Grand Canyon National Park guide

Whether it’s your first visit or your 100th, here’s your complete guide to Arizona’s wonderland

Your best 3 days in Grand Canyon

Descend into the canyon on foot or by mule, experience the nightlife, or see an overlooked overlook during your ultimate Grand Canyon adventure

Mule trips

Descend into the Grand Canyon's South Rim by mule

Courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

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DAY ONE

Hike the Rim Trail At Dawn. Wake up early and hike east from Grand Canyon Village along the Rim Trail for outstanding dawn views at Yaki or Mather points. (See Best hikes.)

Breakfast at El Tovar Hotel. Treat yourself to a Southwestern style breakfast of blue corn pancakes with prickly pear syrup amid the dining room’s Native American murals. (See Grand Canyon lodging.)

Visit Downtown Grand Canyon. Pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure and discover the landmark buildings of Grand Canyon Village’s National Historic Landmark District. Don’t miss the geologic fireplace in Bright Angel Lodge. It’s built of local stone in the same sequence of strata as the canyon itself. (See Grand Canyon lodging.)

Learn From the Experts. The park offers ranger-led walks and talks on topics including geology, Native American history, and natural history.

See an Overlooked Overlook. Catch the canyon’s changing colors at sunset from Shoshone Point. From May 15 to October 15, it’s open for group events but you can still hike out along the peninsula-like point on a two-mile roundtrip hike that begins from parking just east of mile marker 244 on Arizona Highway 64.

DAY TWO

Get Inside the Canyon. Rim views are great but to appreciate the canyon’s scale, hike down the Bright Angel Trail. Even a mile or two will give you new perspective. And remember, it’s all uphill on the way back. (See Best hikes.)

Or Let a Mule Do the Walking. Take part in a century-old canyon tradition and ride a mule down to Plateau Point, about 3,000 feet below the rim. For information, visit nps.gov/grca.

Road Trip to Desert View. From Grand Canyon Village, it’s 25 miles to the Watchtower, a masterpiece by Southwest architect Mary Jane Colter. Climb to the top for Colorado River views and to see historic murals by Hopi painter Fred Kabotie.

Visit An Ancient Pueblo. The national park has thousands of ancient archaeological sites. At 800-year-old Tusayan Ruin you can see the remains of a village and learn about the lives of its residents.

Experience the Canyon Night Life. Catch live music in the bar at the Bright Angel Lodge. Or people watch amid the canyon paintings and by the fireplace in the lobby at El Tovar. (See Grand Canyon lodging.)

DAY THREE

Hike From Hermit. Take the shuttle to Hermit’s Rest, and check out the 1914 stone building designed by Colter. Then hike back eight miles to Grand Canyon Village along a remote stretch of the Rim Trail. If you get tired, just hop on the shuttle at a viewpoint. (See Best hikes.)

Immerse Yourself. Families and small groups can arrange one-day Meet The Canyon classes that explore the natural and cultural history with the Grand Canyon Field Institute. The institute also offers numerous multi-day courses and outings. grandcanyon.org

Shop For Native American Crafts. Hopi House has a large selection of items including baskets, pottery, and Navajo blankets.

See Art of the Canyon. The Kolb Studio perches on the canyon rim and was first opened by pioneering photographers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb in 1904. Now it hosts rotating art exhibits.

Gaze Upon The Stars. Grand Canyon night skies can be spectacular. Find a dark spot on your own or attend a ranger-led Full Moon Walk and Star Talk at Mather Point during the three nights around new and full moons.

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