Romantic Grand Canyon Vacations
Grand Canyon vacations are an iconic American Experience and a great romantic location for weddings or honeymoons - it was one of the first stops on our honeymoon!
Here is our report on the best romantic sunset and sunrise spots, romantic lodging and restaurants - all the full spectrum of exceptional activities available year round at the Grand Canyon.
Located on the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is the most awe-inspiring natural feature on earth and has some of the most romantic and breathtaking scenic vistas. Nothing can prepare you for that first glimpse of the Grand Canyon on your arizona vacation - shifting colors, dramatic stone temples and unsurpassed grandeur. Measuring some 15 miles from rim to rim at its widest point, the Canyon averages 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles. The colorful strata of the canyon walls offer an excellent record of three of the four eras of geological time, tracking the earth's evolution over the last 2 billion years.
Exploring the park by car on your arizona vacation allows you to travel at your own pace and enjoy fabulous views of the Grand Canyon along the way. Or you can take a Guided Bus Tour – As you sit back, relax and enjoy the view, an experienced guide will share the history of the Grand Canyon. Your motorcoach will stop at numerous scenic viewpoints along the way. There are many Interpretative Programs / Nature Walks / Bird Watching – National Park Service Rangers at the Grand Canyon offer a variety of interpretive walks and programs for visitors to enjoy.
Look inside your copy of The Guide, the official park newspaper obtained at the park entrance, for more information and program schedules for Grand Canyon vacations.
Top 10 things to do and see on Grand Canyon vacations
- Watch the sunset and sunrise at one of the many vista points
- Walk the Rim Trail As you follow the level, winding trail along the rim of the canyon in the late afternoon, you experience the changing light and shadows in the canyon from changing viewpoints. The paved portion of Rim Trail extends several miles from Maricopa Point to Pipe Creek Vista. It can be reached at many points, making strolls of various lengths possible.
- Helicopter Tours during your grand canyon vacations – Get a bird’s-eye view of the Grand Canyon with an exciting helicopter tour. On your narrated tour you’ll soar high above the Canyon rim for expansive views that range for hundreds of miles, then dip gently below the rim for a close-up look at rock formations that are millions of years old. There are several plane and helicopter companies in the Grand Canyon area and Las Vegas. Air tours give you the best possible views of the Grand Canyon. You get to see how expansive the Grand Canyon really is. You can even arrive at your Grand Canyon destination wedding by helicopter!
- Raft the Grand Canyon – White-water rafting on the Colorado River is the ultimate Grand Canyon adventure. These multi-day rafting excursions offer breathtaking scenery, magnificent side hikes and adrenaline-pumping white-water rapids.River trips range from 1 day to several weeks inside the Grand Canyon. To truely get in and explore the Grand Canyon, go into the heart of it. River trips start in Flagstaff or Las Vegas only.
- Hiking the many trains and Spending the night at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the Phantom Ranch.
Hike Havasu Canyon, visit the Navajo, Mooney, Beaver, and swim in Havasu Falls with its richly colored waters and its awe-inspiring waterfalls that drop over a 120-foot (37 m) vertical cliff into a large pool. The Indian word Havasupai means "land of the sparkling blue-green waters". The Havasu Creek water contains a high concentration of limestone, which gives the water its distinctive turquoise color.
Ground Tours: there are several tour companies based around the Grand Canyon area. Tour guides help you get to know the area a lot better as well as take the stress off of trying to drive around the Grand Canyon's confusing road system.
- Mule Rides down to the bottom are a very popular thing to do on Grand Canyon vacations. Mule rides range from 1 day excursions to 2 day trips with overnight stay at Phantom Ranch. The full-day trip lasts about seven hours and offers plenty of photo ops along the way. There are also trips to Havasu Falls near the West Rim.
- Spend the night under the stars, in a cabin on the rim or on the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
- Cross-Country Skiing / Snowshoeing - During the winter months, enjoy the scenic wonders of the Grand Canyon in complete solitude. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are not only great ways to exercise, they also provide a quiet setting in which to enjoy the Grand Canyon’s natural splendor. Ski rental companies are located in nearby communities so there’s no need to worry about bringing your own equipment.
- Dinner at The El Tovar Dining Room - just 50 feet from the South Rim, is the most romantic dining experience at the Grand Canyon.
- Grand Canyon Railway – Board The Train and you’ll be transported back in time to the early 1900s! The Grand Canyon Railway excursion from Williams to the South Rim passes through miles of pristine forest land.
More things to see on a Grand Canyon vacations ...
Hopi House: Open in 1905 here you will find find exquisite Native American arts and crafts, as well as other gift items.
Desert Watch Tower is perched on the canyon rim, the Watchtower was designed to reflect the architecture of the ancestral Puebloans as preserved at Hovenweep National Monument in the Four Corners region. If you climb the several flights of stairs to the top of the tower, you can view the canyon from the highest vantage point on the South Rim. This 70-foot tower is the highest point on the South Rim and offers a gift shop and 360-degree views of the Canyon, Painted Desert, San Francisco Peaks, Vermillion Cliffs and beyond.
Hermits Rest: Erected in 1914, this National Historic Landmark provides scenic Canyon views, a gift shop and snack bar.
Kolb Studios: The former home of the Kolb brothers, pioneering Canyon photographers, this restored building houses art exhibits, a bookstore and auditorium that are open to the public.
Tusayan Museum: The Tusayan Ruin and Museum provides a glimpse of Pueblo Indian Life at the Canyon some 800 years ago. A self-guiding trail leads through the adjacent 800-year-old ruin.
Grand Canyon vacations:North Rim – the Quiet Side
The North Rim is more remote with less development, and receives fewer visitors.
North Rim Visitor Center: The visitor center is open from mid-May to mid-October only, and offers seasonal interpretive programs.
Grand Canyon Lodge: This historic lodge offers motel rooms, cabins, a fabulous dining room and access to rim and Canyon trails.
Grand Canyon vacations: Best Views of the Colorado River
- Mojave Point is located between Hopi Point and Pima Point and gives a good view of the Colorado River.
- Hopi Point sticks way out into the Grand Canyon and allows a wonderful view of the rock layers of the mighty gorge. For the last hundred years this view point has been recommended by rangers and tour guides as the best place to view the sunset at Grand Canyon. Hopi Point is a fine spot to watch sunrise, sunset and everything in-between.
- Moran Point is an excellent place to view Grand Canyon. As you look down, you get a view of an area called Red Canyon. You can also see beyond Red Canyon to a wonderful example of white water rapids called Hakatai Rapids. For photographers, there is an interesting formation called the Sinking Ship that really stands out when it is silhouetted against the setting sun.
- Lipan Point is dazzling and exhibits just about everything the Grand Canyon has to offer. What is really impressive about Lipan Point is that, number one, you can see the river; second, you can see the beginning of the inner gorge, the blackish pinkish area made out of igneous and metamorphic rock; third, you can see the single best exposure of whats called the Grand Canyon Supergroup, sedimentary rock thats been slightly tilted, and you can also see the distinct horizontal layers that dominate the upper 3/4 of the canyon. Added to that, Lipan Point is just high enough that you can see some of the distant terrain that surrounds the Grand Canyon.
- Desert View is a very special place for its view of Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. Here, the river wheels about as it leaves the southern-oriented Marble Canyon section and begin to flow west again. The scene is spectacular and on a clear day your view extends north all the way to the Vermillion Cliffs. Desert View is also notable as the site of architect Mary Colter's masterpiece, The Watchtower, which was inspired by the ancient Native American ruins found in the Southwest.
- Pima Point - from here you can see see both a minor and major rapid and when conditions are ideal you can hear the roar of the water below. Also, Pima Point just might be the best place to view the sunset at Grand Canyon.
Most of the Grand Canyon view points are located on promontories that stick out from the rim. The best places to watch the Grand Canyon sunset and Grand Canyon sunrise are where there are few obstructions to your view - but there is no one bestplace for watching sunrise or sunset, just good places and better places. Correct times for sunrise and sunset are listed in the current The Guide newspaper and posted at all park visitor facilities.
Grand Canyon vacations Sunrise: If the night has been calm and clear, sunrise may offer great clarity before breezes stir dust into the atmosphere.
Grand Canyon vacation picture spots and romantic sunset and sunrise views
Colder morning temperatures and the difficulty of rising early frequently result in fewer people at canyon viewpoints.
Maricopa Point gives an excellent view of the eastern part of the Grand Canyon. It is a good location choice for photographing or watching the sunrise.
For another memorable sunrise, try Mather or Yaki Points
Mather Point: all the tour buses stop at Mather Point, so during the daytime it can be crowded (tip: come to Mather Point in the morning to witness, weather permitting, a spectacular sunrise). This is an exciting place to view the canyon and the throngs do not detract from the beautiful vista the Grand Canyon presents here. Some of the highlights include a spire named The Temple of Zoroaster, as well as another prominent pinnacle: Vishnu Temple. It can be seen as you look east.
Yaki Point is the first marked view point on the East Rim Drive, is where you get your first unobstructed view into the east side of Grand Canyon. It is a good spot to introduce what the East Rim is going to be all about.
Yaki Point is also the trailhead for the South Kaibab Trail which winds down to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch. It is the first main prominatory on the East Rim Drive as you leave Grand Canyon Village. From here you get a good view of the central portion of Grand Canyon, including Wotan's Throne and Vishnu Temple.
Grand Canyon vacations Sunset: During the summer viewpoints can be crowded. Late summer may bring dramatic thunderstorms, but too many clouds could mean no sunlight in the canyon. Just the right amount of dust or smoke can make a sunset more colorful.
While Hopi Point is unquestionably a desirable viewpoint for sunset, it attracts crowds of people and buses, especially in the summer.
Powell Point: It has similar views to Hopi Point, one of the most famous view points at Grand Canyon, but is less visited and has fewer crowds. This can make Powell Point an excellent place to view and contemplate the sunset.
Hermit's Rest gets its name from Mary Colter's exquisite building which stands here. This point gives a good view directly to the West and is an excellent spot to relax and watch a spectacular Grand Canyon sunset.
Grandview Point sunset - At 7,400 feet (2250 meters) Grandview Point has the highest elevation of any marked view point on the South Rim except for Navajo Point and Desert View at the very east end of the park. Consequently, slightly more precipitation falls here and the forest is denser than in most other areas. Below Grandview Point is Horseshoe Mesa, which may be reached via the Grandview Trail.
Yavapai Point and Observation Station:
From this is the location you can look down to the Colorado River and see Phantom Ranch. The North Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails can be seen clearly, too, and there are several spotting scopes set up for viewing the Canyon interior.
Stay around as the sky grows dark. Grand Canyon offers some of the blackest skies and brightest stars found anywhere.
Other points offering great east and west panoramas include Mohave, Navajo, and Desert View. The Abyss is notable for its steep walls. The Rim comes to an end and there is only air in front of and below you. Most Grand Canyon view points stick out from the rim. The Abyss is just the opposite; it is located along an indentation in the Canyon walls.
Grand Canyon vacations: Romantic Places to stay
El Tovar Hotel
Grand Canyon Lodge
Phantom Ranch Cabins (below the rim)
Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins
.... and any cabin with a view into the Grand Canyon
Arizona vacation: Romantic Restaurants in Grand Canyon
The El Tovar Dining Room - just 50 feet from the South Rim, is the most romantic dining experience at the Grand Canyon.
When to go on Grand Canyon vacations:
Spring and Fall on the South rim - Come prepared for a variety of conditions during these changeable seasons. May and October can be some of the driest months, although snowstorms may occur. Late April and May can be windy. These can be the best times to be hiking in the canyon.
North Rim: spring and fall temperatures range from 30–60 F (0–20 C).
Spring and fall Inner Canyon temperatures range from 40–80 F (9–20 C).
Summer: During the May to September peak season, the South Rim can be hectic. To experience the ever-changing canyon in a more peaceful atmosphere: walk the Rim Trail; drive to Desert View, stopping at the numerous view-points along the way; or ride the shuttle toward Hermits Rest and sit on a rock to watch the sunset.
Summer temperatures on the South Rim at 7,000 feet (2100 m) are relatively pleasant—50s to 80°F (10–30°C ). North Rim temperatures are a few degrees cooler due to the higher elevation, 8,000 feet (2400 m).
Summer temperatures at the North Rim range from 40s - 70s F (5 – 21 C). Inner canyon temperatures are extreme. Daytime highs at the river, 5,000 feet (1500 m) below the rim, often exceed 105°F (40°C). Thunderstorms frequently occur during July, August, and early September.
Winter conditions on the South Rim can be extreme. Winter brings snow, ice and average temperatures ranging from the 20s – 40s F (-6 – 9 C). The average spring and fall temperatures range from 30s - 60s F (0 – 20 C). Be pre- pared for snow, icy roads and trails, and possible road closures. Canyon views may be obscured by fog during passing storms. The road into the North Rim is closed from the first heavy snow in November or early December to mid-May.
Winter temperatures inside the canyon at river level (5,000 ft./1500m below the rim) range from 30s – 60s F (0 – 20 C).
Driving Destinations to Grand Canyon Vacations:
Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim) is located 60 miles north of Williams, Arizona, (via Highway 64 from Interstate 40)
Distance from Grand Canyon vacations: to Sedona 77.5 miles
Distance from Grand Canyon vacations:to Flagstaff 61.2 miles
Distance from Grand Canyon vacations: to Prescott 96.5 miles
Distance from Grand Canyon vacations: to Bryce Canyon 97.3 miles
Distance from Grand Canyon vacations: to Zion Lodge 259 miles.
Distance from Grand Canyon vacations: to Las Vegas 273 miles - Driving time is approximately 5 hours 30 minutes
Grand Canyon destination directions:
Grand Canyon lies entirely within the state of Arizona. Commercial airlines serve Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas. There is limited air service into Grand Canyon Airport (just south of the park) from Las Vegas. Greyhound provides bus service to Flagstaff; Amtrak provides rail service to Flagstaff with connecting bus service to the canyon. Grand Canyon Railway offers train service from Williams; for additional information call: 1-800-THE-TRAIN.
Both Air Vegas Airlines and Scenic Airlines offer daily flights from las Vegas to The Grand Caynyon National Park Airport in Tusayan, 7 miles from the South rim.
More things to do and See on an arizona romantic vacation
Sedona voted the "Most Beautiful Place in America" by USA Weekend Magazine - the beautiful Red Rocks make this experience an almost spiritual one.
Sunset Crater was the most recent volcanic eruption in Northern Arizona. It's located on the outskirts of Flagstaff. You can drive right up to the crater where you can see beautiful views of the volcano and surrounding areas.
Lowell Observatory is where we discovered Pluto. They do viewings through the telescope into space regularly. Lowell Observatory is located in Flagstaff.
The Arizona Snowbowl is a ski resort just outside of Flagstaff. During the winter months, it is open for skiing and during the summer months they do scenic ski-lift rides where you can see all across Northern Arizona.
Meteor Crater, East of Flagstaff, was the most recent meteor strike in North America.
Montezuma's Castle Indian Ruins - located just south of Sedona.
More Information on Grand Canyon vacations available online at the official Grand Canyon National Park website.
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