Visiting Grand Canyon South Rim -Mather Point, Bright Angel Lodge
Mother Nature labored millions of years to design the Grand Canyon. Her efforts produced one of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring wonders of the world. At 277 miles long, the canyon is 6,000 feet, or more than one mile, deep at its deepest point and 18 miles wide at its widest.
The most panoramic view of the canyon is at its South Rim, where several observation areas provide the perfect perch to take in the canyon's majesty. More than 5 million people visit the canyon each year, and 90 percent choose to visit the South Rim.
Mather Point is the first observation point visitors to Grand Canyon National Park at the South Rim encounter. Named after Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, it's where Canyon View Information Plaza, the park's visitors center, is located. The visitors center includes a bookstore, interactive exhibits and restrooms.
The visitors center is a short walk to observation points overlooking the canyon. There's hardly a description that would do justice to the view that awaits, but a picture, perhaps, will give an idea...
Another great observation point of the Canyon is at Bright Angel Lodge. Walk through the front doors of the rustic lodge and right out the back, and there it is - the Grand Canyon. There are plenty of spots along the rim of the canyon for great photo opportunities, including a two-story gift shop with an observation deck on top that provides the extraordinary perspective of being at near eye level with the top of the canyon's peaks.
The lodge itself, designed in 1935, is a Registered National Historic Landmark and includes
a restaurant, ice cream shop, a gift shop and history room, as well as lodge rooms and cabins for rent.
There are other observation points along the South Rim to get a different perspective of the canyon, including Yavapai Point, which offers views of the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch, which provides overnight accommodations for the more adventurous visitors to the canyon.
Yaki Point is the ideal spot to catch the exhilarating sunrise at the canyon. Pima Point at the westernmost point of the South Rim also provides excellent views of the Colorado River. Mohave Point is best for viewing the sunset.
There are several other observation points along the South Rim, and Grand Canyon National Park offers a free shuttle service for visitors to many.
The park is a hiker's paradise, with many scenic trails, some that wind all the way down to the bottom of the canyon. If going it on foot doesn't sound appealing, mule rentals - yes, mule!- are available.
Summer is peak tourist season. The least crowded time of year to visit the canyon is November through February. Winter weather can make such a visit more risky for hikers and motorists alike, but views of the canyon covered in snow are spectacular.
- Grand Canyon National Park - Grand Canyon National Park
- Grand Canyon Railway - The Official Site
The Official Site for Grand Canyon Railway. Grand Canyon packages with vintage train tours to Grand Canyon National Park since 1901, lodging at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and various Grand Canyon hotels, RV park stays and a vintage Arizona experi
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Traveling from Las Vegas
Tourists to Las Vegas who have the time won't be disappointed they took a day to visit the South Rim. It's 278 miles from Vegas, and a tour bus trip can make for a very long day, typically between 13 and 15 hours from pick up on the Vegas strip to drop off. Numerous tour companies offer bus or helicopter tours from Vegas.
A few tips for visitors deciding to book a tour:
* Do research online before arriving in Las Vegas to avoid making hasty, last minute decisions and paying more. Often, companies offer better deals online. Also be sure to read reviews of companies on sites like tripadvisor.com, where other tourists share their experiences, good and bad, with the company.
* Double check to make sure the tour bus will pick up at your hotel. Sometimes the literature/website states there is hotel pickup, but in fact, they only pick up at designated hotels along the strip. If your hotel isn't one of them, you'll have to get transportation or walk to the nearest pick up spot.
* Ask whether meals are included in the tour price and what food will be provided. Most tour companies provide at least breakfast or lunch, sometimes both, with meals ranging from a full buffet to a granola bar and juice. Most also make stops along the way for passengers to use the restroom and purchase snacks and drinks. Bottled water should be provided, given the dry desert heat and risk of dehydration, but ask beforehand to make sure.
* If someone in your party has difficulty walking, ask how much walking will be on the tour. Some tours drop passengers off at lookout points and there is minimal walking, while others require two to three hours of walking.
* Find out how much time you'll spend at the Grand Canyon. Two to three hours is typical for bus tours. The time passes quickly - there are usually plenty of other tourists there and it takes time to jockey for a good view and photo opportunity. Don't squander time in the gift shops or visitors center unless souvenirs are a priority.
* Have a plan for how to spend the long bus drive - roughly six hours one way. The tour guide should provide some educational information about the canyon. Many tour companies show movies about the canyon on the way up and a comedy or two for entertainment on the ride back. It's a great opportunity to catch up on sleep. But if none of that is appealing, be sure to have music, games or a book at the ready.
* Temperatures the South Rim, some 7,000 square feet above sea level, are considerably cooler than in Vegas proper, as much as 15 to 20 degrees. If visiting in the fall or winter, take a jacket, scarf, hat, etc.
* That said, the sun can be overbearing. A wide-brimmed hat and suntan lotion are advisable.
* Drink tons of water. The dry heat in the desert makes it hard to detect dehydration until it's too late.
* There are some safety railings in certain spots at the canyon, but plenty of areas where nothing separates you from the walls of the canyon. Be very careful when navigating the observation points, as there are usually many tourists, in a small space, and an accidental nudge could be disastrous. Keep site of, and hold of, children at all times.
Rental car companies serving Las Vegas
- Las Vegas Car Rental Companies
Rent a car in Las Vegas at one of the many car rental companies that service the Las Vegas area.
There's also the option of renting a car and driving from Vegas. Be sure to stop for gas when there's still plenty left in the tank - gas stations are few and far between.There are many overlooks accessible by car, including Desert View Drive, open to private vehicles much of the year, which runs 26 miles along the rim. Admission into the park is $25 per vehicle and is good for seven days, covering both the North and South rims. Entry for those on foot, bicycle or motorcycle is $12. Children age 15 and under are admitted free.
There are a variety of lodging options at the Grand Canyon for those wishing to stay more than just a few hours, including the hotels El Tovar, Bright Angel, Phantom Ranch, Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge, Maswik Lodge and Yavapai Lodge. Reservations are often necessary up to a year in advance.
There are also several campgrounds, including Mather Campground, Trailer Village and Desert View Campground. There are additional fees associated with using the campgrounds.
Mather Campground is open year-round and offers hook-ups for tents, motor homes and trailers of under 30 feet. Larger motor homes and RVs can go to Trailer Village Campground next door. Desert View Campground is open from May through the middle of October and is primarily for tents and small trailers. Reservations are accepted at Mather and Trailer Village campgrounds, but Desert View is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
President Theodore Roosevelt said of Grand Canyon, "Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see."
Check out this hub on how to visit Vegas on a budget
Though a trip to Vegas can be costly, with proper planning beforehand, it is possible to cut expenses. This article provides a guide on how to get hotel deals, cheap food, free and discounted shows and tours.
Check out this hub by Peggy W. for more information about Grand Canyon National Park and other parks in Arizona:
- The Grand Canyon + 2 other Spectacular National Parks in Arizona
The Grand Canyon State has one of the deepest canyons, an area of the most petrified wood in the world & the tallest cactus grown in the U.S. in 3 distinct & beautiful national parks. Other hubs from different authors are included + photos &a
© 2012 Crystal Tatum