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When most people think of national parks, they probably think of the Grand Canyon, and for good reason. It’s the grandest canyon in the country and millions of people come to see it every year.
While hiking in the Grand Canyon is amazing, most people don’t, but there are tons of other awesome things to do in the Grand Canyon for non-hikers alike. And don’t forget to book your Grand Canyon hotel before you go!
If you do decide to travel right now, please do so safely and at your own risk. Wear a mask, wash and sanitizer regularly, check any government regulations before going, and book accommodations with flexible cancellation policies, just in case.
Hotels in the Grand Canyon
If you want to be close to any sights or activities in the park (like overlooks for sunrise or sunset), you’ll want to stay at one of the awesome hotels in the Grand Canyon. And it’s just cool to be able to stay right in the park, just a short walk from the fabulous canyon rim. The Yavapai Lodge (great for furry friends), Bright Angel Lodge (great for a modern, cozy cabin experience, more budget friendly, but has no AC), and Maswik Lodge (perfect for families) are all in the park, but there are plenty of other options nearby in Kayenta, Williams, and Flagstaff. If you do want to stay in the park, make sure to book in advance so you definitely get a room!
This is probably THE Grand Canyon activity that most people want to do other than hike. If you’re not afraid of horses (or horse type critters) then this is a must-do for you. If you do want to do a mule ride, make sure you book it early because they fill up fast!
You can book up to 15 months in advance for the South Rim. This is a cool way to see the park by feet that aren’t your own. I think this is one of those Grand Canyon bucket list activities everyone should consider at least.
Want to see the Colorado River from 800 feet up but right under your own feet? Then make sure you visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk on the West Rim! This is on the Hualapai Reservation and will cost about $60 (give or take a bit) to visit just the skywalk and tribal park without some kind of tour from Vegas (which there are also plenty of).
The only downside is you’re not allowed to take pictures with your phone or camera, you can only purchase pictures they take from the gift shop. However, it could be worth it for such a unique experience.
Admire the view from the overlooks
If you’re short on time but still want to see the Grand Canyon, a drive along the South Rim with stops at all of the overlooks is still totally worth it. You really can’t go wrong with this and even if you’re just visiting the North Rim, you can do the same thing (but with fewer people around) so if you only have two hours for the Grand Canyon, still go!
A Grand Canyon helicopter tour will really let you see the park in a new way: from above! This is also one of the most exciting ways to see the canyon. There are a few to choose from: one that is quieter than normal and one with bigger windows for a better view. No matter what you choose, it will be the experience of a lifetime. If you want to do a day trip from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, a helicopter tour is a great option for that.
Watch the sunset from Mather Point
One of the best things to do at the Grand Canyon is watch the sun set. Or rise if you prefer mornings, and Mather Point is one of the best (and most iconic) overlooks to do this. You may have to get there early for a good spot since this is probably the most popular overlook to watch the sunset, but it’s the most popular for a reason.
The majority of people visiting the Grand Canyon don’t go below the rim, like, a staggeringly high number. I’m not sure if this statistic includes rafters or not, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip: rafting the Grand Canyon. Trips lengths vary from one day to 28 days, so there is something for everyone, but if you really want to disconnect from the outside world for a bit, this is should definitely land a spot on your national park bucket list. I have about zero interest in white water rafting, but this is something even I would consider doing.
Bike along the rim trail
Staying above the rim and want to get some exercise but don’t want to hike? Do some biking! There are 13 miles of roads and Greenway Trails that can be biked in the Grand Canyon. Don’t want to bike too far? You can bike one way and take them on the shuttle bus to get back. Hermit Road is one of the best biking areas in the park, so make sure not to miss it. You can even rent bikes in the park near the visitor center if you don’t want to bring your own.
Is it even a visit to a national park if you don’t do some stargazing? Well, yes, because I don’t at most, but the wide open skies are perfect for viewing the stars. It is an International Dark Sky Park after all. Any of the vieewpoints will make for great stargazing in the Grand Canyon as well as down in the canyon. If you’re staying at Phantom Ranch by the river, make sure you do some star viewing during your stay.
Grand Canyon Jeep tours are the best way to see far flung spots in the canyon (or at least on the rim) without doing tons of hiking. You can do sunset tours, rock art tours, combo tours (air and land), and tours out to overlooks you can only go to on these trips. The amount of walking will depend on the tour, so be sure to ask about that before you book it.
Look for wildlife
While it’s no Yellowstone as far as wildlife goes, you can still see elk, mountain lions (if you’re lucky), bighorn sheep, mule deeer, California condors, coyotes, bobcats, grey foxes, ringtail cats, salamanders, rattlesnakes, and even more. I only saw some elk when I was there in 2015 but we weren’t there very long and just stayed along the rim.
Have you been to the Grand Canyon? What is your favorite thing to do in the Grand Canyon? Do you want to go?