Updated: Jun 26
Of all the bucket list travels, this one is at the top!
The Grand Canyon is on every must-see travel list for a reason. It’s awe inspiring.
I was trying to figure out how can I afford this? How would I even get there, it’s so far away!?
And then it dawned on me, just begin the planning and figure out the details later. One step at a time....
Well, I was no joke when it came to details, but let’s get to the basics first!
Where is the Grand Canyon? When is a good time to go there?
In the northwest corner of Arizona, close to the borders of Utah and Nevada this wonder waits. The Colorado River, which flows through the canyon, drains water from seven states, creating a wet/ dry habitat in the middle of the reddened earth. The South Rim is 7,000 feet above sea level, which means snow in winter and cool nights even in summer. Weather is particularly changeable in spring and fall; visitors should be prepared for a variety of climates. In the summer, temperatures often exceed 100 ºF.
Coming from Florida, I knew I’d have to fly there.
Many Grand Canyon visitors fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport because it is the closest major international airport to the South Rim, the most visited part of the National Park; just over 3.5 hours' drive (231 miles). Flagstaff/Pulliam (FLG), is 90 minutes from the South Rim, and another viable option, only SkyWest Airlines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, United, Qatar Airways, and Mesa Airlines all fly non-stop to Flagstaff Pulliam.
Most Grand Canyon Visitors however make use of Las Vegas McCarran (LAS), which ultimately saves money as the variety of flights and options for flights make it a more competitive market. A multitude of airlines and variety of options are available to this location making it a planning breeze!
Then there is the transportation factor. Airports are all far. Which ever you choose, is miles from your destiny. You will need a vehicle! Once you chose your flights, research the surrounding car rental options. Decide what type of car/ van you’d like to drive. Remember the roads are different. Many roads do not have street lights and you are driving in uncharted territory. Your comfort level is important here. Remember larger vehicles also require more gas. You will still need room for all your travelers, and luggage. And lastly, consider your budget. Fox rental car has some very affordable cars, and whatever your budget, there is a ride for you and yours!
Fox rental car - What you need to know: Fox is NOT on the airport grounds like other companies that may be more convenient because they are closer. But they are not far and there is a free shuttle to take you to their locations outside the airport. Their cars are well kept and less expensive than competitors.
Many people now are opting for Vans or RV’s, which then open the camping option… Be aware that there is a lot of driving in between sights and some roads have restrictions. Research your route ahead of time to see if size restrictions or 4 wheel drive recommendations exist – and follow these carefully. For example – if you go on the Zion Mt. Carmel Highway Scenic Drive the tunnel has restrictions.
Pick your time to travel: I knew I’d have to go during summer (I am a teacher and the kids were in schools). I knew it was going to get hot! While the South Rim is always open, the North Rim is closed through the winter: The 2021 Season on the North Rim, May 15, through October 15, 2021
I wanted to see both North and South Rims. I ruled out the West Rim for budgeting purposes.
I am traveling that far, I want to get the whole experience.
You decide what works for you….
$$ Paying to get in – There are 6 free entry days in 2021, however they will be very crowded days.
By the way… The America the Beautiful Park Pass is $80.00 to purchase and offers unlimited entrances to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges. You may purchase one through their site here: Online—Buy now from the USGS store!
You can also buy them at any National Park gate, however it’s so much faster to flash your card and drive in.
You may also purchase your Grand Canyon passes which are good for one week for - $35
This admits one single, private vehicle and all its passengers, up to a 15-person passenger van. No refunds.
Every Kid Outdoors Annual 4th Grade Pass
This introduces U.S. 4th graders and their families to our national parks. By targeting fourth graders one year at a time, they want every child in the U.S, to have the opportunity to visit and enjoy their public lands and waters by the time he or she is 11 years old.
Why the North Rim??
• The North Rim is over 8000 feet (2438 m.) in elevation ( higher than the South Rim)