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Visitor Information

You can get advance information on the Grand Canyon by contacting Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023 (tel. 928/638-7888; www.nps.gov/grca).

When you arrive at the park, stop by the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, 4 1/2 miles from the south entrance. Here you'll find an information desk, exhibits, a theater, and a shop selling maps, books, and videos. The center is open daily 8am to 5pm (9am-5pm in winter). Three large parking lots are adjacent to the information plaza, and these are the best places to leave your car once you reach the park. From these lots, you can easily access the park's system of free shuttle buses. Wherever you park in Grand Canyon Village, you can catch the Village Route bus to the visitor center and other parts of the village. If you park at Yaki Point, you can take the Kaibab Trail Route bus. The Guide, a small newspaper full of useful information about the park, is available at both South Rim park entrances. Although smaller, the Verkamp's Visitor Center, near El Tovar Hotel, is a much more convenient place to get park information. This latter visitor center is open daily from 8am to 7pm in summer (until 6pm other months). Displays here focus on the history of development in Grand Canyon Village.

Orientation

Grand Canyon Village is built on the South Rim of the canyon and divided roughly into two sections. At the east end of the village are the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, Yavapai Lodge, Trailer Village, and Mather Campground. At the west end are El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel, Kachina, Thunderbird, and Maswik lodges, as well as several restaurants, the train depot, and the trail head for the Bright Angel Trail.

Leave the Driving to Them

Now, I'm not a big fan of guided tours, but sometimes they just make a lot of sense. The Grand Canyon is one of those places, especially if you are usually the designated driver. Why should you have to keep your eyes on the road when there's all that gorgeous scenery right outside the window? Why not let someone else do the driving?

If you plan on making your visit to the Grand Canyon a day trip from Flagstaff rather than an overnight stay at the park, consider taking a tour with American Dream Tours (tel. 888/203-1212 or 928/527-3369; www.americandreamtours.com). Not only will you get to enjoy the scenery more, but knowledgeable guides will also fill you with fascinating information about the canyon. Tours are $98 for adults and $69 for children 10 and under (lower rates may be available on their website).

Pack a Lunch

Lunch options are very limited inside Grand Canyon National Park, so if you are driving up from Flagstaff, I suggest packing a picnic lunch. Try stopping at a grocery store in Flagstaff for supplies. Otherwise, you're going to be stuck eating burgers in a cafeteria when you could be sitting on the edge of the canyon gazing out at one of the most awe-inspiring vistas on earth.

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.