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Top 21 Things to do at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Sunset
Watching a sunset at the Grand Canyon is a must for any trip. Credit: Pixaby


The Grand Canyon is one of the top U.S. national parks and a top destination for the entire U.S  The South Rim is a year-round destination for young and old. Visitors come from across the world to see the awe-inspiring view. The Colorado River carved the canyon micron-by-micron over millions of years. Each layer of dusty-colored rock represents a different era and it’s over a mile deep. There is a lot to see in the area so here are the top things to do at the Grand Canyon.

Table of Contents

Which Part of the Grand Canyon Should I Visit

The canyon features four major areas—north, south, west and east. However, not all areas are open year-round, like the North Rim, since it receives significant snow from the fall until the spring. The South Rim is the most popular area to see. It also offers the most activities both inside of the national park and its gateway town of Tusayan.

The western part of the canyon is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park. It offers more adventure-based activities along the Skywalk. This area is best for those staying in Las Vegas and want to see the Grand Canyon as well.

Grand Canyon National Park at a Glance

Year Established: 1919
Located: Northern Arizona
Size: over 1.2 million acres 
Top Features: Mather Point, Bright Angel Trail and the Historic Grand Canyon Village 


Top Things to Do at the Grand Canyon

Visit Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon IMAX

  • Grand Canyon National Geographic Visitor Center
  • Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours
  • Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines
  • Grand Canyon Apache Stables
  • Colorado River Rafting
  • Jeep Tours
  • Skydiving
  • Grand Canyon Railway
  • Route 66
  • Bearizona Drive-Thru Wildlife Park
  • West Rim Helicopter Tours
  • Sky Walk
  • Colorado River Rafting
  • Grand Canyon Caverns
  • Lowell Observatory
  • Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort
  • Meteor Crater Natural Landmark
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument
  • Flagstaff Arboretum

Top Places to See in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

    • Walk along the Rim Trail for views of the Grand Canyon.
    • See a sunset or sunrise at Mather Point or Yaki Point.
    • Tour the Historic Grand Canyon Village, like the El Tovar Hotel, along with Bright Angel Lodge.
    • Shop for crafts at the Hopi House.
    • Walk through Kolb Studio.
    • Look over the Grand Canyon edge at the Lookout Studio.
    • Find the Bright Angel Trailhead, it’s the trail that the mules use to get to Phantom Ranch, located at the bottom of the canyon.

While exploring the Grand Canyon, consider using its free shuttle. It’s color-coded and easy to use. Parking is limited at popular points on the South Rim, and find the most parking at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. 

You can spend as little or as much time as you want. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. A 7-day private vehicle pass is $35, and you can purchase a digital pass at recreation.gov.  

Grand Canyon National Park Guide 
Grand Canyon helicopter
Consider a helicopter tour for an aerial adventure. Credit: Pixabay

Things to Do in Tusayan Arizona 

Located just outside the South Entrance, it is a resort town with a Western flavor. Activities and tours are available for everyone, from family travelers to RVers to high-adventure types.  

Grand Canyon IMAX

See the inner depths of the Grand Canyon on a 6-story screen in a 37-minute film. Learn about the Grand Canyon’s history along with the people who call it home. 

Located at 450 State Route 64, the IMAX film starts every half-hour from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Winter hours are 10:30 a.m to 6:30 p.m. Adult admission (11+) is $13.50, kids admission (6 to 10) is $10.50, and kids 5 and under are free. 

Grand Canyon National Geographic Visitor Center 

In addition to the IMAX theater, there is an information desk with Grand Canyon tours and maps, souvenir shopping, and restrooms. 

Located at 450 State Route 64. Open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Winter hours are  10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from November 1 to February 28.  Free to enter.

Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours

One of the best ways to see the canyon is from above. If you’ve never flown in a helicopter, then this is an ideal location for this bucket-list adventure. Papillon offers several different tours and aircraft, both fixed-wing and helicopter. Aerial tours can also be combined with land tours. 

Located at 3568 Airport Rd., at the Grand Canyon National Airport. Open daily with flights from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from March to October, with shorter winter hours for the rest of the year.  Fares start at $269 per person. 

Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines

For nearly 100 years, Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines has been flying over the canyon and shuttling passengers to nearby destinations. Book a scenic flight and fly the length of the canyon. The Airline flies from Las Vegas, Nevada; Page, Arizona; and the West Rim airport. 

Located at 3555 Airport Rd., at the Grand Canyon National Airport. Open daily with flights starting at 9 a.m. Fares start at $179 per person.

Grand Canyon Apache Stables

Take a one-hour or two-hour guided horseback ride through the Kaibab National Forest. Guided rides are available from mid-March to the first week of November. Riders must be 6 years old and 48 inches tall. All riders must be under 230 pounds. 

Located at 472 Moqui Dr. One-hour rides are $58.50 per person. Two-hour rides are $110.50. 

Colorado River Rafting

Raft the river that carved the canyon with a raft trip down the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. Find a trip that suits your group from one-day calm floats to multi-day trips with white water.  

Find several concessionaires approved by the National Park Service. 

Jeep Tours

Take a guided tour of the Grand Canyon, including the option for sunset and guided hiking tours. 

Pink Adventure Tours is located at 450 State Route 64. Open year-round. Several tours are available for $109 per person. 

Grand Canyon Jeep Tours and Safaris is located at 408 State Route 64. Open from March 1 to end of November. Several tours available from $120 per person. Alternative fuel vehicles available. 


Jump out over the  canyon from 16,000 feet for the ultimate rush. Paragon Skydiving offers tandem jumps with seasoned skydivers.  

Packages start at $329 per person. Open daily with seasonal hours, and jumps depart on the hour. Located at 1542 Liberator Dr. at the Main Terminal of the Grand Canyon National Airport.

Where to Eat in Tusayan 

Big E Steakhouse and Saloon

After exploring the canyon all day, enjoy a steak dinner. Afterward, head to the saloon for a full bar stocked with wine, local beer, spirits and coffee drinks. 

Located at Bldg 395 State Route 64, Grand Canyon. Open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Las Vegas National Park Road Trip 
Grand Canyon Railway
Take the train to Grand Canyon National Park. Credit: Xanterra Resorts

Things to Do in Williams Arizona

With its convenient location on Interstate 40, roadtrippers might prefer Williams. 

Grand Canyon Railway

This scenic railroad chugs out of its station daily, and service started in 1901. Passengers depart the Williams Depot bound for the log cabin depot at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. See the high desert along with the Kaibab National Forest on the 64-mile route.

The train departs daily from Williams at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 5:30 p.m. Ride in a restored vintage rail car in six different classes. 

Pullman Class

Ride in a vintage 1923 rail car with bench seats and windows that open (no air-conditioning). And the seats flip so families can face each other. Round trip adult fare (16+) is $69.98, and round trip kids fare is $35.98 (2 to 15). 

Coach Class

Enjoy air conditioning in a 1950s-era rail car. The round-trip adult fare (16+) is $89.98, and the round-trip kids fare is $55.98(2 to 15).

First Class

With oversized seats and complimentary snacks, First Class offers streamliner cars with air conditioning. Round trip adult fare (16+) is $169.98, and round trip kids fare is $129.98 (2 to 15).

Observation Dome

Enjoy a streamliner-era dome car with a complimentary snack service and a bar available. The round-trip adult fare is $199.98, and the round-trip kids fare is $189.98(2 to 15). Kids 2 and younger are not allowed in dome cars.

Luxury Dome

Upstairs find a dome observation car outfitted like a parlor car. Downstairs find a lounge with a private bar. Complimentary sparkling wine departure cocktail included.  Round trip adult fare (16+) is $239.98 and no one under 16 is allowed. 

Luxury Parlor

Ride in style with a luxuriously appointed rail car. Located at the end of the train, head out to the viewing platform to enjoy the desert scenery. Round trip adult fare (16+) is $239.98 and no one under 16 allowed.

Grand Canyon Railway offers multi-day packages with lodging at its depot in Williams and inside Grand Canyon National Park. A pet resort is also available when you visit the Grand Canyon. 

Route 66 

In 1926, this road was considered a super highway that originated in Chicago, Illinois, and traveled across the U.S. to Long Beach, California. In most areas, the original Route 66 was gobbled up by more modern roads, though you can find it alive and well in Williams. 

Bearizona Drive-Thru Wildlife Park

Drive through 160 acres on a three-mile route in your own vehicle to see North American animals, such as black and grizzly bears, mule deer, Rocky Mountain goats, American badgers, and Alaskan tundra wolves. You can also see American bison, bobcats, beavers, prairie dogs, and pronghorn deer. 

Located at 1500 Route 66. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission (12+ ) starts at $30 and kids (4 to 12 ) are $20. 

Where to Eat in Williams

Pine Country Restaurant

Pine Country Restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus featuring favorites like traditional breakfast items, sandwiches, and burgers, as well as steak and pasta dishes. The dessert case is the first thing you see when you arrive. Find house-made pies, like key lime, several varieties of apple, and seasonal favorites. 

Located at 107 N. Grand Canyon Blvd. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Top Things to Do at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Step over the edge at Grand Canyon Skywalk. Credit: Pixaby

Things to do in Grand Canyon West

As the closest gateway town to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon West offers adventure tours and the heart-dropping Sky Walk. While in Grand Canyon West, you can learn about people who live around the Grand Canyon, like the Hualapai, Navajo, Hopi, and Havasupai at Eagle Point. You can also explore the traditional village or see a weekend performance in the shaded outdoor amphitheater. 

Then hop a shuttle to Guano Point to see the old tramway tower used for harvesting guano. Grand Canyon West also offers helicopter tours, river rafting, and a zip line. 

General admission ( 4+) starts $49 per person. The Sky Walk requires an additional timed ticket and is $26. 

Sky Walk

On the western rim of the Grand Canyon, walk over its edge and see unparalleled views of the Colorado River. Step out a 10-foot wide, horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that extends 70 feet from the canyon wall. 

Located at 808 Eagle Point Rd. in Peach Springs, about 130 miles (209 km) from Las Vegas. 

Colorado River Rafting

Float the Colorado with a one-day, two-day or five-day paddling trip that includes camping on the banks. From $429 per person and available from mid-March to the end of October.  

Helicopter Tours

See the western portion of the Grand Canyon then land at the bottom to hike. Additionally you can reserve a pontoon boat ride on the Colorado River. 

Trips start at $399 per person. Located at 5001 Diamond Bar Rd., Peach Springs, helicopter tours depart from the Grand Canyon West Airport. 

Grand Canyon Caverns 

Explore the largest dry cavern in the U.S., 200 feet below the surface of the earth. Tours depart starting at 9:30 a.m. 

Rumors persist this cave is haunted. The one-hour-long Ghost Walk utilizes K2 meters to register paranormal activity. Departs nightly at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. depending on season.

Located at 115 mile marker on AZ-66 in Peach Springs, Arizona. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (12+) starts at $21.95 and kids (6 to 12) are $10.95. 

Note: Tours are still unavailable.

Things to do in Flagstaff Arizona

Outdoor enthusiasts might want to use Flagstaff as their base in the Grand Canyon. It offers several smaller National Park Service sites and is the first official Dark Sky city.  

Lowell Observatory

A mathematician opened the observatory in 1894 for solar system exploration. In 1930, the Lowell Observatory discovered Pluto. The Lowell Observatory is a National Historic Landmark. It’s home to the 24-inch (61-cm) Clark Refracting Telescope and the 13-inch (33-cm) Pluto Discovery Telescope. 

The Lowell Observatory offers several tours, such as its Lowell Tour or its Story of Pluto Tour. During the day, there are several specialized talks. Solar and night sky viewing is also available.

Located at 1400 W. Mars Hill Rd. Open daily from noon to 10 p.m. (6 p.m. on Tuesdays). Adult general admission is $29, students $19 and kids (5 -17) $17.

Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort 

On the western slope of Mt. Humphreys, find an all-season mountain resort on the tallest point in Arizona. Arizona Snowbowl offers 777 skiable acres with 55 runs from green to black. Find six aerial lifts, including a 6-person high-speed lift, along with two surface lifts. 

The ski season runs from late November until the end of April. The scenic chair lift transports hikers and mountain bikers from the summer through October for fall color. 

Located at 9300 North Snowbowl Rd, it is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lift tickets are required, and lessons and equipment rental are available onsite. 

Meteor Crater Natural Landmark

See where a meteor crashed into the earth 50,000 years ago. It’s considered to be one of the best-preserved meteor impact craters in the world. The crater is 3,900 feet (1,200 m) across and 560 feet (170 m) deep and includes an interpretive center and rim tours. 

Located on Interstate 40 at Exit 233, Winslow. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (12+) is $29 and kids (6 to 12) are $20. 

Walnut Canyon National Monument

See how people lived in the area from AD 600 to 1400. Along Island Trail, explore the 25 cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people. They farmed corn, squash, and beans below the cliff. 

The area became a national monument in 1915. The Civilian Conservation Corps stabilized the site in the 1930s as a part of President Roosevelt’s Works Progress program that put young men to work in parks across the U.S. 

Located on Interstate 40 at Exit 204, Flagstaff. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A 7-day private vehicle pass is $25 or use a NPS annual pass.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument 

The area around Flagstaff is volcanic, including Mt. Humphreys. See a cinder cone along with lava fields. 

Located at 6082 Sunset Crater Rd.,Flagstaff. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  A 7-day private vehicle pass is $25 for neighboring Sunset Crater and Wapatki national monuments. 

Wupatki National Monument

Explore the ancient pueblos of the Wupatki that built multi-level structures 900 years ago, including the 104-room Wupatki Pueblo. Find several short hiking trails to explore partially preserved pueblos. 

Located at 25137 N. Wupatki Ln., Flagstaff. Open sunrise to sunset. A 7-day private vehicle pass is $25 for neighboring Sunset Crater and Wapatki national monuments.

Flagstaff Arboretum

Explore a 200-acre property to see the native trees and plants of northern Arizona. With 750 different plant species, learn how plants adapt to the Colorado Plateau. 

Located at 4001 S. Woody Mountain Rd. Open from May 1 until October 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission (18+) is $12 and kids (5 to 17) are $7. Dog-friendly.

Top Things to Do in Flagstaff

How to get to Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

Located north of east-west Interstate 40, Grand Canyon is a frequent road trip stop. Head north on Arizona Route 64 from Williams, AZ, to get to the South Rim Entrance, which is open 24 hours a day. 

Williams, AZ, offers Amtrak train service on the Southwest Chief line. Amtrak offers vacation packages including meals and tours of the South Rim. 

Las Vegas offers the largest international airport (LAS) in the Southwest. The Strip and the surrounding city offer dining, lodging, and entertainment options. Las Vegas is about 274 miles from the South Entrance. 

Weather at Grand Canyon’s South Rim 

Winter: Highs 40sF (8 to 9C), Lows mid 20sF (-4 to -2C)

Spring: Highs mid 50s to mid 70sF (15 to 25C), Lows low 30s to mid 40sF (0 to 8C) 

Summer: Highs mid 80sF (26 to 29C), Lows 50sF (11 to 15C)

Fall—Highs low 50s to mid 70sF (15 to 25C), Lows mid 40s to upper 20s (6 to -3C)

Average Rain and Snow averages about 1 inch per month. 

Where to Stay near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

The South Rim offers the most year-round services and attractions.

Tusayan–Located right outside the south entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. This town is one mile long, though it offers the most convenient lodging and dining outside of the Grand Canyon Village. Also, Tusayan is a base for many commercial tours and flightseeing operations.

Williams—Located along Interstate 40, Williams is a larger community than Tusayan and it’s 53 miles south of the South Rim Entrance. Additionally it’s the departure point for the Grand Canyon Railways.

Flagstaff—Located southeast of Grand Canyon National Park, this mountain destination offers easy access to the canyon along with the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and southern Utah. It’s 72 miles from the South Rim entrance.

Las Vegas—For air travelers, Las Vegas offers the most flights along with The Strip. It’s the closest city to the Grand Canyon SkyWalk on the western side of the Grand Canyon (not at the South Rim).

Visit an American icon at the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona. Explore the National Park and experience the desert southwest from the air, from the water and hanging over the South Rim's edge. Find 25 things to do at the Grand Canyon. What to do at the Grand Canyon's South Rim | Where to stay at the Grand Canyon National Park | Where to eat near the Grand Canyon National Park #NationalParks #Arizona

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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