Historic Village District
A must see at Grand Canyon South Rim is the Historic Village District, located approximately two miles from the visitor’s center. The district comprises the historic center of Grand Canyon Village and includes numerous landmark park structures, many of which are National Historic Landmarks.
The Village, planned by the National Park Service, is the largest example of Park Service town planning in the national park system. Architect Mary E.J. Colter designed almost half of the buildings included in the district. Those include Hopi House, Bright Angel Lodge and Lookout Studio. Other buildings included in the district are the Santa Fe Railway Station, El Tovar, Buckey O’Neill’s Cabin and Red Horse Cabin.
At any time of year, whether you come for a day or a week, you’ll find more than enough to fill your hours. Below are just a few suggestions to include on your itinerary while visiting Grand Canyon National Park.
- Bird Watching & Wildlife Viewing
- Bus/Motorcoach tours
- Camping & Backpacking
- Family/Children’s programs
- Hiking – 100+ miles of premier hiking trails
- Historical Sites
- Interpretive Programs – Ranger led walks & talks
- Museums & Galleries
- Mule Rides & Trips
- Nature Walks
- Native American Performances & Music
- Gifts & Souvenirs
- Stargazing – Grand Canyon National Park is famous for it’s night skies!
- Train rides on Grand Canyon Railway
- River Rafting
- Visitor Centers
If you plan to bring a bicycle, be aware that in Arizona bicycles are subject to the same traffic rules as automobiles. A new bicycling / walking path, the Greenway, connects the historic district with the Visitor Center. Bicycle rentals, supplied by Bright Angel Bicycles, are available at the Visitor Center.
Hiking Hiking is one of the most rewarding ways to see Grand Canyon, and is also the most difficult. The walk to the Phantom Ranch is approximately 7.3 miles down the south Kaibab Trail (average hiking time is 3-4 hours down) and 10.3 miles on the Bright Angel Trail (average hiking time down is 4-6 hours, average hiking time up is 6-10 hours). Transportation to the South Kaibab trailhead is available year-round. Hiker shuttle schedule to the South Kaibab trailhead may be obtained at any transportation desk. Taxi service is available 24 hours a day by calling 928-638-2822.
Summer temperatures can reach 120 F (49 degrees C) while winter conditions can be icy and treacherous.
There is a water source at the Kaibab trailhead, but no shade on the South Kaibab trail. Due to the sun exposure and steep grade, plan accordingly when hiking the South Kaibab Trail.
From experience, we suggest the following:
- Always make advance reservations for all meals, including sack lunches.
- Fill your backpack with lightweight and compact items.
- Water should be your heaviest item.
- There is one pay telephone at Phantom Ranch that is credit card and phone card accessible.
- Safeguard your feet by wearing solid footwear and clipping all your toenails.
- Bring moleskin, band-aids and a change of socks.
- Put moleskin on “hot spots “before blisters form.
- In the winter, in-step cramp-ons are recommended – as the trails may be icy. Hiking sticks are also helpful any time of year.
A prepared hiker is one who has researched the hiking itinerary and knows that the key to survival in the canyon is water and high-energy food. Desert hiking will dehydrate an individual quickly. Possible heat exhaustion and sunstroke symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, disorientation and heart palpitations. To help prevent such symptoms from occurring, hikers should drink water and electrolytic replacement sports drinks, and eat high-energy foods. If you drink without eating, you may become sick with “water intoxication” which can be even harder on your body than dehydration.
Those hiking to Phantom Ranch are reminded that there is no water available on the South Kaibab trail except at the trailhead, but there are three potable water stops on the Bright Angel Trail in the summer [only one, at Indian Garden, is available during the winter].
Camping & Backpacking
Please note that we are not a reservation resource for camping in the park. To reserve a campsite, please call 800-365-CAMP or make a campsite reservation online at the Grand Canyon National Park Website.
Permits are required for all overnight back-country hiking and camping, except for those with Phantom Ranch reservations. This also applies for camping anywhere in the park other than in developed campgrounds on the rims. You can obtain a permit from the park’s Backcountry Information Center up to four months in advance. Keep in mind that permits are limited.
The best time of year to fish is in the fall and winter. Arizona state fishing licenses are required for any fishing in the park. Licenses may be obtained at the General Store in Market Plaza.
The Pollen Trail Dancers of the Navajo Nation
In the warmer months, we are pleased to host the Pollen Trail Dancers on the stage outside of Hopi House. You will see authentic Navajo tribal dances and hear traditional flute music presented by the most talented performers from the Navajo Nation. Performance dates & times do vary throughout the year, please see your front desk agent or concierge for specific performance times during your stay with us.
Nature, Interpretive and Educational Programs
National Park Service rangers offer a wide variety of interpretive programs throughout the year on the South Rim and seasonally on the North Rim. Programs include ranger talks and Junior Ranger programs at the Visitor Center. All ranger programs are free and open to the public. Currently available programs are outlined in the park newspaper, The Guide. You will receive a copy of The Guide when you enter the park.
Note: Children must be accompanied by an adult on all programs. Also, all outdoor programs are subject to cancellation due to inclement weather or when danger from lightning is present.
Train Rides on the Grand Canyon Railway
Long before there were Grand Canyon helicopter, air and white water rafting tours there was the Grand Canyon Railway.
Before paved roads, hotels and restaurants, and even before Grand Canyon was made a national park or Arizona became a state, let alone the “Grand Canyon state,” the Grand Canyon Railway brought interested travelers from across the globe to stand on the rim, gaze upon the canyon and ponder the feeling that touches all of humanity in a similar manner.
The Grand Canyon Railway was the lifeline to Grand Canyon National Park in the early 20th century. It was the railroad and Fred Harvey that commissioned and built most of the historic structures that still exist at Grand Canyon.
The historic train almost faded into history itself when passenger service to Grand Canyon National Park stopped in 1968, as train travel gave way to the popularity of automobile travel. But like any legend, it refused to die. As fate would have it, the Grand Canyon Railway was reborn in 1989 when entrepreneurs brought the Grand Canyon’s train back to life.
Today, the Grand Canyon Railway is owned and operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts and carries about 200,000 people to Grand Canyon National Park each year.
Plan a complete Grand Canyon vacation by beginning your trip with an historic train ride from Williams, Arizona to Grand Canyon. Ask about the overnight package staying at the Maswik Lodge. For more information contact any lodge transportation desk within the park or the Grand Canyon Railway at 1-800-THE-TRAIN or visit the Grand Canyon Railway online.
There are also occasional special events such as the Grand Canyon Music Festival and revolving exhibits, lectures at the Kolb Studio and Tusayan Museum. For more information visit our Sights to See page. Keep in mind that Grand Canyon is heavily visited for most of the year (averaging more than four million visitors a year) and it is imperative to plan ahead for lodging, camping, back-country permits or mule trips.
Grand Canyon Adventure Planners
We suggest ordering a Grand Canyon Adventure Planner at our online gift shop, a must for anybody who is looking forward to an excellent Grand Canyon adventure. We’re confident that by using the resources included in this planner your visit to one of the world’s most famous national parks promises countless and priceless memories.