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Grand Canyon

South Rim

Location: United States, North America

Best time to visit: fall/spring


What to do and what to see:

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park receives the lion’s share of the park’s 5 million annual visitors, and the area’s wide varieties of attractions offer visitors many ways to enjoy the Canyon’s astounding natural beauty. For a novel way to approach the South Rim from Williams, Arizona, try the historic Grand Canyon Railway’s daily 4 ½ -hour (round trip) train ride, complete with costumed storytellers, humorous minstrels, and masked “bandits” on horseback who playfully “rob” the train on its return trip. The Grand Canyon Village is the hub of the South Rim for visitors, and is host to the beautiful El Tovar hotel, the 1904 Kolb Art Studio at the head of the popular Bright Angel Trail, the Yavapai Observation Station, and the 1905 Pueblo-style Hopi House gift shop. The park service offers ranger-lead information tours, programs and longer day-walks throughout the year that are free of charge, and the park also offers a free shuttle bus along the 7-mile stretch of the South Rim called Hermit Road. Adventure lovers will have plenty of activities at their fingertips. Backcountry hiking requires a permit, and the park service suggests that the permits be applied for well in advance of a planned trip. Wild and thrilling white-water rafting trips of 3-21 days are offered down the Colorado River, and trips into the steep and rocky precipice on a sturdy and well-trained mule can be one day or overnight. There are also one-hour and two-hour upper-rim trail rides available, as well as twilight rides and wagon rides. One incredible way to view the canyon from the South Rim is to book an air tour via helicopter or fixed-wing airplane, and several outfits outside the park proper are available to choose. Located 25 miles east of Grand Canyon Village, the Desert View area of the Canyon Park is also considered part of the South Rim, and includes a museum, bookstore and visitor center. The Watchtower at Desert View is a 1932 replica of a pueblo stone tower embellished with Hopi artwork, and the TUSyan Ruins and Museum affords visitors a glimpse at life many centuries ago. Be sure to bring good sturdy walking shoes and plenty of water for your trip, and plan to take your time on the trails to ensure your safety as you view the majesty of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

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