How Many Days Should You Spend at the Grand Canyon? 

Last Update on August 24, 2022 by Matthew Meier
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Carved out millions of years ago by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is–without a doubt,--one of the most significant places to visit; its size and scale are impossible to put into words. Therefore, it is important for you to know how many days you will need when planning your Grand Canyon tour to fully enjoy your trip.

Short Answer: 1 full day is enough for a full overview of the Grand Canyon

Long Answer: There is a lot to do at the Grand Canyon, and you need to schedule enough time to check off all of your must-see activities!

The Grand Canyon is a unique, wonderful, and awe-inspiring site. Located in Arizona, it covers almost 2,000 square miles and consists of both the North and South Rim, along with the West Rim, where the Skywalk is located. However, the West Rim is found on the Hualapai Native American Reservation and is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park. With visitor numbers surpassing millions in recent years, the Grand Canyon is one of the most visited places in the United States today. It is also classified as a UNESCO Heritage Site, with its deep and appealing red walls carved over millions of years, showcasing vast geological history.

Let’s take a look at how many days you ought to spend in the Grand Canyon to enjoy some of its best features.

One Day At The South Rim

As we mentioned above, one full day can let you experience the best of the Grand Canyon. If you are short on time or passing by on a longer road trip, one day at the South Rim is perfect. Here are two ways to spend that perfect day at the Grand Canyon, one for each budget.

Airplane Over The Grand Canyon

High Budget

For travelers with money to spend, the ultimate day at the Grand Canyon should start with the sunrise at Yavapai Point (Grandview Point in Winter). After sunrise, make your way to the Grand Canyon Airport for a helicopter or airplane flight over the Grand Canyon. Now it's time for lunch, and the El Tovar Dining Room serves up the best food along with the best views at the South Rim. The afternoon should be spent hiking trails and exploring the different viewpoints. If you want to stay around the Grand Canyon village, you can hike the Rim Trail. Take it all the way to Yaki Point, where you can hike into the canyon to Ohh Ahh point, or just stay for an amazing sunset over the canyon. Take the shuttle back to the village.

Low Budget

Once you pay the entrance fee to the Grand Canyon, there are a ton of things you can do that won't break the bank. As with above, if you can get up early enough, try to catch a sunrise at Yavapai Point. It can be cold year-round at dawn, so dress appropriately. After the sun is up, it is time to explore! Try to walk down into the canyon for a mile or two along the Bright Angel Trail. Take the park shuttle out to Hermits Rest, stopping at as many of the viewpoints as you can along the way. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the rim of the Canyon, then walk the rim trail for as long as you can. Finish out your ultimate day with a sunset at Lipan or Moran Point.

One Day At The West Rim

For those very short on time, the West Rim of the Grand Canyon is the perfect opportunity to make a quick trip out to experience this majestic canyon. The West Rim is best accessed from Las Vegas. How you get out there depends again on your budget and time frame. If you have half a day to visit the Grand Canyon, a rental car, van tour, or a helicopter tour will be your best bet to get out there. If you have more time, there are many budget tour bus operators offering daily bus tours to the West Rim.

One of the benefits of visiting the West Rim is the ability to take a helicopter into the Grand Canyon and land on the floor. Flying inside the canyon and landing in it is not allowed at the Grand Canyon National Park. If your budget allows, book a 3-in-1 flight option that includes a flight over the canyon, landing on the canyon floor, and a rafting ride down the Colorado River. Add a walk on the Skywalk and a trip to Guano point, and you have the perfect day at the West Rim.

Landing On The Grand Canyon Floor

It is important to note that by doing all of the above, you will have knocked off almost all of the attractions at the West Rim. There is no need to spend more than 1 day at the West Rim, 1 day is more than enough to see everything there is to see there.

Multiple Days at the South Rim

Amount of Time to Spend at the Grand Canyon South Rim

The amount of time you will spend at the Grand Canyon will largely depend on what you want to see and do on your trip or any Grand Canyon vacation ideas you may have. Some visitors prefer to stop by a couple of viewpoints, which means their trip may be over within a day. However, there are still more fantastic things to do at the Grand Canyon. Here is a quick list of the best activities to try at the South Rim:

  • Hiking
  • Mule, Donkey, or Horse Rides
  • Ride A Train
  • Camping
  • River Rafting
  • Bike Rides
  • Helicopter/Airplane Tours
  • Sightseeing
  • Skydiving
  • Sunrise/Sunset

Taking the time to do the above activities can take a couple of days or a couple of weeks, as the longest Grand Canyon river rafting trip is more than 14 days long!

Rafting Down the Grand Canyon

One full day will give you time to explore some of the best viewpoints at the Grand Canyon, trek a portion of the Rim Trail, and catch a sunrise and sunset. If you decide to continue your trip for another day, you could descend into the Canyon while exploring part of the South Kaibab or Bright Angel Trails and enjoy a scenic drive along the well-known Desert View Drive.

With miles of trails and rim overlooks that reach down to the canyon floor, you should consider at least a two-day itinerary–this will help you determine which side of the Grand Canyon is best to visit. With a handy guide, you could kick things off on the South Rim, located within the Grand Canyon National Park, which is a common place for parkgoers to begin their visits.

Final Thoughts

The information provided above offers some insight into a few of the top things to do at the Grand Canyon. Because everyone has different priorities, it is recommended that you make plans for at least a two-day tour of the national park. This way, you will be able to enjoy yourself based on your needs and interests–be it exploring the area's geological history, going on a challenging hike, or engaging in family-friendly activities. The Grand Canyon has something to offer for every kind of person.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew Meier

World Traveler. Mandarin Speaker. Founder of MaxTour.
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