When it comes to the Grand Canyon, there are statistics, and there are sensations. While the former are impressive—the canyon measures in at an average width of 10 miles, length of 277 river miles, and depth of 1 mile—they don't truly prepare you for that first impression. Seeing the canyon for the first time is an astounding experience—one that's hard to wrap your head around. In fact, it's more than an experience, it's an emotion, one that’s only just beginning to be captured with the word "Grand." Hike or ride a trusty mule down into the canyon, bike or ramble along its rim, fly over, or raft through on the Colorado River—there are manifold ways to soak up the canyon's magnificence.Roughly 5 million visitors come to the park each year. You can access the canyon via two main points—the South Rim and the North Rim—but the South Rim is much easier to get to and therefore much more visited. The width from the North Rim to the South Rim varies from 600 feet to 18 miles, but traveling between rims by road requires a 215-mile drive. Hiking arduous trails from rim to rim is a steep and strenuous trek of at least 21 miles, but it's well worth the effort. You'll travel through five of North America's seven life zones. (To do this any other way, you'd have to journey from the Mexican desert to the Canadian woods.) West of Grand Canyon National Park, the tribal lands of the Hualapai and the Havasupai lie along the so-called West Rim of the canyon, where you'll find the impressive glass Skywalk.
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Things You Can't Miss
The Hermit Road shuttle bus helps visitors avoid traffic and provides easy access to some of the South Rim’s most beautiful vistas and hiking trails.
Visit the museum at Yavapai Point for displays on the canyon’s formation. A ranger-led program will give you insight; the sunset will give you a thrill.
Following the South Rim for 25 miles, this route passes some of the park’s most famous panoramas, including Grandview Point and Moran Point.
These 10 hikes will take you to some of the most spectacular spots our parks have to offer.
A guided mule ride makes a journey into Grand Canyon a far less taxing experience — especially the trip back up. Advance reservations are a must.
Marianna Day Massey/ZUMA/Corbis
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Admire the rustic design of the historic 1905 El Tovar Hotel, where Theodore Roosevelt and Albert Einstein stayed. You also can stay — or just dine.
Want to avoid the Grand Canyon crowds? Consider visiting Meteor Crater, the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania and other gorges across America.
Jonathan Blair/National Geographic Creative
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