Erosion by the Colorado River years ago created the picturesque Grand Canyon we know today, carving the path for adrenaline inducing activities. When talking about the canyon, Teddy Roosevelt said, “Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” So ,in the midst of a busy area, here are activities you can enjoy to experience the pureness of the Grand Canyon.
Hike the Most Iconic Trails in the World
While helicopter rides offer great panoramic views of the vastness of the canyon, hands down the best way to experience the canyon is by foot. If you truly want to grasp the sheer size of the canyon, you have to physically go down it. As you make your way down one of the many Grand Canyon hiking trails, with differing difficulty, lengths and starting points, you will see the sequences in the layers of rocks that most geologists in the world dream about. One of the most iconic trails is on the South Rim — the Bright Angel Trailhead to Indian Garden Campground hike. If you have time for only one activity in the Grand Canyon, this should be it. You can’t brag about visiting the canyon, if you haven’t hiked it.
Multi-Day Rafting on the Colorado River
This one is for those with a little more time on their hands who just want to be immersed in the sounds of rushing whitewater. You can float along the river for several days, enjoying the mix of busy rapids and calm waters. Each day you wake up with a nice cup of coffee, pack the raft and then head downstream, indulging in some hiking or a riverside lunch, before setting up camp again for the night. An absolute must is to jump into all of the side streams and waterfalls.
Mountain Biking on the North Rim
The Rainbow Rim mountain bike trail is an 18-mile singletrack connecting Paissawampitts, Fence, Locust, Timp and North Timp. You get to see the famous Grand Canyon aspens and ponderosa pines. It’s a fairly mild trail with a handful of steep but short climbs. Those who are up for an intense physical challenge, can do all of the 36-miles of the trail in one day. The most common way, and maybe the most enjoyable, is to camp for the night at one of the points and finish off the ride. For more basic information on the Rainbow Rim trail visit the Kaibab National Forest website.
Ride a Mule
The icon of a typical American Western movie is a horse, but the staple of the Grand Canyon is a mule. All the animal lovers out there can opt for the one day ride around the South Rim or a ride with an overnight stay at the Phantom Ranch. The one day ride is about three hours long, stretching along the South Rim. The overnight trip starts with a descent into the canyon, continuing along the Inner Gorge, across the Colorado River via a suspension bridge, and up Bright Angel Canyon to Phantom Ranch. So, if you want to make your own version of a Clint Eastwood western, this activity ticks off all the boxes.
Camp Under The Stars
Mather Campground is by far the most popular and once you visit, you will understand why. Even with its high demand, it never feels crowded. There is a lot of large greenery and spacious campsites which seclude you from other uses and give you a private audience with the clear night sky and the Grand Canyon. Sightings of wildlife come as a package deal with this experience, so Leave No Trace is highly important. Keep a clean campsite to protect the wildlife, and try to guess as many constellations in the sky as possible.
All in All
It is very easy to drive by the Grand Canyon, snap a photo, and be on your way again, but this canyon has more to offer than you can imagine. From thrilling rugged hikes to sounds of rushing whitewater and rich geological history, the Grand Canyon got its name for a reason — it really is as grand as it gets, and that’s a reason worth exploring.