Grand Canyon Itinerary 3 Days
Have time to do a Grand Canyon Itinerary 3 Days plan? For your third day, add a car ride along Desert View Drive.
The Desert View Drive is 25-miles of scenery going east from Grand Canyon Village. Its lined with one jaw-dropping view after another.
Check out the drive here from our YouTube channel on the historic Highway 64 scenic byway during a snowstorm.
You can drive your own vehicle or take the shuttle. The drive ends at the Desert View Watchtower.
On the way back, stop at Navajo Point and look out at the stunning blue Colorado River as it cuts through the orangey-red canyon.
Bring a picnic lunch or snack and think about tiny you are compared to your immediate world of rushing water and mighty canyon.
Later, find the trailhead to Shoshone Point. Its a bit over a mile east of Yaki Point on Desert View Drive and it looks like a little parking lot.
Walk a mile along the unpaved trail through forestland. Past the forest, youll be treated to an incredible view and a peaceful sunset all to yourself.
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Join One Of The Grand Canyon Tours Helicopter Flight Mule Ride And More
There are endless possibilities and ways to experience the Grand Canyon. Your choice will, of course, depend on your personal preference, time constraints, cost, and/or availability.
The athletic and adventurous can choose from guided hiking or biking tours, mule tours, jeep tours, river float tours, or white-water rafting tours. Other fantastic and more distinctive options include sightseeing on a Grand Canyon helicopter tour or a scenic plane ride.
There are even Grand Canyon zipline and skydiving options for those looking to add some adrenaline to their adventure.
Regardless of which tour you choose, each one of these exciting opportunities provides astonishing viewpoints and memories to last a lifetime.
TIP: Make a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon. It takes just a little time and is therefore a perfect choice if you are short on time and have just one day in Grand Canyon. We took this helicopter flight starting at the South Rim when we visited the Grand Canyon and it was an incredible experience, something Ill never forget. Check it out!
Day : Glen Canyon Dam Vermillion Cliffs The Grand National Staircase And A Spectacular Approach Into Zion National Park
Like its Lake Mead/Hoover Dam cousin, the Glen Canyon Dam is a feat of engineering. The road from Page toward Zion National Park runs along the dam, giving visitors a chance to appreciate the vastness and power of a hydroelectric dam. It is also possible to see the impact of climate change and the lower water levels.
We took some photos here and continued on our way toward Zion through the area called Vermillion Cliffs, which truly are vermillion and beautiful. Along the southern portion of the Grand National Staircase is a vast wilderness and the site of many paleontological digs. Stop at Kanab for a meal or snack and stretch your legs.
Zion National Park
Eventually, you reach the eastern gatehouse of Zion National Park. And very quickly the road becomes one of the most wonderful roads you can drive in America. It goes up, up, up through the most spectacular tunnels and brings you to an area where you can park on the side of the road and explore checkerboard mesas and striated sandstone slopes, which are tons of fun to get the wiggles out of car-bound kids. This first activity in Zion tells visitors there is beauty and fun to be had here.
For dinner we enjoyed contemporary Southwestern fare at Bit and Spurgood for virtually any eater/diet. They also accommodated our childrens desires easily. It can be busy, so make a reservation in advance.
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Where To Stay In Zion
The closest town to Zion National Park is Springdale, UT, which is about a 30 minute drive from the park itself. This tiny town has a population of less than 1,000 people, so tourists make up a vast majority of the people in this town.
As parking is limited at the Zion Visitors Centre, and you need to use a shuttle in the Zion Canyon portion most of the year, we recommend staying close to the park. Cable Mountain Lodge and the Zion Lodge inside the park are two great options.
- Zion Canyon Lodgeis the only lodging available in the park itself. While more rustic accommodations, it gives you access to the park, and stargaze worthy skies right from your front door.
- Cable Mountain Lodgeis a fabulous choice for itsproximity to the park, plus it has a pool, great amenities, and beautiful Zion views. Its within walking distance to the park entrance, so you can leave your car at the Lodge, and only have to take the Zion Canyon Shuttle.
Other family friendly options if you prefer staying in Springdale, UT near Zion National Park:
Q: What Other Tips Do You Have
File these in the miscellaneous category:
- Buy as many groceries and food as you can in advance, before entering parks
these places are remote for the most part! Some places like Yellowstone and Grand Canyon can, need to, and do charge more for food on site . We kept stocked on groceries as much as we could .
- Pack picnics
once you get into some of these parks, you dont want to leave right away but they dont have concessions. Get used to bringing lunch and snacks.
- I would have brought more cold weather clothes!
- Fill up your gas whenever you can
- Drink lots of water
- Get the National Parks Pass
- Buy aluminum foil
we bought some at a Target outside of the airport when we landed and it turned out to be surprisingly useful.
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Day : Bryce Canyon To Page Az Antelope Canyon Horseshoe Bend & Lake Powell
Ideally you would have two days in the Page, AZ and Lake Powell area, when heading to the American Southwest. With only one, youll need to make some choices. Leave Bryce Canyon, UT early in the morning to ensure you have a full day in this area, and arrive in Page, AZ by breakfast time.
Visiting Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, as well as boating or swimming in Lake Powell are all fun things to do with kids of all ages.
If you arrive by breakfast , youll have time to spend half a day visiting Antelope Canyon and/or Horseshoe Bend, then the other half doing water sports, boat tour, or hanging out on the beach at Lake Powell.
Things to know:
Antelope Canyon: Double check to see if Antelope Canyon is open. As it is on Navajo Nations land, it may be closed due to changing COVID measures.
Where to Eat: Stop in at R.D. Drive-In at 143 S Lake Powell Blvd in Page, AZ for family friendly eats. This family owned business serves everything from hamburgers, burritos and chicken sandwiches to dipped cones, desserts and Rainbows an ice cream-slushie combo, perfect for a hot day.
Where To Eat In The Grand Canyon
The El Tovar Dining Room is located in its namesake hotel, which opened in 1905 and is on the National Register for Historic Places. The menus include items that have been served for years, like prime rib hash, as well as ones with a Southwestern twist, such as beef tamales. Dinner is incredibly popular: Reservations open to hotel guests 90 days in advance and everyone else 30 days out, but breakfast and lunch are less crowded and more affordable. If your kids are lagging walking up the Bright Angel Trail, motivate them with the promise of ice cream from the Bright Angel Fountain, a scoop shop at the top near the trailhead that also serves up sweet canyon views.
Looking for more of the best vacations with kids? Check out TODAY’s Family Travel Guide.
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Grand Canyon South Rim Tips
- The desert air is harsh and drying. Pack plenty of sunscreen and lotion.
- Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the busy summer season. Be sure to pack a rain jacket in your daypack. If you see lightning in the area, head towards shelter immediately.
- There are several water filling locations in Grand Canyon National Park. Bring your reusable water bottles and drink plenty of water.
- Arrive at Grand Canyon National Park as early in the day as possible to avoid long lines at the Entrance Station.
- I cant say this enough- park your car where you can and take advantage of the free shuttle system. It runs often and is incredibly convenient.
- Wake up early and enjoy the quiet before the crowds show up. Most people visiting the Grand Canyon are day trippers. The morning and twilight hours are the best time to spot wildlife like elk. Bonus- the early morning light is beautiful on the canyon.
- Dont hike down into the canyon unless you are physically fit and prepared to make the trek back up. Keep in mind that temperatures are considerably warmer inside the canyon.
Close To Everything Yet A World Away:
This classic American family road trip has it all. Want a big city? Got it! Imagining a pristine stretch of Route 66? Can do! Craving some time at The Grand Canyon? Thisll get you there. Curious to explore the Navajo Nation? Cant blame you. Itching to hike at Zion National Park? En route!
A road trip is the most classic of American family travels. Armed with a good map, semblance of a plan, tank full of gasoline, and wanderlust, you can hit the road and uncover endless wonders and wildly memorable moments for yourself and your family.
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Family Friendly Places To Stay Near Bryce Canyon
Stone Canyon Inn, started as a B& B and now houses mostly free standing, private accommodations in Cabins, Bungalows, Tree Houses and Deluxe King units and the guest house. Nestled amongst the spectacular viewpoints of Bryce Canyon, Bristlecone Ridge, Sinking Ship, Fairyland Amphitheater, Sunrise and Sunset Points right from your living room or porch.
Bryce Canyon homeis a family friendly option with a bit more room to play with. In addition to three bedrooms, theres a childs playground, free WIFI and parking and a kitchen. Which is perfect if you are looking to do a little cooking yourself. Plus as its only 1 mile from the park so you can be there in no time at all.
Planning A Trip To Arizona
Before I jump into the details of your perfect 5-day Arizona itinerary, lets discuss the best season to visit this southwestern state. While its geographical position means that the weather tends to be sunny and warm most of the year, it is worth noting that the climate can change drastically depending on the region you are visiting.
For instance, if you are visiting Phoenix in December and enjoying basking in some 20°C weather but also want to visit the Grand Canyon on the same trip, be well prepared for lots of snow and temperatures well below freezing. If you happen to be visiting Sedona in winter, expect drastic variations in the high and low temperatures but generally mild conditions.
While the area surrounding Phoenix and south have incredibly mild winters, the rest of the state often enjoys heavy snow and very cold temperatures. One of Arizonas largest cities, Flagstaff, even has its own ski resort!
The temperatures work the other way, as well, and it is worth noting that if you plan to travel to Arizona in the summer months, be prepared for extremely high temperatures.
Phoenix has the highest average temperatures of any capital in the US and it is not uncommon for the mercury to rise to well over 40°C . Most residents of the Phoenix metropolitan area will try to get out of town if they can and it is considered to be the off-season in the tourism industry.
The Saguaro cactus is found only in the Sonoran desert in Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico
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Visit The National Geographic Visitor Center
Either before or after your tour of Grand Canyon National Park, make sure to visit The Grand Canyon National Geographic Visitor Center which is located 1 mile outside of the South Rim park entrance in the town of Tusayan.
The National Geographic Visitor Center is home to the world-famous Grand Canyon IMAX movie, Over the Rim and Beyond, Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets. The 34-minute IMAX Grand Canyon film transports viewers through time as it depicts the lives of the first inhabitants of the Grand Canyon to the present-day Natural Wonder that the canyon is today.
Taking in the movie from the comfortable and air-conditioned IMAX theater is definitely one of the best things to do after a long day of hiking and outdoor heat, or for those people who are less mobile.
This highly recommended visitor center provides travelers with more in-depth information about the Grand Canyon and includes an expansive souvenir shop and dining area.
Practical information: The Center is open daily from 8 AM till 10 PM from March till the end of October and from 9 AM to 8 PM in winter. Here you can book the IMAX movie tickets in advance.
Accommodation At The Grand Canyon
Staying within the park is a must.
With only one day in the park, we wanted to fit in as much as possible and cut out any travel time.
Getting a great nights sleep is vital to fitting in a big day of exploring too.
There are a variety of options available inside the National Park from Camping to Lodges.
We chose to stay at Yavapai Lodge. Located only a short walk from the South Rim and close to services like the general store. The main lodge also has a coffee shop, wifi and a restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The morning we ate breakfast there, the whole lodge stopped mesmerized for a short time while a fawn went bounding past the large windows.
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Tips For Visiting The Grand Canyon On Spring Break
Keep these tips in mind to make sure your Grand Canyon adventure goes off without a hitch:
Its a little late to book accommodation , but many guided tours can be booked as soon as the day before you wish to visit. However, if youre driving yourself to the Grand Canyon, follow these tips:
Not sure whether to drive yourself to the Grand Canyon or take a guided tour? We can help you decide read our post on driving yourself versus taking a guided tour.
Weather And Seasonal Closures
Grand Canyon National Park’s elevation ranges from 2,000 to 8,000-plus feet and its climate is subject to extreme seasonal changes. If your family includes school-aged children, the timing of your trip is likely tied to school vacations, but also consider temperatures and conditions that you’ll all be comfortable with. School holidays, public holiday weekends and all of summer are peak season in the park, so expect larger crowds, higher prices and quickly booked-up accommodations, rental cars and tours.
Summer highs at the South Rim are usually in the 80s, but exceed 100 degrees at the canyon floor. Thunderstorms, often violent ones, are frequent throughout July, August and early September. Fall and springtime temperatures are in the 50s and 60s around the rim and drop below freezing overnight. In winter, snowy and icy conditions are expected and road closures are common. Parts of the park, including the entire North Rim area, close for the entire winter due to extreme weather conditions. In winter there’s also a chance of fog obscuring your views of the canyon. The snow is usually gone by mid-April.
Where To Park At The South Rim
When visiting the Grand Canyon for one day, I recommend that you enter the park via the South Entrance Station or from Desert View Drive . From there, follow signs to the Visitor Center Parking Complex.
Parking at the Visitor Center Parking Complex in lots 1, 2, 3, or 4 will give you easy access to immediate views of the Canyon. These parking areas are in close proximity to the main Visitor Center, several Grand Canyon shuttle stops, and Bright Angel Bicycle Rentals and Cafe.
You should know that Visitor Center Parking Lot 1 has pull-through spaces for RVs and vehicles with trailers, while lots 2, 3, and 4 do not.
TIP: If you are visiting the Grand Canyon during the busy periods of spring break, summer, or fall, long lines form at the South Entrance Station and parking often becomes limited. To avoid congestion and make the most of your one-day at the Grand Canyon, arrive at the park no later than 9 AM .