A trip to see the Grand Canyon will stay with you forever, especially if you go beyond what the typical visitor does in the park, which rarely strays from taking in a few of the scenic viewpoints.
There are so many other fun things to do in Grand Canyon National Park that will enhance your visit and really enable you to see the vast and incredible beauty of this place. It makes a great addition to a National Parks driving tour in the U.S.
» See our full Grand Canyon Trip Planner for more information.
In this post, we’re going to share 12 of the top activities you can participate in during your visit to the Grand Canyon. A little bit of pre-planning will go a long way to making sure you can get in on tours, find hiking guides, and book a stay nearby.
Best Things to Do in Grand Canyon NP
The Grand Canyon has many hiking trails of different difficulties so that everyone can take a stroll and enjoy the scenic surroundings of the park. So if you only have time to do one thing in the Grand Canyon, I’d suggest making it a hike.
- The Rim Trail is an easier hike. It’s a quiet path that extends from the village out to Hermit’s Rest, a series of rock buildings built in the early 1900s. There is a bus route near the Rim Trail, so you can easily customize how far you hike, since you can ride the bus back. The trail is level and shady.
- The Bright Angel Trail is a maintained dirt trail that is 12 miles long roundtrip. It has some shade coverage depending on the time of day. There may be ice on the trail in winter and early spring. It gets quite steep in some sections, and may not be suitable for all hikers. Here’s a great guided hike of Bright Angel Trail.
- The North Kaibab Trail is the only maintained trail on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It reaches all the way to the Colorado River, making it 28 miles roundtrip.
If you’d rather go on a guided hike, we can recommend this full-day hike
2. Grand Canyon Village
The Grand Canyon Village, located on the South Rim of the canyon, is a beautiful place to stay or just visit.
This historic town was founded in the early 1900s with the arrival of the first steam-powered train. Since then, it’s been a hub of activity for Native Americans, and homesteaders. There are several cultural centers and places to see antique Native American crafts and culture.
There are also great lodging options inside the town, including hotels, RV parks, and campgrounds that make it a perfect gateway to the park.
3. Mule Ride into the Grand Canyon
One of the most unique and fun ways to see the Grand Canyon is on a mule ride. You can take a mule ride down into the Grand Canyon or just along the rim trail, if you’re not keen on riding downhill.
This is a great way to see the park and dig in deeper than the viewpoints offer, if you can’t or don’t want to hike. The mule tours are completely guided and you’ll learn how to ride and proper safety before heading out. On the ride, you’ll learn more about the park and it’s history.
Learn more about mule trips in the Grand Canyon.
4. Train Ride into the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon Railway has been running since 1901 and it departs daily from Williams, Arizona, at 9:30am. On board the vintage train, there are western musicians and cowboy characters who entertain you as the train heads to the Grand Canyon. You’ll be dropped off in the Grand Canyon Village, where you’ll have about 3 hours to enjoy the canyon, before the train departs back to Williams.
5. Helicopter Tour Over the Canyon
What better way to see the entirety of the park than from a birds-eye view on a helicopter ride? Take an exhilarating helicopter flight that whisks you from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim to the North Rim. Through the ECO-Star helicopter’s panoramic windows, see the world’s largest ponderosa pines in Kaibab National Forest and the mighty Colorado River.
Snap photos of the Painted Desert, Desert View Watchtower, Marble Canyon, and Point Imperial before your return flight takes you through the dramatic backdrop of the Dragon Corridor. Choose from a wide selection of departure times to suit your schedule. ✔ Book a helicopter tour here.
6. Hummer or Jeep Tour
Make the most of limited time and see the highlights of Grand Canyon National Park in just a couple of hours on this sightseeing tour. Ride in a windowless, open-air Hummer and listen to commentary from your guide as you visit some of the canyon’s best lookout points, where you can hop out, take photos, and explore. Book this tour here.
Explore the desert around the Grand Canyon on a guided Jeep tour. Many of these tours take visitors along the canyon and into the Kaibab National Forrest.
See incredible views and ride along with a tour guide. Some tours even have an option to go at sunset to see the awe-inspiring sunset along the rim of the canyon.
7. White Water Rafting
White water rafting is one of the most popular ways to see the Grand Canyon. Rafting along the Colorado River is a fun and thrilling experience. Some rafting tours span multiple days, and some are just a single day so visitors can choose what fits their schedules and interests best.
See beautiful views while careening down a river. Rafting in the Upper Canyon is often preferred, as passengers will watch the canyon walls rise around them.
We recommend this planned white-water rafting tour. Make your way to Peach Springs, Arizona, home of the Hualapai Indians at the gateway to the Grand Canyon. Then, challenge the mighty Colorado River’s varied rapids on a 40-mile (64-kilometer) journey through the canyon. Learn more about the rafting trip.
8. See the Skywalk
Located at Grand Canyon West, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, is one of the coolest ways to see the vastness of the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon Skywalk extends almost 70 feet over the canyon in a horseshoe-shaped, glass-bottomed overhang.
The Skywalk, with its four-inch-thick glass bottom, allows visitors to peer over the railing or just look down directly into the canyon to see its 4,000-foot vertical drop. But don’t worry. Skywalk is strong enough to hold seventy fully loaded 747 passenger jets.
9. Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls, located in the Havasupai Indian Reservation is a gorgeous waterfall that is definitely worth a visit. Havasupai itself means ‘people of the blue-green waters’ and that gives a pretty good description of the waterfalls on their land.
A hike away from a main road, this waterfall is a beautiful stream flowing down the side of Havasu canyon. The falls also includes several pools of the shimmering turquoise waters it’s famous for.
10. Horseshoe Bend
This bend in the Colorado River – Horseshoe Bend – is located approximately 140 miles from both the South Rim and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but it’s only 5 miles from the beginning of Grand Canyon National Park.
If you’re traveling from rim to rim on a Grand Canyon road trip, you can add a side trip, just 18-miles off the main road, Highway 89, to see Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona.
11. Desert View Drive
The Desert View Drive is a scenic road located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s a 23-mile scenic road between the Grand Canyon Village and Desert View, passing by many scenic points and trails. The road is named after the Desert View Watchtower. There are many points along the way for tourists to stop at. The East Entrance to the park at Desert View is open 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.
- Desert View Watchtower
- Tusayan Pueblo
- Tusayan Museum
With so many fun things to do in the Grand Canyon, you’ll surely find some interesting ways to experience this beautiful natural wonder. If you’ve been before, we welcome your comments and tips, below.
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.