Grand Canyon: The Complete Experience
by Kristin Hooten
The Grand Canyon spans 277 miles, which is a far more vast area to explore than just inside the National Park Boundaries. The following POI suggestions are all in the Grand Canyon; however, a few are outside of the National Park on adjacent Native American Indian Reservations. When visiting these areas, you can gain a different perspective of the landscapes, while immersing yourself into the local Native American Indian tribes that call the Grand Canyon home.
While many people see the Grand Canyon, few experience what the entire canyon has to offer. Many of these places are more difficult to reach and are rare experiences within the Grand Canyon. Thus, they are more challenging to plan and get to than your everyday tourist adventure to the Grand Canyon National Park. Nevertheless, I can assure you these are places and experiences worth putting on your Bucket-List and checking off. Here are a few of my favorite places that are magnificently beautiful, and definitely worth the trip.
Havasupai Indian Reservation
The picturesque bright blue-green waterfalls are located in the West section of the Grand Canyon on the Havasupai Reservation. Permits are required to travel to the falls, and must be obtained online or by calling the Havasupai Tourist Office. Note: you may be on hold or have to be persistent, if you are calling. There are two places to stay: 1) the campground (additional permits) and 2) the Havasupai Lodge (reservations required). The hike down to Havasupai Village is eight miles from Hilltop (the parking area/start of the trail), and an additional two miles to the campground. Past the campground is where you will find the famous Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls.
Hualapai Indian Reservation
In close proximity to the Havasupai Reservation is the Hualapai Reservation. Peach Springs is a town on the Hualapai reservation that is popular to tourists mainly due to the River Runner rafting adventures they provide. They are one of the few commercial companies that offer day whitewater raft trips on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The day trip starts with a bumpy bus ride down Diamond Creek road, a series of high class rated whitewater rapids, a rock scramble up to Travertine Falls, and a six-minute helicopter ride out. This is a trip I take regularly with groups and it seems to be the perfect river experience for people of various abilities.
This is a truly special place to experience in Grand Canyon National Park. It is a challenging hike, so I strongly recommend spending two nights there unless you are in good physical condition and have been training rigorously. There are cabins, dorms, and a campground at Phantom Ranch, all of which need permits and they are difficult to obtain. Many people hire outfitters to guide them and deal with the pain of obtaining the permit(s). A mule trip can also be arranged to get you or your party down to Phantom Ranch.
Roaring Springs & Ribbon Falls
Roaring Springs is located on the North Rim on the North Kaibab trail approximately five miles down trail. This spring is the only source of water provided to the trails and the South Rim through an underground pipeline. However, the spring is a beautiful oasis waterfall spewing out of the canyon walls. Further down Ribbon Falls is just more than eight miles from the trailhead. Neither of which are suggested as day trips, but are worth visiting if staying at Cottonwood Campground or Phantom Ranch.
Colorado River Trips
Experiencing the Grand Canyon a mile below the rim will change your perspective of this natural wonder. Going on overnight river trip is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. Taking this trip can allow you to see special places within the canyon and to immerse yourself in the solidarity of nature. This is a good opportunity to unwind from society’s routine and separate yourself from modern technologies. Many commercial companies offer trips down the Colorado River. Search Google to find the best fit for you.
Kristin is a young adventurer who spends the majority of her professional career working outdoors. She is an outdoor educator and works as a tour, hiking, and backpacking guide in the Southwest region. Kristin is receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management and loves sharing her knowledge and passion of the outdoors with all ages.