It’s challenging to connect with nature when you’re spending time searching for parking, avoiding video cameras, and dodging strollers. However, these situations are more likely to occur during peak months from mid-May to mid-October. To avoid the hectic atmosphere during peak season, start your day early at the South Rim.
The main challenges will be securing lodging within the park and reserving a spot for a mule trek down the canyon trails. Make your reservations far in advance, particularly in the summer months. If you’re looking to escape the summer crowds at the South Rim, consider these alternative suggestions.
Choose a Different Route
Consider taking an alternate route to the South Rim, steering clear of the traditional highways AZ 64 and U.S. 180 from Flagstaff. Taking U.S. 89 north from Flagstaff will lead you past the Sunset Crater and Wupatki national monuments. Upon reaching the Cameron Trading Post at U.S. 64, take a break.
This spot offers a vast selection of Native American artifacts, souvenirs, postcards, dream catchers, recordings, and T-shirts. You can also find high-quality Navajo rugs, jewelry, and other authentic handicrafts. Sample Navajo tacos before continuing your journey.
Heading west on U.S. 64 brings you directly into the park at the East Entrance, offering breathtaking scenery along the Little Colorado River Gorge. It’s 25 miles from the Grand Canyon East Entrance to the visitor center at Canyon View Information Plaza.
Skip the South Rim Entirely
When you arrive at Cameron, continue north on U.S. 89 and turn left onto U.S. 89A at Bitter Springs. Along the way, you’ll pass the area known as Vermilion Cliffs. At Jacob Lake, take AZ 67 directly to the Grand Canyon North Rim. While it’s only 10 miles across the canyon as the crow flies, the drive adds an extra 210 miles, but the experience is well worth it.
The road to the North Rim closes in mid-October due to heavy snow; however, during summer and fall, it’s an excellent alternative to the crowded South Rim. Many travelers who make the North Rim journey insist it offers the most stunning views and the best hiking opportunities.
Ride the Grand Canyon Railway
A popular option for visitors is to incorporate the historic Grand Canyon Railway into their trip. Departing from the western town of Williams, the train leaves the depot every morning at 9:30 sharp (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), taking passengers on the 65-mile journey in just over two hours.
With onboard entertainment and other adventures during the trip, it’s an enjoyable experience. You can do the round-trip in a single day or choose to stay overnight at the South Rim and return to Williams the following afternoon. This option provides a unique perspective and additional convenience for your Grand Canyon visit.
Take A Helicopter Tour
Finally, many visitors choose to take a Grand Canyon chopper tour. Leaving from Las Vegas or Tusayan, why not in fantastic views from 3000 feet up. Options include trips from the South to North Rim as well as West Rim aerial adventures.