Just 2.5 hours north of Sedona one of the natural wonders of the world awaits – the Grand Canyon. Whether you take a tour or go on your own, a day-trip from Sedona to the Grand Canyon should not be missed. This magnificent gorge has wowed millions of people with its vast expanse in time and space!
At least six million years old, the Grand Canyon has carved a massive work of art into the Colorado Plateau that is rivaled in its overwhelming beauty and breathtaking scale by few locations on this planet. At its bottom, erosion has exposed rocks that are 1.8 billion years old – amongst the oldest rock formations exposed on our planet. A visit to the Grand Canyon ranks high on our list of things to do while in Sedona.
President Theodore Roosevelt said of the Grand Canyon in 1903:
“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country - to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is... leave it as it is. You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.”
Many visitors to Sedona choose to take a fully-guided Grand Canyon Tour. A guided tour has many advantages: A knowledgeable guide schooled in the history, geology, folklore and fauna and flora offers an entertaining and highly educational introduction to this natural wonder, and there is no hassle with maps, parking and finding the sweetest spots on the rim. A guided tour, departing from your hotel, allows you to sit back and leisurely take in the fascinating stories and the grandiose scenery of the Grand Canyon.
For information, click here, Grand Canyon Tours
If you wish to travel to Grand Canyon from Sedona on your own, a great place to start and get your bearings is the Canyon View Information Plaza, otherwise known as CVIP. The Grand Canyon Visitor Center at CVIP will be an invaluable resource to navigating the multitude of viewpoints and hiking options offered at the Grand Canyon. Please note: Because CVIP was designed as the main terminal for a bus/shuttle system that is not yet in operation, you cannot drive to it. Park your car and ride the free shuttle or walk the short trail from Mather Point, one of the top viewpoints at Grand Canyon.
Parking can be a major issue due to limited spaces. If you are lucky enough to secure a parking space early, we recommend grabbing the spot and using the park's free shuttle system to navigate the various points of interest in and around Grand Canyon Village.
A variety of scenic vistas that are accessible by car dot the Grand Canyon's scenic south rim. Visiting several different viewpoints should be on your list of things to do while visiting the Grand Canyon. Desert View Drive (Highway 64) runs adjacent to the canyon rim for 26 miles (42 km) from Grand Canyon Village to Desert View - the east entrance to the park. It is highly recommended to enter Grand Canyon National Park through its east entrance station to avoid the possible traffic congestion at the south main entrance. Desert View Drive is accessible to private vehicles throughout the year.
To the west of Grand Canyon Village, Hermit Road follows the rim for 8 miles (13 km) to Hermit´s Rest. Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles for much of the year, but a free shuttle bus is operated to provide access to this beautiful part of the Grand Canyon rim.
If hiking is of interest to you, there are several options of varying difficulty. If you are looking for an easy Grand Canyon hiking option, the flat Rim Trail, hugging the rim from Yavapai Point to Hermit´s Rest, is for you. You can walk its length or various segments, one of which, between Yavapai and Maricopa Points, is paved.
For those energetic types who want to really discover this awesome chasm, they may want to consider a hike into the canyon. The Grand Canyon offers stupendous views from the edge, but to really appreciate its vast expanse, one must venture below the rim – on some of the most breathtaking hiking trails anywhere in the world. Please be advised that any hike into the Grand Canyon should be well planned with ample water, appropriate hiking shoes and clothes and a rigorous assessment of personal abilities. Going down is easy – but you have to come up, too. It is highly recommended to contact the backcountry office in Grand Canyon Village for detailed hiking information. Alternatively, several companies offer full-day guided Grand Canyon Hiking tours for those that want the added experience of a seasoned Grand Canyon Hiking guide.
For scenic views and photography, the early and later parts of the day offer the most spectacular lighting of the Grand Canyon. The mid-day sunlight is extremely bright; it typically flattens the view and weakens the brilliance of the colors. Keep in mind that the days are short in the winter and long in the summer. This is of particular importance if you plan a day-trip from Sedona. You want to allow a minimum of 10 hours from your departure to your return to have an adequate amount of time to enjoy the park. If you plan to see the Grand Canyon at sunrise or sunset, it is advisable that you be at your viewing location at least an hour before. Yavapai Observation Station at Yavapai Point, situated among the outlook points along the rim, offers unparalleled views of the canyon, including the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.