The Five Best Ways to Explore the Grand Canyon

Travelers come from far and wide to explore the Grand Canyon, and it’s not hard to understand why. Part of the Colorado Plateau, the canyon reveals nearly 2 billion years of the region’s history.

With the wind and the water eroding the colorful layered rocks, the Grand Canyon is a sight to behold. But you can’t really get to know the gorge without adventuring down below the rim. These five experiences will allow you to explore the Grand Canyon in a whole new way.

Mule Rides

Though these sure-footed animals only traverse the trails of the North Rim of the canyon, the view from the mule’s back is unrivaled. The rugged experience can be completed in one- or three-hour increments, all of which offer spectacular views.

To explore the Grand Canyon by mule back, choose from a one-hour rim tour or two different three-hour tours. These take guests either along the Ken Patrick Trail to Uncle Jim’s Point or 2,300 feet down into the gorge to the Supai Tunnel via the North Kaibab Trail. Though the animals are familiar with the trails, experienced tour guides will lead the adventure.

Waterfall Hike

Hiking down into the gorge is something many travelers want to experience when they decide to explore the Grand Canyon. Probably the most popular hike of all is that that leads to Havasupai Falls.

The stunning green-tinted falls are situated on tribal land—and they’re not the easiest spot to reach. But the journey is definitely worth the minimum 10-mile trek. On a Havasupai Falls guided hike, expect to drop down to the creek bed in the first two miles then wind over gravel and sand past the towering canyon walls.

Once you arrive, rejoice in the beautiful oasis surrounding the falls. The colorful water and billowing cottonwood trees provide a stunning scene. Just don’t forget to get your permits and reserve a campsite ahead of time or you’ll have to make the same strenuous trek—uphill—to get out.

Helicopter Tours

Plenty of companies will take you up, up and away over the Grand Canyon. Up in the air, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the canyon and everything within. While there are airplane tours that will also take you up in the sky, helicopter tours are allowed to fly 1,000 feet lower than planes, offering a chance to spot some added detail.

With a variety of helicopter tours come a variety of helicopters. If this is the way you choose to explore the Grand Canyon, make sure you pick one that has wide windows. This will provide you with a chance for better views and better photographs. Alternatively, some helicopters offer less noise, making it easier to hear the narration that comes with many of the tours.

Tours leave from both the north and south rims as well as from Las Vegas. Depending on which one you choose, you’ll fly over spots like the Dragon Corridor, Desert View Point, the Unkar Delta and more.

Pink Jeep Tours

The famous Pink Jeep Tours that traverse nearby Sedona, Arizona can also be found in the Grand Canyon area—and they offer one hell of an adventure. Hop aboard the bright pink vehicle on one of five different tours.

Aboard these pink jeeps, you can explore heavily traveled areas or more remote regions of the canyon, learning about the history and culture from your guide as you go. Two of the tours are sunset tours, offering exceptional views of the canyon in the colorful twilight. Each tour lasts from two to three hours.

Train Rides

There are a few ways to reach the Grand Canyon by railway, offering a chance to admire other nearby areas. Both the Grand Canyon Railway and Amtrak offer trains that leave from Williams, Arizona, arriving at the gorge in only a couple of hours.

Amtrak also offers routes from major cities like Los Angeles and Chicago that dead-end at the Grand Canyon. This offers an easy way to get there and explore. If you book one of these train packages, you may find that hotels, meals and even some tours are included.


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