On our road trip we were able to squeeze in a day at the Grand Canyon National Park! We visited the park during the end of June, when peak temperatures were over 100 degrees. We knew we weren’t up for a major day of hiking, but we were excited to experience the park in some capacity.
If you find yourself at the Grand Canyon for only one day, here’s what we suggest:
Plan ahead for construction. This was something we didn’t do, but wish we had. While we arrived at the park in the morning, we got caught up in a huge delay with construction traffic. Highway 64 (Desert View Drive) is undergoing milling, pulverizing, grading and paving projects. Before you go, make sure you visit the park’s website for any road closures and alerts.
Board your dog at the South Rim Kennel. After a little research we were relieved to find the park had a dog kennel! They don’t have an official website, but you can make a reservation over the phone (so archaic, I know). Be warned – this isn’t your average doggy day care. It is a kennel, which honestly resembled more of a shelter. The staff was friendly enough, and the kennel was nice and cool for our girl. There are areas of the park that are dog-friendly, but keep in mind the heat can be brutal.
Hop on the free shuttle. The Grand Canyon has an awesome, free bus service within the park. No tickets are required, and the buses come every 15-30 minutes. After dropping off Lady, we parked at a nearby lot for free. We waited only five minutes, and hopped on a shuttle all the way to the Visitor’s Center. We followed the South Rim Trail back.
Walk the South Rim Trail. The entire trail is 13 miles, and just as its name suggests, follows the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The view is absolutely breathtaking at every turn. You guys – I almost cried when I saw it for the first time. The Grand Canyon is overwhelming and honestly looks like an optical illusion if you stare at it long enough. Is this real life? I don’t know. But the trail is great, as much of it is paved, in shade and wheelchair-accessible, with benches and easy exit/entrance pathways. The shuttle buses are within close reach, so you can customize your hike to meet your needs.
Stop at the Yavapai Geological Museum & Bookstore. Go for the air conditioning, stay for the nerdy science. The museum, accessible from the trail and perched on a steep landing, provides the history of the Grand Canyon with topographic models and displays.
Cool off with a drink at El Tovar Lounge. We continued on the trail until we reached more civilization – the lodges inside the park. We ventured into the El Tovar Lounge for air conditioning and cold beers. The place had serious Dirty-Dancing-country-club vibes, but lucky for us the bar is hiker-friendly (aka dirty boots and dusty shorts).
Find secret (and empty) pull offs. As we headed out of town the next day (we stayed overnight in Tusayan – not much to recommend here, folks), we had to drive back through the park on Highway 67 towards the North Rim. We were passing through around 8:00 a.m. and the roads were virtually empty! Every few miles there were easy, breath-taking pull-offs for photos. We were shocked! If you didn’t get your photo fix, we definitely recommend coming back through here.
And that was it for us! Have you been to the Grand Canyon?