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One Fine Day

One Fine Day

Written by: , October 29th, 2018

The Grand Canyon Village Historic District presents a mix of not-to-be-missed cultural, architectural, and natural sites.

How to make the most of a short visit to an iconic national treasure

If you have but one day to spend at the Grand Canyon, you’ll be missing a lot. After all, the national park encompasses 1,904 square miles. And the canyon is six million or so years in the making. But you can make the most of your limited time at the canyon’s South Rim — the hub of visitor activity in Grand Canyon National Park — by following these suggestions.

Make your first stop the National Park Service Visitor Center for an orientation to the canyon’s geology, flora, fauna, and human history. An excellent film traces the formation of the canyon, and interpretive rangers are on hand to answer questions.

A short walk from the visitor center is Mather Point, among the park’s most spectacular vantage points. It’s also one of the world’s great spots to view the sunrise. If you’re feeling energetic, rent a bike from nearby Bright Angel Bicycles and cycle the Rim Trail about 1.5 miles to Grand Canyon Village Historic Village.

If you’re less energetic (or just time-pressed), hop on a free shuttle departing every 10 to 20 minutes from the visitor center to the Historic Village. The area presents a mix of not-to-be-missed cultural, architectural, and natural sites. Pick up a free self-guided walking tour map for interpretive notes on key sites.

Among the highlights:

  • The Rim Trail. The path meanders 14 miles along the precipice of the canyon. Since you’re short on time, concentrate on the portion that runs through the village to the Bright Angel Trailhead. It’s level and paved and allows unimpeded views of the canyon.
  • El Tovar. This classic dark-timbered Swiss chalet-style 1905 hotel is one of the national park system’s most iconic lodges. Enjoy a meal in the famous dining room, select a Native American handmade memento from the gift shop, or just sit back and relax in front of the lobby’s massive stone fireplace. You can climb the stairs to the mezzanine to observe comings and goings from above.
  • Hopi House. Located across from El Tovar, this red sandstone gift shop, also built in 1905, takes its design inspiration from a traditional Pueblo Indian dwelling. You’ll find a range of arts, crafts, and souvenirs. Be sure to check out the second floor, where high-end Native American-made art and jewelry are for sale.
  • Bright Angel Lodge. Less grand than El Tovar, this homey 1935 log structure just a five-minute walk along the Rim Trail from El Tovar, is spectacularly situated on the canyon’s rim. Don’t miss the History Room with its Fred Harvey and Santa Fe Railway-era artifacts. In the late 1800s and 1900s, Harvey made the West a hospitable place for visitors, thanks to his Harvey House restaurants and lodgings. They were strategically located near Santa Fe Railway depots (including the one at the South Rim).
  • Kolb Studio. The intrepid Kolb brothers were photographers who, from the early 1900s, snapped photos of tourists descending into the canyon on mule back and sold the prints to them upon their return. Their home is perched over the rim in spectacular fashion. Its lower level, originally the theater, is now a gallery with rotating exhibits open to the public.
  • Mule rides. If time allows, take the four-mile three-hour Canyon Vistas ride (reserve in advance). Seeing the canyon via the back of a sturdy mule is a time-honored experience. This trip winds along a little-used rim-top trail, each turn revealing another heart-stopping vista.
  • Bright Angel Trail. You won’t have time to hike much of the canyon’s most popular trail, but it’s worth venturing down a switchback or two just to say you’ve been in the canyon. Watch for ancient red pictographs on the wall above the first tunnel.
  • Interpretive Motorcoach Tours. Avoid the hassles and crowds and experience the very best of Grand Canyon, including Sunrise, Sunset, Desert View, and Hermit’s Rest tours. Available year-round.

How to Explore

Grand Canyon National Park Lodges provides the premier in-park lodging, managing six distinctly different lodges. From the El Tovar hotel, long considered the crown jewel of national park hotels, to Phantom Ranch, the only lodging on the floor of the canyon, you’ll find accommodations to help you get the most out of your visit to the Grand Canyon. You can also book rafting, railway, and motorcoach tours. For more information and reservations, visit grandcanyonlodges.com or call 888-297-2757.

Or consider the 10-day “Bryce, Zion & the Grand Canyon” tour from Holiday Vacations, one of America’s most reputable tour companies with more than 44 years of experience. As a nationwide provider of air, rail, motorcoach and cruise guided vacations to more than 65 destinations worldwide, their packages are inclusive of all airfare, fine hotels, meals and must-see attractions. Expert tour directors handle all travel details, assuring you a carefree and memorable vacation. Visit HolidayVacations.com for more information.

For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.