- Top 5 Spots at the Grand Canyon
- Top 3 Grand Canyon National Park Road Trip Itineraries
- Top 3 Places to Visit on Your Way to the Grand Canyon
- Top 3 Restaurants for Your Grand Canyon Trip
The Grand Canyon offers some of the most scenic and iconic sights in the United States. Located strategically near other stunning national parks and landmarks, many people decide to include Grand Canyon National Park on their road trip itinerary. When preparing to visit this must-see spot, you can prepare by researching the best spots and itineraries.
Top 5 Spots at the Grand Canyon
As a larger national park, you'll want to find the best spots to explore the canyon and view the unique sights.
1. South Rim
The Grand Canyon is over a million acres in size, so the park has different rims to direct visitors to distinct areas. The South Rim is one of the most popular spots because it offers several overlooks and trails. This area is easy to access and has many available amenities, making it great for families. Because it is more popular, the South Rim can get more crowded, especially at sunrise and sunset.
When looking into the South Rim, consider stopping at Moran Point. This popular overlook highlights the brilliant colors offered by the Grand Canyon. Many visitors like this spot because it also highlights just how big the canyon is.
2. North Rim
As a less popular visitor spot, the North Rim is great if you want to avoid crowds. Like the South Rim, this area is full of picturesque spots and panoramas that make the trip more than worth it. The Bright Angel Trailhead is a short trail that leads to Bright Angel Point, a panorama that shows off the canyon's rock formations and colors. Imperial Point is another spot you can stop to take in the view. Mount Hayden sticks out as a single stone spire amongst the red rocks.
3. Desert View Watchtower
For a unique viewing experience, head over to the Desert View Watchtower. This stone structure rises out of the rocks and is open for visitors to explore the interior. The design helps it naturally blend in with the canyon setting, making it seem like it has always been there. You can climb to the top and take in the vistas from a higher vantage point.
4. Grandview Point
Grandview Point is the southernmost part of the Grand Canyon and the furthest away from the Colorado River. The location provides unique views with rocks stretching into the horizon. You can also tackle the Grandview Trail if you love hiking.
5. Yavapai Point
Yavapai Point is on the northern part of the South Rim and closest to the river. You can appreciate the changing colors of the stone here and see how the water cut into the rock to create the stunning formations before you. The rocks form peaks here, almost giving the illusion of mountains.
Top 3 Grand Canyon National Park Road Trip Itineraries
While many people make visiting the Grand Canyon a solo trip, others love working it into larger adventures. With so many other parks and attractions nearby, you can create a comprehensive road trip with the Grand Canyon along the way.
1. The Red Rocks Road Trip
The American southwest is full of brilliantly colored rock formations, each with unique shapes and surroundings. You can spend endless hours exploring the region and finding the best spots that highlight this natural beauty. If you are looking for a longer road trip that highlights amazing rock formations, consider the following stops:
- Arches and Canyonlands National Parks: For your first stops, you can see some stunning rock formations and bright colors at Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Arches National Park lives up to its name with rock twisting over visitors' heads. Canyonlands National Park is full of sharp ridges and cliffsides, making it perfect for watching the sunrise or sunset.
- Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park: Located on Navajo land, this park has some of the most stunning scenery in the country. Abrupt rock plateaus serve as monuments across the desert planes, inviting visitors to appreciate their natural beauty. You can drive through this park for a scenic trip and stop at the Navajo Interactive Museum to learn more about the tribe's history.
- Grand Canyon: For this road trip, it makes more sense to stay along the North Rim. You can explore what this side of the park has to offer, soaking in the unique attractions and overlooks into the canyon.
- Zion National Park: This massive national park is a must-see when traveling through Utah. Take advantage of the scenic drives, allowing you to see many parts of the park in a shorter period. If you want to get out and walk around, the Grotto is a grove along the river that gives access to several other trails, like Angels Landing. This trail is a steep walk up through the rocks and it offers stunning views at the finish.
- Cedar Breaks National Monument: For something more off the beaten path, consider Cedar Breaks National Monument. This location is less popular, meaning fewer crowds so you can enjoy the peace of the cliffs. What makes this national monument unique are the abundant wildflowers and trees mixed with the rock formations.
- Bryce Canyon National Park: Bryce Canyon has some of the coolest rock formations and colors. Each rock forms a spire, creating a sea of rock peaks and stalks. Many have multiple colors, changing from red to pink to white. It is another great location to find a nice overlook and watch the sunrise or sunset.
- Capitol Reef National Park: On the final stop on your road trip, you can find more arches and plateaus at Capitol Reef National Park. This park has diverse formations and sights, so everyone in your party can find something they'd like. You can even walk through an old canyon to see how the water cut through the rock eons ago.
This road trip stops and ends in Salt Lake City, Utah, making it great for parties flying in from other locations and wanting to make the most of this part of the U.S.
2. The Canyons and Mountains Road Trip
The southwest is all about extremes. At one point, your gaze is turned toward the sky, taking in stunning mountains and rock formations, while another will have you looking toward your feet at rushing rivers and overlooks into deep canyons. This road trip aims to highlight the natural diversity by taking you through various parks and landmarks, including:
- Rocky Mountain National Park: Start your trip with the natural skyscrapers that give Rocky Mountain National Park its name. This park has something for everyone and their ability level. You can drive through Trail Ridge Road for an overview of the best views in the park. Hikers can explore the different trails, ending up at lakes like Dream Lake. For a close-up view of the natural wildlife, Moraine Park is full of elk and other animals.
- Black Canyon: Part of the Gunnison National Park. It is a very narrow canyon that provides a great contrast to the Grand Canyon later. Easy trails are available for beginner hikers and fishing opportunities at the river. More experienced hikers can try their hand at the harder trails or rock climbing.
- Mesa Verde National Park: If you love history and incredible sights, you'll love the next stop at Mesa Verde National Park. This park has many tour, hiking, driving and climbing opportunities for diverse opportunities. The Mesa Top Loop Road takes you by some important archaeological sites studying the early people of the area. The Petroglyph Trail highlights ancient rock drawings, transporting visitors to the past.
- Monument Valley: This road trip also takes you through Monument Valley, giving you another chance to see the rock plateaus rise over the desert.
- Grand Canyon: After Monument Valley, you can head to your destination in Grand Canyon National Park. Contrary to the Red Rocks road trip, this one will take you through the South Rim, allowing you to visit some of the most iconic parts of the national park.
- Great Sand Dunes National Park: Your final destination on this road trip will take you through majestic sand dunes. At this national park, you will forget you are in the U.S. when surrounded by sandy peaks that feel like the Sahara. You can sled or ski through the dunes for a unique experience and there are plenty of camping opportunities.
Like the other road trip, this tour is a loop that starts and ends in Denver. You can explore this Colorado city before or after heading out into the loop or simply use it as a beginning point.
3. The What Happens in Vegas Road Trip
Vegas is a popular destination for many travelers. Whether you are heading to Vegas for a bachelor or bachelorette party or an indulgent weekend with your friends, this road trip will draw you out of the casinos to enjoy nature while out west. This road trip is shorter than the others, making it ideal if you have less time to travel or want to spend more time in Vegas. The stops for this trip include:
- Las Vegas: Vegas is full of fun things to do. The countless casinos provide opportunities to try your luck at various games and see if you can win big. Most casinos offer different shows and attractions, so you can create a packed itinerary of things that interest every member of your party, from concerts to comedy acts to circus performances.
- Grand Canyon West Rim: When you're ready to leave Vegas behind, you can head to the Grand Canyon. This route will start you on the West Rim, which is only two and a half hours from Vegas, making it the closest point on the Grand Canyon from your starting point. West Rim has a glass walkway that overlooks the canyon for a unique viewpoint and close-up experience.
- Grand Canyon South Rim: The different areas of the Grand Canyon are hours apart. This road trip allows you to drink in the popular views and stunning sights at South Rim after getting your fill at West Rim.
This road trip doesn't loop back to the beginning, giving you the freedom to camp at the Grand Canyon or make custom stops back to Vegas.
Top 3 Places to Visit on Your Way to the Grand Canyon
The areas around the Grand Canyon offer other stunning sights you can quickly stop by. These locations further highlight the geographical diversity of the American southwest with amazing views and vistas.
1. Havasu Falls
Located on the Havasupai Reservation, Havasu Falls offer crystalline waters and breathtaking waterfalls. The blue waters contrast beautifully against the red rocks for a visual experience like no other. You can hike, camp and swim on the grounds for more outdoor experiences for your group while visiting the Grand Canyon. Reservations are required for entry, so you must plan ahead when considering this location.
2. Elves Chasm
The delicate falls of Elves Chasm make it feel like you stepped into a fantasy world. Located off the Colorado River, visitors can swim in the grotto and jump off the jutting cliffside, making it perfect for cooling down after a long day under the sun. You can get to this spot through a tour, which will include hiking and rafting.
3. Guano Point
The nearby Hualapai Indian Reservation is home to Guano Point, a lookout into the Grand Canyon. This point takes visitors up on a mountain of rock, allowing you to look out over the canyon. You can see how the road twists between the rocks for added dramatic scenery and contrasts. This vista is close to the West Rim, so it is ideal for individuals exploring that side of the park.
Top 3 Restaurants for Your Grand Canyon Trip
Long days hiking and exploring the park can work up and appetite. Knowing the best spots to get lunch or dinner can provide great food and stellar dining experiences.
1. Canyon Star Steakhouse and Saloon
For a classic western feel, head over to the Canyon Star Steakhouse and Saloon. Cowboy imagery is abundant here, transporting visitors back to the Wild West. You can enjoy a classic sit-down meal here or sit at the bar for casual drinks.
2. Arizona Room
Located on the park grounds, the Arizona Room is excellent when you want a nice meal without leaving the Grand Canyon. They offer a twist on classic dishes using local ingredients for unique flavors and culinary experiences. The restaurant recommends having a reservation, you don't need one.
3. Red Raven Restaurant
You can find the Red Raven Restaurant outside the park in Williams, Arizona. This location also mixes more creative flavors and offers a comprehensive menu, so everyone in the group can find something they want. The building's facade is painted a bright red — you can't miss it.
Plan Your Grand Canyon Road Trip With My Financing USA
RVs are great ways to explore the Grand Canyon and road trip across the west. With the right RV, your family and friends can comfortably travel between parks and camp overnight in some of the most beautiful places in the country.
My Financing USA simplifies the financing process, offering RV loans to families and individuals looking to travel all over the country. We individualize loans to meet your needs, helping pair you with the right plan for your circumstances. Our approval processes are quick, so you can receive the funds you need to kickstart your trip sooner.
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Additional Resources on Road Trips:
- How To Plan a Road Trip
- How to Plan a Solo Road Trip
- Best Road Trips in the USA
- Top U.S. State Parks
- The Largest State Parks in the U.S.
- U.S. States With the Most National Parks
- Zion National Park Road Trip: The Complete Guide