Planning a weekend getaway to the Grand Canyon? Look no further. In this post you’ll find all the info to organize your Grand Canyon weekend trip – including things to do & where to stay.
Grand Canyon almost requires no introduction. It’s one of America’s top vacation destinations and one of the most visited National Parks in the US with its breathtaking sights and a lot of fun activities to try out.
Many people add it to a road trip itinerary through the National Parks, but it’s possible to visit it as a long weekend getaway from either Las Vegas, Los Angeles or San Diego, for example.
Plus, it’s one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World (together with some other great places such as the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro and Mount Everest).
The 277-mile-long Canyon is an excellent spot for nature and outdoor recreation lovers. Whether it’s driving down the Hermit Road, hiking along the South Rim Trail, taking in the beautiful sights of the sunset, or going on a tour to the Grand Canyon Village, the Grand Canyon has all it takes to make your vacation memorable.
Ready to start organize your Grand Canyon weekend getaway? But before we start, let me remind you that we are living in unprecedented times, and safety needs to be the priority when traveling. Please make sure you travel responsibly and by following the regulations of your destination.
Wear a face mask at all times, wash your hands regularly and bring hand sanitizer with you. Before leaving, make sure to check out the official websites for the latest updates on closures and policies. I also always recommend booking a hotel with free cancellation so you can sleep peacefully knowing that you can change your plans at the last minute if something changes.
How to Get To the Grand Canyon
There are a few ways you can travel to Grand Canyon. Let’s see them all:
▶ By car: If you’re based on the West Coast, why not make a stop at the Grand Canyon as part of a longer road trip which also includes Las Vegas for example? From Los Angeles, it takes between 6 and 8 hour hours to get to the Grand Canyon, depending on the rim you want to visit. If you’re in Las Vegas, it will be between a 2 and 4 hours drive.
▶ By plane: You can fly to Flagstaff airport, which is the closest airport to the Grand Canyon. The airport is located about 90 minutes from the South Rim. You can rent a car once you land, or you can take a shuttle operated by Groome Transportation (it runs 3 times daily).
▶ By train: Looking for a more romantic way to get to the Grand Canyon? Then take the Grand Canyon Railway, a train that has been transporting people to the Grand Canyon since 1901. The train departs from Williams, AZ, and the ride to the South Rim takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. This is definitely a train ride you won’t forget.
Grand Canyon Practical Info – Prices & Opening Times
➤ The entrance fee to Grand Canyon National Park is for seven days and includes both the North Rim and South Rim. The Grand Canyon National Park Vehicle Permit costs $35 and includes admission for all the passengers of the car (up to 15 passengers). If you’re not coming by car, the Grand Canyon National Park Individual Permit costs $20 and only admits one person.
➤ There are a few days a year where visiting the park is free, although of course you can expect bigger crowds. You can consult the list of free admission days here.
➤ The South Rim is open 365 days a year, 24/7, while the North Rim is only open in the summer season (May 15th to October 15th). North Rim roads are closed to all vehicles between December 1st and May 15th.
Where to Stay in Grand Canyon
It can be summarized like that: the closer to the South Rim, the better. There are several hotels at the Grand Canyon Village in the South Rim, so that you’re literally steps away from the canyon. Since you only have 2 days in Grand Canyon or so, I highly recommend staying here. Some of the best Grand Canyon hotels here are El Tovar hotel (a luxurious, historic hotel) and the Bright Angel Lodge (a lodge more on the rustic side). The Maswik Lodge is simpler, but also a great choice.
However, the hotels located inside the Grand Canyon National park are obviously quite expensive because of their location. If you’re on a budget, look at hotels located in Tusayan – it will be just a short drive to the park, but the price tag will be significantly lower.
One last option is to stay in Williams, Arizona. This is a nice, historic town, but it’s about one hour drive from the Grand Canyon. You might want to stay here if you’re planning to take the Grand Canyon Railway to the canyon.
Things to Do at Grand Canyon on a Weekend Getaway
If you are on a Grand Canyon getaway, you have limited time to experience this unforgettable location. How do you get the most out of your trip over a short period? It’s easy; pack the few days you have with plenty of fun activities. Here’s a list of activities to try out for a fun 2 or 3 day Grand Canyon trip.
Walk on the Grand Canyon Skywalk
If you want an adventure and sightseeing all at once, a walk around the Grand Canyon is a great way to start. Walk around the level rim trail to soak in many excellent views of the Canyon. However, if you really want to soak it in, consider adding the Grand Canyon Skywalk to your weekend trip to Grand Canyon.
The Skywalk is one of the newest additions to the Grand Canyon surrounding and has attracted a lot of visitors since its opening. It’s located at the West Rim, and extends 70 feet over the Canyon. It’s a large horseshoe-shaped bridge with glass floors. You can stand on the Skywalk from a unique point and peer straight down to view the Canyon 4000 feet below.
➤ To access the Hualapai Indian Reserve, where the Skywalk is located, you will need to buy a package that includes a ticket to the Skywalk.
Go Hiking in the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon is the hiker’s dream. Dubbed as one of the best hiking destinations in all of the US, Grand Canyon features different trails to accommodate every visitor regardless of their hiking abilities. Hiking is a great way to get to know Grand Canyon in a weekend, but always remember to bring plenty of water with you.
The most popular trail is the Bright Angel Trail in the South Rim, with its dramatic views and nice shades. This is a family-friendly hike with multiple water fountains along the way, as well as toilets and park rangers presence.
Some other of the best Grand Canyon hikes include South Kaibab Trail (a well maintained trail in the South Rim with fewer crowds than Bright Angel Trail) and the Cape Royal Trail (a paved, family-friendly and wheelchair-friendly trail in the North Rim which is open only between May and October).
Go Rafting on the Colorado River
Another exciting way to experience the Grand Canyon is to float through it… or better battle through its rapids! Take a rafting trip on the Colorado River to experience an exhilarating 40-miles voyage through several sets of rated rapids, and see the Grand Canyon from another perspective.
See Grand Canyon from above with a Helicopter Tour
When in Grand Canyon, don’t forget to experience the unbeatable views of the Canyon from the air. Several companies offer helicopter tour services as it’s a really popular activity here.
➤ If you’re intrigued, check out this 45-minute exhilarating flight to get spectacular views of the Grand Canyon. This flight will take you from the North Rim to the South Rim, where you get to see the deep sections of the Canyon and many key attractions right from the top.
Enjoy a Hummer or Jeep Tour
Another super fun experience that you can add to your trip to the Grand Canyon is a tour in either a windowless, open-air jeep or in a hummer.
➤ A guided jeep tour from the South Rim along the famous East Rim Drive will grant you access to visit the best lookout points within the Grand Canyon National Park, plus your guide will tell you about the history, flora and fauna of the park.
➤ Otherwise you can book a Grand Canyon Signature Hummer Tour, which offers pickup from your hotel and the undivided attention of a guide who will bring you to the best Grand Canyon views.
Check Out the Grand Canyon Village, the Visitor Center, and Mather Point Overlook
Grand Canyon Village is a popular entryway into the Grand Canyon Park as it is the center of activity for the South Rim of the park, plus it’s where you’ll find most hotels. You can shop for everything at the Grand Canyon Village, including the gear you may need for hiking and souvenirs to take home. The village is also home to Yavapai Point, one of the best spots to view the Canyon.
If you want to know more about the park and its history, head to the visitor center, where you will find staff and visitors ready to answer questions and give information about activities in Grand Canyon National Park. The visitor center also has museums that exhibit Grand Canyon information and culture.
You can also visit the Mather Point Overlook from the visitor center, where you find beautiful viewing areas on a vantage point jutting out into the Canyon. Don’t forget to wake up early in the morning and come here to witness the sunrise. The sky transition in Grand Canyon is such an incredible sight that will take your breath away. Something not to miss especially on a Grand Canyon romantic getaway!
Go for a Scenic Grand Canyon Drive
There are so many scenic drive options at the Grand Canyon, so don’t think you won’t have fun if you can’t/don’t want to walk. You can go for a Hermit Road drive, which runs west past Grand Canyon village and boasts several beautiful overlooks. Private cars have access from December to February, but outside this date, you will need to take a park shuttle bus that stops at nine overlooks.
Another drive option is Desert View Drive. It heads east from the Visitor Center and is open to cars all year long. Desert View also has a famous 70-foot watchtower called the Desert View Watchtower with a fantastic structure and unique design.
Grand Canyon Frequently Asked Questions
The entrance fee to Grand Canyon National Park is for seven days and includes both the North Rim and South Rim. The Grand Canyon National Park Vehicle Permit costs $35 and includes admission for all the passengers of the car (up to 15 passengers). If you’re not coming by car, the Grand Canyon National Park Individual Permit costs $20 and only admits one person.
The South Rim is open 365 days a year, 24/7, while the North Rim is only open in the summer season (May 15th to October 15th). North Rim roads are closed to all vehicles between December 1st and May 15th.
The best time to go on a Grand Canyon vacation is either the spring or the fall (March to May and September to October). During summer the temperatures are just too high to be comfortable being outside all day, plus it’s when you’ll find the biggest crowds.
The Grand Canyon Village in the South Rim is the best place to stay if you can afford it. The hotels there are obviously more expensive than outside the park, but you are literally steps away from the canyon.
2 days in Grand Canyon are generally enough. If you’re a hiker though, you might want to stay at least 3 days in Grand Canyon to make the most of it.
The Grand Canyon National Park – South Rim with Snacks & Lunch is a convenient (and more affordable than most) day tour from Las Vegas. If you have limited time in the area, it’s a great option.