Over 270 miles long, 18 miles wide, and is one of the greatest natural features that this world has to offer. There are numerous ways to see this remarkable natural scenery. The Flexicover team explores a few here.
There's a reason that five and a half million people visit the Grand Canyon annually - and the clue is in the name. The sheer size of the Arizonian gorge, which stretches 446km and is 1.6km deep, makes it a breathtaking sight - and that's without considering the formation of the rocks, which tell the story of their five million years through their layers.
A true natural wonder, there's no one straightforward way to experience the Grand Canyon. The National Park in which it's located means there are a variety of viewing points to enjoy, even if it's from up in the air or from the Colorado River below.
Containing the most famous vista of the Grand Canyon – the one we see in postcards, films and our minds – the South Rim is the obvious choice for a visit if you’re only ever going to visit once. The area is well developed and boasts plenty of activities for visitors with many tours and expeditions beginning there. Both budget and luxury hotels are in abundance too, so it’s the ideal place for a two-day, one-night Grand Canyon experience. Remember that the seasons are different to what we find in the rest of the States, with May and October particularly good times to visit the South Rim.
The vastness of the Grand Canyon makes it especially interesting to walk around – it’s a wonderful reminder of our place on the earth as well as the planet’s natural beauty. Even a short hike – like the Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge three-miler – is good for taking in the incredible surrounds. The more adventurous should take the 12-mile Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point hike, a tough but rewarding walk. For extra assurance in tough conditions there are rest houses every 1.5km with emergency phones and water. So however much it feels like just you and the elements, you’re always near to civilisation.
Over one million people see the Canyon from the West Rim, not only because it’s the nearest to Las Vegas at just over three hours drive, but also because it contains the famous Skywalk. A glass-bottomed bridge that loops around, it gives a stomach-lurching view of what’s beneath the tall rock formations on which visitors stand. Included only in the top-level package at around £60, it’s not a cheap way to see the Canyon. But if your bank balance is big enough and your nerves are steely enough, it’s something to remember for the rest of your days.
For an experience that’s very much on the beaten track, try seeing the wonders of the Canyon on the back of a mule. Rides were first introduced in 1887 and since then more than 600,000 people have admired the stunning vistas this way. While horses may go faster, the sure-footedness of mules and the fact they're less stubborn than the stereotype implies means they’re a better choice while navigating the Canyon. Depending on your interest levels, you can take a three-hour trip up to a two-night stay in the desert, travelling on a mule by day, and resting at ranch accommodation by night.
A top destination for rafting enthusiasts, the Canyon’s gushing rivers offer a bucket list expedition involving 280 miles of whitewater to traverse, with spectacular scenery either side - and above. Taking place along the frothy Colorado River at the very bottom of the Canyon, the rapids are classed mostly II or III on the international scale, with reasonable drops and speed. Rafting sites here often involve a hike to reach them, underlining the point that a reasonable level of fitness is required. Trips generally run from April to October but can sell out a year in advance, so plan this one early.
Are you planning to take a trip to the Grand Canyon soon? Stay away from the edge! And make sure that you take out a travel insurance policy before you go. For great rates and deals on travel insurance go to Flexicover Travel Insurance.