Information / Sources, Grand Canyon
We drove to Grand Canyon Village in the mid-afternoon and were thrilled to find a parking space near the El Tovar hotel. Of course, this was mid-April and children weren't out of school at this point.
Here's a list of parking spots listed by the National Park Service: (picture 1 shows map of lots A-B; picture 2 shows map of lots C-E)
Lot A: Near park headquarters administrative offices. This large lot frquently has available spots.
Lot B: Near the businesses in Market Plaza. This fills early, but is the largest lot.
Lot C: This small lot is near the intersection of Center and Village Loop Roads and may have sites when others do not.
Lot D: An unpaved lot along the railroad tracks in the middle of the Grand Canyon Village Historic District
Lot E: Near the Backcountry Information Center. The southern portion of this lot has large, pull-through spaces for RV's and vehicles with trailers.
CAUTION: avoid parking along the roadside except where signs or lines on the road indicate it is permissible.
FYI: Easily accessible shuttle bus stops are located in or neat all parking areas.
At 7000 ft, the Canyon can expect snow well into what we would consider early summer. We were there in April, and anticipating snow, we packed winter clothing. We arrived on a beautiful, clear spring day with warm temperatures. The weather forecast predicted clear skies but a little cooler the next day, "Perfect for hiking the South Kaibab Trail" we said. We fell asleep hearing the wind sighing in the pine trees, thinking, "We got it in the bag, haha"
Because of the beautiful weather the day before, and forecasts of the same the next day, we were a little surprised and needless to say, disappointed to wake up to what you see in the picture. I saw about 200 people on the Grand Canyon day tour train from Williams arriving, and I felt sorry for them, as there was a total white-out over the Canyon.
If you are planning a vist in "iffy" weather, such as spring or fall, I would advise not having too tight a schedule, and if you can, schedule a few days. You don't want bad weather to take away the chance to see the stunning beauty of the Grand Canyon.
I visited with my Dad, who has physical limitations from a stroke. Though he prefers to walk, we do have a portable wheelchair for those times when walking isn't an option.
The National Park service does have wonderful perks for the disabled. One is a free lifetime pass is you can document you are a US citizen with a permanent disability! We were able to get this pass, with documentation we brought with us, upon arrival at the park gates. They also provided the park's 'Accessibility Guide'. This internal publication, in newspaper format, tells of the rules and best 'windsheild' views. We were also able to read about which places in the park had ramps, the angle of the ramp, width of doors, and where accessible bathrooms were located! The park was created long before disabled access was the norm, so there are many limitations to what Dad could see ...but with the guide to teach us, there was so much he WAS able to see and do.
Despite all this, if you are traveling with a disabled person who prefers to walk, it's tough. Wheelchairs are easier, but some of the ramps and paths are steep so difficult for the 'helper' to keep up at the altitude. One of my friends is on a motorizes scooter, and that's her recommendation: to put everyone on motorized wheels so they can move themselves up and down those steep ramps and appropriate paths without tiring their travel companions.
Fondest memory: Just being able to share the whole Grand Canyon experience with my Dad was the best part of the weekend. I don't think he ever felt like he held me back .... and when he said words he hasn't said since his stroke almost 2 decades ago in response to the vistas, I knew he was having fun too :)
Don't make the mistake that countless others (including me) have made and think that the Hualapai Nation's Eagle Point Skywalk is near Grand Canyon National Park. It is at the west end of the canyon and probably a 4-5 hour drive from the park. There has been so much publicity and most of us don't tend to realize how big the canyon is or how many different places you can actually go. If you want to go it is at Grand Canyon West (about 2.5 hours from Las Vegas) and you can check the skywalk and other activities at http://www.destinationgrandcanyon.com/activities.html
I think it would be something to see but one person who had been said the road in is terrible and some people have even torn up cars on it. They are in process of building a new one but I don't know when it is projected to open. Also they said you need to take a shuttle from the parking area and then pay the fee to walk out on the skywalk and that together it comes to about $75-80.
Favorite thing: It is possible to get permits for camping overnight by getting on a waiting list at the Backcountry Office near Maswik Lodges. I got to the office the day before and received a slip of paper with my waiting list number. The next day at 8 am they have a roll call for numbers. I was able to get a permit for that night at Cottonwood Campground. They also had Angel Bright Campground reservations available. So if your planning an impromptu trip it is still possible to stay overnight in the canyon.
Favorite thing: It's possible at the last moment to get a reservation for a lodge, dorm or for breakfast or dinner. What's needed is to call Bright Angel Lodge the day before to get on the waiting list. This can be done early in the morning. The next day there is a roll call at 6:30 am. I was able to get a room and meals for the next day, and if needed could have had the same for that night.
Favorite thing: Located entirely in Northern Arizona, the park encompasses 277 miles of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. One of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the World, Grand Canyon is unmatched in the incomparable vistas it offers to visitors on the rim. Grand Canyon National Park is a World heritage site.
Go to the south rim, and have a look at the Grand Canyon from there. When visiting the South Rim, be sure to go to Canyon View Information Plaza, there you will find information to help plan your Grand Canyon visit.
Fondest memory: Here: Me in front of the Grand Canyon on the south rim.
The first thing that struck me as we drove into the Grand Canyon Park was how busy it was. The little information newspaper that you get on the gate as you pay is worth a read for twenty minutes before you go at it like a bull at a gate (like we did the first day), it will help you get your bearings.
Fondest memory: Running to Mather Point for our first look at the Canyon,(after we'd found a parking space that is).
There are three shuttle buses running. One goes on a loop around Grand Canyon Village, one goes to Hermits Rest stopping at about 8 viewpoints, and the other goes east towards Yavapai Observation Station. The shuttles get really crowded, standing room only, and when we where there half of our group where feeling poorly and couldn't face being pushed around on the shuttle, so we drove east towards Desert View which is an easy 25 mile drive with lots of viewpoints along the way which you can do at your own pace and away from the crowds.
Fondest memory: We walked just a little way down the Grandview Point trailhead, just so I could say I had hiked it!! We did plan to do some easier hikes but unfortunately a nasty bug struck down 3 in our party.
At the south rim, the El Tovar has by far the best view of the canyon but it is pricey. It is very easy to get around the south rim either by walking or the free shuttle. When planning my trip to the grand canyon, I had the same problems that you are having with websites that are incomplete and no pictures of lodges and where exactly they are located in relation to the canyon. I got the grand canyon walking tour app which helped me tremendously. I could see where hotels, trails, museums, and shops were located. I don't know if any of the lodges have a pool though.
Fondest memory: The awesome beauty and majesty of the Grand Canyon
You should MOST definitely skip the West Rim. Not that the views are bad (they're great), but they pale in comparision to those of the South Rim and the North Rim. You thus have to decide between the latter two.
Both require about five hours of driving EACH WAY to drive between Vegas. Thus, you will require about ten hours of driving in a day to do this trip. I don't recommend that much in a summer day in the desert but, if the alternative is not seeing The Canyon, then I guess you'll have to do it.
Most people say the views from the SR are better, but other disagree. You won't go wrong (view-wise) with either.
The NR is cooler (something to think about in summer), less crowded, more arboreal, and has fewer facilities -- which is a plus or a minus, depending on your tastes.
For more info on visiting this wonder of our planet, check out
Yavapai (sp?) Point on eastern South Rim.
Hubby & I bought a National Park Pass. Then we entered & re-entered Grand Canyon Park via express lane. National Park pass covers person & spouse, for all national park entrance fees.
Fondest memory: We miss the quiet on the farther points of the Canyon Rim Trail, when you can hear the Colorado River and wind.
The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and one of our planet's most astounding accomplishments. The sheer majesty and beauty of the scenery found here is beyond belief. I have never seen a picture that has ever done it justice. I keep taking them and I manage to capture little pieces of beauty here and some majesty there but to really understand the Grand Canyon, to really appreciate it, you have to see it with your own eyes.
Fondest memory: The first European to view the Grand Canyon was Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardenas in 1540. Cardenas was sent north from Mexico by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola (Gold). Cardenas and his party spent three days at the Canyon, trying to get down to the river, until depleted supplies forced them to give up. It was some three centuries before the Europeans would return to the Grand Canyon, when in 1869 Major John Wesley Powell became the first person to explore the entire length of the Canyon.
realize that you´ll never be able to 'do' both rims in one or two days. You have to drive a very long way, there is no bridge.
Unless..... you want to hike the canyon. Down one side, up the other....