As with any trip, a little preparation is essential before you start your journey to the Grand Canyon. This section provides a variety of planning tools, including information on how to get there; tips on accommodations; and quick, on the ground resources. Unless you're coming through Utah, it's generally easier to get to the South Rim than the North Rim, and there are many more tourist services available on the south side. The North Rim, open only in the warmer months, makes up in serenity what it lacks in conveniences. There are far fewer people here during the peak summer months, and the views of the canyon are equally spectacular. The best way to get to the Grand Canyon and then to move around the rims is by car (or by shuttle bus on the South Rim), although keep in mind that the drive from one rim to the other is about 200 miles.
Packing -- A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are standard canyon equipment no matter the season. If you're planning to hike in cool weather, you'll be most comfortable in a water-resistant, breathable shell and several layers of insulating clothing, preferably made of polypropylene, polar fleece, or other fabrics that remain warm when wet. The shell-and-layers technique works especially well during spring and fall, when extreme temperature swings occur regularly. Even in summer, you'll want a shell and at least one insulating layer for cold nights or storms, especially on the North Rim.
For more helpful information on packing for your trip, download our convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile, and click on the Travel Tools icon.
Admission to Grand Canyon National Park costs $25 per private vehicle (includes all passengers) and $16 for adults (age 17 and older) on foot, bicycle, or motorcycle. The receipt is good for a week and includes both rims. Adults who enter the park in organized groups or on commercial tours usually pay about $8 each, though rates vary some.
Special Discounts & Passes
Frequent visitors to National Park Service or other fee-charging federal sites will benefit from the America the Beautiful-National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass ($80). Valid for 1 year from the date of purchase, the pass can be purchased at park entrance stations, Grand Canyon Association bookstores, the IMAX theater in Tusayan, or online at www.recreation.gov.
Also available from the National Park Service is a lifetime Senior Pass ($10) for U.S. citizens 62 and over, which admits the holder, free of charge, at all NPS sites. Another card, the Access Pass, is available for U.S. citizens with permanent disabilities. It's free, but must be obtained in person at the entrance gate or IMAX theater in Tusayan. Those who already have a Golden Age or Golden Access pass do not need to obtain these new passes.
A site at Mather Campground, the South Rim's largest campground, costs $18 per night in high season (spaces are available for hikers without vehicles for $12). Desert View Campground, open mid-May to mid-October, costs $12 per site per night. And sites at North Rim Campground, also open mid-May to mid-October, cost $18 to $25 per night. At all three campgrounds, no more than two vehicles and six people can share a site. Trailer Village, an RV park on the South Rim, charges $35 per hookup for two people per night, plus $3 for each additional person over age 16.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.