What is "Must Do" in Grand Canyon?

Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 05:32 AM
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What is "Must Do" in Grand Canyon?

How many days do we need at Grand Canyon and what "Must" we do to make it worth it to have gone there?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 05:54 AM
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More info needed on your interests. Do you want to take the mules, hike down, drive along the rim, take ranger walks, just see the scenery, etc? What is your activity level?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 06:08 AM
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Let's assume you have found lodging in Park at South Rim for 2 nights. (That is what worked for us)

Arrive late in day and check in. Stare at the Canyon. Keep staring. Take photos. Stare some more - it is amazing. Get nervous at families with free-range toddlers right at Rim. Take more photos of sunset. Have dinner at steakhouse in Bright Angel.

Next day wake up early and take short hike from Bright Angel down part way into Canyon - turning around at 1 mile turn around. And/or take shuttle bus along Rim, stopping at multiple overlooks to get different view. Have lunch. Take other shuttle bus to visitor center, other views. Happen upon a short Ranger talk and listen to that.

Have dinner at El Tovar during a massive thunderstorm (sorry, can't reserve that, but it was magnificent). Watch deer and other wildlife. Leave next AM.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 06:11 AM
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You must get IN the Grand Canyon somehow - take a mule trip, hike (not all the way to the river, but at least a mile or so) beneath the rim.

In my opinion, this is the best way to experience the awe of the canyon. Looking down from the viewpoints along the rim is not the same.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 06:41 AM
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At a minimum, you should try to view the canyon from one of the main overlooks at both sunrise and sunset. Mather Point, Hopi Point, Yaki Point, Grandview Point are good spots (maybe Mather and Hopi are the two best). This assumes you're on the south rim.

If you are in fairly decent shape you'll enter another world if you hike down a bit, say either to Cedar Ridge on the Kaibab trail (1.5 miles each way) or the 1.5 mile resthouse on the Bright Angel trail. If you are in good shape these are enjoyable hikes but if you're out of shape you probably shouldn't attempt these.

Stop by the exhibits.

Will likely get flamed for this one, but in the evening view the IMAX movie on the Grand Canyon showing at Tusayan The river running scenes are priceless.

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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 11:03 AM
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We stayed 4 nights, arriving late afternoon the first day in time for the sunset and leaving after the fourth night to drive along the south rim from GC village to the east entrance. some of the most impressive views are from that drive.
With this length of time my husband and kids could take an overnight hike to phantom ranch. I was not in good enough shape to attempt it but enjoyed being closer to the rim for multiple shorter hikes and shuttle rides.
We all enjoyed a number of ranger talks
I agree you should see at least one sunrise in addition to the more crowded sunsets.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 11:30 AM
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I can tell you one thing not to do. Don't get a couple of small plain coffees and small dishes of ice cream from the bar at the lodge with the porch swings in the front. We did, last month, and the cost was $18.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 12:42 PM
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Before taking the hike to Phantom Ranch intending to stay overnight, please be certain you have a reservation at Phantom Ranch.

Another alternative would be one of the mule tours.

Hualapai River Rafters runs one day trips from Diamond Creek to the West Rim helipad (you end by being helicoptered out of the Canyon). The trip is not cheap but a sort of once in a lifetime thing. You have about 3 hours on the river and the scenery is wonderful. It is the only 1 day whitewater trip in the Canyon. The rest of them are 5 days or more.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2007, 03:25 AM
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FauxSteMarie is absolutely right--you need reservations to stay at Phantom Ranch and separate reservations to eat meals there. I am sorry if my posting suggested otherwise. The mule trips down to PR or the shorter one-day trips also require advance reservations.

One point about the mule trips which might not become obvious until you get there: you ride on very narrow trails with steep drop-offs. The mules are safe and people do it all the time, but I would find the ride very nerve-wracking.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2007, 05:52 AM
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If you arrive early, you probably only "need" one night. We stayed 2 nights.

I think either arriving or departing by the East Entrance---Desert View Dr.-- and stopping at many of the overlooks is a "must do". Grandview Point, Lipan Point and finally the Watchtower were great stops.

I loved getting up for sunrise and walking along the rim. Took the shuttle one morning to Hopi Point for the sunrise--also saw a sunset there.

We loved walking the rim. Several in our group hiked down to Phantom Ranch--the rest of us walked the rim trail from Pipe Creek Vista back to the El Tovar, where we stayed.

Walk down the Bright Angel Trail as far as you like--take water.

Keep the shuttle map with you and use the shuttles to get around. Hermits Rest shuttle has great stops with views and several stops that will let you return to the village without going all the way to Hermit's Rest. The Village Shuttle gets you to both ends of the village without having to drive and find parking---One family we met thought they could take the village shuttle and see the canyon--you do have to get off this shuttle and walk to the rim for views. don't miss the rim trail around Mather Point
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