1. Plan ahead to book ahead. If you can, book your accommodations well in advance. The lodges on property, along with camping, book up months in advance. We wanted to camp at Trailer Village inside Grand Canyon National Park. I booked our spot 11.5 months in advance. If you want to stay at one of the lodges visit www.grandcanyonlodges.com
2. Relax and enjoy your time in spite of the crowds. This spot is one of the most visited National Parks in the country. If you are there in June or July expect crowds. Go with the flow and expect to have to plan ahead in order to avoid crowds and to actually find parking. If you want to park at the visitor’s center, then you better get there super early in the morning or find a four leaf clover to get some luck in finding a spot later in the day.
3. Take advantage of the shuttles. Because parking is limited take advantage of the shuttles. There are many of the prime viewing spots in the park that not available to see from your own vehicle. A shuttle is your only chance of seeing Hermit’s Rest (which I highly recommend, along with stops along the way on the shuttle). The red shuttle will take you all the way there and you can get off and hike a few miles in solitude along the rim. We did this and it was the best hike we had there because we didn’t see anyone else. We did see a huge fox on the trail, along with magnificent views of the Grand Canyon. The shuttle is free with your pass to Grand Canyon, so take advantage of it!
4. Plan an early morning hike if you plan to hike toward the bottom of the canyon. There are several hikes that will take you to the bottom of the canyon. It is hot during summer months and the hikes are exposed to the sun with little to no shade (from what I saw). Plan this hike first thing in the day, because hiking to the bottom will be the hottest hike. Hiking up at top along the rim is cooler because of the elevation, so plan those hikes later in the day.
5. Check out the visitor’s center. They have trail maps, shuttle guides, and a video about the Grand Canyon that will help you become acquainted with the park. This will help you determine what you want to do while you are at the Grand Canyon.
6. Know the most popular trails. They are the most popular trails for a reason. The hike down that is most popular is Bright Angel Trail. It is a total of 9 miles down to the bottom. You obviously must make plans to camp down there if you want to do this entire trail, so it requires some planning including obtaining a backcountry camping pass. Of course, you can always hike a few miles down and then turn around and head back up. One of the other most popular hikes is the South Kaibab Trail on the South Rim. Both of these trails rank as top 3 hikes in the Grand Canyon, according to numerous websites.
7. If you have time, go to Havasupai Falls. This is a favorite for anyone who has ever been there. It is a 10-mile hike, but well worth it. I am not going to say too much about this spot, because it is becoming increasingly more popular and crowded. If you are interested in going, you can do the research. I am putting it on my bucket list.
8. Wear hiking and/or walking gear that is appropriate. If you are visiting the Grand Canyon, you will be doing some walking. Wear good walking shoes. If you plan to go on trails that aren’t paved, then pack your hiking shoes. There are many great trails to see and hike, so plan your footwear accordingly.
9. Drink lots of water. If you are taking a walk, even a half mile long, bring water along. If you want to do several miles, then pack multiple bottles of water in your backpack. People do not realize how hot it is in the Grand Canyon and one of the leading causes of death here is dehydration. People have died literally 2-3 miles from safety because they failed to bring enough water. Even on short hikes your body needs water. Heat is deadly.
10. Be smart about your safety at the Grand Canyon. It is dangerous at this location. There are drop offs going thousands of feet down without any guard rails. Do not allow your kids to run wild around the rim. It seems pretty logical, but I saw kids running around without supervision just a few feet from the edge. Be smart about selfies. I read that this was now the #1 cause of death at the Grand Canyon. People try to catch a super selfie on the edge and they either lose their footing or take one small step backwards to their demise. Be smart. Skip the selfies if you are standing on the edge of a cliff.
Enjoy your trip to the Grand Canyon and most importantly, be safe!