Today I am excited to finally share a recap of my trip to the Grand Canyon last weekend. In today’s post, it will be a beginner’s guide to the Grand Canyon. This beginner’s guide to the Grand Canyon will include tips and tricks, food places, pros, and cons of my trip to the Grand Canyon.
1.Grand Canyon Trip Logistics
First, last weekend I visited the Grand Canyon for the 1st time. I had never been to the Grand Canyon or Arizona in general. The trip was brief because my friend wasn’t able to get off work more but I believe with good planning, you can see a lot. I did my research but it also was a learn as you go kind of experience too.
We flew into Phoenix as it was a more budget friendly option. We got a rental car and did some sighting seeing before traveling to our hotel 3 to 3&1/2 hours away. Also on the way back to Phoenix when the trip was done, we did sightseeing before heading to the airport. I would recommend this strategy especially if you’re on a time frame and or budget. More about the places we saw at the beginning and end of the trip in the Phoenix surrounding area later in the post.
My friend and I again were on a budget. We did not stay at a fancy resort although there are some beautiful ones there. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express right outside the Grand Canyon National Park entrance. It was a 10 minute drive to and from the park which was so convenient. They even have hot breakfast. We have no complaints with the hotel. It was basic but just what we needed for a weekend trip.
Because the Grand Canyon National Park, is a national park, you do have to pay to get in. We had no idea. It was $30 and I’m not sure if there was an option to get like a day pass to leave and come back. We did not leave but stayed there literally from 6am to 7pm
The weather was still winter in the 20’s. I anticipated winter weather because I looked it up but I didn’t anticipate wind the entire time. Bring layers because that wind whipped through us the whole time. Ladies, I would recommend a beanie or hat or putting your hair up. The wind was no joke and strong at some points. Thankfully, there was some shops in the village to buy warm things because I have to due to being numb with coldness lol.
Because it was still winter, we choose to just stay at the top of the Grand Canyon village instead of going to the base and hiking. There was plenty of snow and ice. So we did wear tight sneakers/boots that wrap close to the feet for the ability to walk safely.
2. Grand Canyon Village
Grand Canyon Village is just that a village where people live and kids go to school. It is a small community but a full functioning one nevertheless. We spent an entire day there just all around the village between 2 tours and just our own self tours and eating. It’s beautiful and a super inviting village. Below are from the Village.
3. Sunrise Tour
We dragged our butts up at 4:30am, got dressed, and, did the sunrise tour. I am not a morning person but I just knew it would be good. It wasn’t just good, it was perfect. I cannot express enough how much you need to do the sunrise tour. We called the day before to get the details and we did the sunrise tour option that leaves from the Bright Angel Lodge at 6am. I believe it was $35. Honestly, I got referred so just call the hotel directly and ask for the sunrise tour on the South Rim leaving from their hotel. They told us we could just get tickets the same morning but we called ahead just to give them a heads up. We gave ourselves time to find it because it was pitch black when we were driving there from the hotel. I am sure there are other extravagant sunrise tours but ours was basic and just enough for beginners. Here are the gorgeous views of Sunrise in the Grand Canyon. Nothing compares to being there.
Gallery – Click Through for More Below
4. Desert View Tour
After doing the sunrise tour, we decided to do the Desert View Tour which is a 4 hour tour during the day with the same company/place. I believe it was $65. We brought our backpacks with snacks so it could hold us till lunch. It is a good tour to learn the history of the Grand Canyon Village and even the Native American community. The tour stops plenty of places and even stops at a Native American little museum there. Also there is a watch tower stop where you can get good views looking down. There are a few places to do minor hiking with the tour down the mountains and I went for it. My friend provided moral support from above lol but snapped a few pictures of me down there. Here are some day views from that tour.
And Click Through the Gallery Below
There isn’t a whole lot of places to eat in the Grand Canyon Village and honestly it’s not fancy. We ate at the best place you can eat up there and that is the El Tovar Hotel. It was great food and dessert. The service was good and the food portions were just enough to not feel over stuffed. We also hung out there in the lobby throughout the day coming in from the cold from time to time. Also they have plenty of outlets to charge your phones or cameras there in the lobby.
We did a self-tour just hanging out there in the village watching the sunset. I do not have a super fancy camera so the pictures are a little dark but it was worth it to stay. We were so cold and sleepy being up all day but all the gorgeous colors of sunset was worth it. There are sunset tour options we were looking up. But we already did 2 tours earlier in the day so we just went solo the rest of the day.
Our day in the Grand Canyon Village was great and no complainants. I would have done more of a package deal that included tours and the helicopter options together etc. We learned you have to book the fancy tour options ahead of time. But next time I would do that and for sure a hiking tour. I really wanted to hike at the base but it was too cold and slippery for my comfort zone.
7. Helicopter Tour
And now for the main event, the helicopter tour was quite an experience. First, I did my research like crazy. We flew on a type of helicopter called the Eco Star. This means the helicopter is more efficient, comfy seats, but most importantly all the seats face forward for best views. It is more money to do the Eco Star and only 2 companies have that option. But we were willing to go big or go home. We did the 50 minute tour option with Pavilion chick here. The meeting place was the Grand Canyon airport 3 minutes from our hotel. After researching, I can now confirm that the early 9am option is the best as far as best views before the sun really comes out etc. Here are some moments of the tour.
And Click Through Gallery Below
Did I mention it was still winter there? It was cold and windy. Windy is ok on the ground but not ok for a helicopter in the air. The first half of the ride was bumpy and I was worried. The pilot was so good and I even got to sit next to him. But the wind was not on our side. The second half of the tour was smoother. My advice is to check the wind forecast and even when you book, ask about their refund policy. I didn’t check. If it’s windy and you are not the super adventurous type, don’t go. Our pilot cancelled the rest of his flights because all of us looked so worried during the 9am tour lol. The tour was worth it. Really it did smooth out really nicely and the views are unreal. I hope I didn’t discourage you. I would do it all over again but I am going to be checking those wind stats lol.
8.Beginning/End of Trip in Phoenix & Beyond
After getting of the airplane, we drove about 15 minutes away to Matt’s Big Breakfast. It’s an adorable and totally Instagram worthy restaurant. They have a few locations. The food was good and a good price. Also they live up to the name big breakfast lol. What I could see of downtown Phoenix is that there wasn’t a whole lot going on just mostly food. The weather is warmer and more what we were both use to but in fairness, we were only there for a few hours.
Click Through Below for the Gallery
Scottsdale is where it is at. It is such a cute town and so much to do. You have already seen some of these from my Instagram. They have plenty of adorable Instagram worthy restaurants and just adorable places in general lol. I just love that little town. It is about like 15 minutes or so from Phoenix so we hung out there at the beginning and end of the trip. I would absolutely go back and see more places there and shop. Here are some places we stopped at there. I would give these places 5 out of 5 stars. Places listed in the caption under the image.
Gallery to Click Below
Flagstaff is another cute town that it closer to the Grand Canyon Village. It is about an 1 to an 1& 1/2 away. Driving to the Grand Canyon all along the freeway is beautiful. It is honestly a trip in itself just stopping at the cities along the way. We did stop at this delicious pizza place below. I ate the whole pizza. You know how pizza sometimes makes you feel so stuffed and gross? This pizza was done just right that I didn’t feel gross after. It was that good and not heavy.
In conclusion, I enjoyed the trip so much. We really saw some gorgeous views. I’m so excited I got to see one of the 7 wonders of the world. I learned a lot as well. I hope you enjoyed today’s Beginner’s Guide to the Grand Canyon. Please Please let me know if you have any questions. This post is so long but I might have missed something or was not clear on something.
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Love, Naomi Noel