Grand Canyon trip planning Enlightened

Top Ten Grand Canyon Adventures

Grand Canyon’s Top 10 Adventures

1.     Grand Canyon Rafting

From mellow one day float trips to week long wilderness adventures the Grand Canyon has it all for the boating enthusiast.  Although most trips on the grand are multi-day whitewater adventures, there are also one day whitewater and smoothwater options. 

Go on a leisurely float down the River- Although the Grand Canyon is known for its thrilling whitewater rafting trips, the Colorado River also offers up a great smooth water float just upriver from the park for families and people who want a more relaxing experience. 

One Day Whitewater Adventure- Get your adrenaline fix with the only one day whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.  This trip is run by the Hualapai Tribe in the western Grand Canyon and even includes a helicopter ride up to the rim at the end of the trip.  Be ready for a full day and possible cancelations if summer monsoons close the road.

Embark on a Rafting Expedition- Running the Grand is one of the premier whitewater trips in the world.  Exciting rapids, amazing views and a wilderness experience will make this an adventure you will never forget.  From 3 days to two weeks the Grand’s Certified Guides offer several options for the adventure of a lifetime.  For those of you with the experience to run the Grand Canyon on your own, sign up for the National Park Lottery and cross your fingers.


2.     Grand Canyon Hiking

Hiking the Grand Canyon is an activity almost anyone can enjoy.  From a short stroll along the rim to an all-day adventure hiking is one of the best ways to experience this awesome place.  For those of you who want more than a day below the rim, grab your backpack and set off on a multi-day adventure.  What a local expert to take you on a hike, no problem contact one of the local outfitters to do all the planning for you.

Hike the most popular trails- The corridor trails consist of Bright Angel, South Kaibab and North Kaibab trails.  These are the most heavily used trails leading into the Grand Canyon within the Park.

Day Hikes- the South Rim has the easiest access to trailheads for day hikes, but there are great hiking trail throughout the Grand Canyon!  Read more about Grand Canyon Hiking Trails.

Backpacks- the Grand Canyon has some of the best backpacking trips in the world.  The South Rim is open all year, but backpacks off the North Rim are closed in the winter due to snow fall.  Read more about Grand Canyon backpacking trips.

Havasu Falls-  There are no roads to Havasu Falls so hiking or horseback are usually your only options to access these turquoise waterfalls, unless you make it on one of the occasional helicopter flights.  Located on the Havasupai Reservation deep within the western Grand Canyon this is a must see destination for the adventurous traveler.   Experienced hiker can do the trip on their own, but there are also some great backcountry guides to take care of everything for you.

Grand Canyon Wilderness- If you are an experienced hiker that doesn’t like to be around herds of other people check out some of the hundreds of miles of lightly traveled trails and routes the Grand Canyon has to offer.  Learn more about these hikes. Backpacking Grand Canyon trails outside the corridor is a big step up in regards to difficulty and preparation.  The trails are steeper and less maintained and water is scarce.  The trade-off is beauty and solitude is in a tree desert wilderness.  Learn more about these backpacking adventures.


3.     Grand Canyon Camping

The Grand Canyon is a great place to camp!  Aside from backcountry hiking and backpacking, there are several campgrounds on the North and South rim of the Grand Canyon.  Many of these campgrounds need to be reserved in advance, but there are some there are some great campsites along the rim that require no permit and offer a lot of solitude if you have high clearance and a bit of time.

Campgrounds- there are only a few campgrounds with facilities you can drive to in Grand Canyon National Park.  The largest is on the South Rim, but there are also campgrounds on the North Rim and other parts of the canyon.  National Forest and Tribal Land along the Grand Canyon.  Learn more about Grand Canyon campgrounds.

Backcountry Car Camping- Along the North Rim, South Rim and other areas of the Canyon you can find a campsite to yourself along the rim if you have high clearance and are willing to drive a bit.  Learn more about these off the grid campsites.

Car Camping in the National Forest- the Grand Canyon is surrounded by National Forest.  There are tons of dirt roads to drive down and find a campsite and some of them even lead to the rim of the Grand Canyon.  Learn more about USFS camping options.


4.     Grand Canyon Rock Climbing

It’s not Yosemite, but the Grand Canyon still has some rock climbing available.  Although there’s lots of rock, most of it is not very stable so be careful.

Bouldering- There’s some bouldering available near the South Rim and along the canyon floor and side canyons if you’re willing to hike long distances with your crash pad.  Learn more.

Sport Climbing- There’s several sport climbing routes along the South Rim.  Most of these are found near the Bright Angel trailhead.  Learn more.

Multi-day trad routes- For more experienced climbers there are multi-pitch trade routes deep within the canyon and almost certainly some 1st ascents available for the taking.  Just be selective when climbing in the canyon as it’s mostly made up of soft sedimentary rock.  Learn More.


5.     Toroweap Grand Canyon

In the far western Grand Canyon off the North rim is a seldom visited area called Toroweap (also known as Tuweap).  From Kanab, UT several hours down a dirt road will offer a rustic campground, a rugged trail to the Colorado River, small Ranger Station and a lot of Solitude.  This is an area best enjoyed during the cooler seasons for travelers who are not on a tight schedule.


6.     Grand Canyon Caves

Most people don’t know that the Grand Canyon is full of caves.  Although most of them are not legal to enter, there are a few fun options.

Grand Canyon Caverns- If exploring a cave on your own doesn’t sound like your cup of tea try Grand Canyon Caverns, located outside of the park near Seligman it offers a nice guided tour in the largest cave in the area.  Learn more.

Cave of the Domes- Cave of the Domes off Horseshoe Mesa is accessible.  It’s a strenuous trail to get there and there are no signs so you’ll have to do your research to find it, but it’s a great experience if you do.  Remember you are on your own down here and there is no water, food stands or elevator to get you out.  Learn more.


7.     Grand Canyon Mule Rides

Looking for a more historic way to travel through the Canyon?  Look no further a Grand Canyon mule ride will transport you back to the Wild West.  Xanterra runs all the mule trips at Grand Canyon National Parks South Rim, as well as the overnight mule trips to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon.  If the South Rim trips are booked up, there are also mule rides in the National Forest outside the Park to make sure you get in the saddle.  If you’re not visiting the South Rim, you can also hop on a mule at the North Rim or Grand Canyon West for a day trip.


8.     Grand Canyon Jeep Tours

If you’re into 4X4 vehicles there are several jeep tours offered both inside and outside the National Park.  If you’re a little more adventurous, renting a 4wd vehicle will give you access to rarely visited viewpoints along the rim of the canyon that offer up a real adventure.   Check out Point Sublime, South Bass and Toroweap to get started and be sure to have the proper maps, equipment and supplies, these places are far away from any help!


9.     Grand Canyon Biking

The Grand Canyon has some great options for riding a bike.  There are some nice places to cruise around in Grand Canyon Village, highways to ride, dirt roads and even some great single track.

Rent a bike on the South Rim- Most people don’t bring their bikes with them on vacation, but riding a bike is a great way to see the South Rim.  Bike rentals are available at Mather Point and offer a good option to park your vehicle, be eco-friendly and avoid the sometimes maddening traffic at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Mountain Bike the Rainbow Rim Trail- A little known single track trail along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is an awesome way to explore the park.  This trial is actually in Kaibab National Forest along the canyon rim and is the only single track bike trail along the Grand Canyon.  You’ll need high clearance and a map to get there, but it’s well worth the drive.


10.  Grand Canyon Cross Country Skiing

South Rim- The South Rim of the Grand Canyon can receive over a foot of snow in a good storm.  If you live close by, or happen to be around during this winter event you'll wonder why there isn't a Nordic Center on the Rim.  This can be a unique way to enjoy the solitude the winter months bring to this bustling destination, but snow does tend to melt off the South Rim fairly quick after a storm.

North Rim- The North Rim on the other hand actually gets a snow pack due to its average elevation of over 8,000 feet.  The Road to the North closes after the first snow (usually some time in later November) and does not open until May 15th.  A Winter Rim to Rim is popular with hardcore Canyon hikers, and there are also limitless forest service roads, as well as a couple trails on the North Kaibab ranger district. 

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