The first panoramic sight of the Grand Canyon can be a moving experience. It can also be a challenging one to find that perfect view in between the massive numbers of tourists who visit during the spring and summer months. Carved into the rock millions of years ago by the Colorado River and natural geological processes, the austere beauty, reddish desert colors and glorious sunsets of the Grand Canyon attract tourists from all latitudes.
During the Winter, referred to as the “secret” season, the most accessible part of the Canyon, the south bank, is still popular as it is open year-round. The North Rim closes to traffic during winter months. Much of the infrastructure of the Grand Canyon is located here including the Canyon View Information Plaza and Visitors Center. Here you will find useful guides, brochures, audiovisual exhibits and interactive features about the fascinating history, geology and wildlife of the place. Take the free bus (the cost is included in the ticket to the national park) to visit other museums and lookouts on the south bank.
Although it is difficult to look away from the wonderful views of the canyon, a walk along the lower side of the south bank will allow you to appreciate the beauty of this landscape. The canyon walks bring you closer to its prehistoric past and to the corrosive power of the Colorado River, which undermined layer after layer of rock over millions of years.
Many visitors decide to stay overnight to spend an extended weekend in or near the canyon. Accommodations within and near the national park ranges from comfortable hotels and country inns to picturesque cabins and campgrounds. The El Tovar Bed & Breakfast is located right on the rim of the Grand Canyon. It first opened its doors in 1905. Designed by Charles Whittlesey, there are 78 unique rooms. No two rooms are alike, which gives the hotel a distinctive charm. There are 12 hotel suites, each one with a unique name, identity and decor. For example, the Zane Grey Suite with sitting room and balcony, appointed with unique wall art specific to the author. Today, El Tovar retains its elegant charm and is widely considered the crown jewel of Historic National Park Lodges. There is a lounge, gift shop and newsstand. El Tovar offers its guests full bell service, a lobby concierge and in-room dining.
Kachina Lodge and Thunderbird Lodge are located close to the rim. Breakfast is served at the Harvey House Cafe, a family casual restaurant featuring healthy diner-style dishes prepared in the Harvey House tradition. It is known for delicious classics like biscuits and gravy. The Harvey House Tavern is a cozy little western hide-a-way located near the top of Bright Angel Trail Head. Stop in after a hike to fuel up with a cold beer and order of wings. The décor highlights historic murals and native scenes. Folk Musicians and Western Singers entertain seasonally, providing a taste of Western culture. You must be 21 years of age.
Exploring the Grand Canyon by river is an experience unlike any other. Discover hidden waterfalls and paradisiacal side canyons – areas of Grand Canyon National Park that are accessible only by river. Six million people a year look down at it from the rim, but only a fraction of that get to come down on the river and find the little hidden gems that you would never see from the top. Endless in scenic wonder, rich in Native American history and loaded with fun and adventure, Western River Expeditions’ Grand Canyon rafting tours are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To book your trip, visit Westernriver.com
For more information, visit grandcanyonlodges.com or call 888-297-2757 to make reservations. For more information on taking Grand Canyon Railway to the South Rim, please visit http://www.thetrain.com.