One of America’s most awe-inspiring jewels is the Grand Canyon.
The hand of Mother Nature paints a multicolored picture of geological formations that is hard to imagine. The enormous size of this 277-mile marvel is breathtaking, whether you’re rafting down its river, flying over or standing on one of its rims.
Millions of people a year visit the only one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World located in North America. With summer just around the corner, this is a perfect multigenerational or family trip.
The Grand Canyon is entirely located in Arizona, about 80 miles southeast of Flagstaff. However, tours of the canyon are available from Las Vegas, Williams, Ariz., and several other points.
From Las Vegas, you can take a three-and-a-half hour helicopter tour that includes a 45-minute flight, lunch, champagne and limo ride. For the less adventurous, take a 12-hour bus trip that includes Hoover Dam and three hours of time at the West Rim of the canyon.
For those who like road trips, the Grand Canyon is about a four-hour drive from Phoenix. The entrance fee is $25 per car and is good for seven days.
Once inside, you can decide to drive to various points or park and take shuttle buses.
If you like trains, I highly recommend doing a package trip on the Grand Canyon Rail (www.thetrain.com). Enjoy traveling in a vintage streamliner train across the northern Arizona territory when boarding in Williams. Consider doing a two-night package. The night before the train, stay at the Grand Canyon Rail Hotel and enjoy dinner and breakfast at the Grand Depot Café. Stay an additional night after your trip to the canyon.
To get to Williams, fly into Flagstaff or Phoenix. Then either rent a car and enjoy more of northern Arizona or take the Arizona Shuttle from either airport to Williams (http://arizonashuttle.com).
An escorted tour is another option for travelers with more time and a desire to see other attractions in the area.
For example, Caravan Tours offers an eight-day itinerary starting in Phoenix and ending in Las Vegas with two nights in the Grand Canyon, two nights at Lake Powell and two nights in Zion and Bryce national parks. Tours start at $1,195 per person and include transportation, lodging and some meals.
Globus Journeys offers a similar itinerary with upscale accommodations and skip the line/special treatment at tour attractions starting at $1,929. They also offer itineraries up to 17 days that originate from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver and Scottsdale.
If you’re thinking, “What’s for me at the Grand Canyon beyond a view,” there is lots to do: hiking, white water rafting, horseback and mule rides, camping, exploring Pueblo Indian history, great photo and painting opportunities, and classes at the Field Institute.
There is also a Junior Ranger program for children to learn about national park preservation. Beyond activities, witness spectacular sunrises or sunsets, as well as time to appreciate one of nature’s miraculous wonders.
For more information, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm or contact your professional travel consultant to assist you in planning your journey.
Rose Alston is a certified travel and master cruise counselor. She operates a business in Fairfield and can be reached at [email protected]