USA Arizona 

A Guide to Grand Canyon Village

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, a world heritage site, covers 1 904 sq miles. The Grand Canyon, the jewel in Arizona’s crown, is one of the great natural wonders of the world, the result of erosion on a monumental scale over 6 million years . The fast-flowing Colorado River cut through the Colorado Plateau and is entirely responsible for the depth of the canyon. The width of the canyon was formed by the effects of wind, rain and, most effectively, ice.

Statistics help illustrate the vast size of the canyon - 217 miles long, between 4 - 18 miles wide and over 5 000ft deep.

The constant play of sunshine and shadow over the coloured rings of limestone, sandstone and shale in the cliffs is awe-inspiring and dramatic, particularly at dawn and dusk when a kaleidoscope of colours turns the canyon into a surreal and magical wilderness.

The canyon is divided into North Rim and South Rim. At 8 000ft, North Rim is not easily accessible (closed by heavy snow in winter). It is therefore still an unexplored peaceful wilderness of forests and wildlife. Hike to Point Imperial, the highest point on the Rim, passing Vista Encantada, a delightful picnic spot, along the way.

South Rim, open all year, is easily accessible, and has many splendid viewing points, including Grandview Point, the highest at 7 400ft, along Desert View Drive. This may have been the sight that greeted the first Spanish explorers in 1540. Desert View, another spectacular viewing point, has a stone Watchtower designed by architect Mary Colter, who was also responsible for many of the buildings that dot the South Rim, and also the1922 Phantom Ranch on the canyon floor.

Yavapai Point, east of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim, has a fantastic observation station with stunning views. A new glass viewing platform has recently been extended over the canyon, to give the feeling of great depth, if not vertigo!

For a true adventure on unspoilt North Rim, follow the North Kaibab Trail, a steep descent to the canyon floor where the only lodge, Phantom Ranch, is situated.

The Bright Angel Trail, the most popular hike on South Rim, descends 9 miles to the canyon floor, crossing the river via a suspension bridge before reaching Phantom Ranch. There are two rest-houses and a fully equipped camp site along the way.

As the temperature reaches 43 degrees and higher in the summer on the canyon floor, large quantities of water are vital. Both these trails entail an overnight stay at Phantom Ranch. Have a good rest - you have to climb out of the canyon again!

Grand Canyon Village has many hotels, restaurants and shops. Mule rides, drives, short walking trails and long hikes along South Rim and into the canyon start here.

Flights in small planes allow one to soar over the canyon like Californian condors, America’s largest birds which fly the skies of northern Arizona.
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