How to Hike the Grand Canyon

Major step of this road trip in the United States, emblem of the Far West and the great American spaces: the Grand Canyon! It is a destination that has always fascinated me, probably because cousins ​​lived in Arizona when I was ten years old and sent me postcards of dream … I thought at the time that ‘ Was so far away that I would probably never go. It has finally become reality, and, it is even better in truth. Surprising, unique, immense, vertiginous. It was admired from different points of view, throughout the day, until the highlight of the show: the sunset. !
Arrival by the North. Coming from Utah (north of Arizona), one arrives by the north face of the Grand Canyon. It falls well, it seems that it is the least tourist area, more wild but also less accessible – especially in winter. On the road to get there, one crosses a forest of pines and then clear glades, one feels almost in a Nordic country. Nothing to do with the desert and the plateaus of the south face, here it is higher and the climate is cooler. Before we arrive, we stop in a petrol station where we buy ponchos in case … The sky is threatening. We are afraid of the hike to come, we read and heard that it was not simple … But hey, it is the Grand Canyon, it deserves a little no?

The postcard, really. First unavoidable stop: the Visitor Center, I buy postcards for my family and friends. You can even put a stamp on the passport “I went to the Grand Canyon”. It is also the right time to meet the rangers (this title sounds cooler than rangers), always in their boy scout accoutrements. It gives us tips and maps for hiking (yes, we already decided to do several during the day). Outside, there are superb wooden lodges in the forest – imagine perfect small log cabins in logs – some even overhang the canyon. We are approaching the first panorama on the Grand Canyon … the view is stunning! Difficult to grasp so it is immense, as far as the eye can see. In the distance, the desert plateau of the South Rim … The width of the canyon varies from 5.5 to 30 km: to go on the other side, whether you take the car or go on foot, it would take Very long hours …
First trek: Widforss Trail. We go quietly on this path, which we followed for about 2 miles; It runs along a ridge, it is very marked with 14 points of comments to locate. We take the time, we walk in the forest, then we approach the edge … It is sublime and gigantic, but it feels like a little away: the canyon seems very far from us. On the way back, we find a doe that remains frozen (like us) at our approach. I really wonder if I would have liked to find myself nose to nose with a bear or a puma.

The North Kaibab Trail: between geology and sweat. We were strongly advised to go down into the canyon to get the best of its size and to appreciate the different geological layers. The North Rim is quite high – at this point it is 2512 meters above sea level, the trail that goes down at the bottom is still 14 miles is too much, so we will content ourselves with a small portion . It is a path usually taken by mules (one can descend on their back), so one zigzags to avoid the droppings. We arrive quite quickly at the Coconino View, the first stop, we sit on the edge and from there we clearly see the different layers of the canyon; It’s great to say that it’s a good part of the history of the planet that’s there before our eyes – the canyon would be 55 million years old and some of the rocks outcropping would have 1.7 billion, Years. At the time of the trek, the team splits: Pierre and Leo decide to go up and I let myself be persuaded by Manu to continue the descent with him … I do not especially want to do it, but it is hard to Refuse with unstoppable arguments like “one is only there once” and “I will not let it come down on its own”.

It is for the descent, “a notch” lower, in other words a lower geological layer. You really see the rock change color, the vegetation become different, and even the air and temperature. It is warmer … We go down quickly, almost running. Upon reaching down to the Supai Tunnel (2073 meters above sea level), we think we would have liked to have gone farther, we see a bridge a little lower, but the storm threatens and we must go up . I put myself in survival mode: the ascent will be rude. Very rude. It is time to take advantage of these months of sport and sweat in the American way to go up the Grand Canyon.

Travel Report: Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon National Park! Oh yes, we were looking forward to it and oh yes, the visit lived up to our expectations. How is it possible to go wrong by visiting such a famous place around the world?

Of course, there are many people who have the same idea as us, that is to say almost 4.5 million visitors per year and who travel mainly in June, July and August, although the months of March to May and September to October are becoming more and more popular.

Otherwise, maybe if you can not stay directly in the park because you have not booked your reservations long enough, then yes you may be disappointed. There is the town of Tusayan, located about 10 km from the Grand Canyon Village which offers several possibilities of accommodation and a multitude of services (restaurants, shops, etc.) but which is not especially charming. Otherwise, it will be in Williams, about an hour’s drive south of the Grand Canyon Village.

Besides the last two possibilities, really, I do not see.

The South Rim

Grand Canyon Founded in 1919, the Grand Canyon National Park has an area of ​​4,931 km² of protected space. Between the two banks of the canyon, one can easily count more than 16 kilometers of distance … it is immense!

Both banks are called the North Rim and the South Rim. The latter is the most popular and the most spectacular.

It is on the South Rim that is the Grand Canyon Village, where one finds the historical district and the Market Plaza which is in a way a refueling center for the visitors.

The historic district is a group of buildings that has existed since the beginning of the 20th century. There is, among other things, the train station ** which was completed in 1909, the El Toval Hotel *, which is the most famous and luxurious hotel in the Grand Canyon and dates back to 1905, the Hopi House * Architecture of the Hopis Indians and the Lookout Studio ** dating back to 1914 which allowed visitors to follow the hikers to the bottom of the canyon with a telescope, to name but a few.

The Rim Trail ** is a long and beautiful walk that borders the canyon for about 31 kilometers. Many of his views are not to be missed. There is first of all the Mather Point *** which will probably be your very first contact with the Grand Canyon, where you will retain your breath for the first time before its beauty and immensity!

There is also the Traveloway Overlook ***, Maricopa Point **, Hopi Point **, Mohave Point *** and so many others that are located on Hermit Road *** and you can admire Either walking on the Rim Trail if your physical condition allows you or thanks to the wonderful shuttle service offered in the park, which offers several stops. This really makes the Grand Canyon accessible to all!

Little tricks to make your life easier

Grand Canyon National ParkReserve your accommodation or camping site well in advance, or even a year before if you already have your dates. For our part, as we were mobile we were able to sleep two nights at the Grand Canyon Trailer Village, a campsite specially designed for camping cars. But we were lucky, it must be said.

If you are staying outside, plan to arrive early in the park to make your visits because the parking areas are quickly filled and you will be able to spend a good time to look for a place … Not at all the way you had planned to start your day.

Use the shuttle service to the maximum to avoid taking your car. They are free, pass regularly, make several stops and they even have bicycle racks. There are four different circuits and even one that takes you to Tusayan.

There is, there you are, at the Grand Canyon National Park … You do not have the right not to attend at least one sunset over there!

Desert View Drive *** is a road starting approximately 5 kilometers east of the Grand Canyon Village and ends at Desert View ***, 40 kilometers away, near the east entrance of the park. It offers six different points of view and you will have to do it with your own means of transport.

We crisscrossed this road before the end of the day and we chose one of its views to attend one of the most beautiful shows of our life … A sunset on the Grand Canyon!

Really, there are no words to describe what we experienced there … moments and images etched forever in our memories!

The Grandest Canyon – the largest canyon in the world: 446 km long

The US Congress established the Grand Canyon as a National Park in 1919, recognizing its beauty as well as its geological, ecological and cultural richness. In 1979, the United Nations classified the canyon as a “World Heritage Site”.

The Grand Canyon National Park receives nearly 5 million visitors each year. Most visitors come to the south shore, which is open all year round. The tourist season peaks during the summer months (June to August), although spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October) are becoming more and more popular.

The north shore (open from mid-May to mid-October) has fewer developments than the south shore and is located 346 km (or 5 hours by road) from the south shore.
In short

Location: Northwest Arizona
Closest City: Grand Canyon
Surface area: 4900 km²
Average altitude: 2092 meters
Type: National Park
Particularities: The largest canyon in the world: 446 km long, width between 1.5 and 26 km, depth over 1.6 km.The age of rock layers has up to 1.7 billion years. Natural parks listed as UNESCO World Heritage in 1979.
Contact: Grand Canyon National Park PO Box 129 Grand Canyon, AZ 86023 Tel: (928) 638-7888
Official link:

World Heritage Site


The south shore is located 100 km north of Williams, Arizona, by Highway 64 from Interstate 40; And 130 km north of Flagstaff, by Highways 180 and 64.

There is limited air service at Grand Canyon Airport (Grand Canyon Airport) in Tusayan, south of the park for flights from Las Vegas (Nevada) and Scottsdale (Arizona).

Greyhound bus lines and Amtrak rail services serve the cities of Flagstaff and Williams. Transportation shuttles can be obtained from Flagstaff to the south shore. A rail service is offered by Grand Canyon Railway from Williams. The train leaves Williams Station at 9:30 am and arrives at Grand Canyon Station at 11:45. It leaves Grand Canyon Station at 3:30 pm, arriving at Williams at 5:45 pm

The north shore is more isolated. It can be reached by car via Highways 89A and 67. The nearest major airport is Las Vegas, 426 km to the west. The only public transit to the north shore is the Trans-Canyon Shuttle seasonal shuttle.
Admission price

The entry price is fixed at 25 dollars per vehicle and at 12 dollars per pedestrian motorcycle or cyclist.

Admission fees include the south shore and the north shore.

The entrance ticket is valid for 7 days for the vehicle (whether you are alone or 5). You can also get the America’s Beautiful Pass.
Visiting time

The visit of a good part of the Grand Canyon is done by shuttle bus with total freedom to go down or to climb at each stop. Count 6 hours to visit the Grand Canyon without hiking.

On average, it takes more than 8 hours of round trip, without stopping, to reach the colorado river from the south shore.

The hike is longer from the north shore.

For those who descend by the south shore and wish to ascend by the north shore, to envisage 2 days (21miles).

Your first stop should be the park’s visitor center. This is where all the park information is located. You will find brochures with the map of the park. Rangers are there for you. Do not hesitate to ask them questions. You will also find often a small bookstore, sometimes exhibitions and projected films.
Visits, views

South Shore
Grand Canyon Bus

The park operates a free shuttle system in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon Village on the south shore. The shuttles traverse three interconnected loops (without overlap).

They are equipped with bicycle racks, access ramps for wheelchairs, as well as a specific device that reduces walking height.

Wheelchairs over 76 cm wide and over 121 cm deep (ie most electric scooters for the disabled) are not allowed in the shuttles.

Village Road

The Village Route route serves the Grand Canyon Village, its hotels, restaurants, and other service areas, and provides access to the Visitor Center on Canyon View Information Plaza. This loop works all year round.

Get off at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. And reassemble it

Obviously when you cross the American West, if there is one thing you can not miss is the Grand Canyon.

So we made a jump of 2 days. On the canyon itself, not much to add that has not already been said. The colors are beautiful, and fluctuate according to the time.
But it is especially the gigantism of the site that leaves speechless.

Impossible to make the picture. We gave up.
It’s immense. Point bar. Wherever your gaze arises you can only be astonished (the word is weak).

So, as we like to do the evil, we wanted to descend into this great canyon. We “are not fiattes” (editor’s note: Manu’s common expression that can be translated as “Would you like to do it with me?”).
So we looked a bit and we took a hiking trail that descends 5km into the said Canyon. And that goes back.

The ascent was terrible. And we remembered our descent limit by gambading, when we met people who climbed up with their faces twisted with pain.

So we made 5km going up. Enjoying all the same the unbeatable beauty of the site. And amazing encounters like real cowboys and kinds of ibex.

A hallucinating and exhausting day.

Ah the United States …

Talking about the United States is useless. You have to get there. See this country in all its excess.

We have traveled a little in all directions. A first time, it was in 2012, during a first roadtrip that would take us from the east coast to the west coast. Then a few months later, we returned to the USA to discover the beautiful area of ​​North East and Boston. And lastly, we were able to fly back to Seattle to discover the incredible northwest region.

These 3 Road Trips allowed us to discover the country under its different faces, its astonishing culture and also all its excesses. In total, we have traveled more than 20,000 km for weeks, and made incredible encounters, as the kindness of the Americans is contagious.

And from those trips to the United States, we brought back memories full of head. The arrival in New York and this feeling that everything here is bigger, more photogenic, more arty. Then Washington and its capitol. Savannah, New Orleans, the immensity of Texas, New Mexico and deserts as far as the eye can see. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, all these cities and destinations so amazing, these cities so different but always mind-blowing.

We will let you discover our articles on the United States below, and even the files when we have plenty to tell.

The Grand Canyon – part of the iconic landscapes of Arizona

Majest and breathtaking beauty, the Grand Canyon is part of the iconic landscapes of Arizona. A natural wonder to be believed. Stretching 363 km from shore to shore, ravines plunge for more than a kilometer to the bottom of the canyon, where the Colorado River winds southwest. Entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park can be via the South Rim or the North Rim. The western part of the Grand Canyon, home to the beautiful Havasupai waterfalls and Supai, is also accessible by road through the Hualapai Indian Reserve.
The South Shore and Grand Canyon Village

Because of its proximity to Flagstaff and Williams, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular. At the Grand Canyon Village you will find all the useful services, including hotels and lodges, restaurants, shops, laundry, showers and ATM.

The historic Grand Canyon Railway train from Williams arrives directly here. The locality of Tusayan also offers services 10 km south of the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park.

Grand Canyon Village has many car parks near the various points of view. In summer, you can leave your car and take a free shuttle bus to the various observation points.
The North Shore

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed in winter because of altitude and snow cover. This part of the National Park, less frequented because it is farther away from the Grand Canyon Village, allows to admire the beauty of the places in all serenity.

Accessible from mid-May to mid-October, the north shore offers visitors camping and a food store. You can stay at the Grand Canyon Lodge, a historic and rustic hotel. Other accommodation options and campsites are available in Jacob Lake, approximately 70 km north of the park.
To do

Whether for a short visit to the Grand Canyon or for a whole week, there are a thousand ways to enjoy the visit:

You can visit the park in the company of certified guides, discover it on horseback, in mule or in flight over a helicopter or an airplane.
There are many opportunities for hiking for all levels, whether it’s a one hour ride or more, or a full backpacking expedition.
Rafting enthusiasts will discover the Canyon from another angle on board a motorboat or rowing boat.
Children aged 4 to 14 can follow a program called Junior Rangers available only in the summer. Equipped with binoculars and a topographic map, they explore the depths of the Canyon and receive a certificate at the end of the course. All details are available in the Junior Rangers brochure available at the entrance to the Park.

Accommodation and campsites

For lodging at the Grand Canyon, there are a variety of accommodations, from historic lodges or motels to campgrounds surrounded by pine trees. A tip, to find rooms inside the park, especially in summer, it is better to book well in advance as the hotels fill up very quickly. One can also stay in Tusayan, a locality located about 10 km south of the entrance to the Grand Canyon.