgeable guide, so you don't have to worry about whether or not you have prior experience. You'll likely combine your rafting trip with a hike in or out of the canyon, so you should be in good physical shape and plan your trip accordingly. The best times of the year for whitewater rafting in the Grand Canyon are early-season in April, and late-season in October. Summer brings high temperatures and large crowds, so it's best to book during the shoulder season.
Links to help you book: http://www.westernriver.com/trips/grandcanyon/
3. Grand Canyon Hikes
One of the best ways to beat the crowds is to walk away from the main parking areas and take a hike. There are several hikes that venture down into the canyon without being too strenuous. From the south rim you can hike the Rim Trail, which is easily accessible from Hermit Road or the main village. From the north rim you can take the Bright Angel Point Trail, which takes only 30 minutes and offers great views. If you're an avid hiker and have more time to explore the area, you can book a hiking tour from a number of different trekking companies. They offer a variety of hiking tours for different skill levels that range in duration. On a hiking tour you will have the opportunity to venture into more isolated parts of the canyon, and witness the spectacular colors of the canyon walls at different points in the day. You'll be lead by an experienced guide, but you should be aware of your fitness level before committing.
Links to help you book: http://www.wildlandtrekking.com/grand-canyon/hiking-tours.html
4. Overnight Stays
Arguably one of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon is to spend the night there. The Phantom Ranch, sitting at the very bottom at the canyon, offers accommodation for hikers, or rafters looking to rest after a long day. Named for the way it blends in to its natural surroundings, this cozy ranch is a charming retreat that makes for a memorable Grand Canyon adventure. There are also several other accommodations within the park if a hike to the bottom isn't on your agenda. Be sure to book well in advance due to high demand.
Links to help you book: http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lodging/phantom-ranch/
5. Helicopter Tours
Get a bird's eye view of the Grand Canyon with a helicopter tour. Local guides will provide area information as you observe the the Colorado River below. Many tours offer hotel pickup and a picnic lunch with champagne. If you've never been on a helicopter tour, the Grand Canyon is one of the best places to start.
Links to help you book: http://grandcanyon.com/planning/grand-canyon-helicopter-tours/
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