Visiting the Grand Canyon for the First Time? Here’s What to Know

There are many great things about calling Sierra Vista home, but one of the most exciting is that visiting the Grand Canyon is within easy reach. For first-time visitors, the Grand Canyon can be overwhelming to explore. Fortunately, from a Sierra Vista home base, you can easily return for multiple visits. Knowing a few things about what to expect and how to plan can also help you get the most out of time. If you’re getting ready to visit the Grand Canyon for the first time, here’s what you need to know. 

The Grand Canyon is bigger than you think. 

Everyone expects the Grand Canyon to be big, but until you experience it in person, it is difficult to really conceive of its grandeur. The size of the Grand Canyon is not only surprising to see in person, but it also affects how you’ll visit. 

The area is split into four regions: The North, South, East, and West Rims, and it’s virtually impossible to explore all these areas in a single day. Additionally, each rim has so many places of interest to visit that you likely won’t be able to see everything you want to see in one day—or even on the same trip.  

There are multiple groups responsible for different portions of the Grand Canyon. 

Part of the Grand Canyon is run by the National Park Service. Grand Canyon National Park encompasses a large portion of the area, but the Canyon also encompasses part of the reservations of the Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, and Hualapai tribes. 

The National Park Service and respective tribes are responsible for the rules and regulations that govern the areas of the Grand Canyon in which they sit. As you explore, be mindful of the changing rules as you move from one area to another regarding things like opening and closing hours, road closures, and more. 

Most people visit the South Rim.

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the busiest by far. This destination is a little over six hours from Sierra Vista. The South Rim has the most extensive services, including hotels and shuttles to popular overlook points. Aside from winter storm events, the South Rim stays open year-round. 

The North Rim has only about a 10th of the visitors of the South Rim, but many people enjoy it for its more rugged terrain and quieter trails. Because the North Rim tends to get a significant amount of snow, the roads into the area are closed from October through May each year, though hikers and back country skiers can still enter. 

The West Rim is the second most popular visiting point, thanks in part to its proximity to Las Vegas. Additionally, it is home to the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk. The East Rim is very remote but offers excellent hiking and access to Lake Powell.

You should always check the weather before you go. 

The weather can have a significant impact on your trip, and inclement weather can cause many of the attractions along the Grand Canyon to close. Further, the drive to the Grand Canyon goes along remote roads with poor cellphone reception and few services. As such, it’s always a good idea to check the weather before making your journey. 

Snow is the biggest weather risk that usually causes road and attraction closures. However, wildfires can also be an issue in the area. Be sure to stay informed during your trip. 

Some of the best views come from looking up. 

When you imagine visiting the Grand Canyon, chances are that you picture looking across and down into the valley but looking up from inside of the canyon can offer some of the best views. 

There are multiple paths that allow you to hike into the canyon. However, hiking to the bottom isn’t recommended as a day hike. Remember, it’s easy to hike in, but you’ll need to climb back out too. Bring plenty of water and wear appropriate shoes and clothing for your journey. If you’re looking for overnight hiking journeys into the Grand Canyon, you’ll need to contact the NPS for permits and planning.  

The Grand Canyon is just one example of the exciting attractions you can explore when you make a Castle & Cooke community in Sierra Vista your home base. To learn more about our communities, floor plans, and custom homes, call us at (520) 378-5110.

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