If you head to Teva’s blog soon there will be a post all about our trip to the Grand Canyon. For now I wanted to share with you some things I learned (and some I wish I knew before) when I decided to book this trip. It will make your life a whole lot easier if you plan on visiting the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend all in one trip like we did.
You can choose to drive to the Grand Canyon but I’m not a fan of super long car rides so we opted to fly. There is no close affordable airport near the Grand Canyon. The closest one is Flagstaff and the prices to fly in and out of there are a little outrageous. The biggest airport you can fly to and get a fair fare, (see what I did there) is Phoenix, Arizona (If you’re coming from the south or west. If you’re coming from the East I would double check this). I say closest but it’s not close. From Phoenix you will drive 3.5 hours to the Grand Canyon.
Originally we were going to stay at a hotel in Flagstaff which is about an hour from the Grand Canyon but decided it was best to stay right near the Gran Canyon instead and boy was that a great decision. We stayed at the Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel in Tusayan which is walking distance from the entrance of the park (south rim). It was a very ordinary hotel. You are not going to get luxury around these parts so think of your hotel as just a place to rest your head after a long day of exploring.
Everyone knows this, but you don’t really understand until you get there…the Grand Canyon is BIG!!! When you drive into the entrance for the park you can literally drive for another hour to get to some of the trails. I recommend going to the visitors center first and asking all the questions you have before leaping into it. There are a ton of different view points of canyon and some are easy hikes, some are hard and long, and some don’t require any hiking. I would definitely ask the Visitor’s Center which ones would be best for you based on your needs/abilities.
There is an entry fee for the park ($35) but it last a whole week. We thought that the Grand Canyon was just a day trip but FALSE. You easily can spend a week here exploring everything and the surroundings. You can get a park pass before you come which I recommend. We got ours online HERE. You can download it on your mobile and just show it to the person at the gate.
The Grand Canyon is open 24/7 which is awesome. There is no one at the gate at night so you can drive right in. I highly recommend visiting the park at least one time after dark to see the stars. I’ve never seen so many star so clearly in my life. It felt like we were in a planetarium, the stars felt close like we could reach out and touch them! It’s truly breathtaking.
Food options are limited so don’t count on any gourmet restaurants. If you want to eat healthy, or have dietary restrictions, I recommend bringing your own healthy snacks/foods if possible.
Since we were in the area we decided to visit Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Yes they are in Arizona too but they are another 2.5 hours northwest from the Crand canyon in a town called Page, Arizona. Even though it’s a lot of driving, it’s totally worth it. Both places are amazing!
There is no fee to enter Horseshoe Bend and there is a parking lot right at the base of the canyon.
Bring water! It’s a short hike (about 10-15 minutes) but if you go mid afternoon like we did, it is HOT and you’re hiking in sand so it’s a little more work for your body.
Speaking of sand. Wear sunglasses! Sand and wind do not mix! I had to keep closing my eyes so sand wouldn’t get into them! While you’re at it, a hat would do wonders too to block the direct sunlight. There is no shade at all.
Antelope Canyon is on land owned by the Native Americans so there is no way to see it without a reservation for a tour.
First of all, there are two canyons. The Upper Canyon and the Lower Canyon. There are a ton of tour websites online where you can book your tour. After searching everywhere for an open slot, we found the last two at Antelope Slot Canyon Tours. We went to the Upper Canyon because the Lower Canyon was booked for weeks. There are so many other tours you can do in the area including helicopter tours, boat tours, UTV, Rainbow bridge etc. We were limited on time so we couldn’t do much more but I would check out the travel websites to see what else they have to offer if you decide to stay longer than a couple days.
That brings me to my next point. Book as far ahead as you can. These tours book up fast especially in the late Spring to summer months. The Lower Canyon seems to be slightly more popular so you really have to book ahead for that one. If you’re set on going here, I recommend booking the tour first and then planning your stay around it. We booked our stay first so we had to take whatever tour we could get. I would have liked to see the Lower Canyon and go early in the morning. Either way, it’s beautiful so don’t get too hung up on the times or which canyon to go to.
If you plan on taking photos of yourself with no other tourist in sight it takes skill and quick fingers. The tour is ongoing with many tours inside at once. They try to keep everyone together and give you time to take pictures of the Canyon but not really much time to take pictures of yourself. We had to sneak pictures in and kind of fall back from the tour to get some pictures alone. But we didn’t have much time before our tour guide was calling us over. I’m not sure if this depends on the tour guide you have but just be ready to pose and click fast. It’s also pretty dark inside so I recommend bringing a camera that is good in low light.
The ride into the canyon is SUPER bumpy. You meet at a central location and then the tour bus drives you in. They do not allow any backpacks or bags into the Canyon. Only a camera, phone, and water. So hold on to your belongings tight on that ride!
This was such an amazing trip and I highly recommend it. These are just some tips if you want to book a quick trip like we did. If you have more time to spare I would recommend researching the other nearby canyons and attractions to get the most out of your trip. Arizona is such a beauitufl state. We definitely would love to go back and explore more!
If you have any specific questions about any part of our stay, feel free to leave a comment!