Filled with activities for all ages and all abilities, the Grand Canyon’s natural wonders offer something for everybody. Though it’s a perfect destination for adventurous couples, this is definitely a place to take the kids as well. Don’t miss out on everything from hiking and photography to tours of the area everyone will love on a getaway to remember.
The drive from Denver to the Grand Canyon is a bit long at about 700 miles and 14 hours. However, it is filled with beautiful sights and lots of things to do. Head out on I-70 west and take it into Utah. A few hours into Utah you will see some signs for I-15 south; take that as though you are heading to Las Vegas. Then take Exit 27 for UT-17. The signs will say you are heading to Toquerville. Stay left to keep on UT-17, and then continue as it changes to North State Street. Make a left onto South 100 and take your first left onto UT-59 S/E. Continue onto AZ-389 and this will take you into Arizona. Make a right onto Navajo Trail Road and then take CO Highway 5. Stay on Highway 5 for roughly 34 miles until you hit 115. Stay on 115 and follow the signs into the Grand Canyon National Park.
Grand Canyon National Park
Village Loop Road
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
Price: $25 per vehicle
One of the most popular destinations in the country is the Grand Canyon National Park. Located in northwest Arizona, the Grand Canyon is known world wide for its stunning beauty and fascinating geology. The canyon is 277 miles long and contains almost two billion years of geologic history. Visit the canyon to take in all the natural beauty, then explore all the fun that the Grand Canyon has to offer. For an extra-special weekend adventure, get a backcountry permit and hike one rim to the other, camping overnight in this beautiful area.
Where To Stay Along The Way:
1170 S. Cove View Road
Richfield, Utah, 84701
Price: $37.95 for large rooms/$31.95 for small rooms
About seven hours into your drive, you should be arriving at Richfield, Utah and it will be time to stop for the night. The Royal Inn is a very affordable and convenient stop for those that are passing through the city. Though it’s not the lap of luxury, it promises all of the standard amenities as well as a grill for barbecuing dinner. Don’t miss out on this perfect pit stop during your long drive.
Along The Way:
1475 N. Main St.
Richfield, UT 84701
You made it half way to the Grand Canyon, and you have a hotel for the night. Now it is time to eat. Stop off at the Frontier Village in Richfield for some old-fashioned chuck-wagon, steak-house dining. From classic old west steak and potatoes fare to smoke-pit barbecue, this is a great spot to fill up before the rest of your drive.
Colorado National Monument
1750 Rimrock Drive
Fruita, CO 81521
Price: $10 entrance fee/$20 camping fee
Just before you leave Colorado, make a stop at the Colorado National Monument National Park. Take Exit 31 from I-70 and follow the signs in to the park. If you are looking for a place to stay for the night, this is a wonderful spot for some very scenic camping, or just enjoy the giant stone walls and red rock canyons, the epitome of the West’s iconic beauty.
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What To Do:
Hermit Road Shuttle Bus
Now that you have arrived at the Grand Canyon, it is time to get to know your surroundings. A free park shuttle bus can take you and your family along a stunning scenic ride down Hermit Road. The shuttle stops at nine spots along the way, allowing for plenty of short walks and sight seeing. The entire trip along Hermit Road is about 7.8 miles, so it is a great way to get acquainted with the park quickly.
Cell Phone Audio Tours
As you are wandering the trails and paths at the Grand Canyon you are sure to see signs saying “Park Ranger Audio Tour” with a stop number on the sign. Simply call the number and listen to a park ranger give a two-minute explanation of the specific stop you are visiting.
The Tusayan Museum is all that is left of Pueblo Indian life from more than 800 years ago. Once a huge community, this is an excellent spot to stop and learn the history and legacy of the Pueblo people. In addition to the ruin itself, the museum also houses pottery and arrowheads from the once-thriving community as well as some split-twig figurines that date back more than 2,000 years. Don’t miss out on hand-crafted pieces from today’s tribes, giving visitors insight into their rich history and culture.
Colorado River Discovery
Price: from $81 for adult half-day trips/$71 for children
No visit to the Grand Canyon would be complete without rafting down the Colorado River. Colorado River Discovery offers both half- and full-day rafting trips that are fun for the whole family. All trips include a fascinating talk by an experienced guide who will take time to explain all about the waters, the cliffs, wildlife of the area and even the life of former native tribes.
Junior Ranger Program
The Junior Ranger Program is a wonderful way to get your kids excited to learn all about the Grand Canyon and become an official representative of the National Park system. There are five ways for your kids to complete their Junior Ranger requirements in age groups that range from 4 through 14. Pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Book at the Visitor Center at the Canyon View Information Plaza, then simply follow the steps to become a Junior Ranger. The activities will have your kids attend at least one of the Ranger-led programs in the park, as well as writing down impressions of the park, writing reflections and poems, and answering lots of questions all about the canyon. Once the requirements are met, your child is sworn in by a park ranger.
Where To Stay:
The Grand Hotel
149 State Highway 64
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
Click here for rooms and reservations
You will need a place to stay at least for one night while you are visiting the Grand Canyon. The Grand Hotel is one of the best options in the area, conveniently located just a mile from the park entrance. The hotel is the perfect representation of mountain lodging in a huge chalet with southwestern décor. Get up early to watch the sun rise over the canyon or take a helicopter ride, but be sure to talk to the pros here: They’ll get you set up for everything from the best photo ops to hiking trips you’ll never forget.
Where To Eat
Grand Canyon Lodge
Grand Canyon, AZ 84720
After a long day of exploring the Canyon, you will want a place to have a seat, relax and chat with friends and family. The Roughrider Saloon is the perfect spot for just that. Sip on a beer or a cocktail and make some new friends sharing stories about your day at the Grand Canyon. The bar is only open until 11 p.m. so you won’t end up drinking until the wee-hours of the morning, ensuring you’ll be rested and ready for day two in the Canyon.
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Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.